You’re So Vain

Do you have an eating disorder because you want to be skinny?

No.

Honestly, that might be one of the biggest misconceptions about eating disorders and I would like to debunk that myth right now.

If I go back to the very beginning of my sickness; the root, when I was a little girl, I did ask my mom how to effectively go on a diet, but at 7 I was worried about what my family thought, not if society deemed me as having a nice body.  (Um, what is a nice body for a 7-year-old anyway?!)

When my grandfather told me I needed to cut out the ice cream cones because I was getting fat, I did so because I wanted his approval, I wanted him to love me, and thought if I continued enjoying my mixed cones with sprinkles I would no longer be acceptable to the people I looked up to the most.

When I realllllly started to lose weight and get sick in my senior year of college, things started spiraling downward as I trained for races, and my wedding grew near.  Sure, I wanted to look good in my dress, but my behaviors were not driven by a desire to be a skeleton.  They were more about feeling in control as so many changes within my life occurred, or punishment for my beliefs that I was unworthy as a person, and failing miserably as an adult.

Anorexia is not a disease of vanity, and it hurts me to think there are still people out there who believe that it is.  Although I cannot give you concrete proof this statement, I can tell you when I looked in the mirror at the time when my weight was the lowest, I still saw the same girl from college that I perceived as overweight and gluttonous.

Because of that, I either a. avoided the mirror or b. just considered myself the most disgusting/lazy person in the world and tried not to draw attention to myself.

Now, I still have horrific body image, even though I don’t look like I am knocking on death’s door.  Sadly, I am not alone.  Most people in recovery, despite the fact that they look 84576746 times better than when they were frail and undernourished (you do not have to be underweight to be undernourished, BTW) will tell you they feel like a beached whale 90%+ of the time, BUT I can see things a little more clearly, and I am trying to use this to my advantage.

Vanity was not the cause or the driving force behind why I used ED behaviors, but it is now becoming my motivation to get rid of them.

Let me explain.

I spend a lot of time at clubs on the weekends.

Women at these venues are freakin’ hot.

Some of my best friends are beautifully built, wear the coolest clothes, and although have their insecurities in certain areas (who doesn’t), exude confidence I think is super sexy.

Anyway, I love fashion.  I always have, but you would never be able to tell because the body of a child is not fitting into the awesome sequined dresses I frequently admire.

Many of my friends have gorgeous flowing hair that makes them look so feminine and can be styled in ways I could only dream of.

Mine breaks off at the end and has one option other than the boring, flat, variety I normally have going on.

And all of them wear shoes that belong on the runway, which I would have proudly worn as well, if you would have seen me pre-osteopenia; when I did not have back problems or constant pain.

Me Too Flats I love you, but I miss my favorite Patent Black Leather Wedge heels.

I am not saying you NEED to have the latest styles, tiny outfits and full locks to feel good about yourself, but if we are being honest, what female, or person in general, doesn’t want to feel physically attractive sometimes?

Of course it is the inside content, and our hearts that are more important, but like I said, if I am being completely open, I would like to feel pretty again.

Pretty to me is not always about body size…because as I have explained my perception of that is definitely skewed, or non-existent, but I would love to put on a dress and have it fit me in just the right places where I am excited to show my husband.

So my motivation for today; especially after I am feeling HORRIBLE about myself for chosing a very challenging breakfast, is that I want to feel strong, sexy, and maybe have shiny, rather than course and brittle hair.

Yes, the things I have written in this post are completely vain, and I do still believe confidence and a smile are the best accessories, but it is hard to look genuinely happy when you are cru-ngry and dead tired because you ran seven miles 6 days in a row.

On that note, time to take a little nap and start the weekend off right!

Happy Thursday!

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Put Me In Coach!

“Try Something new Tuesday,” is also therapy day.

My weekly appointments fall on the second day of the work week, directly after school and typically I dread them.

I am always exhausted, don’t have anything in particular to discuss and I really just don’t feel like re-living the turmoil that goes on within my head 24 hours a day.

(Just on a side note, Ryan tells me that’s why I am always tired…it is definitely draining to be at war mentally, emotionally and physically, with your own self,  99% of the day.  Dr. John agrees so I am hoping the whole fatigue thing ends as nutrition improves.)

Anyway, this week my significant other came along  and all three of us kind of just sat there staring at one another in the first few moments because I, like I said, was pretty miserable for having to be there, and I suppose the two men sitting next to me thought I would take the lead?

So Ryan then interjected that I told him therapy was currently pointless because I first needed to work on myself, before I could dig into the “real stuff.”

I had just told him that on the ride over when I was justifying what a waste of energy this hour was going to be…

“I have nothing to tell him that he has not already heard…I know what I need to change, but it is ME who needs to actually MAKE the alterations…all I can say right now is what I am  trying to change…”

Perhaps that is a horrible explanation, and I promise I put it more eloquently than that when I was speaking with both my husband and my doctor, but I am sure you get the drift.

I am not new at this.

I know what needs to be done.

And just like in the nutrition world, I have read every single textbook I could get my hands on concerning CBT, ACT, Body Acceptance, etc.

Not to mention I have spent lots and lots of time in offices working through many of the issues that contribute to my symptom use, but none of that information has been applied fully which is why I am still kind of going in circles.

Dr. John combated my reasoning using an Olympic analogy to explain his role in my recovery.

(He loves analogies so you can expect at least one in every hour…)

“CJ, we often see the e amazing Olympic athletes on TV consult with their coaches….Just because these athletes are gold medalists, or experts in their sport doesn’t mean they don’t need guidance and help…They are  always looking to improve.”

He has a point and I have always admired the strength (both inner and outer) of those elite competitors…

“Just like getting into shape and training for something,  recovery is not supposed to be easy.  If these athletes thought they could just relax as soon as they broke a sweat, they wouldn’t be the best in the world, or get better at their crafts…”

I saw where he was going with this.

If I become complacent now, because I believe I have “personal work” to do that Dr. J cannot assist me with, I am being naive.

Of course I have to continue pushing myself when I am not on the couch in his office, but I also need accountability and a person to help me discover things I may not be able to see through my own eyes.

I have always been skeptical of therapy, but coaches I grew
up loving.

I guess I can reframe my weekly dread into a positive by saying I am going to practice.

Practice sounds way better than a psychiatric appointment, anyway.  don’t you think?!

Happy Thursday everyone 🙂

No Lies Monday

I need to open saying thank you for all the support you have given me after Saturday’s overly honest post.

Sometimes I think the only reason I blog is because I LOVE how wonderful this community can be, how inspiring and influential it can be to stay positive and on track, and just how it is awesome to feel so included; regardless of whether you or not you met any of your fellow “bli-ends” in person.

Because you all are so fabulous and it did briefly help to read your encouraging words, I wish I could tell you Sunday was much better.

I wanted to lie and tell you I woke up with a cheery attitude and everything was fine, but it wasn’t.

In fact I was a complete beotch to be around…actually a worse beotch to be around because my hunger was out of freakin’ control.

I am starting to have the overnight rumblings again which is NO BUENO in my book; one because it messes with my sleep pattern and two because I have such horrible guilt about a 2:30 am snack.

My brain keeps saying, “CJ tomorrow you will make up for those extra calories you consumed and you simply will just cut a few things out.”

That would be great if I had the capability of doing so, but I am no longer good at tolerating the gnawing feeling I used to thrive on.

I know this is a positive in the recovery sense but it makes it a hell of an emotional ride when you really hate yourself more than twenty-three hours of the day.

There are a few aspects of my life I haven’t mentioned on here primarily because it isn’t the right time, but my feelings are everywhere for too many reasons and I thought it might be helpful for me to jot them down and see if any of it makes sense.

*If you don’t want to read another mini-rant, you might want to come back to tomorrow for what is hopefully a much more optimistic outlook.

1. This is the one I can’t really go into detail about, but Ryan and I are going to undergo a few significant life changes in the next year; none of which I have ANY control over.

This causes me to panic because I really HATE not having a plan.

Unfortunately, most things in the world are not laid out perfectly, like I would prefer, so I just have to roll with it, but uncertainty, merged with recovery and feeling like garbage about yourself due to awful body image issues, is not being well managed by me right now.

Speaking of out of control..I am eating a lot, or what I feel is too much, and like I said, that is good from a weight restoration stand-point, but as far as my emotions are concerned…watch out!

I never lost my appetite during my restricting days, but I could ignore the pangs and noises come from my tummy. Now it is like I have no willpower which brings about that whole “out of control feeling,” similar to the one ocurring within the important parts of my life (for example if Ryan got into school).

Feeling so helpless in both respects, is absolutely driving me bonkers!!!

2. There is a particular relationship in my life that is falling apart.

Again, I feel bad being vague about this but it is not something I am overly ready to discuss in great depth because I am still trying to figure it out.

It could be a good thing that our connection to one another is disintegrating/changing, but I haven’t quite determined that for sure.

I know I am sad about the changes, but ultimately the waning trust/closeness might be better in the long run. Time will tell.

3. The Healthy Living Summit Decision

I think about this at least once a day; debate whether or not trying to sell my ticket was a good idea or not.

I am extremely sad to be missing out on time with friends, learning at the seminars, and a weekend away in a seriously cool city, but if I am being honest, the trigger factor and embarrassment that may come from me being a part of it prompted the Weaber family to conclude my absence was a better idea, and I am trying my best to stick with that attitude.

It is getting increasingly difficult for me to accept the decision, however, because that week/weekend Ryan will be in Colorado with his brother.

Like this past weekend, I am jealous of their bond and the fun they will have, while I will be at home, wallowing in negative-self-talk.

Awesome.

There are a few more things I will save for another time, but these three happen to be what is plaguing me at this current moment.

I told a friend, and I have stated this on here before, but it would be a problem if what is listed above WASN’T bothering me.

It would be a problem if nothing bothered me because that would mean I was still using maladaptive coping skills to handle things that invoke emotions for “normal” people.

I spent years being numb and immune to hurt, sadness, anger, etc.

Now I just seem to be those things all the time.

Happiness…will you please come out and play because you sound much more exciting that the B.S. I am feeling now.

Thanks 🙂

Put It On Repeat

Boredom is my nemesis.

It is like the death to a productive recovery.

Seriously, ask my husband, at home I am either doing something technological (which for me means twitter, Facebook, e-mail or blog checking on my phone), cleaning something, pacing around aimlessly or asking what he wants to do.

I didn’t use to be like this but I swear idle hands/minds are the devils work in my ED warped world.

That’s because I just want my mind to shut the heck up for like five seconds, and that can usually only happen when I am both mentally and physically occupied, but Ryan gave me a little challenge.

I didn’t realize his feelings were being hurt by me always trying to create distractions and it had been a while since we were at home, on the couch, just being with one another.

Am I the only one like this? I doubt it because I feel like I see more and more people always fiddling with some sort of gadget, even when they are with another person.

Regardless, in the past few weeks we have tried something new; no phones, computer, nothing but us and maybe a tv program we both like but will still communicate through, the hour before bed.

See this is when I normally consume my snack, and a time where I sat in my same spot, with my same items, scrolling through the same websites, checking my phone, etc. all simultaneously while being in the same room with the person I love.

That hour could be much better spent conversing with one another; laughing at the ridiculously pathetic guys on the Bachelorette (except you Jeff, I totally love you!), or even sitting next to each other trying to get closer.

He told me this is the time I seem most distant and he is right.

I am doing everything I can NOT to total up my entire days worth of calories and let it affect my mood.

I am trying not to think about the other cravings I could potentially have that I suppressed through the day.

I am shutting down and attempting to ignore the roll I see/feel forming around my midsection that makes me feel so self-conscious I just want to crawl in a hole.

But there was a time in our relationship when our pre-bed QT was my absolute favorite.

In college we would spend hours laughing, catching up, telling our secrets, not worrying about my rigid 9:30 bed time and calories he thinks I missed and I think are too much.

Where the heck did that girl go….that carefree relationship go?

But since he brought up my aloof manner I tend to have most evenings, we have tried a few new things and I like them.

There is nothing better than a good back scratch or rub, a snuggle under a blanket, a ridiculous reality-tv program you can both make fun of.

These are the things I want to remember; not that I really wanted a big bowl of cereal rather than an egg white omelet 14 hours earlier.

I appreciate a friend for pointing me in the direction of The Hungry Runner Girl, because after reading some of her past posts, one in particular where she described what made it “easier” for her to put on weight,” I started thinking about what she wrote…

People have suggested a thousand times that I consider how I want to be remembered when I die….as the thinnest one in the room or as a great person?

Duh, easy question.

But I want to start thinking about what I WANT TO REMEMBER about my life.

Do I want to remember the nights huddled next to my space heater because I am so freaking cold but insist on making a gallon size Arctic Zero “shake” (ice and water thrown in a blender is not a “shake” FYI) so I won’t gnaw my arm off in the middle of the night?

No!

I want to remember fun, smiles and positive things, but like I said the other day, that all starts with me.

It might take me feeling pretty damn awful; with excessive food guilt, body image issues, etc. to achieve my goals.

So what am I going to remind myself?

THIS IS TEMPORARY…

Not everyone wakes up every morning thinking they are the most beautiful creature on the planet, but they certainly don’t want to hide in their room in shame after eating a bagel.

That life CAN and WILL be fabulous.

I have experienced this in moments…hello night of dancing, spontaneity, and in glimpses while we were away on vacation, but I know there is MORE out there, and I want to feel it!

Life is FRAGILE.

Ed loves to tell me I am fine; everyone else is delusional for telling me I have a problem, and there is nothing about how I live that needs to change. But my knees that are so swollen I can barely sit, my back that aches so bad I can hardly stand, the sleep that is nonexistent and my hair that is now falling out in clumps, proves the negative voice wrong.

Between reminding myself of the aforementioned things, and guacamole being my new best friend I am hoping sooner rather than later I can again have this life of joy.

Step one…I am heading to brunch!

Happy Sunday 🙂

What do you remember to make it through a struggle?

Distortions Other Than With The Body and Food

I felt kind of guilty last night as I was reflecting back on yesterday’s post when I said Ryan was the only person in my life to display unconditional love, because that is not entirely true.

I haven’t really discussed my relationship with my uncle on here, partly because he sometimes reads it and I don’t necessarily know how comfortable he is being talked about in a public journal, but he is someone who is very significant in my life and there has been something weighing on my mind a lot concerning our recent lack of connection.

My mom and biological father (John) did not end up working out and up until I was in my early twenties I had never heard from, met or spoken with the man.

He  and I made personal contact twice and that was about it so obviously that wasn’t meant to be, but it didn’t really matter to me considering I already had two men I looked to as dads; my Poppy and my uncle.

Since my Poppy didn’t really come into my life until I was a teenager, I have to give a lot of my upbringing credit to the second man on that list who I love more than I can say.   

He was kind of like my world because we lived under the same roof for a while and I have bagillion awesome memories of playing games, watching my favorite Disney Afternoon, overall just having a blast, but more importantly of him being my rock during some very difficult times in my life.

We were extremely close for many years and I honestly couldn’t have pictured my life without him.

But lately things have changed.

In fact, in the past year things have been drastically different from the Uncle Dirt and C Mouse J (yes we have corny names for each other) that I so fondly remember, but I know there is a reason.

…it just took Ryan helping bring me back to reality to understand that.

You see after writing yesterday’s post, I discussed with Ryan my appreciation for his patience and presence throughout these amazingly strenuous years and expressed how I felt deserted by almost everyone else in my life.

ED loves to bring up my deep rooted issues of abandonment and how it confirms in my mind that I am completely unworthy as an individual, and so now that it is basically just me and Ryan in this fight, I feel that the rest of my kin have deemed me the loser who will never get better and has given up hope.

Here is the thing:

I don’t really ever ask for help, other than from my poor husband, and I am the master of pushing people away.

Eating disorders and addiction are diseases of isolation.  They absolutely thrive on rituals, habits, and destructive behaviors that are most easily performed without the interruptions of others, and I have engaged in those things for so long it has given the signal to just leave me the hell alone.

…And that is the LAST thing I want sometimes.

Sometimes I just want to be and feel loved, and that can only be achieved by me being open and willing to change.

The distortion that my uncle has abandoned me is just about as ridiculous as my thoughts that my thighs expand at the table.

My family still loves me, they just don’t know how to help and hate watching me hurt myself, and only I can bring them back.

It is all up to me.

Rock-Bottom?

Eating disorders are full of paradoxes.

My thoughts and actions often contradict one another, or themselves, because my life is dictated by two voices (Ok, I sound crazy here, forgive that description), which I often personify as ED and CJ.

CJ desperately wants to be a healthy individual and always has, but the negative portion of my brain has been too loud for far too long and most times totally warps reality, obviously.

I will be completely honest here and tell you what you probably already know; I want to rid myself of this horrific lifestyle, but the thought of gaining weight and feeling out of control is terrifying.

Since we have been home I feel like I have ballooned up a gazillion pounds, and I am starting to panic.  Scientifically Ryan continues to remind me that isn’t really possible, but between it being the week before my most dreaded time of the month (meaning edema and an obsession with chocolate and nut butter…) and being back in the stressful environment I call work, my body image sucks.

I look in the mirror and see someone disgusting and expanding by the second, but paradoxically sometimes when Ryan touches me, almost wincing when he comes to a jutting bone, I know I am completely ugly and sick-looking.

I want to be the girl I was in college when I was a pretty “normal” eater, with a great appetite for food and also life, and didn’t really think about lunch beyond “man, that was good.”

I was reminded of this when one of my lovely friends at work sent me a picture she found when I was at a good point in my adult-life and pointed out how much happier I looked physically and in spirit and it made me sad because that is all I want, I am just very fearful of what it takes to get there….

…the awkward body shape before the weight redistributes, the emotions that gaining weight could invoke (I have a lot of issues with family and weight gain…comments from when I was a child that made me feel inadequate or unacceptable, etc), and the remarks people will make along that way that typically send me into a tailspin…

Of course the phase of the Buddha belly and strange looking limbs is pretty temporary, but it still sends me in reverse anytime I make progress.  So last night while laying in bed, and  crying (literally crying which is happening more lately but pretty odd for me) about how I don’t know if I can do this, Ryan asked me what it would take for a change to occur?  Would it have to be a major medical issue?  Death?  Would he have to leave and walk out the door for me to realize everything I was doing isn’t worth it?

A very scary, but valid question.

…I have to backtrack a bit and tell you about our final day of vacation…

We stayed one evening off the ship in Genoa, Italy, so we were not rushed around after disembarkation to get to our plane.  As we explored the city and enjoyed the sites, we reminisced about the past that was really quite spectacular before all the hospitalizations and crazy food rituals.  We also talked about the future and the picture-perfect Weaber life.

He has so many goals for us and really wants to go back to school next spring in order to start making them happen, but he is terrified to leave me for such an extended period of time.  He knows my history and even on night shift I tend to perform poorly on the recovery front.

“I might have to stay at my parents when I go back to school,” he said in a very small voice.

A few days earlier I told him I knew I made him put off continuing his education for a while and that I no longer wanted to be the reason he wasn’t enrolled, so he needed to go back regardless of my condition.

“I don’t think I could give school my everything when I came home to something that reminded me so much of a patient everyday….it is too preoccupying and I would worry constantly.”

I really don’t blame him for these thoughts and actually, I have been quite blessed to have someone stand by my side through these past three years of hell. 

He assured me it would only be a temporary move until he finished his studies, but that if I didn’t make a change soon, demonstrate my journey was going in an upward trend, him moving out would have to become reality.

That is the LAST thing I want.

Some of my other underlying causes of why I punish myself have to do with abandonment (I will absolutely save that topic for another post) and Ryan has really been the only person in my life to demonstrate that he unconditionally wants me for me, so why am I engaging in behaviors that push him so far away?

I have explored and discussed my beliefs of why I am the way I am in my relationship in past entries, but would him physically leaving be the only thing to inspire me to get better?

I hate to think so, but that could be my rock bottom.

I pray to God I don’t need to get there in order to do the right things, but this has been running through my mind for a week, and I am scared.

Question: If you have been through recovery or a rough time, did it take a “rock-bottom” experience to make you change your ways?

Cry For Help?

A few weeks ago my good, honest, super helpful, friend Clare suggested I think back to what sparked my motivation for recovery post Healthy Living Summit last year.

Ha, I will again refer to the infamous negative feedback I received following a few pictures that were online, asking how I could possibly claim to be in recovery when I looked so much like death.

The semi-hurtful, but constructive e-mail and comment actually led to me doing the best I ever had during my home-based path to gaining balance and wellness, and perhaps subconsciously that is why I decided to share recent photos of myself on vacation in this very public way.

Let me explain…

It was not my intention yesterday to invoke several remarks about my “ill-appearance,” or “phony-recovery.”

In fact, when I first uploaded our camera I was just excited to briefly relive an amazing trip with my husband and blog about something that is a huge passion in my life; travel.  But many people felt it was necessary to express their concern about my current state, which is fine because anytime I put something on this forum I know it is open to many, and is up to the perception of anyone who chooses to read; everyone is entitled to their opinion and I welcome those things in a respectful way.

All that being said, after reading through the comments (some of which I did not approve yet because I am still sorting out how to take them) and messages, I got to thinking about my faith.

I am a person who whole-heartedly believes God does things for a reason.  I know he has a plan for me and even though sometimes I don’t understand why things occur the way they do, I just have to trust that they are all part of a bigger picture that will eventually make sense.

I would like to think my struggle could potentially help someone else someday, so they don’t have to spend years and precious time fighting something so difficult, but instead could learn from my failures and triumphs.  If that is the ultimate purpose behind me being sick, I would be thrilled that God put me up to the challenge.

But going back to the pictures and expressions made by readers, perhaps the Lord knows I need help right now.

If you want me to be honest, I don’t really look through my gallery and see a frail figure.

The most frustrating thing to my husband is how out of touch I am with reality, my body and what is healthy, which is a large part of why I deny in my mind that there are still any issues, but maybe I need to re-evaluate my way of thinking.

Since we have been home I have had a lot of body-image breakdowns and difficulty accepting that my appetite is so large and wants to consume more than a calorie mark that is way higher than my ED days, but not enough for appropriate repair and weight restoration.  I have trouble grasping that gaining weight could be the answer to eliminating cognitive distortions and the raging beast that my tummy seems to be, because to me, I look absolutely fine.

*Just a little side note: At breakfast this morning I nearly cried in frustration that I just feel so out of control and gluttonous because of having something I thought was too indulgent for 6 a.m. ( <—-Should that be an indication I still live in an ED world?! Probably.)

So maybe I need people in the outside world to be brutally honest with me.

My co-workers would never say anything because a mental illness that manifests physically, makes most people uncomfortable and confused.

My family has dealt with this for years and many have given up saying a word since I have tried and failed countless times.

And it isn’t fair for me to expect Ryan to be my nurse, husband, best friend, support, nutritionist, therapist, reality-checker, etc. because half the time I am in such an irrational mind-set I don’t even believe him when he tells me I am closer to death than life.

Sometimes it is the un-biased, un-solicited, voices of others who are the biggest forces behind my most productive changes, and maybe my vacation photos were my cry for help?  Maybe I need other eyes to make me truly see where I am in the journey?

As I said the other day, ED tends to be deceptive in our gauges of how well we truly are doing in the recovery process, and as with most areas of my life he seems to be my own worst enemy, lying every step of the way.

P.S. I just realized it has been about a year since I started blogging consistently, so thank you all for supporting me.  It has definitely been a road of ups and downs, and ultimately my physical shape proves I still have a long way to go, but I feel like writing has helped me grow, stay on a better path, and keep accountable for all my actions.  I appreciate that you have stuck by me through even the most repetitive and pathetic of posts, because without you, who knows where I would be.

Have a great rest of the weekend!