This Is It

Hello there,

I realize this is rather random since it has been quite a few months since I have actually posted anything, but I was reminded of my blogging days when I received an email that my domain name was about to expire.

Obviously I am not going to renew it, since this isn’t something I do regularly anymore, but it gave me the itch to write a post, perhaps more for me, than for anyone out there who may come across this.  But maybe it can also serve the purpose of what I intended this forum for all along; to help and inspire someone else.

Most of my writing had been dedicated to the countless attempts I made at recovering from an eating disorder.  I fooled myself more than once that everything in my life was fine and that it was ridiculous that I needed to gain weight in order to feel better, or that I needed to completely stop exercising to overcome my addictive nature.

I will say that what I have found for my personal journey, is that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

I emphasize the part “my personal journey,” because there may be some people out there who can enter a hospital or outpatient facility, go through the program, get discharged and can move on with their lives, symptom free, or to the point where they are under control and the individual can be happy and self-sufficient.

I proved that I was NOT one of those people.  In fact, I remember a few doctors and therapists who predicted my entire life would be consumed by ED behaviors, and that I would either die extremely young, or completely alone because all my loved ones would eventually abandon me since I was not capable of being the CJ they once knew.

Anyway, this post, as I said, is for me in the sense that it provides closure to a chapter in my life I hope is lost forever; the chapter that prevented me from liking myself even in the least bit, and in turn prevented me from opening my heart and mind to anything, or I am very sad to say, almost anyone, other than ED.

It is also a writing for others because this has been a relatively long, windy road, and I want to provide some hope to others who may not receive it from their support system or health care professionals.  Even if someone has told you that recovery does not seem feasible, or that it will be too hard because you’ve behaved using these unhealthy habits for so long that they are more normal than not, there really CAN be life after the misery.  It’s not a perfect life, but at least your LIVING.

Let me backtrack and maybe make this more coherent…

To try to summarize this year, and where I last left you, Ryan and I made the decision that my full time job as the finance manager of our alma mater (high school) was doing more harm than good for my state of mind and body.

I came home freakin’ miserable every day.  I was so bored and I believed being an adult was the shittiest thing in the world.  Granted there are aspects of adult life that do suck…hello, bill paying, there are components that are damn near amazing.

More on that later…

So I left my job, entered a partial hospitalization and got kicked out for not meeting the standards of the program.

I insisted that I could continue recovery at home, gain the weight necessary to put me out of the medical danger zone and we could go on with our lives as we had before I dropped nearly 40 pounds and became a crungry, emotional, beotch.

This was a lie I told my family and myself, because I dug deeper into depression and self-hatred as pretty much every job I applied for turned me down, despite excellent reviews in my interviews and post-meeting feedback.

One negative occupational response had me particularly upset because I thought it was the perfect fit; a fundraising coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters that was located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, so not only would it prompt Ryan and I to relocate, which we wanted to do, but also had a great salary, and was in a field I thought I could really excel and would enjoy.

When I got the rejection phone call I hung up, cried, planned my meals of lettuce, deli turkey and vinegar for the next few days (gross) and the workout routines I could sneak in while no one was home.

As my weight dipped again during our weekly scale session Ryan started to panic since his annual Colorado trip to visit his brother grew near.  I was notorious for dropping a few pounds anytime he left for more than a day, and he suggested I come along to take my mind off the lack of job/dwindling bank account, my sister who was having a baby in just a few months (another major stress to me since we all lived together), and the life I felt continued to fall apart.

Here is where I interject another aspect of this story and the whole job search…

I have mentioned in past posts about my love of music and two venues I attended every week in Philadelphia; Rumor and Soundgarden.  I also worked part time for these places doing promotional work and selling tickets, as well as volunteered anytime they needed prep and clean up helpers.  It had always been in the back of my mind that I would love a career in the hospitality industry, especially one that had to do with the DJs and beats I lived for, in a place with people that welcomed Ryan and I as family, so on more than one occasion I asked the owners (who were friends of ours…I promise I wasn’t some creepy, stalking stranger) if they had any positions opened, even if it was for coat check or bottle running.  I would either get ignored or the conversation would go another way and initially I accepted that perhaps it just wasn’t the right time.   I eventually submitted my resume to management, which I don’t even know if they ever read, but was never responded to and despite the positive relationship we had, I felt too self-conscious to follow up.

After months of spending every friday, and almost every Saturday, both working and enjoying time split between the two establishments, my hopes faded and I told Ryan a job for me at either place, was never going to happen.

Immediately I blamed it on how ugly I was, because if you look around in the night life industry most of the females on staff do tend to be gorgeous, with impeccable fashion sense and a tolerance for discomfort (high heels for six hours, are you joking?!) that I can no longer endure because I have ruined my bones and joints from malnourishment and over-use.

And then I would have a mental beat down of myself because it had to be BOTH, that I was ugly and of course not good enough, to be an employee in such an awesome career field.  God destined me to be bored to tears in an office my entire life, with two audits a year and scoldings because I wore knee high boots with leggings and a sweater.  I honestly believed that to be true, which prompted me to slack off in the “let’s get healthy” efforts, even more.

Two days before Ryan left for Colorado I told him we needed to have a serious talk and that when he got back we needed to formulate a concrete plan.

Perhaps we should pre-maturely move to another area…maybe as far as Colorado or Orlando, to start over because I felt completely stifled and stuck.  I did not know how to change, nor did I have enough desire if I always felt this lost and hopeless, and as much as I love our hometown, the place we both grew up has minimal room for growth and advancement in the job market, or as a person.

I then told him about all my secret negative self-talk concerning Rumor and Soundgarden, how I felt very welcome and comfortable as a patron, but that my inquisitions about employment made me feel as if it was only because we were customers and not the actual friends I always believed we were to be.  Once again, ED made me feel completely insecure and second guess my validity as a human-being.

Anyway, to make an incredibly long story short(er), my dad, who was also worried about my state of mind, decided to send me to Colorado with Ryan, my in-laws, brother in-law and his fantastic girlfriend for a few days.

There I got some fresh air, enjoyed the unconditional love the Weaber family has always shown to me, and put a lot of thought into my relationship with God, nature, and my belief that things do happen for a reason.  I don’t label myself a specific religion all too often, or openly, but I do have a strong faith and have always thought the universe has a plan; that although as individuals we can make choices, there is a path that we will somewhat follow.

The day before my flight back to Pennsylvania I got a phone call from one of the managers at Soundgarden.  He asked if I could possibly stay in Philadelphia for the week and help put on one of the biggest shows they were having to date.

*If you are a trance fan you will understand the magnitude of Above and Beyond coming to my great city.

I spoke with a dear friend who allowed me to stay at her apartment downtown, and as soon as I arrived back in Lebanon I packed my bag and got on the turnpike.

When the show ended, and was a huge success, I was baffled as to why no one spoke with me about perhaps a schedule for the next week, or me becoming a more permanent fixture within the company, because at this point I was helping with show set-up, tear down, running the twitter account and trying to lend a hand wherever one was needed; and not because I felt obligated, but because I legitimately loved what I was doing and being part of a team.

A few weeks later another big show rolled around and they again asked for my help, to which I happily agreed and spent the week soaking up every single thing I could learn in the office. I was fascinated by the fast-paced environment and how NOT BORING even 14 hours days could be.

By the end of that weekend of shows (there were three since it happened to be a holiday) Ryan finally said something privately to one of the managers, asking if this was leading to something bigger or if they just needed temporary help to get through the next few months of big name artists.

My husband knows me too well and I was yearning so badly to ask myself, but at that time the pesky disease was still corrupting my brain and preventing me from having the strength I needed to get my needs met verbally.

That Sunday I got a phone call to meet the owner at the venue to discuss my new roll with their social media and hospitality services. I kept my composure but wanted to cry as I sat at the end of the couch in our green room, and my new bosses listed my responsibilities.

I felt like a person again, but at the time was still in a physical shape that needed to change.  Weight needed to be gained and I still needed to get my labs drawn and have medical check-ins…not to mention my mind was still very negative and overpowered by a monster.

But as the weeks went on and we shopped for an apartment, I became a full-time employee and Ryan and I went from being in love, but no longer vibrant and alive TOGETHER, to excited about the future again, things started to naturally progress.

Calorie counting is not accurate or typically feasible, because my schedule went from a very rigid 7 am-3pm job, to a noon to sometimes 7 am show day, which typically means either a quick meal thrown together in my kitchen and millions of snacks to keep my fueled through a busy day, or delivery to the office from the cutest little organic market up the street.  Measuring and complete control over intake…ain’t nobody got time for that in this business, and perhaps thats been one of the best things for my recovery.

Exercise has also drastically changed, because it is now on a moderate level and usually consists of walking around this beautiful and historic city, carrying groceries and work supplies, way less than 2 hour gym sessions and 5 pounds weights between the one TV show I have time to watch a week.

My stress level can at moments be through the roof, which I won’t lie sometimes makes me want to revert immediately back to old and destructive habits, for the split-second of comfort they would provide, but again, breaking my stride of productivity,, regardless of how stressful the situation may be, just isn’t in the cards.

They were not lying when they said “the show must go on,” and being a complete music lover, who considered herself to be very blessed to work with fantastic talent, would never ever want to make Markus, Armin or Tritonal wait a split second.

I will be completely honest, however,  in disclosing that my work is no where close to finished.  I have gained an amount of weight that makes my husband proud, naturally here, by following my ginormous appetite, eating things out of the box, participating in restaurant outings and not making a 7 mile run the main focus of my day, BUT I do still have days and moments where I have melt downs.

Just recently Ryan had to take me on an immediate pant shopping spree, because I threw an all-out temper tantrum when my old black bottoms I used to love, could no longer button.

If I am at home, or alone at my desk, having guilt about the delicious panini I just enjoyed and start to tally up my intake for the day, sometimes I want to just take a sleeping pill and fast forward to when I can “start over” and not be such a “glutton.”  Three hours later, when I am starving again, my body tries to tell me everything is fine and I actually needed two slices of bread (can you imagine?!)

And there have been a few instances where I am looking in the mirror, seeing the changes that have become more obvious, and I either want to break the glass with my fist, or rip the skin off my body because I feel so uncomfortable, ugly and fat.

These struggles have not COMPLETELY subsided, but my self-worth has increased incredibly, and there are a lot of days where I am proud of what I accomplished/am accomplishing, and excited about what I learned, not only in my career field, but also how it is making me grow as a person.

I love going to brunch with a friend, or having a “beats, beads and brownie/snack on hummus all day” day with all my ladies, in the few moments I have off.  I would so much rather dance than spend more than half hour on a treadmill.  I like to smile and actually mean it.  And I am much more accepting of the fact that I was not blessed with the body of a super model, I may not always eat cleanly, or follow those dumb nutritional guidelines of that wretched phone app I considered the dictator of my diet, but I am confident that I have a good heart and pure intentions; that I try to be a good family member and friend, and that I can forgive even myself in the appropriate situation.

And right now, I count my blessings every day that I did go through the last five years, because it brought me to where I am today; not perfect, or happy one hundred percent of the time, but appreciative of the unique gifts and opportunities that have come my way…especially now that I was willing to take care of myself.

Good things come to those who wait, and I am living proof.

Thank you for reading, not only this ridiculously long post, but the others, as well.  The support has been a great help to me through this process, and I hope you know you are not alone.


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!