effortlessly perfect

An interesting read…

Eating Disorders and the Executive Woman.

Worth checking out.


{September 28, 2011}   quotes & pics

A friend of mine has a blog that consists purely of pictures and quotes. I love looking through it when I have a few spare minutes. The pictures are breathtaking and warm my heart. The quotes are inspiring, uplifting, and thought-provoking little messages. It’s a wonderful escape from a world filled with words, rules, and expectations… for her and it’s “readers.”

Maybe someday she’ll let me share the link with you, but for now, I thought I would just share a few of my favorites…

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

Never let anyone make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want.

It’s nice when someone remembers small details about you. Not because you keep reminding them, but because they actually care.

Always remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than think, and twice as beautiful as you’ve ever imagined.


{September 28, 2011}   Random thoughts from this morning…

1. I am always amazed at how much the number on my scale affects my mood. I mean, I know I have an eating disorder and that I put an unhealthy value on food, weight, and appearance, but it still surprises me as to how unconsciously affected I am by seeing a number lower or higher than I am expecting. Yesterday pretty much sucked for a variety of reasons, which led me to my first binge (although much smaller than normal) in more than eight months. I went to bed feeling defeated and depressed. This morning I told myself that I would weigh myself and start back with dedicated restricting… making up for the mini-binge and resuming a sense of control in my life. But the number on the scale wasn’t as bad as I feared, which instantly lightened my mood and gave me a little glimmer of hope. Because, for some reason, restricting, losing weight, or fitting into a smaller size can fix even the worst day.

2. Why is it that I know what I need to do to recover, but still can’t get myself to do those things? I’m not purposely setting myself up to fail, but yet continue to make decisions that take me farther from recovery. It’s maddening.

3. I never realized how crappy my body feels when I don’t eat. Emotionally, I love the feeling of not eating… it’s almost a high… strength, power, control, structure. But man, physically, I feel like shit. I get pounding headaches when I heavily restrict. My upper back hurts. I clench my jaw and grind my teeth. I never really noticed it before, because the emotional high normally blocked it out. But now, I notice it. And I’m not a fan.

{September 28, 2011}   hot coal

I just left one of the most infuriating meetings I have ever attended… and I’ve been in some bad ones.  It was one of those meetings were your hands shake, muscles tighten and you don’t know if you want to scream or cry.  I walked back in to my office after the meeting and wanted to throw, hit or break whatever I could find. However, because I’m too much of a chickenshit to actually show emotions, I thought maybe writing in this blog would be a decent second choice.

I’m assuming that even though I have rage running through my veins right now and could shoot daggers out my eyes, that my post will still come across fairly calm, collected, and professional.  Which, if I actually stop to think about it, infuriates me even more. I don’t know why I can’t just let go. Say what I think. Call people out. Stand up for myself. Have a voice.

I am so sick of holding all of this in and dealing with how it makes me feel, act, and live. There is a quote from Buddha that reads “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Yep, that’s about how it happens, doesn’t it?  How many times have I just stood there with a smile on my face, while the piece of coal burnt the hell out of my hand? And yet, the next time I find myself with a hot coal, I do the same thing… sometimes putting it in my pocket, holding it close to the things that I love, letting it burn my relationships, dreams, and life. Sometimes I feel like I’m sleeping on a bed of hot coals, because I’ve never had the guts to get rid of a single one.

I never really saw anger when I was growing up. My family had a magic way of making negative emotions disappear without dealing with them. I never saw yelling, door slamming, or raised voices. Even frustrations and anger being handled in a calm and rational way were absent. We just ignored anger… letting those feelings fester, grow, and build resentment. So, maybe I learned that anger wasn’t appropriate or acceptable. And if you couldn’t avoid it, just make it disappear instead of dealing with it. 

I’m also not sure I ever had a good model of how to handle anger in a healthy way. Without having seen successful conflict resolution happen, it’s hard to be to truly believe that it is possible. When I think about the anger, rage, and frustration I have inside me, the thought of letting it out is more than I can comprehend. I don’t trust that I will be able to express my negative feelings in an appropriate way. I also take myself to some crazy places when I think about the potential results from letting this anger out. It’s as if I let myself have real emotions that the people around me will leave. Or that I’ll lose my job for standing up for myself. Or that I’ll become someone I don’t really even like.

So, for now, I keep it all inside. Holding that hot stone. Feeling it burn my hand. Standing in front of everyone with a smile on my face… and tears running down my heart.

{September 25, 2011}   make. me. numb.

Do you ever have those days when you just want to be someone else? Or somewhere else? Or dealing with anything but what life has dealt you? With different friends? In a different house? Working at a different job? Driving a different car? Just turn it all back in and start over. Or just, for a moment, not be you. Sometimes it’s not even the desire to be someone else… actually, most of the time it’s not wanting to be someone else… it’s simply just not wanting to be you. It’s wanting to take the problems, stresses, obstacles, roles, and structure of your current life and throw them off a cliff. To forget the stresses of tomorrow, problems of today, and pain of the past.

For me this happens almost daily. At least several times a week. I live my life based on “shoulds” instead of “wants” or “needs.” Constantly trying to please others, figuring out what I should be doing or not doing, and then rethinking and second guessing to no end. Needless to say it’s an exhausting and unfulfilling way to live life. It’s also a way of life that is completely void of self. There is no thought as to what I want to do or who I actually am. Just a neverending list of who I should be or what I should avoid. I received the “should” messages very early in my childhood. What I should wear. What grades I should get. How hard I should work. Who I should be friends with. What I shouldn’t say. So, I internalized it all and lived my life accordingly.

Living by these rules left me completely unsatisfied, since they weren’t really me. And all of the rules and messages created such a model of perfection that I could never actually live up to them anyway. Trust me, it’s no way to live. What I’ve been surprised to find out throughout this past year is that I really grew up and spent the last 30 years without any real idea of who I am. My identity got lost in the shuffle. With the multitude of shoulds, rules, messages, structure, and expectations running through my veins, my true self was never actually considered. The fascinating thing to me is that it wasn’t like I had an identity or knew my true self, but suppressed it due to the expectations of others. I fully believe that I just never stopped to consider that I had thoughts of my own. I grew up thinking that my thoughts, feelings, emotions, wants, and needs didn’t matter and weren’t as important than anyone else’s. So, why on earth would I spend any time developing something that was just going to get run right over anyway?

But honestly, my lack of identity and self is probably a conversation for a different day. I only bring it up this morning, because it leads to this pain I want so desperately to numb. My issues with food and addiction started when I was about 12, which is also when I remember having this intense desire to numb myself. It was like I was desperately trying to escape from reality. At that point in time, and with the limited resources of a 12 year old, I chose food. My friends and I would go to a nearby fast food restaurant or grocery store and I would find something to numb the pain. And while I was sitting there with my friends, eating my latest purchase, and blocking out everything else, I was free. It didn’t matter what had happened earlier in the day or how much the rest of my day was bound to suck. It didn’t matter that my 12 year old world was falling about around me… parents divorcing, people dying, unrelenting pressures and negativity. For those few minutes, none of it mattered. I was free. I was happy. I was numb.

In high school I started to flip between restricting and bingeing. With the added pressures of caring about my appearance, weight, and the opposite sex, bingeing really didn’t seem like the best fit most of the time. So, I would restrict. This is when I first taught myself that food was a weakness. That if I could just be stronger than the food, I could win. It was just food. How could a muffin or apple or candy bar have that much power over me? So, I drank diet coke throughout the day. And would eventually get hungry and eat too much in the evening. I didn’t say I was good at restricting at this point in my life, I simply said that I did it. In my first year of college I became much better at it. Eating only rice and Crispix, and exercising obsessively. I ended up losing 65 pounds in my first 10 weeks of college. And since I kept a smile on my face throughout all of the pain, my family and friends were so happy for me. Proud of me for losing the weight. And oblivious to the fact that something could have been wrong. But I did a great job of making them think things were perfect… forcing down an acceptable amount of food when I came home so they would believe that all of the weight loss was done in a healthy way. Little did they know the pain and torture I was putting myself through to become perfect. I had a 4.0 my freshman year, lost 90 pounds, and was completely and utterly miserable.

This past year, the numbing got worse. I started purging… something that isn’t very easy for me. Then, after a few months of eating and purging, I decided restricting would be easier. It felt controlled, less chaotic, and much less violent. It was similarly negative in my thinking, but it gave me a sick sense of strength. That I was good at something, winning even. Weight loss happened, feelings were numbed, and life is still pretty miserable. I know that eating disorders and addictions serve a purpose. They don’t come out of no where and they play a role in each person’s life. Mine distracts me, it diverts my attention from dealing with feelings or emotions that are too hard for me to deal with. Not eating numbs the pain, much in the same way a big meal would. I remember in college saying that I wanted to “drink until I didn’t know my name.” I rarely actually did that, because I didn’t enjoy how out of control I felt when I was drunk. And I never wanted to do anything bad or illegal…. drink and drive, public intox, sleep with someone I didn’t know, etc.  So, maybe it makes sense that restricting is my drug of choice or way I choose to numb out these feelings. The ultimate control and structure, void of needs or wants, and a distraction that helps me pretend nothing else exists.

I think deep down I know that the feelings I am trying so hard to numb have to come to the surface if I truly want to get better. I also know that my numbing methods don’t really work and are pretty detrimental to my health. And that the free, happy feeling I believe I had as a 12 year old, was (and is) really anything but happy or free.

{September 24, 2011}   slowing down

This morning I woke up about 6:30am. I laid in bed for a few minutes, before wandering out into our living room. I grabbed a bottle of water, a hoodie, and padded my way out to our front porch. My husband and I have two chairs on our front porch that are evidently just for decoration. While we’ve spent more than a few nights on our back deck, the front porch chairs have never actually been occupied. But, for whatever reason, this morning I walked out my front door and sat down. The brisk air, damp grass, and silence, was heavenly. I drank it in. I closed my eyes, just feeling the air around me. Nothing to do. No where to go. Not a thought in my head. I was at peace. If only for a brief moment.

This morning was something very new for me. My life is normally a rat race. Organized chaos at best, sometimes just chaotic chaos. I have learned to perfect multi-tasking, while delegating is something I still struggle with. My To Do lists grow exponentially and my iPhone is in a constant state of buzzing, ringing, emailing, texting, or tweeting… sometimes in my sleep. In a world where I can’t ever accomplish enough, each unproductive minute is wasted time. There is never a moment to breath and be satisfied with what’s been accomplished, because there are an endless number of new tasks or requests to be handled.

So, my moment of silence this morning was a beautiful reminder of the progress I’ve made over the past six months. I used to hate going to watch movies in a theater. I really didn’t understand how I could justify just sitting and watching a movie for two hours. That could be time I was doing something. Moving forward on a project. Catching up on email or returning phone calls. Any of those things seemed like a good use of time. Sitting and watching a movie did not. However, in the past six months, I’ve come to find that movies really aren’t that bad. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still far from a movie buff. And I’m ridiculously picky about which movies are actually worth the 120 minutes of my life that they require me to give up. But I have actually gotten to the point where I enjoy just sitting and watching a good movie. It might have taken me a few years longer than most to learn to appreciate them, but I can officially add movies to the list of things I enjoy.

While some of the things I’ve been working on seem to be impossible to make progress on and even seem to be getting worse at times, this morning reminded me that I am succeeding at slowing down. Taking deep breaths. Enjoying nature. Savoring a cup of hot tea. Relaxing with some great music. Sitting with a good friend and chatting endlessly about nothing in particular. And occasionally spending the afternoon doing something completely and utterly unproductive. While it often seems like baby steps or frivolous to even acknowledge, to me it makes me smile. Maybe, just maybe, I’m getting a little closer to normal. Whatever that means.

But for now, I’ll savor the silence of the cold, morning air. I’ll close my eyes and drink in the music that fills my car in the moments between when I arrive at work and when I open the car door.  I’ll let myself feel the warmth in my throat as I swallow a spoonful of homemade chicken soup. And occasionally I’ll even turn off my cell phone, curl up in my favorite overstuffed chair, and read a good book. Wow. Radical stuff.

{September 23, 2011}   the perfectly titled blog

The pressure of naming my blog was more than I could even fathom. I know it might sound dramatic, but this was a big deal for me. A defining moment. The short phrase or cluster of words that would become my identity. How do you pick three to five words that sum up your thoughts… some of which you haven’t even had yet? I imagined people rolling their eyes at my attempt at humor or wittiness. I googled several phrases to see what came up… heaven forbid my blog title was unknowingly also the title of a book, poem, or musical group. I wanted my blog title to be something amazing. Something unique. Something that would inspire people to read, listen, respond, and belive. I wanted my blog title to be perfect.

I first heard about the concept of effortless perfection about eight months ago. I’m not quite sure how I first came about it, but as soon as I read it, I instantly connected. It was two simple words that summed up what I had been striving for my entire life. Two words that could be explained by your average fourth grader, but when put together become a potentially deadly combination. Easy to understand, painful to pursue. Not to mention the unrelenting disappointment, due to the fact that what you are pursuing is not attainable. Trust me, it sucks.

Effortless perfection is not a clean house. It’s not even a flawless house…  a spotless house, beautifully decorated with the latest trends in furniture and decor, black & white photographs of your adorable children hung perfectly on the walls, candles flickering spreading heavely aromas throughout the rooms, understated elegance from the towels in the guest bathroom, warm chocolate chip cookies in the oven, and the subtle sounds of perfectly chosen music playing in the background.  Effortless perfection is creating all of that effortlessly. No stresses, sweat, debt, or doubt. That’s what I’m striving for. That’s when I can rest.

Effortless perfection is not winning a big court case. Effortless perfection is attending the best law school in the country and finishing at the top of your class. It’s climbing your way to the top by being the hardest working and most determined. It’s saying the perfect things at the perfect times, with just the right balance of professionalism, compassion, and assertiveness. It’s wearing the perfect black power suit, with just the right amount of feminity… the perfect look to make the women jealous, while making the men want to sleep with you and hire you at the same time. And making all of this happen in time to be home to get a fabulously prepared dinner on the table for your loving family and kids. That’s what I’m reaching for. That’s what I expect of myself.

I have no doubt that I could sit here and list 14 more examples of what effortless perfection is to me. I can actually feel myself reacting physically to these examples. Fighting the urge to add items to my To Do list in an effort to get closer to this perfection I seek. Trying to ignore my self-defeating thoughts of not being good enough, not achieving enough, wasting time, and falling short.

I want to believe that effortless perfection started in my mind as a source of encouragement, something to strive for, an inspirational goal. I honestly don’t think it did start as healthy motivation, but I like to believe that it could have. What I do know, is that right now it isn’t healthy. It’s my own personal jail… handcuffs… hell. The feelings are suffocating, paralyzing… like I can’t keep my head above water, being held down by a force I can never overcome.

My effortlessly perfect self exists only in my dreams. The perfect wife. The perfect employee. The perfect Christian. All at once, without any effort. It’s a beautiful dream that has been slowly ripping my life apart for years. Like the slow drip of a faucet… a constant reminder of just how much I fall short.

Hi, I’m ****** and I’m an addict.  There, I said it. I have been trying to deny it for a while now, but it’s getting harder and harder to ignore. My drug of choice is normally food. I eat to avoid my feelings. I restrict to have control. I purge in an attempt to get rid of everything… physically and emotionally. For years I thought I just really liked food and was too weak for dieting. I thought that this was just how life is. But the last ten months have made it pretty clear that my issues with food run a lot deeper.

I’ve never felt more like a true addict than I have in these past two weeks. While most of my past addictive behaviors have mostly centered around food and exercise, I can feel myself getting less selective about what method I use to numb my pain, feelings, and life. I’ll spare you the details for now, but I really feel like I’m in a downward spiral heading nowhere good. The problem is that it feels great. But I guess that’s the problem with addiction. Well, probably one of the many problems with addiction. The self-destructive behaviors provide so much instant gratification that they are hard to give up or leave behind.

The crazy thing that I’ve noticed this week, which may really not be all that radical is that I can actually see myself spiraling but am choosing not to do anything about it. It’s as if I can step back from my own life and watch myself do stupid things. I make choices that are self-destructive. I push away people who could help get me back on track. I put myself in situations that will knowingly trigger or tempt me. In the back of my mind, I know that ultimately these decisions and behaviors will lead nowhere good. But yet, I continue them. And honestly, I not only continue them, I seek them out. I plan for them. I perfect them. I want more and can’t get enough.

I don’t claim that anything I have to say is radical or really all that interesting. But to me all of this is very new and different. There was never a time in my life when I (or anyone else who knew me, for that matter) would have even considered the thought that I would be an addict. My life was pretty normal, boring even. Good grades, safe home, didn’t drink until my 21st birthday. Looking back on all of it now, I can definitely see why I am where I am, but growing up I thought everything was perfect. I’m sure I’ll delve into some childhood thoughts at some point, but that’s a conversation for a different day. I will admit that I struggle with the fact that all of this is very much outside my stereotypical idea of who becomes an addict. But I’m also learning pretty quickly that I’m in no place to judge, question, or try to figure out anyone but myself.

So, that’s me in a nutshell. Just a girl, trying to figure out her way in life and not screw up too much along the way. I’m hoping to use this blog as a place to share my true thoughts… with myself or anyone else who might care to listen or respond. While I normally have no trouble communicating and actually enjoy public speaking and writing, expressing my true feelings has never been easy for me. I’m hoping this becomes a place where I can share what’s on my mind, without judgement or shame. Where words can flow, without editing them or making them perfect. And where the dreams of my heart, which have been suppressed for so long, can finally come to light.

et cetera