effortlessly perfect

I was chatting with my doctor last week and we were talking about how much I turn to unhealthy behaviors to calm my emotions, distract myself, make myself feel better, soothe my anxiety, etc. She asked me if the behaviors actually made me feel better or served their purpose, and if they did, for how long? She encouraged me to make a list of other things that I could turn to when I would normally turn to these unhealthy behaviors. I’m very good at trading one unhealthy behavior for another, but struggle with finding healthy options to serve these same needs.

I would love, love, love to hear your thoughts on this and any suggestions you might have for what might help or could go on my list!  Do you have similar issues?  What has or hasn’t worked for you?  No suggestion is too big, small, silly, serious, expensive, or frivilous! 🙂


{June 18, 2012}   A new day

I’m not quite sure what is happening to me, but I’m definitely feeling different. Maybe I’m feeling stronger or more independent. Maybe I believe there is something inside of me worth something. Or maybe I’m just resigning myself to the fact that I can’t control everything and whatever will be will be. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s definitely something different.

I have to be honest, I’m not sure I really like it. I don’t hate the feeling, but it’s pretty scary. My stomach is full of butterflies and my arms are a little shaky. Like nervous shaky, right before I give a speech or get on a rollercoaster.

I’m honestly not doing anything monumental here, but I will be away for a little while. Just a couple trips, one for work and one with family. I’ll be flying by myself for both of them and traveling by myself for part of them as well. I will be seeing things I’ve never seen before and experiencing new things as well. I’m nervous, but excited.

I am hoping and praying that this will be a turning point in my life. Having the opportunity to just be with myself, even if just for a short while. I’m eating better recently, which has helped me feel physically stronger, but my anxiety has been through the roof. I’m just nervous. About everything. I like structure, organization, and plans. But my life isn’t really like that right now. So, instead, I sit here with my butterflies and hope that putting one foot in front of the next is good enough for now.

If you are the praying type, I would ask you to send a few prayers my way. For strength, guidance, and safe-keeping during this time. That I would take care of myself and make healthy choices. And stay focused on the things that really matter in life, not the noise and chaos that currently surround me. I would appreciate that, immensely.

Being a list maker, I’m trying to make a list of things that would be helpful to me during this time. Things that will help me stay focused on being healthy and taking this time to make progress on my journey. I am planning to journal while I am away. Starting tomorrow (when I leave for the first trip), I plan to write something each day. Hopefully that can keep me focused and grounded and make sure I don’t slip too far in any direction. My journal is filled with positive quotes and notes from friends, so just the thought of it makes me happy.

This might be a little stream of consciousness, so I apologize, but I was just thinking about a time in my life when I felt most loved. When I felt happy and striving to keep myself healthy. It’s fascinating to me that I can feel that and remember even now how that felt, but then I let myself slip so far from it. Why can’t I just work toward that feeling? Why can’t I just make that my life? I wonder what I would need to do to feel that way more often? What is keeping me from just living that life now? Definitely things to ponder while I’m away. 🙂

For the first time in a while, I feel like I want to get better. I want to be happy. I want to forgive, myself and others. I want to relax. I want to laugh. I want to travel. I want to live.

I know that I have quite a journey to get to that place. But I’m starting to think I might have the strength it takes to get there. I just have to hang on tight and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

{December 11, 2011}   a few simple words

So, last night I had a dream. So vivid and honest that I woke up with my heart racing. I don’t normally think twice about my dreams, regardless of what happens in them. My husband talks about his dreams, trying to analyze them and figure out what they mean… I normally listen lovingly and then tell him that it probably means nothing or a combination of little things that he really shouldn’t worry about.

But this dream was different. And honestly, it is taking more than a little courage to share it on my blog this morning. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it includes a real person in my life… who I’m pretty sure represented something more than himself in the dream. Or that I’m nervous about what people will think of my interpretation. Or that I’ll read this in a week and think that I was being crazy or dramatic. Maybe it was just a dream that meant nothing. Something to look past or get over. Maybe. But for some reason I don’t think so. One thing I’ve learned throughout this process is to trust your gut… and if it makes you nervous or uncomfortable that it’s probably something worthwhile to do.

So, here goes…

The dream started with a group of us sitting around a table playing cards. It looked like we were probably at a bar or out in a busy, social setting. I was drinking (one of my new and current vices), along with all of the people at the table. We were all having fun, talking, and being pretty free with the language and topics of conversation. Nothing terrible, just a little more loose than I normally am. A couple minutes into the dream, a couple guys join us at the table… one of which (get this!) was my therapist… I know, it sounds crazy, not quite what I was expecting either… especially if you know him. 🙂

So, anyway, the scene starts getting a little crazier, people start doing shots and getting a little wild. My therapist is sitting a couple chairs away from me and is letting me do my thing. I know he’s aware of everything I’m doing, but I can tell that there is no judgement or negative thoughts. It’s almost like he’s just there to actually see me during my time of pain… how I react, what it looks like, watching me numb the pain, and try to get outside of myself. His presence makes me uncomfortable, because I know he knows what I’m doing. I know he knows that this isn’t healthy and that my actions are because of my pain and hurt. He knows me and knows what I’m doing. Yet he just sits there, playing cards, and chatting with the other people at the table. And although his presence bothers me and makes me think about what I’m doing, it’s also surprisingly calming. As if I’m not alone. As if there is someone who knows what I’m going through and doesn’t want me to be so destructive with myself. I don’t feel like I can actually explain it… but it just felt loving and calm.

So, the night continues and I fight the urge to give in and take care of myself. The shots keep coming, the conversation gets raunchier, and my mind (as it normally does) starts going to mush.  People are coming and going, music is playing, lights get a little blurry, and I can feel myself starting to spiral.  The pain is too deep. The feelings are too much. I don’t want to know my name. I just want to escape. This scene is way too familiar, especially lately.  Complete avoidance, no matter the cost.

As things start getting crazy, I see my therapist stand up with his friends. He says they are leaving, as they start to gather their things. Part of me is thrilled that he’s leaving, so the shame and guilt I feel can be forgotten (if only temporarily). Part of me is pissed… I thought he was going to take care of me. How could he leave me when I am clearly a mess? When I obviously need something to drag me out of here?  And part of me is too wasted to think anything.

He shakes the hands of my friends and the other people at our table, saying it was nice to meet them and to have a good evening. He then takes my hand. He holds it tight and looks me in the eyes. He says a few short words that I will never forget. Words that are so simple, yet spoke deep into my heart. Words that currently have my heart beating rapidly even as I type. As he held my hand, he looked me in the eyes and simply said “Take care of yourself. I love you.”  And with that, he let go and walked out the door.

His words and touch startled me. The room stopped spinning. The music silenced in my head. I simply sat there, soaking in the calm. I wanted everything to start again… I wanted the noise, the alcohol, the chaos, the numbness. I wanted his hand and his words to mean nothing. To be easily forgotten. To be written off.  But the silence overwhelmed me. It cut through the crazy night like a knife. A gash too deep for me to ignore.

I sat in the silence for a couple minutes, as I watched him walk out the door. My friends, oblivious of what had just happened or how it affected me, poured the next round of shots and threw them back without missing a beat. It was like I was watching a movie…. no sound, no feeling, just pictures.  I wanted a shot. I wanted to join my friends again. But for some reason I couldn’t. Not tonight. Not right now. I knew I would again in the future. And I knew that no matter how much I wanted to stay and get blasted beyond belief. I knew I couldn’t. I wasn’t going to.

I slowly pushed my chair away from the table and quietly waved good night to my friends, kissing some of them on their heads and hugging them on my way to the door.  I opened the door, getting hit by the cold night air and quiet sky. My therapist and his buddies were only a little ways from the door. He hadn’t been waiting for me, but turned around as soon as I stepped onto the sidewalk. He didn’t make a big deal of my presence. He didn’t run to hug me or smile and jump up and down. He simply waited for me to walk to him and reached out for my hand when I got close. There were no words exchanged, but he looked into my eyes and spoke deep into my heart.

When I woke up this morning, I remembered my dream as if it had been real. Every noise, smell, sound, word, and feeling, as if it had truly happened. It’s hard for me to even begin to think about what the dream meant or why I had it. And although I often times try to push away or overlook the presence of God in things (a horrible habit, I know!), it’s hard for even me to ignore it here. By the end of the story, I wanted to start capitalizing Him and He when I typed about my therapist. While I think my therapist is great, I truly feel he represented Jesus in my dream. The lack of judgement, the constant presence, the peace and calm, and the opportunity for free will. He doesn’t force us. He lets us choose. He loves us unconditionally and never turns His back. He welcomes us with open arms no matter how broken we are. No matter how many bad choices we’ve made. No matter how many times we’ve tried to pull away.

I don’t know what this dream will mean in the long run. If it will affect my path, recovery, and faith. I hope it does. I pray that it does. I know that it spoke deep into my heart in ways I never thought anything could. I could feel His touch, His words, and His look. I didn’t feel shame or guilt or pain. I didn’t have the urge to look away, when he looked deep into my eyes. I felt loved. That’s something very new for me… to truly feel loved. I still feel it today. His presence is overwhelming… and exactly what I needed. Amen.

{November 18, 2011}   question of the day – 11.18.11

What are your thoughts on addiction transfer?  Do you believe it is a valid concern for addiction recovery?  For those with experience with eating disorders, do you think it relates?  Thoughts or experiences on ways to avoid or prevent it?  Or is it “once an addict, always an addict?”

Please share your thoughts, feelings, opinions, and experiences below…

{November 11, 2011}   more random thoughts…

I realized yesterday that it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I’m finding it harder and harder to actually put thoughts together that make sense. I don’t know if I’m avoiding those thoughts or struggling with concentration or being super perfectionistic and not finding anything I want to write about “good enough.”  But for whatever reason, the words just aren’t coming. So, instead of a real post, today I have just more random thoughts…

1. Why are things so easy some days and ridiculously difficult on other days? I’m tired of the rollercoaster.

2. I knew that my eating disorder wasn’t healthy and could lead to medical issues. I always thought that I’d be motivated to stop the behaviors when those medical issues arose. I guess not.

3. Every day that passes makes me realize that this eating disorder is truly an addiction… a way to cope, control and distract myself.  It is fascinating to become aware of how and why I use the eating disorder behaviors. The psychology nerd in me thinks it’s really cool to see how it all plays out, even if I’m my own guinea pig.

4. I wonder what it is going to take for me to actually get better. I’m not really sure I’m in to recovery right now… actually, I’m pretty sure I’m not. But I do wonder what the final straw will be for me. What will make me want to give this up?

5. Even on my crappiest day I know I’ve made progress. Even on days when I cling to my disordered eating, I know that I’m a healthier person. I speak up for myself more. I have taken more of my life back. And I know that deep inside, there is a little piece of me that believes I should be happy. It’s that progress that keeps me putting one foot in front of the other.

6. I am finding myself with this overwhelming urge to run, escape, flee, and otherwise get the hell out of dodge. I want to move… sometimes across town, sometimes to Seattle. I want to quit my job… sometimes to start my own business, sometimes to be a stay at home mom, sometimes to go back to school and become a lawyer. I want to do something I’ve never done before… get a tattoo, go horseback riding, take a hot air balloon ride, go skydiving, take a pole dancing exercise class, learn how to shoot a gun. I want to travel… to Italy, Alaska, a beautiful ranch in Arizona, a log cabin in Maine, New York City… be anywhere but here.

{October 25, 2011}   If you really knew me…

If you really knew me…

  • you’d know that I am afraid of losing this battle.
  • you’d know that I am afraid it will become too much for me and that I will just give up.
  • you’d know that I am just now figuring out who I am or that I am someone independant of who I “should” be.
  • you’d know that I smile all the time because I see emotions as weakness.
  • you’d know that sometimes I just want you to listen… not talk, not interrupt, not offer advice or suggestions. Sometimes all I want is you to sit there and listen and to feel like you care.
  • you’d know that I’m scared that you will leave me.
  • you’d know that sometimes the weight of my sadness is too much for me to handle, like I’m drowning and can’t keep my head above water.
  • you’d know that at any point in the day, I know exactly how many calories I’ve eaten.
  • you’d know that I choose to hurt myself because it hurts less than having to feel anything else.
  • you’d know that there are so many things I wish I could say.
  • you’d know that your words and actions hurt me even though they weren’t meant to.
  • you’d know that I cry when you hug me because of the emptiness and pain I know I’ll feel when you finally let me go.
  • you’d know that I am so incredibly mean to myself.
  • you’d know that I look at the nutritional information of every restaurant menu before I go there with you.
  • you’d know that I really just want to be happy and content.
  • you’d know that I sometimes need your help, but I’m not sure how to tell you this.
  • you’d know that I really do care about you.
  • you’d know that I cry when no one is around.
  • you’d know that I hold back from recovering because I hang on to my eating disorder as an excuse to not chase after my real goals or truly live life.
  • you’d know that I don’t like my eating disorder. I just am having a hard time disliking it right now.
  • you’d know that I feel too ashamed, too embarrassed and too scared to tell you that I can’t cope without hurting myself.
  • you’d know that I can’t see myself as anything but fat and ugly.
  • you’d know that I weigh myself constantly.
  • you’d know that I’m afraid to truly know myself and understand my feelings and wishes.
  • you’d know that as I’m smiling and laughing, I have voices screaming and degrading me in my head.
  • you’d know that my family is more dysfunctional than I like to admit.
  • you’d know that I believe that everyone’s flaws should be accepted and forgiven except for mine.
  • you’d know that I’m always in a state of obsession. My mind is always going a mile a minute and ED is ALWAYS screaming at me about something. I never have a moment of pure peace or silence in my head.
  • you’d know that I’d love to escape to somewhere by the ocean, to eat, drink, dance, and sleep without a care in the world.
  • you’d know that I regret not being more committed during treatment. I didn’t make the progress I could have and I hate myself for that.
  • you’d know that I feel guilty about all the pain I feel.
  • you’d know that I hate feeling vulnerable and I will do almost anything to avoid it.
  • you’d know that I am very sensitive, although I attempt to be seen by others as strong.
  • you’d know that what you said hurts.
  • you’d know that I am crying for help, but can’t find the words.
  • you’d know that no one could berate me more than I do myself.
  • you’d know that I hate being needy and yet I long to be taken care of.
  • you’d know that without this mask I don’t really know who I am.
  • you’d know that I struggle to be trusting of anyone.
  • you’d know that my eating disorder is the only constant in my life, the only thing which feels unchanging regardless of what is going on around me. It is the only guarantee, the only certainty, the only thing loyal to me throughout everything that comes my way.
  • you’d know that the bigger my smile, the bigger my pain.
  • you’d know that I use my body to convey what my words cannot.
  • you’d know that I always feel like a burden, but usually try to hide it.
  • you’d know that I don’t want you to give up on me. I need you to believe in me, even when I don’t believe in myself.
  • you’d know that I will not show that I am mad at you. In fact, I probably won’t even feel mad at you, unless someone else reassures me that it IS something that is ok to be mad about.
  • you’d know that I am constantly searching for something that will make my parents proud of me.
  • you’d know that sometimes I cancel plans with you because I feel fat or don’t want to be seen.
  • you’d know that I am scared shitless because I don’t know what to do with my life and I cannot cope without direction.
  • you’d know that I am trying to hold tight to my faith and stay strong in my relationship with God.  It is often harder than I would like to admit.
  • you’d know that I have an immense amount of guilt over my actions and eating disorder.  This prevents me from telling you about them, as I don’t want you to shoulder my pain or know my secret for what it is.
  • you’d know that I am afraid that I could achieve wonderful things in life. But I have never let myself try, because I am afraid of failing miserably.
  • you’d know that I’m scared that this will kill me.

I met with my therapist this morning. I walked in feel very defeated, hopeless, and lost. Not in a run-away from home kind of way. But more in a lost in the woods without a compass kind of way. No real path or goals (other than lose as much weight as possible), little support, no voice, what’s the point, tired of trying… It’s not the first time I’ve been in this place, but needless to say, it pretty much sucks.

I sat down in her office without much to say. Things aren’t good. ED behaviors are getting worse. Not sure what’s going wrong or what I should do. Don’t want to talk to the dietician. Don’t want to do anything but restrict and lose weight. This morning wasn’t even a determined, because I get strength from it, kind of desire to restrict. It was more like a defeated, because I can’t do anything else right so I might as well be good at something, kind of desire to restrict. Not fun.

The session started kind of slow, as I rambled and she asked questions. But about halfway through the hour, my therapist made magic out of my ramblings. I honestly wish I could have tape-recorded those 30 minutes, because it was like things were finally starting to click in my head. It didn’t make me instantly want to stop restricting, follow my meal plan perfectly, and feel wonderful about myself, but it did make me think about a few things that I had never considered before… or maybe I had considered them, but they didn’t click with me until she explained them the way she did this morning.

I honestly don’t even think that the concepts were all that radical, but it was exactly what I needed to hear at the exact moment I needed to hear it. I’ll try to share the concepts here, so I can come back to them when I struggle…

1. When I first started seriously restricting, I had a goal weight in mind. I was (and kind of still am) convinced that when I get to this goal weight, I will be happy. Life will be better and some (not all, but some) of my problems will go away. I understand it’s not going to be all butterflies and rainbows, but I truly thought that being thinner would give me the confidence and strength to tackle some of the bigger obstacles that exist in my life.

My doctors, therapists, and a couple good friends have told me in the past that achieving my goal weight wouldn’t actually make me happy. That I wouldn’t be content, because there would always be something else to work on… something else that I would need in order to make me happier. While I truly was convinced that they were wrong, I had noticed this a little already, with my constantly lowering goal weight.  In the past eight months, my goal weight had lowered 25 pounds… and I wasn’t even close to it yet! I can only imagine what it would be if I were actually there.

But today, this concept hit home even more, as confessed that I had already noticed I was becoming more obsessed with achieving the perfect body and appearance.  Once I reached my goal weight, I was planning to get my teeth whitened, do something fabulous with my hair, find someone to give me manicures and pedicures regularly to make sure my nails looked perfect, pick out the perfect perfume, find a trainer to make sure I stayed in great shape… the list goes on. I even found myself looking into the possibility of getting a facelift, because I didn’t like how my eyebrows were starting to droop slightly. I think that’s when I realized my therapist might be right. I mean, I’m 31 and looking in to a facelift for an extremely minor (possibly non-existent) issue. Probably not the best sign of sanity.

As I realized that reaching my goal weight was just the first stop on my never-ending journey toward perfect, a light bulb popped on over my head. Perfect doesn’t exist. I will never be perfect. I may end up killing myself in the process. And I will undoubtedly be miserable during my pursuit of this perfection. I’m still not sure exactly how this new revelation will affect my life and thoughts going forward… but it was a big moment for me to truly understand what they had been saying for so long and actually grasp that they were right.

{October 3, 2011}   a little sprinkle of faith…

This weekend was crazy busy and has my mind racing with so many thoughts. I am planning to write more later tonight, but wanted to quickly share a few passages and prayers that I have run across throughout the past week or so…

“…put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind and clothe yourselves with a new self.”  ~Ephesians 4:22-23

The following prayer was written as the closing to a message that included the scripture above. I liked it and wrote it down…. “Gracious God, I’m back again at the beginning of another day and another week. There may still be old habits, regrets, petty jealousies, anger, greed, and envy I need to get rid of. Help me keep working on it by the power of your grace that one day, perhaps even today, I can enjoy the beauty of life around me. In the name of Jesus. Amen”

This was today’s entry in my Prayers & Blessings daily calendar that sits on my desk at work. It made me smile… “May you know the depth of God’s desire to bless you – His love is unconditional, His promises are infallible, and the good things He has planned for you are unstoppable.”

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.


et cetera