There.

Throughout the last few years of recovery, my top priority was getting to a place where I felt comfortable in my body. No matter what shape it was in, what the scale said about it, or how it looked in any piece of clothing. I longed to feel at home.

You see, once I dove head first into learning everything I could about anorexia, I came to realize how long the seed had been germinating. It didn’t begin when I was working out six to seven days a week. It wasn’t caused by a certain situation I’d gone through or as a result of any break up. Society’s idea of beauty had absolutely no part in it whatsoever.

In reality it had begun long ago out of a desire to feel seen and accepted by my family. The symptoms would ebb and flow depending on what my current situation looked like, and I eventually spiraled out of control when I couldn’t seem to effectively handle everything going on in my life. At that point I wanted to shrink and disappear, matching how invisible I felt to everyone around me anyway.

I’ve written before about bits and pieces of my recovery journey. This time of year tends to bring it to the forefront because it was this season years ago that I was slowly wasting away. Once I’d decided to choose life, I made it my mission to find some way – any way – to feel at peace in my body.

Here I am, now nearly six years into recovery, and finally living what felt impossible for so long.

Looking back I can see the ways in which my eating disorder was still very much present in my recovery. From the desire to lose weight to calorie counting to hurting my body and using negative internal dialogue. It’s been a bumpy road for sure, and realistically I know that little voice will always be lingering. But I know I am much stronger now and capable of loving myself just as I am, just as I always wanted to.

So often getting to this moment seemed like a pipe dream. I thought I would forever be in the chase but never arriving. I would have fleeting moments of total acceptance followed by a big trip and sometimes a hard fall. It made me feel like I would never really ‘win’ against my eating disorder, and at times I felt like giving up.

Intuitively I knew better though. I knew this story in my life had a purpose beyond myself. I had some beautiful people who stuck by and believed in me and now have these two little girls who need me to be more than this. Resigning myself to suffering isn’t an option.

Over the last few months I’ve been doing some deep soul searching. My mind, body, and spirit have been opened to acknowledging, feeling, forgiving, accepting, and healing. As I sit here with the cool November air skimming across my thick bare thighs, I feel good. As simple as that.

I’m no longer concerned with how my body, my vessel, looks. I’m not afraid to take up space or be loud or weird. I do yoga, meditate, light candles, use crystals, go to spiritual cleansings, breathe deeply, eat intuitively, laugh a lot, curse, sing badly, connect with others mindfully, and I have never felt better.

I’ve learned and accepted that I am not meant to play by anyone else’s rules. No one else gets to set the bar for me or tell me who I should be or how to live my life. Only I get to determine what is best for me, what is going to light me up, and in what direction I move.

I’ve prayed. I’ve cried. I’ve written thousands upon thousands of words. I didn’t think I would see the day. But I kept at it anyway. This is who I wanted to become for so long, and I’m here living it and it’s beautiful. All of it. The ups and downs, the waves of calmness and madness. Every little detail.

This journey doesn’t have an ending. There is no stopping point or finish line. I will forever be a student of my own life, consciously walking this path, bringing everything into alignment, and doing my best to live wholly.

I’m grateful for my struggles. Honestly and truly. They may have taken me the long way but without them I’m not sure I would have made it to this point. This gloriously messy and fulfilling point.

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Invisible.

Have you ever felt like a visitor in your own life? As though you don’t belong anywhere? Not among any group of people, not in any situation, relationship, space or time? A deep rooted feeling of not belonging. Unable to shake. Unbearable to carry.

Yet this is my life.

For as long as I can remember I never felt like I fit in. Not in school, not at a job, not with friends, not in romantic relationships, and not even with my family. I have always felt like “that one over there.” People kind of like me, or maybe they like the idea of me, yet no one wants to claim me. No one wants to call me their own, part of their tribe, a piece of their puzzle.

I can only get so close to people. I can only do so well at work. I can only do so much for others. Still going unnoticed, head down, and constantly fighting for a place in this world.

Being a loner hasn’t always been self imposed. It’s just that you get tired of feeling less than. It hurts more to stand along the fray of the crowd than to omit your translucence from the picture. It hurts more to stare at the phone waiting for someone to care enough to ask how you are and really want to know. And it’s crippling to continue to put trust in the wrong people who are all to quick to take advantage of your generosity and kind heart.

This is why I long to live between the mountains and the fields. My bones ache to feel more connected to the earth than to its people. The sun a more steady presence than most, and the moon more faithful than any man I’ve ever been with.

I yearn to come and go as I please, answering to no one, asking for comfort from the stars and kisses from cool breezes.

I don’t belong here. I’ve never belonged anywhere. And no one would miss me if I were gone.

Some day my time to roam will come. Some day I will find a sense of belonging within myself, and there I’ll make a home.

Not Mine.

I envy freedom. It’s a taste I’ve long since forgotten.

How I yearn for those days, that life, my life. My life is no longer my own. Freedom tied tightly to a string and let go with the wind.

My life is no longer my own.

My mom recently said to me, “Life is about choices.” “I know,” I said. “But the kids were not my choice.”

Because sometimes we forget it is entirely possible to become a victim of circumstance. No matter how many strangers commend me or tell me I have the option to walk away, it’s not as simple as either. Being this, playing this role, is both a gift and a curse. It was done both to me and for me. But a choice it was not, and a choice it is not.

You see, when there are other lives in the mix, little lives, you can’t simply turn your back over the legalities. When children need you they need you. It doesn’t matter who you are. A provider is a provider, and children need to be provided for. They are already suffering. How selfish of others to think it’s as simple as “you can step away.”

No, I cannot.
No, I will not.

But, oh, how I took my freedom for granted.

I wish I had lived a little more, traveled a little farther, stayed out later, seen more sunrises, and loved a little harder. Because now… Now, there is no going back.

I spent the last few years of freedom suffering in my own emotional hell. I wasted my time while I wasted away. And I can never get it back. Those long lonely hours, night spent awake, nights spent away.. They are all gone now. My freedom to be sick is gone now. The choice of whether to stay or to go is no longer my own to make.

 

 

Some days I mourn the loss of who I could have been.

Resisting.

I started doing something I promised myself many times I wouldn’t do again. How easily I forgot the tightness of its grip. How gently yet forcefully it started pushing me back down the rabbit hole.

I kept spinning the story about how far away from my eating disorder I’ve gotten. I talk about how hard the journey has been but how I now feel comfortable in the skin I’m in. And most days that’s true.

Most days I feel on top of the world. No matter how far behind myself I feel, no matter how much life knocks me down and drags me around, I still wake up with a smile in my heart, grateful for another day. Genuinely.

But then I had this idea to start calorie counting again. I’d been slowly shedding the unwanted weight so what better way to amplify my efforts, right? No. A million times no. Because no matter how much training I’ve done, how many books and articles I’ve read, and no matter how far gone I was in the past, it’s not enough to keep me from peeking behind the curtain of what once was: restricting.

Slowly I found myself dipping below normal, toeing a line, seeing how little I could get down to, and ignoring how, day by day, I was inching closer to madness. Once again I had convinced myself this was the way to do it. I had already shed the bad situation, and now I was wiling to do whatever it took to get rid of every last bit of it, every last reminder, every last pound I allowed it to stuff into my body. It wasn’t about the weight so much as it was erasing what got me into this space. I started to feel so desperate to get back to the place I was in before the world came crashing down around me.

The only way I knew how was control. Or rather, the facade of control. Soon it became about what was allowed. How much would I be allowed to consume at any given time during the day. How far would I allow my body to be pushed every day. How long would I allow myself to stare into the darkness before it would inevitably consume me.

My body soon began betraying me. In an effort to limit food consumption, I turned to increased amounts of coffee, three workouts a day, and forcing myself to go to bed hungry. How dare my body turn against me and want food. The thought stung. Why couldn’t I be obedient to my thoughts?

Mind you this all happened within the span of about two weeks. Because no matter how many years of recovery you have under your belt, there is always a little piece of you waiting to go backward. It doesn’t matter if, on a good day, you can’t imagine ever going back to that, because given a taste it is extremely hard to resist.

But then I got to a point where I couldn’t deny myself any longer. I was hungry and I was tired and I needed to wave my flag in resignation. Recovery, you win again. I will follow you peacefully.

I feel my best when I am listening to my body, not my eating disorder voice. I feel my best when I make a choice in the moment based on intuition and feeling good rather than what I hope might make me take up less space by morning. I feel my best when I sometimes eat a little extra candy or really only want a rich cup of coffee for breakfast. Because when I lie down at night, what makes me feel best is that I lived.

Hello, Stranger.

Over and over again I make a promise to myself to write here more. I have these grand plans to be more open with my life and to find constructive ways be expressive only to completely drop the ball.

I’d wanted to share all the details of my summer with Reilly. I was so excited to spend nearly every waking moment with her, listening to her tell me all about the fun she had in whatever class or workshop she decided to take, baking and laughing and doing all this stuff! But I’ll be honest, it wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped it would be.

Reilly got involved in a few things, and we did bake and spend lots of time together. But she was also extremely lazy and I allowed her to be. I was more focused on using the time to ‘find myself’ and better myself that I let a lot of moments slip away from us. Not to mention I spent nearly half the summer in a funk because of a not so great relationship. I didn’t have a whole lot more emotion to spare.

We made it through though. We laughed, made big messes, cleared out clutter, watched movies, ate a lot. There was still plenty of strong connection. I know I’ll forever cherish having that extra time with her.

Now we’re nearly two months into a new school year in a new school, and we are finding balance and structure in a new way. Reilly’s involved in so many things I barely have a night to myself. I don’t mind it. If it makes her happy and gives her a sense of involvement, I’m all for it.

As for me, I’ve been using these last nearly two months to deepen my connection to myself, first and foremost, and also with the world around me. After trying a few different workout programs I finally decided to follow my instinct and make my way back onto a yoga mat. And I must admit it has been one of the best decisions.

I’m finally feeling much more healed from my eating disorder. My body image has never been this good. I feel a lot more confident and independent. I’m calmer and more patient. My focus is on *feeling* and *being* instead of how I look. My eating habits have changed enormously, and I am no longer feeling afraid or restrictive. I’m comfortable in my human body, an experience I didn’t think would ever be possible for me.

More recently I’ve begun putting in the work to align myself better with my purpose, living a good life, and being surrounded by the right people. It would be easy to allow my current situation of being jobless to get me down but I don’t let it. I know certain things aren’t lining up yet because I am still walking this current path. I am still figuring out my place in this world.

There’s no time to dwell on what went wrong, who wronged me, and how I found myself in this situation. I can’t go back and make different choices. I’ve learned to accept what has happened to and for me, and I’m focusing forward. Eventually the next right step will appear, and when it does I’ll be ready to take it.

In the meantime, I’ll continue working on myself through yoga, meditation, good books, and a whole lot of coffee. I’m strengthening some bonds while quietly ushering others out the back door. I’m lighting more candles, taking in more sunshine and fresh air, and I’m loving the time I have with the girls before they become too old to want to be seen with me.

I no longer feel like a stranger to myself, though, and my, what a wonderful feeling it is.

xx

If It Isn’t Fun Anymore…

One of my favorite things about being out in nature with one of my closest friends is the pearls of wisdom our conversations bring about.

I’d been explaining (actually more like complaining) that something I had been involved in for some time was no longer fulfilling. It felt more like a job, more like pulling teeth, and has been causing mostly resistance in me. What started out as a way to be more involved in the world around me quickly took a sharp turn downward. I’ve been waiting and waiting for the spark to reignite but so far the entire thing has flatlined.

To which my dear friend chimed in with this gem of a quote: “If it doesn’t make you happy, make you better, or make you money, don’t do it.”

I mean, I couldn’t argue with that at all. This particular thing does none of those for me, not anymore at least. And maybe it’s because I’ve placed too much expectation on it and everyone else and everything involved. I wanted it to be something meaningful, connective, charging, and I had the highest hopes for change.

For a while there, yes, it was an amazing thing. It was inspiring and uniting. Now it feels more to me like a second thought and an obligation I don’t necessarily know I want to continue being a part of.

And I’ve tried. I have tried to remember why I got involved in the first place. I remember where and why it all started. I remember the good we’ve done, the connections we’ve made, and the support we’ve given. It doesn’t feel as effective anymore. It doesn’t feel like we have progressed far enough since its birth. It doesn’t feel as though we are cohesive and united enough for change.

So, maybe it’s time for me to get out while it’s still a good thing. Maybe someone else can do the ‘job’ much better than I can and I would certainly welcome that with open arms. Because we’ve got a lot of work to do here.

Can I Have A Minute?

After feeling fairly emotionless for a while, shedding no tears, forcing on smiles, and lacking inspiration, it’s finally all hitting me.

Every song a reminder of a time. Every step a little harder to take. Eyes like a kinked up hose. I can feel it, something, festering. Bubbling underneath the surface. Pushing up against the walls. Begging to get out.

If I let myself, I can feel myself missing. If I let myself, the hurt and disappointment starts seeping in through the cracks. If I let myself, I’ll get lost again.

I don’t want to feel the pain. I don’t want to feel the disappointment. I don’t want to feel the failure of years past. I want to face forward into this moment. I want to focus on what’s good. I want to sever the ties of resistance. I want to take it easy on myself. Be gentle. Mothering. Compassionate.

I want to give of myself. I want to be the difference. I want to stop wondering, stop wandering. I want to give up the ghosts. Take back the broken pieces of my heart. Mean every word I say.

Fall, the most transformational time of the year.