How Did I Get Here?

I want this to be the last I write about this.

I want this to be the last day I hold any resentment or regret.

I want this to be the day I unshackle myself and become free.

There was a moment tonight when I started to really wonder, more than I ever had before, how I got to be here. How did I blink and become 34? Why did the years pass on without a long lasting love? Why did I make a decision at 22 yet now I am living the life I suffered to avoid?

How did my life become everything I tried to escape?

Where did I go wrong?

I mean, I do genuinely feel in some respects I’m in a place I was meant to be. There are certain situations and people that have come into my life and it feels like a piece of the puzzle has been solved. Yet on the flip side I have so many holes, so many stones left unturned, dreams unfulfilled, pages unwritten, life unlived.

So how did I end up here? Why didn’t I leave when I had the chance? Why didn’t I live while I had the chance?

These emotions rear their ugly heads from time to time, and I know full well it’s because I haven’t yet accepted where I am. I haven’t accepted that my life hasn’t gone at all according to ‘plan.’ I haven’t accepted that, yes, some of my own decisions got me here. I sure as hell haven’t fully accepted that this is it, for always and forever, until I draw my last breath. And at times I can’t even imagine my life any differently.

So how do I finally put these feelings to rest? How do I fully step into where I am and who I am? How do I make peace, forgive (others and myself), and put the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ to rest?

Sometimes I think I’m getting there. Until that moment I get tripped up, lose sight, begin resenting, and eventually land in the question of ‘how did I get here?’ It’s a vicious cycle. A cycle I am desperate to escape.

I know there is no well traveled road to get me there, that no one can really guide me. Because everyone’s journey is unique. No matter the similarities, the variables are too great and ultimately I have to step into healing on my own. I have to forge my own path. I have to heal my own heart, mend my own fences, and find my own way.

I’m ready now though. Really ready. I’m ready to let go of this baggage I’ve been carrying around, using as an excuse, stumbling over, and trying to hide. I’m ready to be set free. Ready to become someone better.

I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and do the dirty work. I’m ready to dig in, tear my heart out and finally stitch it up. I’m ready to be someone to another. I’m ready to not be alone in this life. I’m ready to be part of something greater than myself, leaving behind ego for selflessness.

I’m ready to step into my divine power. Own my life. Own my shit. By any means necessary.

I know it’s going to hurt. Like hell. I know it’s going to be emotional and painful. I know I’m going to have to tear down my walls and actually FEEL all of this. I have to bleed it out, throw it up, and flush it away. I have to drag myself through the muck kicking and screaming until I’ve finally expelled every last bit of the past from my limp body.

And then I have to pick myself back up, take a deep breath, face the sun, and start walking. Only then will I have truly let go. And only then will my heart be healed.

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.

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.

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.

Time Off.

The sweetness of summer is so close I can almost taste it.

About three weeks until Reilly is out of school and we can begin our little adventure together. We came to a family decision that I would take the summer off since I hadn’t been able to find a full time job. It makes more sense economically, and I had actually been in need of time to myself in order to really heal and become.

It’s been nearly two weeks now, and sometimes I feel like I am staring out into an abyss. I’m not always sure how to constructively fill the hours, and I feel guilty if I take an hour or two to be still (and occasionally binge watch something if I’m being honest!)

One goal I have had for this time is to release myself from the need for structure. I’m a creature of habit, and I like to know what I am going to do from one moment to the next. Having the freedom to decide as I please in real time is uncomfortable for me.

It’s something I’ve desired though, giving up my need for this sense of control. I’m embracing it fully, and so far I’m settling into it rather nicely.

Yesterday may have been the most relaxed so far, with writing, yoga, and taking the best, most gentle care of myself. I released myself from the pressure to do so much in a day and to just go with the flow. That is something I know nothing about!

I have high hopes for this time though.

I’ve finally begun reading more for pleasure and connection. I’m slowly getting back into cooking now that I have the time for it. I am moving my body in ways that feel good for me both physically and mentally. Most days I don’t utter a sound to the empty house, and I am able to melt into the scents of candles and essential oils.

The time to reconnect my body with my spirit has finally arrived, and I am taking full advantage of it.

As for once Reilly is out of school, I think I am most excited about those days ahead. We’ve talked about swimming, exploring in nature, visiting our friends and family, reading some delicious books, cooking together, camping out with a good movie, and enjoying a few lazy days.

This past year since Reilly’s baby sister came into our lives has been an adjustment for all of us. There are times I feel guilty for not being able to give her my undivided attention. I’m sure most parents and caregivers feel that way when the next baby arrives. It’s a balancing act for sure, one I don’t think I will ever master. But I hope each kiddo knows just how much they are adored and needed. And I hope I am able to connect even more deeply with Reilly over the next few months.

In the weeks leading up to this change I was crazy anxious, stressed and depressed. I worried about money, how I’d find a job down the road, how I would actually make this work. Yet now in this moment I feel more calm and optimistic. I feel free to become someone better than who I’d been for a while there. I can take my time in deciding what comes next. I can dream really big dreams – and I can believe they will come true!

I know how fortunate I am to be able to take this time off, not just for myself but for my family.  I know it’s up to me to use this time wisely to break out of the mold that never suited me in the first place.

I’m a little more excited with each passing day, a little more relaxed and accepting of what is, what was, and what’s to come. I can’t wait to finally be more present in my life and enjoy the experience.

xx

Use This Time Wisely.

If there is one thing any of us should learn early in life it’s that things often don’t go as planned. I’ve learned this simple yet valuable lesson a million times over. Though that doesn’t make it any easier to digest when plans take an abrupt detour.

There is plenty happening in life right now about which I feel equal parts happy and scared. I feel overextended in some areas as I completely neglect others. I am both starry eyed and drenched by a rain cloud. I take that one step forward to only take those two steps back.  And I am still struggling to find a calm and peaceful sense of balance in the midst of it all.

Since I now find myself in the eye of a storm with plenty of time to navigate these choppy waters, I’ve decided to move full steam ahead. Face it head on. Use this time wisely.

My main intention for this new year and new age was to reconnect with myself and the world on a more spiritual level. It’s no secret I’ve long felt disconnected from my body. I’ve felt disconnected from who I am outside of the roles I play for everyone else. I’ve struggled to make a tiny footprint in the world around me. All of this wears me down in the darkness of night as I lie in bed wondering what in the world I am doing with myself.

With this newfound freedom comes a great sense of responsibility to myself. If I don’t know who I am on my own as a whole person I can’t possibly find my way forward. The next few months will be telling, an adventure of sorts, as I blindly attempt to get reacquainted with myself.

None of this is ideal, and all of it causes great anxiety. But I recognize my need for space and time. My need for being alone, coming undone, and rebuilding myself.

I’m taking some time off from being someone to everyone else, and for once I am going to be someone for me.

 

The ‘Have,’ Not ‘Have Not’

I’ve heard it a million times: focus on what you have, not what you don’t. But the cliche saying couldn’t be stuck in my head at a more relevant time.

I’ve been stuck in what feels like my worst depression yet. I can go from high to low in a matter of minutes and then sink so deep that I cry so hard I feel as though I will collapse on the floor (sounds dramatic but true story! Happened last week.) Depression doesn’t just affect my mind, it impairs my entire body. My breathing becomes labored, my eyes are heavy, and I ache right down to the bone.

The more aware I become of my surroundings, my feelings, and my place in the world, the worse I feel. Some days it feels as though I have the weight of the world upon me, and I am terrified of letting everyone down. Terrified of not being enough (God, am I still dealing with this?!).

But worst of all, I am putting immense pressure on myself to be a certain somebody and to have a certain life. Not being able to do it all, be it all, and have it all is ripping me to shreds.

I have so much of what I never wanted, and with each passing day, the life I yearn to live is slipping farther and farther away from me. This past year has been forcing me to reconcile the life I have with the life I wanted. Because there is no going back. I’m woven into this new life, and like it or not I have to find a way to accept and embrace it. I have to find a way to merge bits of what I want into what I have now.

I’m failing miserably.

My biggest obstacle at the moment is time and space. Being a parent of two now is very time consuming. Kids are needy, on their time not yours. So creating boundaries can be challenging. Add in the appointments, activities, a relationship, and a second job, I barely have time to wash my hair let alone do anything “extra” for myself.

I do try in little ways to take better care of myself. I went back to eating a vegan diet and focusing on what will help my body feel good. I cut back on my caffeine intake. I try to get into bed at a decent hour most nights. I’m trying to read more and spend less time on my phone. I allow myself to cry and admit I am vulnerable. I connect more deeply with my close friends and allow myself to be loved by those in my circle. I do force myself to focus on all the goodness in my life instead of what I feel is missing. But it still doesn’t feel like enough to dissipate the longing.

Life is most definitely a marathon and not a sprint. The positive effects won’t happen overnight. And I know I have more work to do on my insides in order to feel better about the outside. Day by day, all I can do is continue making good choices and trust the Universe to lead the way.

Even with regards to self-care, it’s easy to want to find a quick fix, to be impatient for change to happen now and wanting it to unrealistically wave a magic wand over my head to make me feel right. Because after all, that’s all I want, is to feel settled.

I want to want this life while continuing to make it better. I don’t want to life in resistance, longing for what will never be, what never was, and what might have been.

The Hustle is Hard.

It’s been a while.

I’d taken a break from writing because it felt forced and inauthentic. I had been writing daily for over 600 days. But over time, I was writing just to write. It felt like a chore. It stopped feeling like a release. So, I let it go.

I’ve been allowing the thoughts and ideas and feelings to dwell inside of me without escape. I wanted to sit with it all, experience it a little bit more, and then decide what to do. Which has lead me here, just as I figured it would.

The days and weeks have been blending together at this point. So much of my life has changed in the last three months. I can barely wrap my head around it all. I’m often losing track of days and commitments. I’m spread a little too thin for my liking. And I feel more change is necessary.

As I write this I am sitting in the office of yet another new job. Surely not the last new job I will have in my lifetime (or maybe even this year). But it pays really well, the hours are flexible, and my boss is very easy going. Fulfilling? No. But none of the jobs I’m currently holding are so it’s par for the course for now.

Therein lies the struggle.

My life over the last few years has become less and less about me and more and more about others. We’re now two kids deep. I’m never working less than two jobs at a time. Someone is always sick or in need. The only real alone time I get is when I’m asleep, and I can’t even seem to do that right!

There really isn’t any form of escapism in my life either. All of my interests seem to have gotten away from me. I mean, who even has the time? I’m constantly going or doing. Hell, I rarely even sit down to eat my meals. I have no idea what lights me up anymore because I am so focused on doing and being for others that I don’t take the time to do a thing for myself.

This is why I swore to myself this would be the year I focused on my spiritual growth, getting to the root of who I am and what makes me tick, breathing more, practicing patience with myself and others, and finally letting go of the expectations I’ve long shackled myself to. It would be a time of beautiful, painful, and expansive transformation.

I’ve even been failing myself in this endeavor. Any ‘free’ time I can seem to muster, usually at the end of the night, is reserved for work or other commitments. Then I stumble into bed only to do it all over again the next day. I’m led yet another step farther away from who I am and who I want to be. I’m not sure how to say ‘no’ to others more often and ‘yes’ to myself.

I haven’t given up on myself yet though, and that has to count for something, right?

Caffeinated Confessional #1

Our household was unfortunately struck down by a really nasty virus over the weekend. My birthday weekend of all times. What a lovely gift to be given. A test of health.

We survived.

But something more happened to me. And it may seem silly to some people to think something as simple and common as a winter virus could throw me into such a tale spin but it’s happened.

Not being able to eat much for days, the pain of even trying, the nagging calls for satiation, they were so familiar. So longed for. Comforting.

Something I’ve tried to swear up and down about is never going back to my eating disorder. I’ve thrown out every cliche reason you could think of. I’ve talked an incredibly good game.

I never believed myself.

So when the numbers slowly start to tick in the opposite direction and the silent thrill zaps deep into your bones, it’s not easily ignored.

It’s been four years, entering the fifth, since I defiantly made the decision. Thousands of days, even more hours. Tripping and falling and getting back up yet never quite regaining the same steam.

Then these easy entrance ways open up, and the aroma of that sweet poison washes over me like a cloud. And I’m trapped between two doors. Going back to what is comfortable, disastrous, alluring and exciting. Or staying in this cycle of will I or won’t I, am I or aren’t I, can I or can’t I.

And my body starts to shake, expelling any good sense I’ve got left trapped inside of me. It hovers over me as though I’m in danger of taking my last breath. Choose wisely.

I feel:

I tempted fate.

I tested myself. I tasted that sweet sweet hunger, and its calls were deafening.

I’d be lying if I said I never prayed to fall back on it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the anguish, the tremors, the incessant pangs. No, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it, if I didn’t call on it, if I didn’t kneel down and grovel for just a touch of it.

As far away as I may run, it’s still right behind me. As much lightness as I keep near to me, its darkness is never far.

I hear it whisper in the winds. I hear it under every footstep. I feel it coursing through my veins the longer I go without.

And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it.

I feel as though I’m faced with an impossible decision. Sheepishly cower backward into the arms of my deranged former self. Or stand in who I am in this moment. Unsure. Vulnerable. Missing and incomplete yet forward facing.

To anyone who’s never been strangled by their own mind the decision would seem clear. Cut and dry. But when something promised to love you so, never to leave your side, never to abandon you the way anything or anyone else ever has, it feels weighty.

I’m looking over my shoulder longingly. I want to cry out. I want to keep it locked safe inside of me.

It’s always been mine. Mine to keep.

I’m not sure what to do with all of this.

Intellectually, sure, the ‘right’ decision would be to root deeper into recovery. Allow this to teach a lesson about self love, distance and depth, forgiveness, resistance.

No one ever said people who’ve suffered eating disorders always think rationally.

This certainly won’t make sense to most people but it makes perfect sense to me.

xx