April 25, 2010

To Live = To Love. To Love = To Live.

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:18 pm by eddejae

Well, I promised to divulge the secret of my new-found outlook on life and the turning point that I experienced, but… I am too tired! So sorry. I will say this though…

The greater your capacity to feel pain, the greater your capacity to feel joy.

I am not cured, but I have greater hope I will be. I still feel pain, but I know it will lessen more and more each day. I still have problems, but I have greater courage to face them. I am still me, but happier and more hopeful.

To wrap it all up with a cute little bow…

I’m in love.

Whew. Glad I got that one out!

Now, before you roll your eyes and get all cynical on me, I ask you to please refrain from any sort of jaded mental jaunting (don’t act so surprised – I can hear your thoughts quite loudly!) until you hear the story in its entirety and how this relationship factors into my recovery process. Suffice it to say that I had two choices:

One. To die.

Or two. To live.

I chose to live.

And I chose to love.

Life.

And love.

These are inseparable in my eyes.

I’m off to bed soon. I am posting this song as it expresses almost perfectly – in word, in rhythm, in melody – what I feel right now. Seriously… what would I do without music??

Goodnight
To the city and the sea
To the strangers in the street
Goodnight
To the ghosts out in the hall
The paint peeling off the walls
Goodnight

Sometimes I
Stand between the sidewalk and the sky
And just stare into the clouds as they pass by
You have to leave the ground to learn to fly

Goodnight
To the TV and the clocks
To the rain that never stops
Goodnight
To everyone I know
Shut my eyes and let em go
Goodnight

Sometimes I
Stand between the sidewalk and the sky
And just stare into the clouds as they pass by
You have to leave the ground to learn to fly

There is something beautiful dying every day
And for the first time in my life I’m not afraid
Cause there is nothing in this world that doesn’t change

Goodnight
To the person I have been
To the place that I am in
Goodnight
Tomorrow hello to the sun
Are you ready here I come
Goodnight

Sometimes I
Stand between the sidewalk and the sky
And just stare into the clouds as they pass by
You have to leave the ground to learn to fly

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April 21, 2010

It Is Time

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:24 pm by eddejae

I have been working up the courage and emotional energy all day to tackle what I think is the one thing I have yet to actually confront, and it something I hope to conquer.

It is something I am deeply ashamed of.

It is my eating disorder.

I’ve gone through cycling phases of accepting it and denying it, giving in to it and fighting it. Yet it wins, time and time again, in one form or another – anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.

In one form, I restrict calories and I over-exercise. At one point a few years ago, I managed to keep my calorie intake down to about 800 calories while working out 3 hours every day and abusing laxatives.

When I was 16, I stopped eating almost entirely. I weighed less than 90 pounds.

At other times, I have gone on eating binges and then purged through throwing up or taking laxatives and diuretics. In both cases, I would go on an extreme diet until I felt I had compensated for the calories I had consumed.

Now, I’m on a constant binge/diet cycle. I will keep my calories below 1,000 cal/day and exercise at least 60 min/day for a week at the longest. Then, my body gets depleted. I start having cravings and urges to binge, and my body is exhausted. So I binge for a day, two days, maybe three or four, depending on my emotional state. The more depressed I am, the more likely I am to binge. Then, after I’ve had enough and I feel awful about myself because I’ve gained 5 pounds or so, I go right back on a strict diet to lose what I gained – promising myself I’ll never binge again. But I always do. The cycle has repeated itself a hundred times at least.

My whole life is centered around food. Counting how many calories I’m consuming, how many I’m burning, how long it will take me to lose a certain number of pounds. I have a goal weight in my mind, and I never, ever get there. I’m never good enough. And because of my binging episodes, I always feel like a failure. I begin to feel like that’s all I am. A failure. I have no self-control.

Of course, I know that my binges serve a bigger purpose than merely satisfying physical craving. They have become a coping mechanism, even an addiction. For the moment, it numbs me. Anxious? Eat. Depressed? Eat. Lonely? Eat. I have often felt like food was my only friend. It’s always there. Always something I can count on. Always comforting. And you know what else? It protects me from relationships. As long as I am putting on weight, as long as I am uncomfortable with my body, I am kept from putting myself out there; I am not at risk of being hurt; no one can touch me; no one can love me… and… no one can leave me. I am alone, but I am safe. If I feel bad about myself, I don’t socialize. If I don’t socialize, I don’t have to feel anxious and self-conscious. It is a vicious cycle of self-harm and self-hate. I eat to hurt myself. I eat to soothe myself. I eat to punish myself. I eat to reward myself. I eat to keep from cutting. I eat to keep myself from putting myself in a situation where I could be taken advantage of by men. I eat to avoid social anxiety. I eat to stay put. I eat to stay in my comfort zone. I eat so I don’t have to FEEL. It numbs me to the world. It is my drug of choice.

But it is ruining my life.

Eating too much or not eating enough. Never a middle ground. Never a balance. Just extremes. It becomes a game I play with myself. It’s something I can control. It’s something I know. As long as I focus on calories, on exercise, on making lists of things I can and can’t eat… I feel like I’m in control. It is a coping method. When everything else is chaos – my emotions, my social life, my family, my mind – that one thing can stay consistent. It is a true obsession that is all-consuming. Not a minute goes by that I am not thinking about what I’m going to eat next or how I can keep myself from eating when the hunger pangs come.

Listen to my body? I don’t know what that means. I live my life by the clock and by calories. “At 10:00am I can eat 150 calories. I can’t eat again until 2:00pm at which time I can have 200 calories.” These thoughts are at the foreground of my mind almost constantly. You’d think “Eat when your hungry. Don’t eat when you’re not hungry” would be simple, self-explanatory. Not to me. I don’t know what that means. My body and I don’t communicate much.

I constantly compare myself to other girls. Girls on the street, girls in movies, girls in magazines. Any girl. And I usually come up short.

My clothes are old and ragged, because I refuse to buy new ones until I’ve reached my weight goal. Even when I’ve lost weight, I wear baggy clothing to hide my body.

People throughout my life have told me “You’re so beautiful!” or “You’re a perfect size”… I’ve never been able to believe them. It’s so hard. I feel like I should… I want to believe those things about myself… I want to believe I am beautiful and perfect and worthy of love. But as long as I am not my ideal weight, I can’t believe it.

I don’t know what made me like this. Maybe the sexual abuse I experienced during my childhood. Maybe the destructive messages from the society and the media. Maybe influences in my life growing up. Maybe I’m just a perfectionist. I don’t know.

I hate looking in the mirror. I disgust myself. I wish I could love myself. I am so jealous of girls who are comfortable with who they are and what they look like… I envy that freedom.

I want to be free.

I want to be free from this obsession, from this self-hate. I want to be healthy. I don’t want to starve myself. I don’t want to binge. I don’t want restrict my activities and even fail to reach my potential because of this heavy baggage I carry – the baggage of weight that is so much more than just physical. It is mental, emotional, spiritual. My whole identity is wrapped up in my body image. I just want to be free.

Many of my nightmares have to do with how I look and my shame about my body.

I am so tired of it.

I need help. I’m crying for help. I’ve kept all of this inside for so long. It’s been my secret obsession. It can’t be secret anymore. I need support. I need help to overcome this. Lately I’ve been playing around with the idea of engaging in anorexic behavior again. This is a major part of the reason I had a complete breakdown last night… I just couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I would do ANYTHING to be skinny, even stop eating completely. And if I couldn’t… Well, I don’t want to go that place in my mind. I had stumbled across some pro-anorexic websites that were very triggering. Did you know that there’s an entire Facebook community of individuals deep in their eating disorders that support each other? It’s terrible. They post pictures of skeletal models and encourage each other not to eat. It’s terrifying. And yet it was strangely alluring… I don’t want to become that.

I’m afraid. I’ve lived with this obsession over food and weight so long, if I let go of it, I’m afraid I will feel a void… which leads me to believe that I must replace this obsession with something else. But what? And how do I stop the obsessive thoughts? How do I start accepting myself for who I am? How do I become happy with my body?

For most of my life, I have equated thinness with happiness. I need to change my thinking. But how? How do you change something that feels so ingrained in your soul?

How do I live… REALLY live… without this fear, this inner ache, that drives me into these self-destructive patterns?

I want to be free.

I have to set myself free… Thus far I have been determined to make the disorder, the cycle, work for me. I now realize that is has done nothing but destroy me. It has not brought me anything but pain and misery.

No one else can do this for me.

I can’t live with this anymore.

It is one of the last things I have to cling to, but I have to let it go if I am to be truly healthy.

I will overcome it, no matter what it takes…

Dear God, please give me strength…

And so it begins…

(This song describes exactly how I feel right now about all of this. I don’t know what I would do without music to help me express what I cannot…)

I told another lie today
And I got through this day
No one saw through my games
I know the right words to say
Like “I don’t feel well,” “I ate before I came”
Then someone tells me how good I look
And for a moment, for a moment I am happy
But when I’m alone, no one hears me cry

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we’ll be OK
Together we can make it through another day

I don’t know the first time I felt unbeautiful
The day I chose not to eat
What I do know is how I’ve changed my life forever
I know I should know better
There are days when I’m OK
And for a moment, for a moment I find hope
But there are days when I’m not OK
And I need your help
So I’m letting go

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we’ll be OK
Together we can make it through another day

You should know you’re not on your own
These secrets are walls that keep us alone
I don’t know when but I know now
Together we’ll make it through somehow
(together we’ll make it through somehow)

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we’ll be OK
Together we can make it through another day

March 22, 2010

Curioser and Curioser!

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:09 pm by eddejae

A couple of weeks ago I went and saw Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. I don’t care what some people are saying, I absolutely loved it. But then, I’ve always been a Tim Burton fan, not to mention a Johnny Depp fan… and an Alice fan… so put them together? I’m all over that!

There were a few things in the movie that really hit home with me. The story of Alice in Wonderland has always fascinated me – I think because I could relate to Alice in lot of ways. She is suddenly dropped into this world that doesn’t make any sense to her, and she’s expected to find her way home despite nonsensical advice from well-wishing Wonderland residents and a plethora of mind-boggling obstacles. Seeing Tim Burton’s version of the Alice story –  which is actually more of a “Return to Wonderland” in which Alice is older, but apparently not much wiser (ah touché, Mr. Burton) – turned Lewis Carrol’s fairytale into an even more of a metaphor for my own life.

I found an article written by Jill Brown, in which she makes observations similar to mine (full article at http://singlemindedwomen.com/women-relationships/alice-in-wonderland/)

Throughout the film there is a debate as to whether or not this is “the” Alice; the real Alice of before, now grown up, who has the courage and spirit to help the suffering characters to defeat the tyrannical and oppressive rule of the Red Queen. Alice goes through her own doubt and self-discovery during her adventure to try to discover for herself whether or not she is indeed “the” Alice, the champion of good and right in this magical reality.

This reminds me of the part in the Alice in Wonderland book when Alice first runs into the Caterpillar:

“Who are YOU?” said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 5)

Like Alice, I will wake up in the morning as one person, and through the course of day feel like I’ve been transformed into three or four different people, all before the sun goes down! Part of my disorder is that I have a hard time with stable identity and emotional regulation – “changing with the wind” so to speak. I’m definitely working on that, but it’s not easy. The slightest thing can completely change my entire mood, attitude towards myself, decisions for the day, etc. Because of that, I can get really confused about what is real and what’s not, what’s me, and what’s not me. Is the person who is crying/laughing/angry/happy/sad right now “the” Edde… or some other Edde that has decided to momentarily inhabit my mind and emotions? Is this an imposter, or the champion that will one day conquer this monster called “Borderline Personality Disorder”? Like Alice said, “I can’t explain myself, Sir, because I’m not myself you see!”

I think the most compelling scene in Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and the one that resonated the most with me personally and will with all the single minded women out there, comes about half way through the film when Alice is doubting her significance and role. She doesn’t believe she’s been to Underland before, thinking her previous voyage was just a bad childhood dream and so she doesn’t want to step up and help the Mad Hatter in his rebellion and resistance against the Red Queen. While she expresses her reluctance to take action, the Mad Hatter says to her something along the lines of, “You used to be much muchier before. Yes you were much more Alice the last time we met. You have lost your muchness.” (Jill Brown)

Last week I posted on my Facebook as my status: “Edde is finding her muchness.” A good friend commented saying: “Your muchness is where it has always been! In your child like spirit –  Children are much more courageous before they are taught to fear. Remember your wonderland Alice.” I thought about how true that was. Little children are naturally… “muchier.” They don’t usually sit around wondering who they heck they are and why they do what they do… They’re just… them… Before the cruel world teaches them to fear, to question their worth, to lose touch with their spirits. In her childhood Wonderland, Alice started to doubt herself. Not only was she constantly changing size, she was always being asked “Who are you?,” “Are you sure you’re real?,” “What is an Alice?” The only way she could ever get back to reality was by standing up for herself, stomping her little foot, and proclaiming her identity. Then she could return to the world of grownups and hold her own. Tim Burton expanded on this dimension of the Alice story.  Alice had to first believe she was the champion meant to slay the Jabberwocky before achieving that magnificent feat, thereby gaining the courage to return to the real world and assert herself as a strong, independent woman. This underlying message of empowerment can resonate with everyone who has tried to figure out who they are in this crazy, nonsensical world.

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.


“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”


“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.


“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”


(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,
Chapter 6)

I think it’s safe to say Alice and I have have a lot in common haha!

But really… I think every girl is a real-life Alice in her own unique way…Trying to make it through the maze of this strangely confusing yet stunningly beautiful wonderland called “life.”