Liking Self Vs. Liking Life

I’ve been going through my old altered books today. If you’ve been to Sheppard Pratt Center for Eating Disorders, you know what that is. If you haven’t been there, maybe you still might know what it is. It’s actually a pretty good coping strategy. You take an old book (I’ve always preferred bigger books)…you cut things out from magazines and glue them in, draw in it, write in it, etc. You take an old book and make it your story.

Since I’m not that great at art, and art groups always kind of sucked for me, I would prefer to work on my altered books (most of the time).

The main reason I’m bringing it up is because I found a paper taped in one of them that spoke to me.

It’s a list of 67 “confessions” that I suppose those with eating disorders, or even anxiety/depression, can relate to. I starred the ones I had felt applied to me at the time. I will admit, I’m not sure what time period we’re looking at here…but it’s from SP, so sometime between 2009-2015. Probably closer to sometime in the early/middle years.

One of the confessions I starred was this:

“I wish that I didn’t hate myself but at the same time, I don’t know how it would feel to like myself.”

Earlier today, I was showing my therapist some of the books. There’s several pages dedicated to fear foods, skinny models, weight loss quotes from magazines, self-harm-related things, etc. She asked me how it felt to look at all of this. I said it felt weird. It’s kind of surreal, because I’m no longer in that place.

I can’t say I’m completely over my eating disorder, because I’m not. And honestly, I don’t believe that I ever will be completely rid of it. The thoughts still occur, but they’re different now, and more sporadic. They’re more manageable. They’re not the same.

But when I read this quote, something struck me about it. If I am being completely honest, I still don’t know what it feels like to like myself.

I don’t think I hate myself anymore, but I don’t like myself either. Where does that leave me? In a state of confusion, really. I’m in a state of…I just don’t like myself. I don’t like the way I come off, or the awkwardness I can carry. I don’t like my inability to confront people on things that need to come to light. I don’t like that I hardly ever stand up for myself, yet I’m totally willing to stand up for everyone else.

I like my love for animals, though when I say that, I automatically think about how it turns people off. They think I’m weird, because I love animals so much.

I don’t even know what else I like about myself. If I could, I’d change a lot. I like the people in my life, and I like the love I can give and receive. I like several qualities of my life. But I don’t like myself.

It’s strange, really. I thought in the process of recovery, one of the goals was to learn to love yourself. I haven’t really learned that. I’ve learned how to follow through with actions that compliment loving myself, such as eating, drinking water, working hard at school/work, and being social. I’ve made a lot of accomplishments, like paying for school, getting promoted, having my own apartment/moving out. But that doesn’t mean anything about myself.

I guess it would be logical to like yourself for making all these accomplishments. But it’s not true.

Does anyone else relate?

-May 18, 2017

Hopping Fences and Bowling Pins

Update time.

So I was in Baltimore last Wednesday through yesterday morning. My boyfriend and I drove there and back. We got back last night, and I opened this morning. I really thought I would be more tired than I was. For some reason, I was wide awake my entire work shift. I thought about all the things I would do today (meaning cleaning the apartment and my room). Only my room ended up being completed, but that took a few hours, so I’m good with that.

I brought a lot of stuff back from Baltimore (aka why it took hours for my room). I organized, threw out a lot of stuff, and moved a lot of things around. I think it looks pretty good now. I brought some of my dad’s things home, like a few of his bowling pins, his Marine hat, his spoon collection, some decorative stuff, etc., which I put on display. My dad’s spoon collection is actually pretty awesome. He has a lot of really unique ones in there, including a spoon with Kennedy on it, and several ones from different countries. It’s nice to have some reminders of him here.

I had a lot of fun in Baltimore. I got to see a lot of my best friend/her fiance, which was amazing. I love being with them…they’re incredible people. They’ve stood by some of the worst parts of my life, and many of the best. I can’t wait for their wedding. It’s actually in a little over a month. I went to her bridal shower while I was there, and I’m heading back in a few weeks for the bachelorette party. Hopefully that time I can fly and not have to drive 12 hours.

I’m sort of in a funk, and I’m not entirely sure why. I had therapy today and just kind of went blank. I’m happy with things in general, but I also feel stuck. I don’t completely know why. I’m progressing with school, but everything else seems to be weighing me down. Well, even school can do that to me. Now that my three spring semester classes are over, I’m back to working 35+ hours a week. I need the hours, badly, but it is incredibly draining. I also have two summer classes coming up, plus training to be an online crisis text line counselor. That training is up to 5 hours a week, I believe. I want to make time for it, but it’s so hard to come home from work and keep going. It’s nice to come home from work and do nothing for a bit. Or watch Netflix. I miss watching Netflix. How sad.

I got my cat a bow tie collar, and it’s super cute. It’s pink with green fish.

My apartment complex also stepped up today and started really helping us with our rat problem. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before on here, but it’s been terrible, to the point of my roommate buckling down and writing a very lengthy email to the leasing office. It had dates, pictures, times, etc., backing us up. It was a great email, and apparently it worked. It would be nice to not have rats in our apartment (dead or alive, really). They brought in some poison traps, which they placed throughout our apartment and on the outside of the building. They also said they’d be coming by every day to check on them, as well as talking to the contractor about repairing the holes where they’re getting in. Fingers crossed that this all works.

I wanted to bring home some of my journals from Baltimore, but there wasn’t enough room. I have a million journals from over the years (since I’ve always journaled, but it was amplified by having way too much time in treatment). Some of the entries I skimmed over were memories I don’t recall, which is frustrating and weird for me. For example, apparently I ran and hopped over the fence at a residential treatment center I was at several years ago. I only came back when they threatened to call 911. I don’t recall any of this. Eventually I will get them all down to Georgia with me, but I really needed the room in my car for more important things.

I’ve also decided that my favorite thing to eat right now is an egg/avocado with olive oil on toast. If you haven’t tried it, do it, because it’s awesome.

Okay, I need to go to bed soon. Signing off.

-May 16, 2017

Could I Be Any More Tired???

I don’t know how to begin this, because I’m more tired than I’ve been in a long time, so we’ll just dive in.

I have worked Thursday through today, and I work tomorrow. I suppose it’s not that many days in a row, but it feels like it. I am drained.

Last week I had my final exam for my communications class. I needed 35 points to get an A, and somehow I got that.

Today was my final exam for my zoology class. Somehow I managed an 85% on the final exam, which is better than any other test grade I’ve gotten all semester, and not at ALL what I was expecting. So I got two A’s this semester, and one B. That is more than good enough for me.

I’d like to say, hurray I’m free!!…but I’m not. I have summer classes. Not entirely sure when they begin, but I know it’s coming soon.

After my long ass shift tomorrow, I will probably take an extended nap. I haven’t been feeling well the past few days, but I haven’t actually gotten sick, so…who knows. It just feels like I’m going to, constantly. My boss has a stomach flu (but came into work anyway), so let’s just hope I’m not picking that up.

I leave for Baltimore really early Wednesday morning, and I’m super excited! Not entirely thrilled about the 12 hour drive, but you know, it’s worth it. My trips to Baltimore always go by too quickly, so I’m hoping this one doesn’t (though I know it will). My boyfriend is coming with me, so he gets to meet basically everyone.

I’ve been watching a new show on the side, since I’ve finished all the other shows I’ve been watching. I’m now watching Lie To Me, which is super good, but I don’t think it has that many seasons. I try really hard not to look at the number of seasons when I start a show. It’s discouraging, usually.

Work is still difficult. My regional manager came in the other day to “check in”, which ended in me almost crying. My coworker, my boss and I had a pretty good talk about it, though, which really helped. At least I feel supported by them.

It’s only 6:19pm, but I’m probably going to bed soon. I just wanted to update.

Let’s pray I can wake up to open.

-May 8, 2017

School Affairs

My struggle with school seems to only be mounting.

I started wondering last night, what the point is of school (for me). I’m having an enormously difficult time. It’s causing so much anxiety that I don’t even know if it’s worth it. I know the popular answer to “is school worth it” is obviously yes, but…my question is, how do I reign in this anxiety over it?

It’s ruining my days. It’s disturbing my sleep. I lay there at night, just like last night, obsessing, fearful, and being harsh on myself. All I think about is the fact that I can’t remember the information being taught…that I’m not going to do well on the test next week because I’ve never done well on tests. Being older and in college is no exception to that fact. This test is worth 20% of my grade. If I don’t do well, I may have to withdraw from the class (or try to make it through with the possibility of failing). I failed math last semester for that very reason- tests.

I have tried to find help through my school. My therapist tried to help me with forms to have adaptations made for me (learning disability things). My school was ridiculously unhelpful, and I gave up after trying to do it myself (and failing to be able to figure it out).

Even if I do make it through this test, through this class, through undergrad…my degree will be in English. I have to go to graduate school and get something more than that. It’s never ending.

I want to be able to finish school. I want to have a degree. I know I want to have a family, and have kids, but I want to be an example to my kids. I want to have a degree, to be able to tell them I made it through college.

Just having a GED is not enough for me. But this anxiety is too overwhelming.

And I am stuck.

-March 2, 2017

When You Read a Book That Sparks a Light Inside of You

I bought a book the other day from Barnes and Noble. Well, I bought several, but this one was read first. It’s called, “The Princess Saves Herself In This One” by Amanda Lovelace. While there are several pages I have tagged, and I did make a word document out of all my favorite passages/quotes, I think I’ll talk about these two today:

Pages 96-97: Fuck the idea that there is such a thing as destiny, that there exists some kind of mysterious master plan, that there is a god who simply does not give us anything we cannot handle. The pain did not make me a better person. It did not teach me not to take anything for granted. It did not teach me anything except how to be afraid to love anyone. I am far too young to be so goddamn broken & if I could go back in time & give myself her childhood back, I would. –what was the point?

Page 142: I let myself know that my life doesn’t have to be over just because theirs are & I went ahead & painted the sun back into my sky. –I am allowed to live my life

I’ve been working on this a lot- living my life even though my dad can no longer live his. Living my life despite the fact that several people have lost theirs in the past few years. Living my life despite the fact that I have no idea why it was them and not me.

I’ve always been so angry with the world about this topic. Why did God take my dad? There was no good reason. No one can argue with me that, like she said, there is some “greater plan”. I bought into that for a bit. I believed that there was some reason for everything, some explanation I wasn’t aware of. I thought, maybe it’s (I don’t have a good word, because “tolerable” and “okay” are not it…so fill in that blank yourself), because now my parents aren’t fighting. I don’t have to live a life at home in constant fear. I don’t have to feel on-edge at every moment, because there won’t be any more of the screaming, the banging, the tears, the wasted energy…the hope that maybe one day it’ll stop. Because it has. It has stopped. Silence has greeted this house, for once.

Then the battle began- did I do this? Every year, when I blew out my birthday candles, I wished my parents would stop fighting. I went to bed hoping that tomorrow, things would change. That the chaos would cease.

I battled feeling like God misinterpreted my prayers, to telling myself that I’m really not that important/this can’t be my fault, to being angry with God for doing this, to disbelief in any higher power listening to me anyway.

And that’s where I remain now.

It’s hard for me to believe in any higher power loving me, taking care of me, watching over me, or giving any justice in this world. My dad was a good person. He was smart, he was funny, and no, I will not agree that it was “his time”. He could have done so much more in this world.

I spent years trying to work through this mess. I nearly killed myself in the process. Yes, I am “together” today, for all intents and purposes. I’m alive. I have learned things. But I feel like I could have learned them another way. It doesn’t take my dad dying to make this happen.

People die- that’s life. I understand that concept. But I don’t agree with how it happened for me. I don’t agree with a lot of deaths that happen. It’s not fair. And no, I don’t care that that is a childish statement. Sometimes, it’s just not.

I had to learn the second quote eventually, though. I had to let go of a lot of that anger, the “it’s not fair” attitude. While that statement remains true, I learned I cannot live out that statement. I cannot ruin my life based on the fact that it wasn’t fair that my dad died.

I still hold some of that anger inside of me. It’s extremely difficult to ditch all of it. And I did learn that I have to “paint the sun back into my sky”. I can’t live my life in anger with something that I can never personally change. I can’t will my dad back to life…but I can progress in my own life and try to make him proud.

Sometimes I forget that intention. The more I was sucked into the eating disorder, the more I believed I had already disappointed my dad- and there was no way out. I imagined him looking down on me, wishing I wasn’t his daughter. Or worse, not even recognizing me.

I was someone completely different after he died. And I am someone completely different now. Some things stay the same, and I know he can see that. All things I learned from him…people-watching, cat loving, getting lost in books, writing poetry…they’re still there. And I’m proud of that. And if I’m proud of that, I think he would be too.

My dad was an amazing person, when it comes down to it. I got the pleasure of spending 16 years with him. While I have a long list of regrets, I always have the love in my heart that I need to believe he can feel. I choose to believe that if he knocked on my door today, we would smile together instead of feeling shame.

I still don’t agree that death like this is necessary…but the ability to keep going despite it, is.

-February 22, 2017

 

Because We Don’t Need To Be Alone

I, by myself, am not a powerful person. I cannot take sole credit for my accomplishments, nor my downfalls. I did the actions, I made the choices, and what happens is my responsibility. But in this life…we are here together.

I spent a lot of my time in the past several years feeling very alone. I felt that those who could understand more clearly what I felt, didn’t have the answers that I sought. We all felt miserable. We all wished for change. We all felt stuck. None of us, sitting inpatient, had the key to “success”. Nobody really had a lasting answer for what I had to do to be able to eat something without feeling like absolute shit.

My loved ones and those around me could tell me things all day. You’re beautiful already. You don’t need to lose weight. You don’t need to punish yourself. You are a good person. You have so much to live for. You can do this.

As much as I was told that, “I can do this”, I felt none of it. I felt paralyzed by the disorder that I unwillingly gave permission to to run my life.

Sometimes I wonder where it really began. Was it wanting to be a model? Looking up to the thin girls on America’s Next Top Model? Was it the fighting that happened at the dinner table that took away my appetite? Was it the fact that I was constantly pointed out as being “the skinny one”, like that was my only claim to fame? Or was this bound to happen, one way or another?

Maybe all of it. Maybe none of it. Either way, it happened.

Anorexia didn’t slowly take over my life. It swooped in, told me it was my savior, and tried to cling on as long as it could. If certain things hadn’t have happened the way they did, anorexia would have taken my life.

That was always it’s goal. To run me into the ground. Because, like it convinced me, “I wasn’t needed here”.

I felt strong isolation while amidst my disorder, even though the world is full of people. Many say the world is over-populated by people. So, why couldn’t I see that? Why wouldn’t I see that?

My behaviors stemmed from messages I received or interpreted throughout my life. I began to believe the disorder more than my friends and family. I worshiped anorexia like a relentless god.

And one day, years into the battle…I looked over, and there were the people. The people who were tired of watching this battle, tired of watching me die. People who stopped trying to say what they always say, because I wouldn’t listen.

I heard them, but I didn’t believe them. A hundred people could tell me I have worth, but the one voice that told me I didn’t, I believed. The disorder.

It takes a lot to really, truly listen to the other people around you. To try with all your might to take what they have to say into consideration. To not immediately fight their words in your head. To give the thought that, maybe they aren’t trying to hurt me, a chance.

We need each other. I thought I was better alone, not hurting the rest of the world. If I sectioned myself off, I wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone. I wouldn’t cause them any more pain.

What I didn’t consider was anything positive I had to offer. I believed there was nothing. But I also believe that everyone is here for a reason. It was so much easier for me to say that to the rest of my peers in treatment…but me? Nope.

Every person has value. Every person has reason. Things, situations, lead us astray. But we will always have something to offer.

I am a good listener. I love to write, and believe it’s my best method of communication. I love animals, and want to help save them from being put down for no reason. I aim to protect, and build up…not to crush or put down.

These traits are necessary in this world. If I died years ago, who would be the one with my boyfriend right now? Who would be the one in college, speaking up for the rights of others? Who would be writing what I could have written, reaching people in some form? Who would be my best friend’s best friend? Who would take the place of my mom’s daughter?

I am supposed to be here, because I am still here. I could have died many times throughout the past 24 years, and I didn’t. You, reading this right now…you are reading this for some purpose. Maybe you find nothing helpful from it, but you’re reading it anyway.

Maybe I can help that other person. Maybe you can. Without us, we’d all break. Think about the people you love most. Do they have purpose? Why wouldn’t you?

Beauty comes from the fight. I aim to spread what beauty I can. There needs to be people out there who have made it through. Who can help those who haven’t yet. Who can try with everything they have…because that has meaning. It means that not only have I made it through, but I made it through to be here right now, helping you.

We don’t know what the future brings. It will probably bring both pain and triumph. What I’m getting at is, I can no longer merely survive, trying to find a way out, to avoid the pain. Pain can later have some purpose, if you can make it. Maybe to help someone. Maybe to give you strength for other things that are thrown at you. Maybe to show others that people do survive.

This notion doesn’t make things less painful as they’re thrown at you. But it does give a reminder that not everything needs to crush you. Not everything is meant to kill.

We need each other. A solitary life is not one that can last. We are stronger together. And I won’t give up.

What is “The Best” Anyway?

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“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” -H. Jackson Brown Jr.

While, in theory, this statement is probably correct…I might have to disagree just a little. Not completely. Just a tad.

I found this quote by googling, “Inspiring quotes”. Mostly I did this because I googled, “Writing prompts”, and didn’t feel inspired by any of the results. So what’s more inspiring than an inspiring quote?

Okay, so, the best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. What comes to mind when I hear this is something they say in EDA (Eating Disorders Anonymous), and in recovery in general. They tend to say, “Your best is enough”. As in, if all you could manage to do that day was get out of bed for a few hours…that is enough. Your best attempt is enough.

Some days, though, I don’t do my best. I get angry, I get frustrated, and I get cynical. I could be sad, anxious, tired…I could inhabit a various range of emotions. Either way, some days I know what I’m “supposed” to do…but I don’t do it. I chose something else. Something more appealing and less difficult than what I was actually “supposed” to do.

And there the question lies: Did I do my best, knowing what I was supposed to do but not doing it? Was my lesser choice only what I was capable of that day, or did I just choose to not try as hard? Was I incapable of trying harder? That list goes on.

From that, I get to ask: Was doing not my best helpful in any way? Would my day be more worthwhile had I chose to move forward instead of back?

Am I preparing for tomorrow by not doing my best today?

I like to think that I can learn from my “not best” days. Those days where I don’t do my best are still worthwhile in my journey. I am preparing for tomorrow by making mistakes today. I will have some consequences for my mistakes, and from those I will move forward and grow.

I am probably taking this quote way further than this man intended. He may have just meant to encourage people to keep striving, moving forward in life, and making the best of each day. But you know I had to take it there.

My struggles always mean something to me in the end. I have not had one struggle that taught me absolutely nothing. Some times my best is not the definition of the best. But showing up every day and making an effort will surely be worth it tomorrow.

-Tuesday August 30, 2016