I feel like I need to reintroduce myself. It's been that long... and I'm... I'm different now.
I'll start from the beginning, I guess. Or I'll start from the summer of 2006. I can admit this now: I never had a miscarriage. In fact, other than here (meaning, this blog), I never claimed to anyone else to have had one, not even to my ex-boyfriend (you'll have to wait until later for that story). So why would I claim such a terrible thing? In retrospect, I think I was looking for an "out." A way to escape, to stop, to stop the hell of living with an eating disorder. Also in retrospect, this seems strange, because no one on the internet really cares that much: I didn't actually need an excuse for anyone. Maybe I just needed an excuse for myself...
At that point, almost four years ago, I was doing ok, health-wise. I still thought about my body weight, my body shape, food that I ate/ was going to eat/ would avoid eating, and exerciseecerciseexercise. Ok, the truth: I thought about it a lot. Pretty much all the time. Lots of negative self-talk, negative self-esteem, too. But I wasn't too hard core. Even if my mind was pretty messed up, I was taking not-horrible care of my physical body. Not great... but not horrible.
So, back in the stone age, or the summer and autumn of 2006 and into 2007, I got to thinking. I got to thinking about how the hell was I going to sustain all of it. I mean, just keeping the site up to my standards was taking a lot of time. Writing down everything I ate was taking a lot of time. Exercising compulsively was taking a lot of time. Was this... it for me? Going to work, coming home, going to the gym, sitting in front of my computer while my (ex-)boyfriend sat in front of his, wasting the evening away, then going to sleep hoping for a better tomorrow... and doing it again the next day. And again. Mix in a few weeks of depression, a few weeks of hard-core restricting now and then, maybe a few hours of happiness here and there. And then I got to thinking about where and what my life was, where and what my life was going to be. Was I a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend? Did I have any friends left? Was I proud of the woman I was? Who the hell was I?!
No. There had to be something else out there for me. But what? And how would I ever get the courage to find it?
The Universe helped me out, big time; I have serious karmic debt to this one, not-so-chance event in my life. My (ex)boyfriend and I had both been having problems, personal problems and problems in our relationship. We'd been together seven years (seven years! that's practically married!). One day, my (ex)boyfriend acted strangely. Very strangely. Very quiet. Very withdrawn.
I asked him, "Do you want to break up with me?"
He said yes.
I'd always thought I'd give that answer, but to a very different question, a happy question that he'd ask. He never asked. I never had the chance to say "yes." I'm very thankful for that. That break-up was a figurative "make it or break it" moment in my life. Either I was going to slide completely into depression, give in completely to my ED, just give up, start watching the clock tick past the days of my life until I died. I'd say, "Fuck it," and that would be it. Or else... something else.
I went to a counselor. I told her, "I'm not stupid. Don't try therapy with me. I am paying you to sit there while I sit here, once a week, and I will report to you how I've taken care of my body and mind for the past week. I need someone to hold me accountable." I went to her four weeks in a row. Every week, I reported to her that
I WAS DOING IT!
I was eating! I was making healthy choices! I was saying "YES YES YES!!!" to life, to freedom, to BEATING this MOTHERFUCKER once and for ALL! I was taking walks in the morning, bike rides in the afternoon, eating when I was hungry and stopping when I was full! I was caring for my body in a way I'd never thought was justified. I never thought I deserved to be treated well. I heard the words "Self Care" for the first time. They changed my life.
On the fourth week, she gave me a spare business card, requested that I carry it with me at all times, and told me that it was my choice if I wanted to come back the following week... but that she thought it was time to take the training wheels off the bicycle and to see how I would do on my own. (I wrote her a follow-up message to her several months ago, thanking her for trusting me, insanely letting go an eating disordered patient after a month, even when I didn't trust myself, and for empowering me to care for myself, instead of delegating it to a "paid professional." There are angels, healing hearts, bodhisattvas everywhere, if you are willing to look for them.)
In the meantime, I realized that whooooops I actually didn't have any friends any more. So I randomly started calling acquaintances, making dates for wine or concerts or anything that would keep me busy. I was determined to have a life, something I hadn't had in years, due to my self-imposed house arrest (shit, I knew I should have put the ED on house arrest instead of myself!). Amazingly... it worked! Not only did I end up with a social life, I made some pretty good friends in that period right after the break up. I've since drifted apart from many of them, but I will never forget the role they played in making me feel accepted, cool, worthy of attention.
I dated. Oh yes, I went on dates. I had a little bud of confidence, like the first tender green shoots of March, and I worked it to the best of my ability. I flirted mercilessly. My colleagues set me up on blind dates. I collected phone numbers. Some guys never called back, but that made me a little tougher, which was a good thing. I never really slept around, but I did have some fun evenings (and nights). It kills my feminist heart to admit this, but men's appreciation of my body made me appreciate it even more. The essential femininity of my curves: better than Prozac.
I started a new hobby (I won't name it--that's getting a little too personal). It soon took up a large chunk of my time. It reconnected me with my love of the outdoors that I'd had since childhood but hadn't explored as an adult (the ex was a "city boy"). I enjoyed it so much that I started teaching it! This helped me to a community, one that I think will outlast the first friends I made right after the break-up.
And then, in that community... I met a guy. Just a simple guy. He was cute. He smiled a lot, too. Cute smile. I thought about him a lot. We were acquaintances for many months... then we started hanging out, just the two of us... all of our mutual friends gave each other knowing looks and sly winks... we pretended not to be interested, or not that interested... until one night, we stayed up all night making out on my couch.
That simple guy and I are still together, somewhere around two years later. Our relationship is easy and happy in a way that my relationship with the ex never was, and never could be. We travel together, we have adventures, we talk about our dreams. I have learned so much from him. He's a great friend. Someday he'll make a great husband and a great father.
I would say that my life today does not resemble at all my life four years ago, when I wrote my last entry. But that's not true. You see, I believe that you never really lose yourself. She might be a little lost, maybe a little faded and maybe a little jaded. Maybe she's buried under 50 extra pounds, maybe she's buried under your 500 calorie daily diet, maybe she's buried under the memories of your abuse or your tears or your fear and maybe, if you're lucky, she's under your anger.
And you should be angry. You should be really fucking angry. You should be FUCKING FURIOUS that companies make millions off your misery. Why? EVERY FUCKING ADVERTISEMENT YOU SEE IS A LIE. And that goes for most of the illusions of the fashion industry, too! Companies convince you that your eyelashes aren't lush enough, so you must buy mascara to look like the woman in the advertisement. Their glossy ads show a woman with stick-straight, glossy hair; your hair does not look like that. You want to look like that woman, right? You must buy a hair straightener and special shampoo and special conditioner and special gels and potions. And of course, the women in the advertisements don't have curves. Their clothing never pinches around their waist. They have space between their thighs. And you know the sick irony? Those eyelashes, that straight hair, that space between the thighs: it's fake. It's photoshoped. You've been had: joke's on you. YOU ARE STRIVING TOWARD A MIRAGE, NOT REALITY. YOU are the one that pays companies for their products. YOU are the one who pays in your lost self-esteem.
Men and women of my generation, the longer you starve, the longer you hate yourself, the more energy and effort you spend on dieting and compulsive exercising and binging and purging and hating yourself, the less energy you have to CARE. And while we're all worrying about whether we've got the right toys, the right "look," the right "edge," whether we're "ana" enough, whether we're worthy enough... we're not changing the world.
We're not paying attention to corporate greed and corporate thieves, to the frighteningly combative and ignorant political climate, to our bleeding and dying Mother Earth. If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention, because you're too distracted by your eating disorder to notice that shit's sorta gone to hell in a handbasket while you're freaking out about the 50 calorie vegetable soup you had for dinner. If that's too politically progressive for you, try this one: if you're spending energy coming up with 10 new ways to hide your b/p habit, you can no longer spend that energy on your parents, your siblings, your girlfriends and guy pals, your schoolwork or your career, your partner or your spouse, your spiritual development or your personal development.
If you asked me how I finally quit the ED, I don't know what I'd say. I never was inpatient specifically for ED-NOS. I didn't really have a treatment plan. The counselor I saw--only four times--was a specialist in family issues and life transitions, not eating disorders!
It's not as simple as saying that I wanted to live for myself, because it's not only about me. I want to put my energy into something real, something bigger than myself. I've got only a few short years on this little tiny rock in the great big universe. There's gotta be something more than being eating disordered... I mean, that's so random, so trivial, so tragic, so short-sighted. But at the same time, I do want to live for myself. I hope for happiness, to be proud of who I am and who I'm becoming, to enjoy being in my own company.
I guess quitting the ED went something like this: I just stopped. Suddenly, and of my own free will, I decided to recover. There have been plenty of times that I've slipped up, or nearly slipped up, and I'm sure there will be times to come. I had to relearn--hell, who am I kidding, I had to learn--how to take care of myself, what a 2,000 calorie diet looks and tastes like, what it means to have an active lifestyle but not be a slave to the gym. I had to completely rebuild my self-esteem and self-confidence from the ground up. I had to figure out how to become a fully functional adult. Duuuude... this shit is not easy! But, seriously, simply stopping was 95% of the struggle. I'll probably work on the last 5% for the rest of my life, but I'll take those odds.
The reason that I'm writing this post is that I signed into my old email account, on a whim. I had a bunch of messages in there from people wondering how my story turned out. I heard curiosity, maybe a bit of morbid curiosity, but I thought I sensed something more hopeful, too. Everyone loves a happy ending. Does my story have a happy ending? If my story has a happy ending, could yours?
I don't have any sage wisdom or good advice to give you. In the end, you've got to figure it out for yourself. The lessons we figure out for ourselves are the only ones that stick for longer than a New Year's Resolution. Good luck. My heart goes with you. May all beings, including you, be happy and safe.
POST-SCRIPT: How could I forget?! So, as it turns out, I don't have bi-polar disorder. Maybe I never did. I stopped the birth-control I had been using (Depo-Provera = pretty nasty stuff, messes with your moods BIG TIME) and got the super-depressive ex-boyfriend out of the picture completely (he started using drugs; I told him to delete my number from his phone). I went off my meds in early 2007 and haven't taken anything besides an occasional ibuprophen and a glass of wine ever since.