Sunday, November 15, 2015

things i forgot

last night i was in albuqurque at a little gift shop. i spent an hour there looking at gifts and talking to the shop owners about their handiwork. when it was time to pay, they asked me to pay with cash or check. when i said i couldn't, and that i was leaving in the morning, they suggested i send a check to the shop once i landed in new york.

i felt uncomfortable with this, and asked her if i could send money via paypal, venmo, or any other way. the shop owner told me, no, it was fine, just leave with all the gifts and pay her when i got home.

i walked out of the store, i felt so... weird. i was grateful. i was amazed. i couldn't believe the trust. the kindness.

the trust.

the amount of trust she put in me felt unreasonable on one level. but, on the other hand, she had spent an hour talking to me, and understanding things about me. maybe she did know me enough to trust me. maybe i should expect a level of trust like that.

trusting myself has been a long hard road.

sometimes i forget.

and then sometimes things remind me.

a television show with a character that is binging and purging where they actually discuss tips she is using to purge "better."

the podcast i listened to where they talk about pro-eating disorder websites.

these things remind me about my history: i used to visit a pro-ana/mia website every night after binging and purging. i used to look at the "recovery" section and convince myself that the reason i was on the site was to help me with recovery tips. but then i would look at other sections. this site, in fact, is where i learned many "helpful" tips.

those evenings full of self-hate led me to make promises to myself: "i can't check-in to an inpatient clinic now, because i'm still finishing my phd. but as soon as i finish, i'll go."

"i can spend a summer in germany, i probably won't binge and purge there--i won't even really have the opportunity."

but i broke every promise. i broke so many promises to myself that it became weird to trust myself. it became normal to NOT trust myself. so normal, in fact, that when other people trusted me, whether strangers; like in albuqurque; or people i'm dating, i'm alarmed. why would someone trust me so much?

yesterday, when the shop owner trusted me, i felt this glow: maybe she trusts everyone like that, or... maybe i was trustworthy... so trustworthy that she could see it?

this morning i practiced trusting myself. i ate two breakfasts: one before and one after my run. i ran how far i wanted to, instead of how far i felt like i should. i practiced a soft yoga class instead of pushing myself.

clearly it's ongoing. and maybe forgetting some of those old un-trusts with myself is another step.

maybe i should trust myself like other people do.


i will trust myself.

Friday, October 30, 2015

putting the gold in golden

be nice; treat others how you want to be treated. don't say something you wouldn't want to hear yourself. don't TEXT something you wouldn't want to read yourself.

blah blah blah

where's the real gold in the golden rule?

i think it's recognizing how we should be treated; how we deserve to be treated; how we should treat ourselves.

i read this blog today about those messages we say to ourselves every day. my favorite part is where she says that we are never going to criticize ourselves into something. it's true: we know that if we want someone else to do something, we are nice to them; we compliment them and work to motivate them. but if we want to do something for ourselves, we often berate ourselves and minimize any steps we've taken toward our goal.

today a friend messaged me: "I'm in need of one of your blog postings to a) motivate me to make the changes I need to and b) tell me I am good enough the way I am." i was honored to receive that message. but she didn't really need me. she needed herself.

but, even in saying that, i know how she feels. when you aren't happy with something in your life, external motivation feels stronger than the internal voice that is often the opposite of motivating. my internal voice beats me up for not running one day out of the week... but it never compliments me for the other six days. it never tells me what a great job i'm doing at, well, most things in my life.

i have this new cat. cat stevens (cat for short) is a very sweet and loving one-year-old that likes cuddling and is fantastic at not jumping and scratching. when i brought him home on tuesday, i was shaking. i've cared for other people's pets. i've cared for other people's children. but i've never been solely responsible for a living thing. (well, other than plants. and those have all died rather quickly.) i called my sister (who has a six month old new baby) and commiserated. "MY LIFE IS JUST LIKE YOUR LIFE NOW!!!"

...or something like that.

i noticed this new side of me emerging: i was wanting to rush home to check on cat; i was looking forward to nesting and cuddling with him; i wanted all my friends to meet him and bond with him. in other words, i was treating him like gold. like i wanted to be treated. like i wanted to treat myself.

why don't i run home to pamper myself regularly? to spend time with myself? to spend quality time with my friends as a priority?

my advice to my friend that messaged me? look to the things you are grateful for. list them. acknowledge them. move forward from that place of acknowledgment.

i'm grateful for the run i completed today; the friends i get to spend time with tonight; the plane that i'm currently blogging from; and the motivation to treat myself well--the motivation that blooms both internally and externally.

keep moving forward; keep motivating yourself and those you care about, whether or not they're human. (enter halloween zombie/vampire references.)


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

dear diary

when i was home last weekend, i found my childhood diary. it was locked, so i then had to find a hammer.

ok, adi had to find a hammer.

once inside, i curiously read through entries written from 7-15 years of age. it was pretty hilarious: i titled each entry (much like a blog post), and numbered all the pages so that i could say "see page 62" for updates on past topics (paper-based keyword search!).

i also went back and re-wrote some of the early entries with better handwriting... and then made a note that i shouldn't have done that, and apologized to my future self for doing so.

i found it very important to record events of note, especially every birthday gift i received and on which days my sister was a brat (titled "shayna the pain-a").

the thing that stuck out the most to me, though, was the amount of change from there to here. case in point, this entry about how i hated the whole state of california because it was in that state that my parents sent me to a sexuality education class:
"I knew I wouldn't like it here as much as I did in MS. I took a sex education. Everyone always seems to be talking about it. I don't feel comfortable. I didn't know hardly anything about it in MS. I liked it there much more. see pg. 41--I was right"
(page 41 was before the move, when i worried about how terrible living in california--and spelling it--would be.) and now? i dare you to try to engage in a conversation with me where i do not mention sexual health. change.

and thank god people can change. we shouldn't go around expecting people to change in the direction we want them to, but the true miracle is that we can and do all change. it happens in our own opinions and attitudes; it happens in our relationships; it happens in our yoga practice. the change goes up, it goes back, it goes around a bit, and then it flips. expecting or guessing at the direction of change: impossible? worthless? a waste of time?

yesterday i received a text from someone that hurt me about six weeks ago. receiving the text was a little unsettling--it kind of came out of nowhere. i had to sort through my feelings by texting with approximately 16 of my closest friends.

what did i figure out? it took a sleepless night to tell me that i was clearly still bothered by this, and while i appreciated the text, i kind of didn't know what to do from there. i'm not the same person i was six weeks ago. and, as evidenced by the apology text, the sender isn't either. change.

i'm not about to launch into some deep analysis of this situation. quite the opposite actually. i am left with this feeling of gratitude: i am grateful that we can change. i'm grateful for my growth; i'm grateful for the growth those around me experience. and i'm pretty amazed at our overall levels of morphability.

but, on the other hand, the other evidence the diary presented was my desire to write, to record, to be precise, and to make sure my reader felt fully informed and could understand the whole story. and THAT is still me. 28 years later: very much the same. and, yet... so. much. change.

ps: sorry i said you were a pain, sister. i love you!

Friday, October 2, 2015

just share it already!

I've written before about how *not* telling people about bulimia makes me feel like I'm lying. I've written before about how being open about bulimia reduces my shame and helps dispel society's stigma.

today I next-level-ed it: I let my undergrad sexuality class ask me about bulimia. (it was relevant; we were discussing the female sexual body, including body image.) I told them I wanted them to be exposed to it in a real way and encouraged them to ask anything they wanted.

I was scared to death.

I'm not sure of what. judgement? that they'd lose confidence in me as a teacher? that they'd lose respect for me? that they'd find it inappropriate and report it? --I don't think it was any of those. i think it was just the extreme vulnerability.

I planned to write a whole blog about this tonight. I wanted to unpack this a little more. but, as I sat down to write, I got an email: an email from a young academic across the pond. she has written me before, and I shared something she said to me in an earlier blog post.

"L" shared something so vulnerable with me tonight. her vulnerability in sharing this with me (when she has never shared something like this before) humbled my vulnerability in class this afternoon. L asked me if I was willing to share it with my readers, and I feel honored to do so. she didn't feel that she had another outlet, and she didn't feel like that she could post it for herself, but she wanted to feel heard in some way. I'm not posting all of it; I've edited it a little for length and I've removed anything that could be construed as "tips" or things I thought might be extremely triggering for someone in recovery. read as much as you can:

Today, I woke up with stabbing pains in my stomach shortly before 7am. The laxatives I took last night before I fell asleep were kicking in. I lay there for what felt like hours, until the pains become so strong that I knew I urgently needed to get to the bathroom. I stumbled out of the bed and made my way across the hall. The pain is always the same – so excruciating that I swear to myself that I will never again take another laxative. There were tingles all over my body and I broke out in chills. My insides felt as though they were going to implode and for a second I thought about the damage I must be doing to myself. I stripped off and gazed at myself in the mirror, sucking in my belly as hard as I could. I pressed my hand to my stomach, checking to see if it somehow felt as flat as it did yesterday. I breathed a sigh of relief - it didn’t seem like I gained much weight from the horrific 12 hour binge purge marathon I had yesterday. I looked at the scales and wondered whether or not to get on. I knew that I would be horrified at what I saw, so thought it would be best to wait until tomorrow.

In the shower, and felt so weak that every move I made was an effort. It felt like my bones weighed 3 times as much as they should. My arms were so heavy that it was difficult to wash my hair or my body. I always hate the shower; it forces me to confront every inch of myself.

I made it to my desk a little after 11am, and collapsed onto my chair, out of breath and completely exhausted. Two friends emailed to ask if I wanted to go for lunch later that day. I spent over an hour going back and forth in my mind: ‘you can’t eat today - you ate too much yesterday’…‘if you eat you won’t be able to stop and will put on at least another pound’…‘but one more day of binging and purging won’t hurt in the long run, ‘this will be the last day, tomorrow you can start again’…‘if you do this you are throwing away all of the work you’ve put into losing weight so far’…’you’re fat enough as it is, don’t eat anymore’…’fuck it, just today so, tomorrow you’re only having 100 calories’.

And that was that.

I met them at 1pm and ended up eating a pretty large dinner instead of a lunch. To my friends, I looked the same, I smiled at them and laughed at their jokes. But all the while my heart was thumping in my chest. It felt like my thighs and stomach were getting bigger with every passing second, and I wanted nothing more than for them to just leave me alone. As I ate, I was hunched over, embarrassed and ashamed of my body, worried they would think that I was getting fat.

I figured if I just kept eating until I was completely full, I could purge it all up in one go. So I ate more, I bought 2 chocolate bars and ate those at the table, left my colleagues and went to the nearest corner shop. There I spent $25 on snacks and ate it all, and by then it felt like I had ripped the lining of my stomach. Unable to stand upright, for the third time today, the pain was so sharp I had tears in my eyes as I tried my best to get to the nearest toilet. Although I have gotten pretty good at purging; it is still a difficult thing to do, especially when I’m crying at the same time. My throat was still raw and sore from all of the purging I did yesterday. With one hand down my throat, I punched myself in the stomach with the other as hard as I could to help get the food up. Even though I was sore all over, I could feel my entire body relaxing, the panic and the fear became less as I vomited. There is nothing scarier to me than feeling full. I purge quite forcefully, so I was gasping for air as I sat on the floor in the cubicle trying to gain enough composure to continue purging. Sitting on the floor of a public toilet cubicle crying next to a toilet bowl full of vomit was not how I wanted to spend my day.

I cried as I walked from the bus stop to my house. Once inside, I raided the cupboards. Anything at all that didn’t need oven time or defrosting, I threw into my bag. It was 5:30; I was so overwhelmed with panic that I started to hyperventilate. I slammed the cupboards and the fridge, took the stairs 2 at a time, sat on my bed, and ate, and ate, and ate. The pain was excruciating. It was a struggle to breathe because each time breathed in, the pain got sharper and sharper. The front door opened – my dad was home from work. All I could think was ‘I need to get sick!!’ I rushed to the bathroom, locked the door and turned on the shower. I couldn’t bare to undress and actually get into the shower; my stomach was bloated and undressing makes me feel even more ashamed and disgusted with myself. Sometimes sleep in my clothes and tonight was going to be one of those nights. But I didn’t stop there.

I went downstairs, said hello and closed the kitchen door behind me and began prepping food for another purge. I ate the additional food when it was ready. Having purged so much today already, I knew this time would be extremely difficult; my gag reflex was completely gone.

There are already 3 vomit stains on my carpet, now I have a 4th. I cleaned up as best I could.

It’s 10pm and I am completely wiped out. My entire body aches and tingles, and my heart is racing. I lie across my bed, and a voice in my head keeps saying over and over ‘what are you doing to yourself?’

for me, reading this was like a distant memory of a nightmare I had once had. the parts where she talks about the emotions and constant self-bargaining, the body-checking in every mirror, the accelerated heartrate, the self-loathing as she falls asleep. I haven't had a day like that in years. but most of her story was very similar to days I've lived through. they are days I've tried to put behind me and forget about. but I also think that there is value here.

there's value for me: remembering where I don't want to be again.
there's value for those who haven't experienced eating disorders: a tidbit of understanding.
there's value for L: she got something off her chest--and believe me, i know the value in that.

there's value for society:

talk about it,

share it,

and get it out there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

be bold

for some reason the word "bold" struck me today. i had read a blog post about the idea that the way that you tell "your story" shapes your life. the author mentioned that she was striving to tell her story in a bolder way. and i started thinking "would my story have a bold protagonist? would people describe me as bold? does pink hair equal bold? can i be bolder?"

one definition of bold is acting fearless. a course in miracles dichotomizes the world into fear and love. if we take that perspective, being fearless can be interpreted as living fully in love.

approaching difficult conversations, interactions, or situations with an attitude of love: BOLD.

i used to talk about "when i developed bulimia" before my lifecoach insisted i change it to "when i chose to start binging and purging." it took me a while to incorporate that language choice into my lexicon, but, when i did, it actually became easier to talk about. owning my behaviors put me in the protagonist's role: i was no longer a victim of circumstance; i was no longer "sick" or someone to be pitied; i was not blaming anything in my life on anyone else.

i hear people every day attribute their perceived failures, big or small, to outside circumstances. if we consistently think that our life outcomes are outside of our control, we are let off the hook of taking action. but if we recognize that we can take ownership over our pasts, of our decisions and choices, of where we are currently in our life, we can move forward boldly.

and the best part is that it is never too late to take that ownership. it is never too late to change your perspective on your story, or the way you convey it to other people. this week i had a first date with someone. during this date, i talked freely about my part in the ending of my marriage, among other things that could be interpreted as life-fails. my date listened to part of "my story" and then replied with "wow, i didn't expect to hear that; thank you for sharing that in such an honest way."

that whole marriage-ending story is one i haven't quite mastered all of the boldness in yet. i tend to say "when my husband left me" or "when my husband moved continents without telling me" because of the drama of these statements. but no one has never complimented me on those re-tellings. a few chuckles or embarrassed side-glances, perhaps, but nothing more.

the relationship stories can be some of the most challenging to own. because there is always another person there: there is always another person that can be blamed. so it can be difficult to take the words and actions that are ours within a relationship, and to own the effect they have on the outcomes. we have to let go of the hurts enough to release the want to blame the other person for the story's ending.

and sometimes we might not even know how we got to a relationship's ending. one of my friends recently blogged about the struggles of today's dating world. and believe me, i know. owning my story in unexplainable situations is very challenging--when i think that i have acted as a bold individual but feel that i have received fear in return, the boldness can feel worthless... but i think that knowing where relationship outcomes are not directly related to ourselves is also pretty bold.

i don't want to be let off the hook in any area of my life. i want to take ownership. the shift we can make and the power we create for ourselves through such boldness is impressive. we get to decide. we get to act. we get to create. we get to be the author. and fuck, i think that's all any of us want.

today, i choose to be bold.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

recovery is a long word

do you know what yik yak is? if you're not under 25, or one of my best friends, the answer is probably no. it's an anonymous twitter type app that i'm obsessed with--along with all 18-25 year olds. you can only see yaks that are posted in your immediate area, so if you're near a college campus, or in a big city, it will be super interesting. (if not, don't even attempt to download it!)

you can comment on people's yaks and up or down vote them. if a yak gets 5 down votes, it is automatically removed. which is kind of cool, because it is a little self-regulating. anyway, it can be a mean place (because it is anonymous), but it can also be a super supportive place (because it is anonymous).

point of the story: a young girl posted tonight about binging and purging. i replied, she replied, i replied, etc. she hadn't told anyone about her eating disorder; she kept it hidden; she didn't know what to do.

is how i felt. and i wanted to help her: i wanted to do all the things for her. i told her about how hiding it amplifies the shame, and about how admitting it (even anonymously) was a good first step.

that admission can be SO. HARD.

i've had other people grace me with their admissions in the past, both about eating disorders and other mental health issues. and every time i feel this intense yearning to soothe and nurture; to offer support; to provide forgiveness.

i know those feelings arise from the needs i have so strongly felt in my life. the needs that i was afraid to express, and afraid to have met--both by myself and others.

this morning i did an online yoga class with elena, and she said this:
the amount of energy that it takes to resist the expressions of our heart and recoil from our divine nature is exactly the same amount of energy it takes to surrender. this energy cannot do both at the same time.
when she said that, i freaked out a tiny bit. like it struck a chord inside me pretty deeply. i couldn't say for sure exactly why this morning.

and now, i feel like, oh, yeah. it's because all i do is struggle with how vulnerable i can be. how vulnerable can i be with exposing my sensitivities, my true feelings, and my insecurities? how vulnerable can i be with admitting TO MYSELF my sensitivities, my true feelings, and my insecurities?

seeing my struggle reflected back through a younger version of myself hurt. i wanted to protect her; i wanted to speed up her healing process.

not that i'm recovered.

not that any of us are.

from whatever.

but, you know, we're all ok anyway.

we're all on this journey of recovery.

which is actually just life.

so keep recovering. keep remembering that true nature. keep forgiving those who can't yet. keep supporting them. and put all your energy into the surrendering: to the vulnerabilities, sensitivities, feelings, and insecurities. i swear it's fucking worth it.

now watch this. #love

Monday, August 31, 2015

the light at the end of the grocery store aisle

i was mopey all weekend. apparently i was being a "mopey mopey babe." last night one of my friends was trying to cheer me up and he dragged me out with him to pick up a pizza. as we were walking toward the pizza shop, it started raining. i almost broke down in tears, being in the mopey mood i was in. he pushed me into the grocery store we were next to, and told me to wait in there for him to get the pizza. as i walked into the store, a sad song was playing, and tears started streaming down my face.

and then, a small panic swept over me: i realized i hadn't brought anything with me--no phone, no money, no keys. i didn't know what pizza store my friend was going to, and now i had been deserted at this grocery store in the middle of a storm. i thought, "i could yelp close pizza stores... oh wait, i don't have my phone. i could go back to the house... oh wait, i don't have my keys."

i walked helplessly in a lap around the store, and then just walked straight back out, sure that i'd never see my friend again.

as i walked outside, my friend walked up and i collapsed in his arms saying i thought i was going to have to spend the night at that grocery store. he laughed a bit maniacally and said that he would never do that to me, though it would've been a brilliant plan--especially considering my level of mopey-ness.

well that whole thing showed me i kind of needed to turn the corner.

what was before the corner? saturday morning i woke up and found that someone i cared about deleted me from their life without any explanation. it was pretty jarring. i'm grown up enough to know that this wasn't my fault, and i reached out via text message to this person and offered compassion, hopefully offering a safe space for this person to respond back to me. they haven't yet. it left me feeling a little small. i was shrinking into myself with fear about the situation.

luckily my friends distracted me most of the weekend.

they are the most lovely friends in the world.

and then this morning i went to yoga. the teacher taught a theme of expansion: of expanding past our physical boundaries. on the mat, i reached my arms wider than i ever had before. i stretched my legs further apart. i cartwheeled my arms bigger, i radiated my heart with more passion and energy than i thought possible.

and i BREATHED. so deeply. so fully.

the feeling that emerged as i did this was overwhelming: i felt myself shattering the shell of fear i had encased myself in over the weekend. i felt myself thinking "i'm bigger than this. i'm bigger than this feeling of fear. i'm bigger than this mopey-self. i'm bigger than all this shit!"

i left the class with a knowing that i'll be ok. a knowing that i turned the corner: i made it out of the grocery store, and i'm making it out of this.

and to the person that evoked all of this: i'm also big enough to handle whatever is going on. that's an offering and a promise.

love, compassion, peace. and expansion. so much expansion. outside and inside.