The next chapter in "Live Boldly" was on vision. Vision is defined as such "to expect a greater standard, a better result; to step up, peer over the shoulders of what is ordinary and get a good sighting on what is possible. to act with vision is to dare to believe a greater thing will unfold before you as you clear your sight." Often with an eating disorder your vision is NOT CLEAR, it's cloudy. You see things in your head differently than they really are. For instance you look in the mirror and see fat and ugly and immediate hatred for yourself ensues! Deep down you believe this to be true because it's what Ed (your eating disorder) tells you, but if others were to give you there opinion this couldn't be further from the truth. Now, when I look in the mirror and hear Ed's voice, I look again and assess myself with my eyes not his. I combat the voices and think to myself; you look good for 36, you have great hair, your clothes fit (so you know you didn't gain 20 lbs. over night) and basically tell him to F-off. Here are a could pictures to show you how my vision has improved. The first one is of me in 2003 (much skinner - to the right) and the other from a couple weeks ago (much healthier - to the left). In the past when I'd compare pictures like this I would get upset and think how could I let myself get this big. Now, my vision (with the help of my supporters) is much clearer. I know that I'm not big, I may not always be happy, but it's a matter of opinion and mine is not always correct.
Again from the book, "Live Boldly" I came to the chapter of perspective. It says "things are either stumbling blocks or stepping stones. Unexpected events can set you back or set you up. It's all a matter of --perspective. How true! In the life of my eating disorder everything was always about me, poor me. My life was so horrible and I could think of nothing else. As I've regained my clarity, I realize things in life aren't so bad. Yeah, there not always great or fair -- but it could be worse. Others have it much tougher that I do and they survive. So as I journey through recovery, I try to keep things in perspective (remembering it's not always about me or done to me). That's what helps me to build myself up and reach the next stepping stone NOT to stumble backwards with life's set-backs.
I am reading a new book called "Live Boldly" cultivate the qualities that can change your life. I am excited because it gives me thoughts to ponder and assignments to conquer. In the first chapter it asks me "If you had a motto, what would it be?" I really wanted it to be something that describes me and also something that I could grow into. I have this necklace that reads: "RECOVERY to overcome adversity stand in the face of challenge and succeed". Not that recovery defines me...but in life I would like to overcome any adversity that may come my way, stand in the face of all challenges and to definitely succeed. Overall it encompasses what I strive for in life; success in adverse times.
To this point I've shared many positive things regarding my recovery. But, to show you my mentality in my sick days, I will share a few poems. This is to prove to you that dark days last only for a short while, however long they may seem -- AND THEY DO SEEM LONG! My vice along with the eating disorder was self-injury. It was a pain I could explain when everything else in my life seemed out of control.
The poems were written to represent my self-injury (past) and no longer represents who I am (today). I struggled for many, many years, but have overcome huge obstacles and am here to be a positive role model the best way I can. I most likely will not share more of these because they no longer reflect who I am today. But, feel they represent how far I've come in recovery.
4/5/01 I try to burn him out of my skin It's red and it's blistered, but still he stays in He gloats with self-righteousness when I pick at the scar "Now everyone can see how ugly you are".
I'm at his mercy; I am his little lamb I want him to leave, but he is who I am He has diligently carved a large, gaping hole He's reached his hand in and thrown out my soul
I am beaten and battered, weakened and tired He's destroyed everything to which I've once aspired He feeds on my misery and drinks up my tears He takes all my strength and leaves me with fears
I hate how he stole all I have left Although, he would call it a petty theft I want to destroy him, it's what I have to do But, he warns, "you'll destroy you too"
As you sit there getting hot My mind wrestles with every thought I look in the mirror and see no tears I've locked away all of my fears Hiding from the truths that come to light Help me to disappear far from sight I hide in the shadows full of self-hate I really do feel this is my fate The hotter you get I have no regrets Scars to show my pain is real No one understands just how I feel I hear myself screaming, but nothing is coming out Please help me to figure it all out
_____________________________________________ 3/1/01 Shard of glass a half an inch thick you tell me my truth you make me sick. I look into you with tears in my eyes who I have grown to hate and despise. She gazes back at me with a vindictive glare "I hate you" she says so I no longer stare. She lives in a world parallel to mine I can no longer watch her Slip away with time. She coexists inside of me where my soul used to be she's taken me over I can't set her free. I light candles to hide her she's blurred in the flame I cover her with makeup but, I can still see the shame. I turn out the light thinking she's gone but, she screams and she cries so I know I am wrong. She has destroyed me and taken me away she brought me to this place I am destined to stay.
After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul. You learn that love doesn't mean leaning and company doesn't mean security. And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't promises. And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open, with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child. And you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans. After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much. So plant your own garden and redecorate your soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn you really can endure... That you really are strong. And you really do have worth.
Here are some tips to think about as you start the recovery process:
1) Acknowledge that your behavior is unhealthy and that you need to make changes. Change is YOUR choice.
2) Don't wait for others to "fix" you. Take responsibility for your own recovery.
3) Learn to listen to your "self". Recognize and honor your needs and wants. Spend some quiet time so you can hear your "self".
4) Focus on your feelings before, during and after you binge, purge or restrict. Whatever you are feeling is valid. Find alternative ways to resolve these feelings. Don't stuff them -- express them.
5) Stop comparing yourself to others. You are a unique and valuable person just as you are. Value your individuality.
6) Set small goals that you can accomplish easily, and congratulate yourself for every success.
7) Focus on the present and positive aspects of your life. Let go of the past and the future.
8) Become aware of your negative self-talk (i.e. I can't do that because I'm fat. I always make mistakes). Challenge and dispute that talk (i.e. I am successful at... The size of my body does not determine my worth). Replace the negative statements with positive statements and encouragement (i.e. I have value. It's OK to make mistakes. I learn from my mistakes).
9) Take time to nurture yourself in ways other than with food, such as a walk, a hot bath, a special present.
10) Talk to someone rather that turning to food for support. Keep talking until you find someone who is willing to unconditionally accept your body, your feelings, your needs; to accept your "true self".
11) Start trying to appreciate different achievements in yourself and others. Work towards the point where weight and appearance are no longer something by which you rate your success. Think about your accomplishments, positive personal qualities, and valued relationships.
12) Identify goals and activities you have been putting off until you're thin, make a list and start doing them now. Appreciate who you are now and start living your life today.
13) Explore your possible ambivalence about giving up these behaviors and your feelings of living without these old coping techniques. Take the risk to try new behaviors, without being certain of the outcome.
14) Recognize your personal rights. You have the right to say no. You have the right to express your feelings or your opinion. You have the right to ask to have your needs met.
15) Keep a journal of your experiences, feelings, thoughts and insights. This is a safe place to be honest with yourself--the journal is for your eyes only, no one else will be reading it or judging it. The journal can also help you identify your "triggers" so you may prepare yourself to choose alternate strategies.
16) Develop a creative outlet. Take up painting, drawing, writing. No one will judge it, and it is a great outlet for expressing feelings.
17) Don't let the scale run your life. Remember the numbers on a scale are not a value judgement on your self-worth. Give the scale away.
18) Dispute the concept of a cultural ideal of beauty as being unrealistic. people come in all shapes and sizes. The concept if an ideal body is a form of prejudice, similar to racism.
19) Seek professional help for guidance in your recovery. Help can be found from counselors, support groups, family doctors, nutritionists, experienced in helping people recovering from eating disorders.
20) Relax. Be kind to yourself. Trust yourself. You can make changes.
This is a story that I've had for a very long time. When I first came upon it, I thought it was worth holding on to and I filed it away with all my other "stuff". As I travel further along the path of recovery, I dig into my archives and read again the stories that once moved me. Now, is when I finally get the full meaning of this story. As the "awakening" process unfolds and I fight to reclaim my life it speaks volumes about the person I want to become. Hopefully you get something from this as well!
A time comes in your life when you finally get it. When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out - ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes you begin to look at the world through new eyes. This is your awakening.
You realize that it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that he is not Prince Charming and you are not Cinderella and that in the real world there aren't always fairytale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of "happily ever after" must begin with you and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.
You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are...and that's OK. (They are entitled to their own views and opinions.) And you learn the importance of loving and championing yourself and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.
You stop bitching and blaming other people for the things they did to you (or didn't do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected. You learn that people don't always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that it's not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.
You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness. You realize that much of the way you view yourself, and the world around you, is a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into your psyche. And you begin to sift through all the crap you've been fed about how you should behave, how you should look and how much you should weigh, what you should wear and where you should shop and what you should drive, how and where you should live and what you should do for a living, who you should date and with who you should marry and what you should expect of a marriage, the importance of having and raising children or what you owe your parents.
You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for. You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you've outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with and in the process you learn to go with your instincts. You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive. And that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a "consumer" looking for your next fix. You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a by gone era but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life. You learn that you don't know everything, it's not your job to save the world and that you can't teach a pig to sing.
You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake. The you learn about love. Romantic love and familial love. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving and when to to walk away. You learn not to project your needs or feelings onto a relationship. You learn that you will not be more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of the man on your arm or the child that bears your name. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as your would have them to be. You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn that just as people grow and change so it is with love and you learn that you don't have the right to demand love on your terms just to make you happy.
And, you learn that alone does not mean lonely. And you look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a perfect 10 and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head and agonizing over how you "stack-up."
You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK and that it is your right to want things and to ask for the things you want and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands.
You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect and you won't settle for less. And, you allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you to glorify you with his touch and in the process you internalize the meaning of self-respect.
And you learn that your body really is your temple. And you begining to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and taking more time to exercise. You learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear. So you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our souls. So you take more time to laugh and to play.
You learn, that for the most part, in life you get what you believe you deserve and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen. More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learnthat no one can do it alone and that it's OK to risk asking for help.
You learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time. FEAR itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your terms. And you learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom. You learn that life isn't always fair, you don't always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions you learn not to personalize things. You learn that God isn't punishing you or failing to answer your prayers. It's just life happening.
And you learn to deal with evil in its most primal state - the ego. You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.
You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about; a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft-warm bed, a long hot shower.
Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never ever settle for less than your heart's desire. And you hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind. And you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility. Finally, with courage in your heart and with God by your side you take a stand, you take a deep breath and you begin to design the life you want to live as best you can.
Alot of my poems start with Ed in control, but as you see I always win in the end!
You are there through thick and thin In every thought you are my sin My mind races as it hears your voice I do what you say I have no choice All day long I wait and wonder Home at last and your voice thunders I do what you say without a thought Looking around will I get caught No one is here to see me dying Inside are fears but no more crying Will I ever be free to do as I choose Or must I live to always loose I have a choice I know it's true But all alone what do I do You are my comfort and all my sorrows Yet all I dream are of better tomorrows And when I wake it's you I see I want you to die and leave me be Get out of here and leave me at rest On two feet I stand and do my best I no longer need you at my side In this body at last I reside
"Stand up and support all those affected Prove wrong the myths that have become infected"
"Help spread the word that curves are cool That the stick figure image does not rule"
"Clothes that hang from limb to limb It does not pay to be dying and thin"
"On strong legs be your defender To fight against being all to slender"
"Don't deny your bodies right We all must have an appetite"
Throughout my years with Ed writing jingles or poems has helped me to free my mind. Sometimes it was a release of bad emotions, which I will share some of those at a later time. But, others were written to help me fight Ed and empowered me to get through another day. Enjoy!
There were some things that happened over the last week that put a damper on my spirits. It's hard to control my emotions when things feel like there spiraling out of control. Last Thursday at work we had another round of layoffs (I survived again) and also mandatory pay cuts. The first thing that chimed in my head, as all this was happening, was I'm not eating tonight. I later realized this wouldn't fly with my supportive roommate so I decided that I would self-injure to alieve the pain. I later remembered that I had a "web video/commercial" to do on Saturday and I surely didn't want any evidence of misbehaving. I hate it when the bad voices ring in my head during uncontrollable situations. Thankfully I have a supportive team of people around me as I managed the weeks worries. Not to say that it will be easy going to work tomorrow, but I made it through a couple of rough days. In the past it didn't matter who was around or what I had to do, nothing would stop me from doing harm to myself. This time around I actually think about my actions and talk myself out of them. I am becoming more and more the inner voice of wisdom and not Ed. Yeah!
During the worst days with my eating disorder I ate whatever I wanted. It didn't matter as I was just going to get rid of it anyway, one way or another. These days, my roommate is in charge of the meal plans and whatever he makes is what I eat. I don't have to stress out about it because he takes this difficult task on. This is much easier for me becuase if he goes through the effort of preparing it I know that it's ok to eat it. Well he works third shift and goes in early on Monday's and I have to fend for myself. At this point in my recovery I can do it (eat) for someone else, but it's very difficult to do it for myself on my own. So on these days I drive around aimlessly trying to figure out what I want and it's very overwhelming. I'm not at the point where I matter (when it comes to food decisions) and have a hard time deciding on what sounds good. Usually I ask people at work for suggestions and then I just have to pick it up. Today I forgot to ask and with a "racing mind" drove to every fast food joint in town . I'd park outside, freak out a bit and move on to the next. After about a half hour of this I called my mom and she helped me. I hated to to this as my family lives out of state and I don't want to worry them. They know I'm doing so much better so why let them know I struggle with this one thing. Yes, they know the details of my eating disorder, but have always been away from it. It seems like such a small thing to conquer, yet the hardest thing for me to get a hold of. So, now my mom knows of this struggle and maybe she can help me on these Manic Monday's. If you don't let people in to help, how can they - no matter how big or small they may seem.
I've spoken alot about the things and people that have helped me make it this far, but of course there are still days that I struggle. I feel that I'm 75%-80% recovered, however that 20% or so will probably always be a part of me. It is how I deal with and react to the situations that come my way via Ed that matter.
There was a party at work recently for a woman that was retiring. And there was food galore! I had my sacred english muffin with peanut butter and my Mountain Dew awaiting me so I knew I wouldn't be going through the food line. I did however need to get something from the lunch room and OH MY GOSH THE SMELL! YUCKY, TOO MUCH. As I walked through the masses of people I pretended I had an itchy nose to kinda cover the fact that I was trying to plug my nose so I didn't have to smell it. Well, I was caught by a guy co-worker and of course he made a comment "what's wrong with you it's just food". I got so angry at that moment, steam must have been coming from my ears. Mostly because of his inconsiderate and thoughtless comment. But, also that it didn't occur to him to think of my eating disorder and that it might have been hard for me, not being a foody (food lover) like he is. I came fuming back to my office and Jen was there for support, we talked some and I began to feel better. It was later that night at home when I was telling Greg, my roommate, the story and he reminded me that this guy was not working at our facility at the lowest point of my eating disorder and that he spoke without knowing my issues. Point taken!
So, this hurt in a couple of different ways. One that he was thoughtless, I think I covered that one already. The other because I must not look like I have an eating disorder anymore or it would have occurred to him. I'm glad I am now on the right track, believe me. But, sometimes I feel like I am in limbo - wanting and not wanting to be apart of both worlds.
When I lived on my own it was a very lonely time. I felt sick, alone and scared all of the time. One day I was driving through town and noticed a sign for Big Brothers Big Sisters. I thought about it and figured it would be a great way for me to get out of the house and see life again. When I got home that day I called the organization and set up an interview. After about a nine month process I was matched up with my little sister, Madeline.I was a bit scared as I was still very sick with my eating disorder, but knew I could make a difference. Just as much as I could make a difference in her life I felt she could possibly make a difference in mine. I never expected our relationship would be so amazing, but it is. We are two-peas-in-a-pod. We love spending time together and she really has helped me. When I first met her it was hard for me to leave the house for our visits. As time went on she brought me out of my shell and I started to really look forward to our time together. She is smart, funny and very artistic. It has now been three years and going strong. I know that our friendship will last a very long time.
I am very close with my family, unfortunately they all live in Minnesota. My brother Chris has three children: Nick 13, Griffin 10 and Paige 7. From day one they touched my heart and still to this day remain my "three little angels". I remember like it was yesterday a trip home, it was the day I was leaving and Nicholas turned to me and said, "I have a picture of you in my heart ". I asked him to explain and he told me that, he has a picture of me in his heart and that when I go away it fades. He couldn't have been more that three or four years old at the time, but wise beyond his years. They are amazing and I am so lucky to have them in my life. They don't exactly understand what I go through and I'm glad, but I do know that they love me unconditionally anyway.
These are a couple of poems I wrote for them as they have grown up: 1/19/01 I remember the day you arrived into this world a small bundle of joy in my arms you were curled I could tell from that moment we would share a special love you were made to be my guardian angles sent from above as you've grown so has my love for you you've shown me in many ways that you'll always be true the memories I have treasured throughout the years have lead to both laughter and yes, some tears I resent not being closer to hold your little hand to ride our bikes to the park and play in the sand I want to do what "auntie's" do day to day but, I can only guide and support with the words that I say please know that I love you with all of my heart that i will be there when needed to play my big part
Even though they were little they loved it and years later asked me to write them another
footprints in my heart you have made not time or distance will make them fade memories we share built on faith and love you are three little angles sent from above the kindness, laughter and joy we share universally let me know how much you care i will always and forever be on your side to talk to, listen and to foremost guide a heart full of pride in all that you do from baby steps to strides in becoming you a phone call away I will always be to cross that distance when you need me with outstretched arms I await an "auntie" I am it is my fate
I could never being to express how much they mean to me, but I think they know it.
For the past three years I have lived with my friend Greg. He has been a true supporter for many years and has seen Ed's evil ways eat away at me. Before I moved in with him, I lived on my own for five years with my eating disorder. I had come to the realization that I could no longer do this alone as I was killing myself. He helped me pack up my old life and has been helping me to create a new one without Ed ever since. Ed will always be apart of my life, but it's how I handle his criticism that makes all the difference. In the past I let him control my life and I suffered greatly for it. Now I'm in control and he has to deal with it or leave. Needless to say he hasn't left, but I still remain in control. Greg has helped me to combat Ed's negativity by supporting me, listening when I need a friend and telling him off if needed. He is the most caring, patient and kind person I have ever met and I'm very thankful for his friendship. If he wasn't apart of my life I definitely would've given up long ago.
This is a poem I had written awhile back to symbolize our frienship:
Another great thing I did in my recovery was going to the “Divorcing Ed Workshop” in Nashville. It was the scariest thing to do and yet the most empowering. I met wonderful people, including Jenny, and learned more about myself in that weekend than I have in my whole life. I was so inspired by going I wrote a poem for the occasion and brought it with to share.
The divorcing Ed workshop is where I will be Don't bother trying to convince me to run or to flee Registration, Airfare and the Hotel room is booked Mom’s on board to attend, I’m already hooked Jules, Jennie and Thom all say they care It’s the fear, anxiety and the unknown I can’t bear Will I or won’t I be the fattest one? The #1 question allowing me no fun It’s normal they say to feel as I do Until I see for myself there’s no way through Ed has his hold as he’s always right I sit there and take it, I put up no fight March 31st is the date for the beginning of the end To send you out, alone on your rear end I’ll disagree with and disobey you before long I’ll have more courage to fight you as I’ll be strong Six years of marriage with so much pain Divorcing you now, what will I gain? A life of hope, joy and happiness soon will abound As you no are no longer inside me making a sound A life without Ed I WILL pursue I soon will say, hey Ed we are all through Get out of my way you no longer rule Your words mean nothing I am not a fool You lie and you cheat me out of my life I no longer will stand being your wife The papers are signed, get out for good The time is now, I won’t be misunderstood Thanks to the workshop I’m on my way On a recovery path, the real me here to stay
These are some of things/people that affected my recovery in a positive way. I don’t want to stress about all the bad at this point because it was simply a Hell that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. I will share some of my writings and poems from that time in a future blog.
Another tool I used to de-stress was to make collages. I would cut positive images and words from magazines to create little posters to express how I felt or to boost my moral for the day. Sometimes they were contrasting collages that would depict the happiness I wish I had OR the thoughts Ed filled my head with daily. Either way the process helped to release emotions that built up and bogged me down. Mostly negative thoughts filled my head and sometimes creating positive images helped me to feel like I deserved to be here and that I did matter even if only for a short time.
Statements encouraging recovery!Statements to keep me on track!Statements that symbolize me and the life I want to claim as my own!Statements made by Ed that tormented me daily!
In difficult situations or if I had a really bad day I would journal conversations between Ed and myself to see how he would manipulate my thoughts. Seeing his harsh reactions on paper helped me realize that I wasn't bad or wrong in any way and that it was just him being his critical horrible self.
One of the projects I did during my recovery was to try to figure out who Ed was. I visualized him in my mind and this who Ed is to me. He is a nasty abusive man who strives to belittle me every chance he gets. He wears one of those wife-beater t-shits, drinks, has marks of bad acne and works for a living shoveling shit. I then drew a picture of what he was to me so I had something in hand to symbolize my eating disorder. I hate him!
Ok, so now admittedly I have an eating disorder. I suffered daily, pushed everyone away and was left alone with Ed. The thing is, I did not start out with eating disorder thoughts about weight and food, but now it was all I thought about after the program. As I had lost significantly MORE weight and mentally had come undone he was in control. I say he as in Ed, it was the approach used in “Life without Ed” mentioned in Chapter 3 (first blog). The theory is to separate yourself from your eating disorder. He is the abusive husband, boyfriend, everyone who left you or stopped loving you during your struggles. Once you can place the blame and release some of the anger at another – other than yourself – you CAN start to heal.
I wrote my “Declaration of Independence” to protest my plan and commitment to recovery. I had supporters sign and date my document and have it hanging in my room.
I encourage you to seek proper counsel and treatment from a hospital if necessary.
However, I feel that I was misdiagnosed in my counsel and treatment. So let’s talk about this a bit. Divorce seems all too common these days, never-the-less very painful. For me it was the ending of almost a ten year relationship. I felt, at most times, that I had everything I’d ever want. We shared a house on one-acre, a 4-car garage, nice cars and good jobs. But, unfortunately we also had the knack to annoy each other to no end. After many years of this, I just couldn’t foresee a future together. It was an extremely hard decision coming from a family of very little divorce. But, regardless I chose to leave my marriage on a separation bases. Sadly, he was much happier apart and I was much more miserable. It was probably more to do with loneliness for me as I had never really been alone. And soon deep, deep depression set in. I remember the words he said to me when I left, “no one will ever want you and you’ll always be alone”. These words haunted me as slowly I deteriorated. I could not stop crying, I sat curled in a ball waiting to be rescued only no one came, just as he’d said. This horrible depression went on for months and months and affected every moment of every day. I lost my appetite and zest for life. Keep in mind, never once did I do anything eating disordered during this low point in my life. I sought counseling to help me through my depression, to guide me towards healing. From day one I was viewed as eating disordered by my counselor. We spoke mostly about my divorce, but she always led the talk towards my loss of weight. It didn’t take long and she had me admitted into an eating disorder program. The staff there took her diagnosis and admitted me into their treatment program without question. This is my point, if I had fairly been assessed, I’m sure they would not have admitted me into that program. Weight I had lost, yes and probably a piece of my soul as well with the ending of my marriage. But, I DID NOT belong in this particular group. I believe being placed there was the death of me and the birth of Ed. Getting the help you need and seeking proper treatment is key to recovery, but be sure you get it from the right places. Later I will describe more in depth the ones who did turn my life around and how it saved my life. ** So, please if only for me, get a second opinion when seeking treatment.
Hard to believe this all started almost eight years ago, but it did. It was not a gradual process for me; it took hold immediately and devoured my soul. There I was just trying to get by day to day and it hit me like a train. Sure there were signals; huge flashing neon signs saying watch out, call for help, turn around now. But, I saw none of it. I drove head on full steam ahead into Ed. And believe me it hurt like HELL. Sure it still hurts some days, but I’ve learned to separate myself and to be aware of the signals.
In 1998 I got married and thought this has got to be the happiest day of my life and it was. Then things changed and it wasn’t happy anymore. We didn’t communicate, we fought constantly and things turned for the worst and fast. I came to the realization that I did not want to be unhappily married and that I’d rather be unhappily single and learn to be happy again instead. I left my marriage, hoping that things would change. My hope was; my husband would realize he missed me and would come rescue me. He’d tell me to come home, that things would change and we’d live happily ever after. But, it didn’t happen that way, not event close. Divorce lead to depression and therefore depression lead to Ed. Things got messy real fast and I could no longer control the path of my life. Everyone else saw the signs; severe weight loss, anxiety and panic attacks. To me it was simple; I was just sad, broken hearted, this is what was wrong with me. (ELAPSED TIME) OK, so maybe things weren’t great and counseling could help. I listened to reason (everyone else) and started seeing someone to cope with my depression. From day one she could not get over the fact that ED came to every visit and grew increasingly alarmed by this. I kept telling her, I’m here alone – no one else is with me. I’d look around and think this lady is crazy. But, she had a vision and that was the vision of me and Ed in a mental health hospital. So, I was carted off without consent to Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital in Schaumburg. I shouldn’t say without consent, apparently she was considerate enough to consult my ex-husband and ask him to do the dirty work. So for four months I had to be apart of this nonsense program. Sit in groups with other girls/women and the funny thing is each of them had a friend named Ed also. But hello, I didn’t have a problem remember. I attended therapy as told, went to the classes they wanted, hid in the back of discussion groups they made me go to, and slumped off to mealtime all for their sake. Forever this seemed to go on - sitting with and watching everyone else with their Ed discussing what should be done and how to get out of doing it. I heard and saw it all, so if I didn’t have a problem before this I sure did now.
I learned it all, saw it all and now was doing it all. My mentality was that of Ed and Ed alone. We headed down a very dangerous path together, one which I thought I’d never return. Betrayal, lies, manipulation – all of this was used to keep me in line. It hurt more than anyone will ever know, yet I was unable to help myself. Years of suffering and self-injury lay ahead and I was oblivious to a better way of life. I was in total isolation and very few family and friends were allowed in. Ed made sure everyone knew the boundaries and if they did not comply he’d push them away until I was all alone. I woke up in tears and I went to bed in tears, I hated life and myself. I wanted no one, yet was the loneliest person on the face of the planet. My destiny was to whither away in my small one bedroom apartment. No one would care what happened to me, no one would miss me if I were gone. It was things like this that were beaten into my head everyday Ed and I were together. It was what I deserved, he told me! I beat myself up daily inside and out. Food became the enemy and I followed Ed’s meal plan which was nothing for about four years. If forced to eat my motto was “what goes in must come out” and “I’ll fix it later”. I was energized by the low-low numbers on the scale and the tiny numbers on the labels of my clothes. I was happy about the newly protruding bones on my body and was proud of what I’d become. I was thin, childlike and Ed would take care of me. He promised me this and I believed him with all of my heart. I was happy to have someone taking care of me, looking out for me. I awoke to find I was good at something, making Ed happy. I aspired to be nothing more, to do nothing more. Cutting, burning, and scraping away my outer self – just so he could shine through even brighter. Who was I to disagree; I was just his puppet, an outer shell of the life he’d taken from me.
Yet something was missing, not just the weight either. I had read many books throughout my time with Ed. Tried many things to get rid of him and none of them worked. I kept buying the books and trying to do as they recommended. But, until you are ready to accept what is being asked of you and are ready to change none of this really matters. I did not realize I was ready for anything, until my purchase of “Life without Ed” How One Woman Declared Independence from her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too. It was written by Jenni Schaefferhttp://www.jennischaefer.com/ with Thom Rutledge http://www.thomrutledge.com/books/default.asp?page=ed, published by McGraw-Hill Copyright 2004. I can’t explain why, but it made sense, all of it. Everything she said, how she felt about her relationship with Ed and how she came into recovery was inspirational to me. I somehow felt that if I tried as hard as she had that I too could “Declare Independence” from Ed. I tried other avenues of researching recovery and went online. I discovered that Jenni and Thom were having a workshop in Nashville, “The Divorcing Ed Workshop”. Hell, I’d been though divorce once and somehow survived that, maybe I should go for number two. I talked to my mom and she was happy to go with for support and to help keep Ed off the plane. We, Ed and I, battled about me going on this trip for months. He thought I should sit this one out, you know after all he’d done for me. But in the end, I won and was ready to start yet fearful to begin this journey. The venture was a three day workshop, full of group talks, art therapy classes and best of all Ed free days. It was A LOT of hard work, but worth every dollar and emotion I put into it. It was also the turning point in my relationship with Ed – I was ready for a divorce. Not any easy thing for sure, but I was ready for the fight.
It is now three years later and I’m actively working on recovery. I have some really good lawyers (friends and family) and as a team we were able to kick Ed to the curb. I work hard everyday to make the right choices, ones that keep me healthy and safe. It is not easy, but I do it anyway. I know he’ll most likely be lurking around my neighborhood, peering in my windows, knocking at the door and calling me all the time. But, I’ve learned I can ignore him and I’m happy to listen to myself instead. Today I am hopeful for the future and glad to be alive. I love my family and am thrilled to have such wonderful friendships. I adore my two cats, which have been with me every step of this journey and love me anyway. I am proud to be the very best aunt to the most precious niece and nephews in the world. I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to be a volunteer Big Sister, three years and counting. I am thankful to my roommate and all be has and does to help me kick Ed’s butt everyday. I am and will forever be grateful for the life I’ve been give. I know that I am loved and have much love to give. I am strong and know that I will fight ED for the custody of MY LIFE for many years to come.