My story…

I was thrilled when Tayla Anne asked me to do a guest post on her beautiful site, She’ll Be Free.

2707760_orig

Tayla Anne’s blog has already proven to be very inspirational to me, with content that speaks right to my soul a lot of the time.  Today, my story was featured in her Voices of Ed series!

As I told her, it was a post that flowed out of me with surprising ease and pain, in equal measure.  I am grateful to have been given this venue to tell my story – it helps me to see it on screen.

1788823

The post can be found here and I would appreciate hearing any thoughts or feedback you have, either in my comments or Tayla Anne’s.

Coffee

After having a particularly dark week, I came across this amazing latte art and had to share.

It’s a reminder for me that even in the simplest of things, like coffee, there is beauty and possibility.  I need that reminder these days.  Seeing something so fantastic and creative makes me smile, even when I am hurting.  It doesn’t take the hurt away, it doesn’t push it down… it co-exists beside the pain.

A well made cappuccinos is a source of comfort and joy for me.  As I sit at a cafe and sip my capp this afternoon, I will allow myself to be comforted by it and I will remember to be mindful of the mundane moments of contentment.  They matter too.

By the way, I highly recommend you check out the other latte pics by clicking on the picture or here.

Rude awakening…

I think that’s rather a misnomer… When we say “rude awakening”, really most of us mean unexpected or surprising awakening – rude doesn’t always fit.

Cup Of Coffee by George Hodan

Cup Of Coffee by George Hodan

Since I am forever working on reframing things in my mind, I am immediately drawn to re-frame this too.  Rather than it being “rude”, my most recent awakening shall henceforth be called “sudden”.  That seems far more positive and at a time when I am scrounging for positivity, I’ll take what I can get.

(As an aside, the inspiration for this post really was a literal sudden awakening… there was a power outage overnight and when it came on again early this morning, my printer started up, which in my sleepy state, I thought was someone trying to open my apartment door… I often forget to lock that door so I rather ungracefully leapt from bed, happily for no reason and with no witnesses!)

Anyhow, this past week, since the breakup has felt like a sudden awakening.  I thought that it wouldn’t hurt so much to make that final split and that I wouldn’t need to grieve so much.  I thought that I was further along in recovery and would use healthier coping mechanisms.  I thought that I was better at challenging the negativity inside my head.

Before you think this is simply a ‘woe is me’ sad post and stop reading, let me change direction.  Let me awaken and see the light (okay okay, I’ll stop with the cheesiness.  After the picture 🙂 .).

What I am going to do is to reframe and write myself a list (who doesn’t love lists?!) of some of the positives from this past week:

  • I *noticed* the self critical voice (I can’t change what I don’t hear, so this is a good step)
  • I reached out and connected with friends rather than sitting at home and isolating myself
  • Though I didn’t move forward in recovery, I also didn’t go backwards, which in some ways, for me, IS going forward
  • I have received so much kindness from my online and real time community of friends (thank you to all!)
  • I heard what others were saying and attempted to let it in
  • As I am writing this post, I’ve changed words many times to reflect a kinder stance toward myself
  • I have recognized that I’ve had sadness before and it has faded
  • I acknowledged that I am going to be sad for awhile and that’s okay

That last one is hard for me.  I can say it and know it theoretically, and yet I resist actually feeling the sadness.  It’s as if I know to say the words, but I want to get by without having to *actually* experience the emotions.  Which really doesn’t work to move through and past.

Hmm.  How about that?  Maybe there’s hope for me amid the sadness.

Broken

Everything I start to write sounds cliche and tired.  Or maybe it’s just that I’m tired.  And my eyes are puffy.  After four years of trying so many times, attending counselling, and twisting ourselves in knots trying to get things right, my boyfriend/partner/lover and I decided to end things last night.

This is not going to be a long post.  I knew that we were headed that way and yet somehow it has devastated me.  I blame myself, I blame anorexia, I blame him, I blame society… and I know that blame is pointless.  It’s sad, it’s depressing, it’s agonizing and no amount of pointing fingers will change that.

I could say that it’s worse because of how long we were together.  Or because we still love each other, we just can’t give each other what we each need right now.  Or because I have poor coping strategies in the first place.  Or because I’m worried about him being isolated.

The simple reality is that heartbreak is brutal.  Whether it is someone you have loved for years, or someone you have loved for minutes.  It’s immeasurable and universal.  Yet, it always feels as if your own is somehow different and worse.  Like no one else could actually feel this kind of pain and then go on.

P1000694

Us – in silhouette

I already miss him terribly.  I know that I will continue to miss him and love him.  I will be okay, one day, and I will be grateful we were in each other’s lives and that we grew so much together.

For now, I will cry.

Anonymous

One of my regular blogs to read, Dancing Branflakes occasionally runs a series called From… Anonymous.  In her words:

I started this anonymous series as a way to give you a platform to say what we wanted without judgement or identity.

When she ran this series in April, she simply asked the question “how are you”?  The responses were astonishingly raw and moving.  It was just after the Boston bombings and people were reeling from that tragedy and also dealing with all the distress and darkness and daily aggravation that life sometimes brings.

I love that Dancing Branflakes gives a space to people to voice their feelings.  At the same time, I hate that we all feel the need to hide these emotions and deny their existence.  Don’t get me wrong, I get it… there are a million reasons why we choose to keep our pain and our vulnerability close to our hearts and behind a veil.  Especially on the Internet.

I can’t help but wonder, though, how many of those commenters simply do not feel that it’s okay to have these emotions in the first place.  That it is not okay to feel sad, or angry, or scared.

I know that I have existed in that place for a very long time.  A place where I felt I *shouldn’t* have those feelings.  If I did?  Yikes, clearly I was doing something wrong, I was not grateful enough, I was not trying enough, it was my fault and I was a bad person.  So on top of feeling shitty in the first place, I loaded myself up with an extra helping of guilt.

Now, I am learning that all emotions are okay.  That I need to actually feel those emotions and when I do, I can move through them and past them and actually spend LESS time in that negative state.  It is normal and natural to experience the full range of emotions, from sad, to happy, to despairing, to elation and every nuance in between.

What’s more, I’m learning to not hide them from my inner circle.  It’s amazing to me that when I do share, it’s a relief to both myself and to them.  My closest friends and family feed my soul and, knowing that sometimes I suffer, they are able to bring their journey to the table with honesty too.  We become closer.

This doesn’t mean wallowing, or engaging in a pity party.  It just means accepting that not all days are good days.  That I don’t always have to put on a happy face.  That being real in these moments allows me to be more fully present in my life so that I can fully experience all the good times too.

May we all feel.  May we know who is safe to share those feelings with and allow the sharing to build stronger connections and buffers of strength and wisdom.  May we know joy and share that too.

And for those times when we can’t (because there are those times), may we all be grateful that there is this online community that can virtually hold our hands and let us know it will all be okay.  That we are all okay.

I can change my mind

I realize this was the theme of my last post, but what can I say?  It’s a concept that seems to keep coming up for me.

I recently attended a talk by poet Shane Koyczan.

He is an inspiration to me and so many others.  He recently received a lot of attention for his moving bullying video “To This Day” (if you haven’t seen it, stop reading and go check it out!  Amazing.).  It was so moving, he was immediately invited to the big TED Talks – that talk can be seen here.

This is not meant to be a media campaign for him but once you’ve been exposed to his work, you’ll understand my rampant enthusiasm.

During his talk, he was asked about life lessons and mentioned learning that he can change his mind.  Something hard for a writer to do, because when you write, often your opinion is out there for all the world to see and quote.  I love how he described it.  That it’s okay to have an opinion and think something, learn something new, and then change your mind.  And that doesn’t mean you didn’t truly believe the first thing when you said it, it means that you have been open enough to grow.

Something can be true at a point in time and then you can learn and evolve and change your mind and something else can be true now.

That’s powerful.  New knowledge doesn’t mean you have to reject all your past.  It was true then and it is not true now and that’s okay.

I was going to go on and on, but I think anyone reading gets that I adore his work and I think the whole world would be better off if we were aware of it, and allowed ourselves to be moved by it.  He is vulnerable and real, just like the rest of us.  He gives me hope that finding and using my voice means being vulnerable and that vulnerability is so much stronger than the walls I usually cling to.

The post I need to write

I have been mulling over my last post… I love getting your comments and all the thoughts and ideas got me thinking again. I think my opinion has shifted.  Not completely changed but grown because of the conversations.

This is very difficult for me, though it is objectively not a big deal.  However, I live in this mindset where I want to be always right.

Or rather, I believe that in order to be valuable and deserving that I need to be right, or at the very least smart and witty and insightful.  I want others to universally validate me and my opinion.  (After all, if I’m wrong, then I am not worthy).  If they don’t agree with me 100% then there must be something wrong with me.  Then I go further and think it is proof that I don’t fit in, anywhere.  If every word I write doesn’t inspire an “amen sister – that’s exactly what I think!” then we aren’t soul-friends (a more girlfriendly version of soul-mates) and anyone reading is reading out of pity.

653315_bobbin__

Spool of thread

Okay, even I feel sad reading that and seeing that my thinking is so skewed.

As I pondered the responses, there seemed to be a common thread regarding the importance of real life, real time connections that I think I overlooked.  As I noticed my reactions to this, I realized how that internal monologue you see above pervades my real time relationships too, leading me to remove myself before I’ve ever stepped into an experience.  I don’t allow myself to be vulnerable (thanks Erika for bringing up vulnerability recently!).

I think that may be where I find online communication helpful and healing.  I get to make these realizations and own up to them.  I get to have time to ponder and mull and then form new opinions and realize that’s okay.  To realize it’s actually healthy and far more interesting to engage with people unlike myself as well as those on the same path.  To see that I am still okay even when I am not perfect.  That I can change my mind and others won’t see me as flaky or insincere.  Here, I am learning to be me and to let that be enough.

The shift in thinking is that I am coming to see that a very important part of the journey is to then take this growth and live it in real time.  To embrace this self of mine, just as it is, with kind acceptance.  To screw up and to succeed and to laugh and to cry and to still just be okay.  And, maybe even to realize that I am more interesting and more likeable when I let my guard down.

I realize I’m really stretching the learning here, and it may seem a long way from the original post and the opening lines… guess what?  Sometimes, though it may make for disjointed reading, I ramble.

Footsteps in the sand

Footsteps in the sand

And that’s okay.

Hold please

During a meeting yesterday, I was not thinking about the speaker at all .

Instead I was thinking about the nature of modern communication.

1146283_old_telephone

Vintage phone

My therapist spoke to the group earlier in the meeting.  She discussed feelings and emotions and how many people (especially those of us with eating disorders) use many defenses to avoid feeling our emotions.  We use food, or restriction, to numb ourselves from the hard parts of life.  This part was not new to me.

She then got into how, as we recover from eating disorders (or other addictions) we need to find new ways to cope with our emotions and feelings.  We must learn to actually go through the tough experiences, feel the discomfort, get through it and know that we are still okay.  Perhaps a wee bit bruised by the process but the core of our being is still okay.

This is hard for me, though I certainly embrace the philosophy on a cognitive level.

www.sxc.hu/photo/1361205

Holding hands

One of the strategies often recommended is to reach out to people, particularly since other people and social connection is often tied up in our fears and insecurities.  We need to learn to trust other people and to let them be there for us.  To experience the validation and growth of relationships.  To value our own worth and accept that others value us beyond our disordered eating patterns.

Today’s world makes this both harder and easier than ever.

On the one hand, when we are in crisis then we need that support and that life line immediately.  Yet, we live in a world where people are reliant on technology to connect.  Chances are, the support person you are reaching for is not in the next room, or even the next town!  So you have to put that call out in a world where people are constantly engaged in busy-ness.  Responses often come after a delay and even if your support does pick up, they are likely doing three other things at the same time!  No one is at fault in this, it’s simply the reality of modern life.  It can make it difficult to feel heard and connected.

www.sxc.hu/?f=view&id=1146283

Lonely tree

This technological age is not without it’s benefits, though, as I am learning.

The more positive side of the picture emerges when we see that there is a whole other community out there.  Again, they may not be present in real time, and yet there is a comfort in throwing out your distress to an online community of listeners.  There is opportunity to be heard by someone completely removed from you and yet completely attuned to the nature of your struggles.  Someone who can provide new perspective or simply commiserate and offer empathy.  Someone to say “I hear you and you matter”. Often within minutes.

That is powerful.

It makes this first step in reaching out seem like it’s actually do-able, healing and worth the vulnerability it entails.