Monday, March 29, 2010

reasons to be proud.

I still (unfortunately and frequently) have those moments (weeks), when I essentially pray for the "strength" to go back to my old ways. It is pathetic and embarrassing, but I still find myself longing for the parts of my eating disorder that gave me comfort and a sense of power. It is sick, yet destructively satisfying, and I have a feeling that this unacceptable desire will stay with me for many more years.

At the same time, I look at where I am now, and for the first time, I'm starting to feel genuinely relieved and proud that I've found some distance from The Old Me. I never thought I'd feel that way again. Even two days ago, I was more disappointed than proud of myself.

Of course, this positive attitude is probably temporary. Confidence and pride are fleeting in recovery. One meal's mental triumph can twist into a failure three minutes later. So I write down these things to remind myself how far I've come.

I am proud of my ongoing recovery because:

  • My emotions no longer crumble in an instant. The final two years of undergrad were filled with mental breakdowns over minor moments. I remember one night in 2007, I tried using my swipe-key to get into the Journalism building. After two failed swipes, I literally fell to the ground sobbing and dry-heaving. These moments were very frequent and unpredictable.

  • I can now focus on the company -- not the calories -- when I go to restaurant. This allows me to truly celebrate when I want to honor the people I care for.

  • My mind is no longer occupied by computations and numbers and deficits and estimations and double digits and triple digits and quadruple digits.

  • Similarly, my days and emotions are not dictated by digital numbers that flash in bright red like a bad grade on a report card. Two-tenths of a pound no longer sends me into spirals of depression and forced starvation.

  • I'm becoming less afraid of food. I truly had a fear of food, which goes against basic human instinct. What living creature is afraid of food? I must not have been living.

  • I know Patrick is happier with our relationship. And why shouldn't he be? We are laughing more, and I am finally giving him the time and mental/emotional effort that I once selfishly and uncontrollably devoted to my eating disorder. I was ruthless, I was disrespectful, I was downright hurtful in the thick (thin?) of it all. I'm ashamed of my behavior, of my lies.
But in light of this honesty, I must also admit to the dark and dirty thoughts: The lingering idea that I'm no longer special because I'm recovering. That I will no longer be loved, because I'm finally taking care of myself. That "normal" and "average" means failure, because "anyone can be normal and average." That I'm not good enough if I'm not 10 pounds below where I need to be. That I shouldn't feel full, because feeling full means treating myself nicely, and god knows I don't deserve that.
When I eat to get rid of hunger, the voice inside still whispers, "Why are you eating right now? You're alone. No one is watching you."

And again, in light of honestly, I have to admit: I've tried countless times to go back. To lose, to starve, to hurt. I wasn't able to. And I debate with myself: Is it because I've lost the self-control to do so, or because there's a part of me deep down that never wants to go back?

I try to focus on the latter, even though my brain keeps telling me I'm lazy/indulgent/greedy/enter-self-depricating-word-here. I try to tell myself, "This is what your body needs after so much time without." And I'm slowly starting to believe it.
It's a form of trickery, sure, but it's gotten me this far.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

a sort of deja vu.

I had this exact moment today at 7:45 a.m. Right down to the morning bowl of Cheerios (though it was actually Kashi Heart-to-Heart cereal):

This is the weird aftermath, when it is not exactly over, and yet you have given it up. You go back and forth in your head, often, about giving it up. It's hard to understand when you're sitting there in your chair, having breakfast or whatever, that giving it up is stronger than holding on, that ‘letting yourself go’ could mean you have succeeded rather than failed.

You eat your goddamn cheerios and bicker with the bitch in your head who keeps telling you you're fat and weak: Shut up, you say, I'm busy, leave me alone.

When she leaves you alone, there is a silence and a solitude that will take some getting used to. You will miss her sometimes. Bear in mind she’s trying to kill you. Bear in mind you have a life to live. There is an incredible loss. There is profound grief. And there is, in the end, after a long time and more work than you ever thought possible, a time when it gets easier.
The memory of that phrase "there is profound grief," popped into my head tonight. Something in the back of my head was whispering to me, "profound grief, profound grief." So I opened up the book, searched for the exact paragraph, and let my jaw drop to the floor.

Re-reading it after several months literally took my breath away.

When written words link perfectly to your life like the teeth of a zipper, you can't help but feel a little safer, and a little warmer than before.

Monday, February 22, 2010

no-stalgia, please.

I hate nostalgia. It gives me a bad feeling in my stomach and further proves that things change and you grow. I welcome change with open arms, but I don't need to be reminded just how far I've traveled. It's especially uncomfortable to find myself in the same geographic location I once was years ago.

So why did I take Roxy on a walk through my alma mater today?

I was up at the College of Education to drop off paperwork. Redundant paperwork to prove to the State of New Jersey that yes, I did complete a teacher program. Apparently finishing graduate school and holding a Pennsylvania teaching certificate is not sufficient proof of program completion. I digress.

My point is, I decided to take Roxy with me to show her the place I called home for 4/5 years.
I don't know why I did, because I knew exactly the feeling that was about to wash over me.

It was a whole lot of "This is where"s and "That is where"s, which never cease to make me uneasy, nauseous, and highly anxious.

This is where Patrick and I discovered a mutual penchant for Pee Wee Herman.
That is where my freshman year roommate had her engineering classes.
This is where I spent countless early mornings exercising with professors and fellow crazies.
That is where I slipped on ice and grabbed a stranger to catch my fall.
That is where pain compelled me to starve so my outsides matched my insides.
This is where two people from opposite sides of the country (and opposing political views) became best friends and fell in love.

Le Boyfriend and moi, 2004. So mature.

The memories represent three versions of me, each of which I admire and despise. I am three separate people, defined by numbers and varying self-perceptions. This is why I'm so uncomfortable when I fly to Oregon and encounter faces from the past. I am not who I was. She disappeared somewhere in 2005 (And please don't go looking for her. She's just fine wherever she is).

I am tougher, I am weaker. I am darker, and I'm enlightened. I am more sympathetic, I am more skeptical. I am much more compulsive, but slightly more logical. I have found myself, I have lost myself, and I am trying to redefine myself through various means.

This trip back into time today reminded me I am not where I started, but I have just as much to learn.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

the snow knows

Preface: Hi Mom! Look, a blog!

In the previous post, I wrote out a list of goals that were "within reach" and "therefore more likely to be achieved." After publishing that post, I went into a negative place where I hardly even addressed the list.

I felt like a failure as the days went on and I continued to neglect the things I set out to accomplish. These things I planned for myself were supposed to serve as motivation to get myself out of a mental/emotional rut. And yet they pushed me deeper and deeper into my funk.

I'm happy to say, however, that a freak snowstorm Tuesday night -- which would ordinarily take the sass and spunk out of anyone -- ended up bringing out the best in me. With a handful of snow days to conquer (God bless being a teacher), I knew I had to pull out the big guns to stay positive and productive -- and therefore feel worthy and relevant.

So I cooked, I baked, I cleaned, I donated, I shoveled. I left my bedroom and ventured to the living room for a change, as a change in scenery has always made a huge difference for my mind (as demonstrated in my move from the Pacific NW to Mid-Atlantic in 2004). I read magazines, I wrote birthday cards, I groomed and entertained my dog. I watched copious episodes of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," which I must thank for ironically saving me from insanity through insanity itself.

The most valuable thing therapy taught me was the ability to sense myself falling and catch myself by finding distractions. Sometimes I think my whole life has become a distraction.

All that said, I'm at a funny, mini-crossroads between a couple mindsets I can never reconcile. How can I keep busy without falling down the rabbit hole? How can I relax without finding myself in a rut?

It's the curse of the extremes, and unfortunately I think I inherited the curse at birth. I struggle with moderation in many aspects of life, and it's easier just to bounce between polarities.
But "easy" doesn't get you far in life, I've found. Must find that balance.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

unbridled list.

The last couple days I've been keeping track of mini-thoughts and mini-goals that pop into my otherwise empty head. I'm making a list of things I can do to make myself "the best me I can be," (which I think is a recent quote from Heidi Montag, ohmygodshootme-whatatrannymess).

I guess you can say this blog is slowly taking shape as a self-improvement type thing. Instead of awkwardly standing in the Self-Help section of Borders, I'm doing it trial-and-error style. Maybe by publishing my goals in a public arena, I can be held accountable for the times I choose to isolate myself instead of push into the world. For the times I choose crappy Hersheys chocolate over a home-baked treat.
Marjan's "The Best Heidi I Can Be" List

  • Take more pictures. They do not need to be beautiful, they just need to document life.
  • Fix my nails more often. Severely chipped polish does not make me feel put-together, nor "with-it."
  • Walk or run a new route/scene, at least once a week.
  • Drink more tea and water.
  • Wear more chapstick so I don't bite my lips all the time.
  • Read more books. See it as an opportunity to be at peace, quiet, and calm.
  • Stretch.
  • Cook one new recipe a week.
  • Every day, give at least one genuine compliment to someone I'm not particularly close to.
These things are all within reach, therefore hopefully more likely to be achieved. I already got started on a few of the "Best Me Goals" today: Fix my nails (no polish/all natural! gasp!), walk a new route (with Roxy!), cook a new recipe (these!), read a book (this!).

For anyone that visits my blog: What is one small goal you can set for yourself to be the best Heidi Montag you can be?

New blog header, by the way. Let me know what you think. I'm weirdly drawn to old anatomy sketches and skeletons. No hatin'.

Friday, January 22, 2010

a woofy announcement.

It is my pleasure to publicly announce that the pinto bean herself, little miss Roxy, just won the grand prize in Hallmark's cutest dog contest :)

I'm so proud of my muffin.

That foxy girl is my darling and the light of my life. And just as I wrote that, she threw up on my window sill. She has her issues, poor thing. Oftentimes she doesn't realize she's hungry, and ends up vomiting from an empty stomach. I honestly felt guilty for a few weeks because I somehow managed to pass an eating disorder to my own dog. I mean, really? Does everything I touch turn to a mess of rubble?

But for the most part I think I'm an above-average, first-time dog owner. During student-teaching, when I had no way of earning money, I spent much of my savings on quality, grain-free dog food. I spent hours online researching every little thing to make sure I was giving her the best life possible. And I give her all the love I can possibly give.

And she deserves it. Because she's turned the hearts of so many people. From strangers on the street to my own hesitant mother ("There will never be a dog in this home" is now "Can I watch Roxy for a couple months and fly her back to you?"), my baby has been a comical, sweet, exciting joy.

So this is an ode to mah girl.
I love you so much, Mushy.

Friday, January 15, 2010

runs and 'razzi.

I've set out running again, after a several-month hiatus. No, I was not injured, just exhausted during a hectic semester of student-teaching fourth grade.

So in a hysterical twist of fate, I'm finding that I'm running stronger and longer now than ever before. I had one particular three-miler on Wednesday that -- dare I say -- was my best run to date. By the end of the run, I felt strong enough to keep going for at least two more miles, but I had to make myself presentable for dinner with the boyfran. And by "make myself presentable," I mean I sprayed myself with 18 bursts of perfume in lieu of a shower. That's what you get after five years of dating: a neurotic girlfriend who smells like sweat, cold weather, and Viktor & Rolf's Flowerbomb.

The two of us are going to sign up for a 5K. I'm toying with the idea of finding a longer race, because I want slightly more of a challenge (who, me?). I also want to improve my 5K race time, though, which -- back in April '09 -- felt like less of a race and more like "Oh my god it's 80 degrees and SuperMom with BabyStroller is running faster than me."

Eats-wise, I'm finding it easy to transition to a vegan lifestyle. Probably 70 percent vegan, 30 percent vegetarian. The 30 percent represents the times I choose to forgo vegan eats for a more comfortable social setting. I never want to make others feel uncomfortable, and I don't want them to think they have to cook me something completely different. And I cringe whenever I'm at a restaurant and someone asks, "So, is there anything on this menu you can actually eat?" So I stick to side-dishes, dairy or not, and reap the animal guilt/lactose consequences later.

Photo-wise, I put myself through Nikon bootcamp, researching tips and tricks and functions of my D40. I'd planned to go out into the world and take photos, but the sub-20° weather forced me to stay in and be Roxy's papparazzi.

The camera will be accompanying me to New Jersey this weekend for some adventures in skeet-shooting (aw skeet skeet?) and socializing with other practically-married couples.
Goo-bye, muffin tops.

Monday, January 11, 2010

welcome back.

It's a new year, little muffins. I did not make any resolutions, because I resolute quite enough on my own terms, thank you.

I'm in my new winter coat -- black and white -- and the heater smells a little like burning. My little bean, Roxy, is sleeping at my feet. The Nikon battery is charging because I vow to use this neglected camera more often. No, that is not a New Year's resolution.

This is Roxy, by the way, if you have not formally met. She enjoys snacking on baby carrots and various fruits such as pears, apples and watermelon. She is softer than cashmere, models for the camera, but is a tomboy in every sense of the word. I adopted her in Portland almost six months ago, and it was one of the best decisions I've made in my 23 years.
With all that said, I'm leaving her to nap alone in my room while I take my freshly charged camera into the questionable streets of this town.
Hello to the [zero] people who read my words. It feels good to be back, even if I write for myself.