Connection

I recently finished Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly. One thing that she constantly says is that as humans, we desire connection. I never really thought about it because we typically are in constant connection with others. Friends, family, even the person ringing you up at the grocery store or taking your Starbucks order. We are connecting with people.

When I was in eda’s control, I lost connection with so many people because I was her robot. I stepped away from relationships in fear of coming in between her desires for me. I didn’t realize at the time I was losing connection from others. I just listened to her and believed that others would in fact ruin her plans for me. That is what made me a robot, lack of connection.

When you lose connection, you realize how important it is. I moved to Charlotte, NC in July to begin graduate school in nutrition. The city is so fun, great shopping and food, and my boyfriend lives in Charlotte, so I was so excited to start a new chapter in a new city. We were so busy traveling in the fall we never had a chance to really be here. However, since the new year, we have been able to be here a lot more. Going to school (which I do not love) and not really connecting with any of the other students, I quietly sit in my seat in class and don’t talk much. If I’m not in class, I am at Starbucks getting work done or in my apartment. I have recently realized that I have completely lost connection, yet again, but not because of eda. I am alone. I sit with my thoughts, which makes it even worse. Don’t get me wrong, my boyfriend and I hang out a good bit and have a blast together. I also have a roommate, but she has a boyfriend, is a school teacher, and has family extremely close so we don’t see each other that

I have just recently lost it realizing how little connection I get. Yes, I talk to the Starbucks barista or the cashier at Whole Foods, but I yearn for more. And Cookie (my pup) is a great listener, but she can’t really reply… I don’t mean to whine (kind of), but I’ve never felt more alone. Sitting on my couch tonight is when I recognized Brene Brown’s whole point. We desperately need connection. We need to associate with others to feel human and fell important in the world. Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener, being away from many of my friends and family has been so much harder than expected. Connection is key, especially when you like to talk as much as me J

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Losing My Wisdom… Teeth

On Friday, I had the joy of my first surgery.  At the ripe age of 23, I finally got my wisdom teeth removed.  Both of my sisters had it done within the past few weeks, my younger sister just about two weeks before me.  After watching her eat pizza the night after surgery, I came into thinking “man this is gonna be a cake walk!”  I mean she was wanting to go shopping with my mom and I the day after surgery.  The doctor had told us that mine were more impacted, but I assumed it couldn’t be that bad, everyone has to do it!

Friday was great- I literally slept all day with Cookie (my dog) at my feet.  I tried to muster down some yogurt and applesauce in between the Hydro that straight knocked me out.  However, that night, someone was literally HAMMERING my lower jaw.  I could not sleep a lick- the pain was nearly unbearable, despite the drugs.  I woke up on Saturday to this sight:

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If you know me, I was EXTREMELY swollen.  The pain was quite miserable as well.  How is my experience so much worse than my younger sisters?!

Well, turns out that mine were much more impacted that hers, and my doctor warned my mom of my impending pain/swelling.  It has now been 5 days of yogurt, applesauce, oatmeal, pudding, ice cream, and potatoes.  I NEED REAL FOOD.  The recovery has needless to say, much more difficult than I had anticipated.

As always, I am rambling and my “misery” is not the point of my story.  It took me getting my teeth ripped out from under my gums (sorry for the potential graphic image) to sit, be calm, and relax.  For one of the first times I can truly recall, I sat on a couch literally all day long, and I did not have to beat myself up about it and let my anxiety get to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a world renowned napper, but I still think about what I need to be doing/beat myself up for not being more productive.

I allowed myself to lay down all day without a thought of “this is lazy, unproductive.”  I let myself actually… relax.  I didn’t think about what I needed to do for school or my internship applications, I watched movies and Hulu.

Along with the incessant sitting/laying, I have gone back to exercise, but I was gentle with myself.  In yoga if I needed to skip out on a vinyasa or a pose, I let myself.  I needed to heal.  I didn’t force myself to go to cycling classes.  I was mindful about my exercise and my recovery.  (And the fear of dry sockets was also looming)

So maybe losing your wisdom teeth, at least in my case, means gaining some wisdom.  Let myself relax.  Give myself some credit.  Be mindful.

Smiles

My parents probably thought they had the wrong baby when I first came out of my mom.  I honestly was not a very cute baby.  I had jet black hair that stuck up just like a mohawk.  On top of that, I had very chubby cheeks and huge dimples right under my eyes.  My parents said except when I was screaming crying, I was ALWAYS smiling and showing those big dimples.

In case you were worried, the black hair turned into blonde and normal hair, no more mohawk.  As a little girl, my mom always said how much I would smile.  I showed off those dimples all the time and was a very happy little girl.  I still love my dimples- they are very unique right under my eyes, but they are a little less noticeable as I have grown older.  However, they still peak out when I smile.

I like to think that I still smile a good bit.  Thinking about this recently though, my smile was diminished for some time.  You may not have been able to tell, but something behind my eyes, the twinkle and genuine happiness behind a smile was gone.  I thought I was happy, but I was tormented inside.  My smile was stolen by eda.

When I look at pictures now vs. during that dark time, I see the sparkle, I am radiating happiness.  I look truly happy, not faking a smile.  I am back to that little girl with the big ole dimples overtaking my face because the smile is real.

It is truly terrifying to think about how much people can hide inside.  From the outside, everything probably seemed perfect when eda had stolen my smile.  I was still smiling, or trying to.  But on the inside, my body was breaking itself down and I could only ever think about eating or lack there of and exercising.  I had no personality to be honest, I was all eda which meant business.

Recovery taught me that feeling is living.  Feeling sad stinks, but it makes you love the happy times.  I know what it feels like to be happy, sad, or angry because I don’t hide from my feelings.  And when I feel happy, I really am happy.  My eyes show it, not only my teeth.  🙂

PROVEN

I will never forget my first Clemson game. My mom drove us up while I laid across the back seats sleeping the whole two hours. I shook my pom pom in my little Clemson cheerleading dress, so captivated by all of the excitement.  
Being a Clemson fan, however, has not always been easy. I grew up in Columbia, SC, the home of the Carolina Gamecocks and Clemson’s arch enemy. There were many times when the Tigers did not win, and I heard plenty of crap from everyone at school. And then there’s that term after we would show up for the first three quarters, then give up the game in the 4th.  
Needless to say, Clemson has often been the laughing stock of football. Even when we started to really get good 3 years ago, no one believed that Clemson would ever really amount to anything. Last year, announcers and nay-sayers constantly said we did not deserve to go to the National Championship or to be #1 in the nation. Then this year, one loss to Pittsburg and a close game with NC State made many think we were not deserving of going to the College Football Playoffs. Well, we made it to Phoenix, and completely SHUT OUT Ohio State. But people still doubted us… we would lose by 7 to Alabama.  
Clemson has constantly struggled to prove themselves to ESPN announcers and so many college football fans. Last night was one of the most amazing nights of my life as my mom, sister, brother-in-law, and I got to cheer on the tigers in Tampa to a National Championship title after 35 years. Even though people didn’t believe we could do it.  
As the celebrations were beginning, the Tiger players were all wearing a gray shirt with the words “PROVEN” across the chest. I thought this was nothing but absolutely appropriate for them to wear. We have worked SO hard to prove to every one that we deserve to be there. And finally, we did. We proved it.
So what’s my point in all of this? There have been so many times I have had to try to prove myself when it felt like everything was against me. I have always seen myself as just the little blonde girl that tries to please everyone, tries to be perfect, and is too sensitive for the world I live in. Battling anorexia taught me that I am so much more than that. I proved to myself and to others my strength. 
Now I am not tooting my own horn at all. I think people with eating disorders are often resented in this world as too sensitive and as if it is a choice. I have found that some of the strongest people I have ever met battled an eating disorder. In my recovery, I proved to myself, my family, and eda that I am stronger than her.  
Sometimes, we prove to ourselves just how strong we are. No doubt, God has a hand in all of this, as Dabo said last night. God knows what we can handle, and I proved to myself that I am stronger than my eating disorder.  

23 

After 21, birthdays seem to get less exciting- you’re just getting closer to 30, 40, 50, etc. Today, I am celebrating my 23rd birthday. Man how time has flown and how much I have experienced in 23 years. So, I want to take the time to talk about the 23 things in which I am thankful.
1. My Savior, Jesus Christ- as many of you know, my faith has grown exponentially through my recovery. My recovery mantra has been Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things in CHRIST who strengthens me.” This was crucial to battle my eating disorder, and He helped me through such a hard time. 
2. My family- Its cheesey, I know, but they have been there for me no matter what. I love them so much and they are all my best friends. They support me no matter what. 
3. My friends- After I revealed my ED, I really learned who my true friends are and those who are truly there for me. I have been blessed with some amazing people in my life. 
4. My boyfriend- He loves me and supports me through everything, even an eating disorder which terrifies most people. He makes me laugh and life with him is more fun.
5. Cookie (my puppy)- Y’all know about this one, she’s my best friend and one of the best things to happen to me.
6. Recovery- Life in recovery/recovered is SO WORTH IT. I don’t stress out about eating a few fries or pizza. I can now live my life. 
7. Yoga- I really found yoga through recovery. It has taught me mindfulness, presence, and that exercise does not always have to be strenuous. Feeling and moving your body is the important thing.
8. My therapist- Although I do not still see her, she made me realize SO much about myself, and she helped me to overcome anorexia.
9. Wealth- This sounds very superficial, but my father has worked so hard throughout my sisters and my life to give us an amazing, comfortable life. I never have to worry about having food, shelter, and honestly most anything I want or need.
10. Clemson- Although I struggled a lot my 4 years at Clemson, I made some of the most amazing friends and had a fabulous education. Going back always feel like home.
11. Coco, Peanut, and Gabbie- Coco is my parent’s dog, Peanut is my sister’s dog, and Gabbie was our family dog, who we lost last year this time after 16 years. Dogs teach you to love no matter what you look like or do. They love and have loved me unconditionally.
12. Health- I have destroyed my body for so long, but somehow my body did not fail me. I have learned to treat it correctly and nourish my body that the Lord blessed me with.
13. Food- I can’t believe I am saying this one, but I actually love food. It gives me strength throughout my day, and I enjoy eating. 
14. Freedom- Living in the United States, we are so blessed to have freedom that the military fights so hard for.
15. Water- This sounds silly, but so many people do not have clean water. And anyone that knows me knows that I am basically a fish, I never go anywhere without a bottle of water.
16. Travel- One of my favorite hobbies is traveling, and I have been so blessed to go to many amazing places in my life. I love experiencing different cultures, food, and places.
17. The beach- My family has an amazing beach house that has been my second home. The beach puts me at ease, and nothing makes me happier than a day spent in the sun on the South Carolina shore.
18. My followers and supporters (AKA y’all)- I never expected people to actually care about what I have to say, so I am more than grateful for those of you that read my sub-par writing. 
19. Books- I love to read, especially in the summer. As much as I love the books I read for fun, so many books have helped me understand more about myself and my eating disorder.
20. My car- I feel like we all take cars for granted, but they truly take us on so many adventures as well as day-to-day errands. 
21. Nature- God’s beautiful creation. I am far from a “nature girl,” but I love flowers, any sort of body of water, and this time of year, the Christmas trees, Poinsettias, holly, etc. 
22. Love- I love to love. I love cuddling, hugging, touching. Love is happiness in my eyes.
23. Eda- I never ever thought I would say this, but I have become so much stronger and braver than I could have ever expected because of her. I know that the Lord would not give me more than I could handle, and I have overcome her and learned so much from my experience. 

Thanksgiving Difficulties

I’m going to go back two years. One of the more miserable days of my life at the beginning, but ended in a great Thanksgiving. 

It was just my immediate family for Thanksgiving dinner that year. I had begun recovery at the beginning of October, so it was still all very new to me. I didn’t know what to expect for a holiday, I honestly thought it wouldn’t be too bad. Wow, I was wrong. 

Since we weren’t having dinner until probably 8 or 8:30 that night, we decided to pick up lunch from Whole Foods. Most of my family decided to share a pizza. While I allowed myself a little cup of soup. After we ate, I was preparing one of the recipes, and I remember my sister accusing me (as I thought at the time) for only eating the soup. I quickly ran upstairs to my room, and began to hysterically cry for quite awhile. I wrote in my journal to calm myself asking why I couldn’t just be normal with food. My body can’t subsist off one meal all day, even if it was a larger Thanksgiving meal. I collected myself and went back downstairs. 

My mom immediately noticed how upset I was. We had planned to watch a DVD I had gotten from my therapist that features families with someone with an ED and how to handle it. My family agreed to watch it with me, which was hard. However, once it was over, I told my family to please ask any questions they had, and I explained that what my sister said was exactly what I don’t like to hear. I know it was out of love, but how you say something to someone with an ED is so important. This time for me to explain what I’m going through and allow them to understand what not to say was crucial for my recovery and for them to better support me.

After the conversation, my mom told me she would go heat me up a piece of pizza to eat. I ate it. And it was amazing. And I ate my thanksgiving meal. And I didn’t die. I didn’t gain 10 pounds. I was… happy. 

It ended up being actually an amazing thanksgiving with my family. Thanksgiving isn’t my favorite holiday because I try (emphasis on try) to be grateful daily. However, this Thanksgiving I am really reflecting on how much my family and loved ones have been so amazing through my recovery. And how far I’ve come in two years. I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the family, laughter, and food, but don’t overwhelm yourself with that last part. Xoxo

You know when you spent hours on a unique, beautiful dinner, and your child looks at you and yells “that looks GROSS!”  You spend hours on something for work, and your boss still isn’t happy with it.  You work so hard on a project, and someone comes in and immediately knocks it down.  We have all experienced something like this.  And it hurts.

I was doing my daily devotional last night and something hit me.  The day’s verse was Psalm: 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Well, do we know that full well?  We sure don’t act like it.

Anything God creates is clearly much more amazing and incredible than anything that we can do here on earth, despite the time we may spend on it.  And you know what the Lord spends the most time on and is beyond proud of?  Each one of us.  Yet, we sit around and beat down on what we hate about ourselves all. the. time.

I know I am no exception.  God made my beautiful body in His own image.  However, I spent years breaking down my body nearly to death.  I was exercising ceaselessly and not nourishing myself appropriately.  My body was turning against itself.  It had no more fat left to subsist off.  My brain was starving despite difficult college classes.  And my heart was skipping beats due to lack of nutrients.

I completely disregarded one of His (dare I say) beautiful creations that He allowed me to use during my time on earth.  He worked hard to perfect me, and I tried to ruin it.  To this day, I still often look in the mirror and want to “shrink my thighs” or “flatten my belly to a perfect 6 pack.”  This is once again hating on his creation.  I am criticizing what He has given and made for me.  What He has given me is “wonderful,” so how can I act this way?  How can any of us?

The Bible verse was much needed in that moment for me.  I am constantly in a battle with my mind, hating my body.  Now I realize, I am criticizing God’s body and His wonderful creation.  I cannot allow eda to let me disobey God and his lovely makings.