Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Here is something I wrote yesterday. I feel very strongly about it so I thought I'd share it with you. Just consider it a...mantra, of sorts. A declaration. A personal proclamation to take to heart.
Recovery is possible.
It's not a guarantee. It's a possibility. It's not simple. It is difficult and sometimes seems impossible. It's not a one-step process. It's a multi-step process complete with twists and turns and bending roads...and roads you didn't even know were there. It's not the same for everyone. It's not always a happy process. It's not always a sad process. It IS empowering. It's not about pleasing other people. It is not about them. It's about YOU. It's not about perfection. It IS about emotion. It IS about honesty. It IS about self-discovery and self-affirmation. It's not about what you don't have. It's about using what you've got. It's not about hiding. It's about finding and displaying. It's not a quick-fix. It's a lifelong plan set into motion by truth and nurturing and self-love. It's not about external factors or environment. It IS about what's within. It is not crazy. It IS real.
Recovery is possible.
When I first read this over last night, I really felt every word. When I re-read it over again this morning I felt every word even more. I think re-reading this "mantra" is a good way to keep things in perspective.
Maybe I should post this permanently on the site somewhere...
Have a great Halloween, everyone. You are all constantly in my thoughts.
Hallmark's new line of cards (including ones for those struggling with eating disorders)
What do you think about this?
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
This week, I received some wonderful poems...
Darling Downer by Tabetha
The pigeons cant fly with broken wings
My sinful greed for other things
Has led me to this double life
Smoke filled rooms
Can't escape myself
Take me away to the unfamiliar
Where the sun is wet
The rain is dry
One moment less to live
One moment more to die
I need the stars
I need the night sky
I need the moon
I need you tonight
I love Tabetha's poem, because it is written with such heart and simplicity. She boldly states what she was feeling. In speaking to herself openly and honestly, she addresses a variety of things. She writes of life, escape, and need. Tabetha, I'm so glad you shared this with me (and all of us). I hope if you ever have anything else to share, ask, or tell, that you will do so. Your poem was the first one I received and I was delighted to read it and ponder it. Thank you, Tabetha!
the way it was by Sarah
I were back at your uncle's house at the end of the oak alley
The only one the Yankees didn't burn
Swimming in the creek, gasping at the chill
Sleeping on the porch
(Everything on the porch)
Joggling boards and hominy and bonfires
Hammocks and hunting dogs
For sweet tea and icy lemonade in mason jars
Fried green tomatoes and okra
Seersucker and white linen
Watching you dig a barbecue pit
Your mama's biscuits light as feathers
Capture the flag and horseshoes as the sun dips down
I could have my fortune told again in Jackson Square
Drink hot thick black chicory coffee with you
At midnight, just getting started
Air so heavy it settles on my skin
Creole tomatoes and duck gumbo and sleepy gators
Knowing what I wanted
Walking along a levee
Not being afraid
For Abita Purple Haze
Crawfish and corn and potatoes
Spread out on the Times-Pic
The streetcar clattering by
Kissing tourists for beads
Dey all ax'd for you
For dirt roads
And red sandstone
Peaches still warm from the sun
Mint juleps and straw hats
Cotton bolls and Sundrop
Old Master every day
The way magnolias fill the air
And knowing who I was
I wish I'd done some things differently
Taken more chances
Paid more attention
About what I didn't have
And understanding what I had
Sarah's poem makes me feel good inside; it reaches down deep to get at all those pleasant memories. It has a distinct feeling of nostalgia and self-affirming daily happenings. What's more, this poem has a subtle and beautiful undertone of self-love. Though it's looking back on "the way it was," Sarah's poem shows that what once was is not forgotten...and in fact, is remembered with happiness. Though things may have changed into less beautiful times, the promise of feeling good is still there, because she felt it once. Thanks for sharing this, Sarah. I enjoyed it so much. Though your wonderful poem looks back on happier times with a sense of sadness in your "I wish" refrain, it's clear you have a positive attitude and a love for life. I hope you'll share again if the feeling moves you. I'd enjoy hearing from you in any sense.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. Start sending in your words, thoughts, writings, poems, questions, comments, stories, etc. for next Tuesday! I'd love to hear from you!
Monday, October 29, 2007
To go along with my post from yesterday, here is a poem I wrote within the last year or so. It's a sonnet (I call it "Sonnet for the Self"), for those of you who are into poetry. I've done a Shakespearean sonnet, which means it is written in iambic pentameter abab rhyme scheme...until the last 2 lines, which is an iambic pentameter couplet. That's a lot of English talk for those of you who could care less, but regardless, the poem has a good message.
Inside the mind, there is a little room.
It has a tiny lock and just one key.
Around it, doubt and shadows tend to loom,
But when the door is opened, truth goes free.
This little room—it houses all self-love.
Tear down the curtains; let the sunlight in.
No need to worry what you’re worthy of—
To love yourself can never be a sin.
Just bask beneath the rays of love and pride,
And never keep this bright room locked away.
Do not be meek or feel you have to hide—
Without self-love, true joy will never stay.
So give this room all that you have to give,
And you will always have a place to live.
(c) Arielle Lee Becker 2006
Remember, tomorrow is Tell Your Tale Tuesday, so if anyone else has anything they'd like to share, please email me by this evening.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I liked a lot of the items they had on the list, but #4 stood out and made me happy:
Just wanted to share that with all of you. It's good to see a women's magazine give some positive reinforcement, however small.
Along those lines, there was a page in the same Glamour issue entitled: "The 7 best (and worst) things you can say to a girl." There is a photo of a little girl playing dress up and laughing. The sub-heading reads: "What you say does make an impression. Make sure it's a good one."
The first column is NEVER SAY...
"I feel fat." (After a second helping of stuffing, sure you do. But beware! If she sees you hating your body, she may learn to loathe hers, says Courtney E. Martin, author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters.
"You're young. You'll get over it." Yes, she'll survive being blown off my her so-called friend. But that doesn't make it sting less right now. Ask how you can help.
"Men suck." Bashing just feeds an us-versus-them mentality, says psychologist Rita Haley, Ph.D.
"Sure you want to eat that?" Eating a honking slab of pie is much less damaging got her than the feeling that everything she puts in her mouth is fodder for scrutiny.
"Paris is such a slut." Whatever you think of Ms. Hilton, trashing women teaches girls to be mean, says psychologist Sharon Lamb. Bring up Nancy Pelosi instead.
"Guys won't like you if you..." It's never good to change to "get" a guy. Tell her the right one will like every crazy, quirky thing about her.
The ALWAYS SAY... column was wonderful too, but one particular ALWAYS SAY stood out for me.
"Yum!!!!" Teach her to enjoy her food, not battle it.
This definitely made me feel positive today! What do you think about this?
Saturday, October 27, 2007
You are beautiful just as you are. Love your body. I added webiteback.com's web address and my own.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I need to tell you what to do--
Ask it fast and mean it true--
It's for me and it's for you:
Help yourself--it's helping two...
You and me and me and you.
I need to give you what you need,
Bandage up your wounds that bleed,
Hold you up so you succeed.
Stop and know it is not greed--
When it is time you will be freed.
Believe, achieve, receive, and grieve
For all of You that you deceive.
Reply and try--do not deny...
Above all, do not leave.
I need to hold you close to me--
Breasts and bones and dignity,
Curly hair and eyes of blue,
Because you're me and I am you.
Reaching fingers, awkward knees,
Jutting ribs, despondency...
Aching heart and tired head,
Little soul once so well fed...
I need to hold you close to me--
Precocious words and empathy,
Dreams and love and weight and pain,
Creativity and shame...
Promises and fragile skin,
Song and breath and smile and sin...
Panic, pressure, lies and fears,
Worries, wishes, fits, and tears.
I need to hold you close to me--
The loneliness, anxiety,
Feelings old and feelings new,
Because you're me and I am you.
(c) Arielle Lee Becker 2005
If you'd like to share your own poetry or letter (or anything for that matter), check out Tell Your Tale Tuesdays. I'd love to hear from you!
Don't be afraid. I'll carry you quietly, because you need complete and unconditional love--and my arms will be full of enough understanding that I won't have to use words.
I'll show you what it is to live for you and not for others and what they say and do. I'll let you cry when you need to without feeling ashamed and I'll comfort you like a blanket that soothes all your troubles, worries, and aching limbs. I'll let you stretch into a woman and prove to you how great it can be when you accept yourself and all the changes that go along with being you.
I'll travel great distances to listen to what you have to say. I'll never make you feel alone, unwanted, slighted, or misunderstood. I'll let you be mature when you want to be and I'll let you be a child when it helps you to heal. I'll make promises and I won't break them.
I'll brush your hair. I'll rub your back. I'll sing you songs. I'll nourish you. I won't suppress you--or second-guess you--or leave you. I am invested in you.
You are important to me...because you are me.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I wrote this about 2 years ago. It's what I call "stream of consciousness" prose poetry. I write a lot of it and it just flows. It seemed a fitting thing to post today and here's why:
I had lunch at a large Mexican restaurant today with co-workers. When I went to the Ladies' Room, I decided to leave a note in one of the bathroom stalls that read, "Beauty is not a state of body. It's a state of mind. Love your body," with webiteback.com's web address at the bottom. I keep a little package of post-it notes in my handbag in case I am ever out somewhere I'd like to leave a positive note for someone else to find. There was a party of 60 (yes, 60) teenagers in the restaurant and as I was leaving the Ladies' Room a whole mob of teenage girls went in. I know one of them (or several of them) found my note and it made me happy. Everyone--eating disordered or not--needs a little positive reinforcement every now and then.
But anyway, here's Fight the Good Fight.
Fight the good fight, know the wrong right, fill the void and see the light. Here I go, again and new, fresh, awake, alive and true. Passing by the life I know and focusing on where to go, for I will follow where I’m needed—paths are taken, prayers are heeded. Brain’s mad switch is flicked off…on…I’m not here but I’m not gone... jittery and full of life, I need to live before I die. I need to find the reasons why and cry and sigh and say I tried. Dipped inside a vat of pain, I know I gain when I remain a seer of the songs of old and preacher of the words I hold. Along the sky I write my voice, in ink of breath…a thought, a choice. And still I’m waiting...day’s sad end has seen me weep but still I bend. My words I send to you and yours, alone I smile as my heart soars. I know it pours. Water? Blood? My soul? My life? It pours, now cut through like a knife. And still I say, away away, fight the good fight, know the wrong right, fill the void and see the light. Flickers of the sky’s dark space—it really makes you know your place—and will erase the pain you felt when all those others cruelly dealt their blows to you and all your soul, just breaking you, and you were whole, but pieces looked about to fall and so we’ll catch them, one and all. The sky knows best, it does not rest, and I protest…never. Fight the good fight, know the wrong right, fill the void and see the light.
(c) Arielle Lee Becker 2005
I hope you are all having a good week (and if you're not, I hope it gets better), and don't forget about Tell Your Tale Tuesdays.
I hope you are all having a good week (and if you're not, I hope it gets better), and don't forget about Tell Your Tale Tuesdays.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Each Tuesday, instead of a post from me, I will post YOUR words. All you have to do (if you're interested, that is) is email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. What to say? Tell me your story. share a poem or a rant. Write me a letter. Tell me what's bothering you this week. Explain a problem you're dealing with. Ask me a question. WHATEVER YOU WANT. They are your words, after all. Who's to say what you can and can't write?
I don't (and won't) pretend to be a therapist, but I will gladly respond to each story, poem, rant, letter, problem, question, etc. So, if you want to see your words on the site, feel free to email me and watch for your words on Tuesdays. You can ask to have your words posted as "Anonymous" if that feels more comfortable to you. If you'd rather NOT have your words posted, that's completely fine! You can always email me a question or story, etc. and I will respond to you via email privately. Just let me know you don't want your words to appear on the site or if you'd like them posted with your name or anonymously.
I think this (Tell Your Tale Tuesdays) will be not only cathartic, but beneifical in other ways as well. By sharing, we can keep understanding and by turning your tears to words you will be empowering yourself and those who read here. Besides, it will be a great way to "meet" and feel less alone.
I can't wait to hear from you!
Monday, October 22, 2007
The post was about validation, needing it, and how to cope. Many people with eating disorders seek validation from others. It's as though their own opinions aren't valid enough. We seek to be what we think will bring us praise from others. Many of us do great things, think "hey I did a pretty good job," then automatically think our own thoughts of validation are not good enough. Accomplishing things can be tough when you constantly look for validation from others. Remember this: It matters most what YOU think and how YOU feel.
But in any case, I came up with a pretty decent way of coping. It's at least worth a shot; it may not work for everyone, but it's certainly a new spin on positive reinforcement. I work through this issue of seeking validation often, and I've discovered something that is helpful. No matter how well I think I have done at something, no matter how much I think I have accomplished, or no matter how much I know that my accomplishment is a good one, I continually seek validation from others. I'm a people-pleaser. I want to be the best. I'm a perfectionist. I know a lot of us are.
So here it is. My little thought that's turned into more...
I know it might sound completely strange, but try to think of yourself as multiple people for a few minutes each day or when you have accomplished something and are seeking validation. Write down your "selves" if it helps. (You will see them more clearly and won't forget anyone!) For example, I would have these:
Me the Writer
Me the Woman
Me the Caseworker
Me the Fiancee
Me the Daughter
Me the Sister
Me the Friend
Me the Artist
Figure out all the things you are--and just make them separate selves for a moment. See them all in their own light. Let them separate and become more than one entity. Then see how each of them would react to your current achievement or accomplishment. What would Me the Writer think? What would Me the Daughter think? Etc. It will be (and feel) like validation from others, but really it will be validation from yourself. And trust me, YOU are the essence of any of your own accomplishments, so it's only natural and proper that your own opinion matter most.
This trick is different than just thinking, "Well, I think I did okay/pretty good," since we all know the "I" doesn't always seem like enough validation. So, by making the "I" multiple people, you can feel better in certain cases. At the very least, it seems like a good exercise to practice now and then...and by doing so you will start to feel more and more appreciative and accepting of your own thoughts and opinions. Self-validation, my friends! Easier said than done, I know...
So, try it. You never know what a good start it might be.
Best of luck as always!
Any thoughts about this?
Friday, October 19, 2007
This is something I wrote when I was 21, after talking with my counselor about a specific year in middle school when I was "shunned" by some girl friends. We discussed how detrimental it was for me and that at age 11, when I was in a crucial stage of development, my eating disorder really began. Perhaps it was only a seed, but that seed learned to grow and I can see that very clearly now as an adult. I had never really allowed myself to be angry and forthright with these girls, so I did so in this letter. Finally, a decade after that year in middle school, I was able to say what I had always felt, and add in some of my adult thoughts as well.
You are not really "dear" to me. Nor are you labeled mere "girls" in my mind. You are "mean girls" who have been detrimental in my development. Why did you do what you did to me? I think I know the so-called real reason, but it still doesn't make your behavior natural or acceptable. You did it really because you were jealous. Because you didn't understand why I had developed physically before you. Because you didn't like that I got lots of positive attention from teachers and boys because I was "pretty". Because, in your little girl minds, you wanted to break me down. You wanted to "show me". You wanted me to feel pain. You wanted me to be un-popular, un-wanted, un-loved, forgotten, shunned, snubbed, and alone.
You were all nice once. You were my friends. But in the name of something I still find difficult to understand, you backed each other up. Ganged up on me. Ignored me. Mocked me. Wrote hateful notes to me because you were all too ashamed or afraid to tell me hurtful words to my face. Why? One thing that hurts a lot is that I know you fully realized you were being mean--and yet you continued. And the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months, and soon, a year of my childhood--and a crucial year at that--was gone. Drowned in tears of misery and loneliness.
Ten years have now passed. 11 to 21. And I keep thinking...if only you knew how much what you did to me affected me. If only you knew how "outgoing" changed to "reserved", how "opinionated" became "accommodating", how "present" became "hidden", how "vivacious" became "subdued", how "filled" became "starved". I don't fully blame you. I don't push my issues onto your conscience. But you had something to do with the way I am today. You played a part in molding me. You helped shape me--not by gently caressing me, but by hammering me...banging me down until I was less.
You made me cry. You made me retreat into myself. You made me a prisoner of suffering. And now suffering is so familiar that I cling to it, use it to cope, use it to keep myself in check.
You manipulated me, girls. You followed, girls, instead of being leaders, instead of standing up for what was right. You tormented, girls. You ripped me apart. You broke me down...then pretended it had never happened. But I did not forget...even though I forgave...so quickly...because I was so hungry for friendship again. Ravenous.
I went home one day--pale, wan, lonely--and I sat down on the toilet seat in the bathroom, brought my knees up to my face, and I bawled. Sobbed. "They told me I'm conceited," I cried to my mother, probably the least nasty thing you girls actually said, but something that hurt the most because I had done nothing. "They're jealous," she said. But I was not comforted...because I was still alone. The reason did not matter.
Why, girls, why? Do you remember the things you wrote to me? I think my mother still has those horrid notes in a box somewhere. She took them from me, upset, and called your mothers to inform them what was going on--what you were doing to me. Your mothers did not approve either...but you did not stop. And I was still alone.
In 6th grade Social Studies, Mr. Moyer set the class to work on an assignment, then he asked me out in the hall. "Are you okay?" he asked me, as I twisted a yellow scrunchie on my wrist. "Is everything all right?" I know I named two names--the two that hurt the most because they'd been my best friends since age 5; "_____ and ______ aren't speaking to me," I said, lightening the situation by choosing those words instead of harsher ones. He told me he was worried about me. He told me to come to him if I needed to. But there was nothing he could do. Furthermore, can a man really even understand what girls can do?
Skinny. Sickly. Sad.
The germ named Anorexia grew. It might have stayed small, unknown...but it grew. Then. That's when it started. The beginning of it all. It might not have begun...but it did. Why did you do it to me, girls? Why?
Arielle, age 21.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I began to count the calories in everything I ate. It didn’t seem dangerous at the time, but soon I made limits for myself. It didn’t help that I was constantly critical of the way I looked. I needed a tan, shinier hair, more muscle, more height. I would tell myself that I had dry skin, dull hair, small breasts, not-white-enough teeth, and any other criticism I felt was true. I even went as far as to make the declaration that my eyelashes were too short. But of all these, the criticism I told myself the most was that there was too much fat on my body.
Thus, the restrictive behavior began. I cut back on food and I kept lists of what I ate, tallying every calorie like a never-ending math problem. During my second semester of my freshman year of college, I was thoroughly aware of how easy it would be to skip meals. There would be no parents keeping a watchful eye on me and I had any number of excuses ready if asked to dinner in the dining hall by one of my friends. I was hungry, but I just considered it a great accomplishment that I could conquer my hunger.
The semester progressed and so did my eating disorder. I ate xxx calories a day—on days I actually ate. I began to fast completely for as many as four days at a time. Then, ravenous with hunger, I’d eat a normal meal and feel horribly guilty. “Now you can’t eat for another four days,” I’d say. I knew I had a problem, so I went to the counseling center at my university and told them about it. No one else knew—not my parents, not my friends, not my then boyfriend—no one. My eating disordered behavior worsened. My friends were worried about me. They watched me all the time. It wasn’t long before the best friend I’d made at school confronted me. Sarah knocked on my door one day while I was crying in bed (a common occurrence in those days) and asked me through the door to let her in. She wanted to know what was going on, but I was afraid to tell her…afraid she wouldn't like me anymore…afraid she wouldn't want to live with me next year. She didn’t judge me at all and she didn’t think I was crazy. She sat there on my bed with me and listened while I cried out everything I’d been keeping to myself. She hugged me at the right moments and told me she would help me. She was relieved that I was going to counseling.
Spring break was approaching and I knew that when I saw my mother, my thinness would not be able to escape her intuitive eye. I contemplated keeping my eating disorder from my parents, entertaining the idea that I could “get better” by the time I went home. As my disorder only got harder, I came to the realization that I had to tell them what the dark circles beneath my eyes, my smaller breasts, and my pallor would tell them anyway. When I went home, things were emotional, but again none of my fears became reality. My mom found me an eating disorder specialist and scheduled me for counseling in my city.
I was surrounded by support and coping was easier, but my eating disorder was still there. I went tanning so I wouldn’t look so sick, I slept often, and I didn’t do very well in my classes. With the help of others, I stopped fasting and tried to eat at least one substantial thing each day. I stopped listing, but I was always mentally counting. When summer came, I was doing slightly better, but I was obsessed with weighing myself and my mom hid the scale because I smiled when I found out I was XX pounds. As the summer went on, I got better and better and I went to counseling regularly. I saw a nutritionist and decided to eat normally on and off. I found that counseling helped a lot and when my sophomore year of college began I was in a good place. I ate fairly well, had brought my weight up, and was still having sessions with my therapist over the phone. My boyfriend was back at college too and away from me, but I had the support of Sarah, now one of my roommates. Things went well, but only for a few weeks. I slowly slipped back fully into my eating disorder. I ate less and less and lost weight. I became irrational and emotional again. I took naps to save my energy. Everything was going downhill.
I couldn’t understand myself. Generally I was a happy young woman. I had good friends and a loving family. I had food and shelter and clothing. I was continuing my education. All these things were positive, but who was I? How did I classify myself? I could decide in an instant. The thin girl…actually, the skinny girl. I felt that I needed to keep that persona intact, especially in a big place like a university where I was no one. I began restricting again, making myself full with carrot sticks and dying for a scale. I was scared.
When I went to an amusement park one weekend with Sarah, I got colder and colder until I was shivering and my teeth were chattering. I felt miserable and the worst part of it was that everyone else was fine. When we left the amusement park that night I saw that my lips were blue and it took me at least half an hour to get warm inside Sarah’s heated car. When we got back to our dorm, I almost passed out, which happened sometimes, so I immediately sat down on the floor and knelt with my head to my knees to make the feeling go away. Sarah got me water and demanded that I tell her what was wrong. We talked for a long while she said she’d never leave my side throughout college and that she would help me in any way she could. It meant a lot to me to have someone say that.
A few days later when I took a shower a lot of my hair came out. With many long dark strands wrapped around my hands and my pink towel around me, I called Sarah to the bathroom and showed her. Meaningfully, she said, “This is your worst nightmare, so you know what you have to do.” She meant: EAT. I nodded and laughed nervously to cover my alarm that came from seeing my long hair somewhere other than on my head.
I wished it was as simple as saying “EAT” and doing it. I was losing weight and when my parents came to visit me they noticed. I couldn’t even buy this pair of boots I loved, because they slipped down my legs. My weight dropped to about XX pounds. I was at that physical stage where every pound mattered a lot; I was so thin that even one pound less made a difference in my health and strength. I didn’t feel like myself at all. I liked to avoid calling my disorder Anorexia, but that’s what it is. The word sounded nasty. It also seemed scary and powerful and I didn’t like to think of myself as “anorexic.” I was Arielle and Anorexia was what had me in its clutches. I wanted more than anything to be stronger than Anorexia. Later on, instead of criticizing myself in front of the mirror, I began to tell myself what great people were sticking by me. Instead letting Anorexia have the upper hand, I told myself I would be stronger if I had control over myself.
I still consider myself to have an eating disorder because I’m still dealing with a lot of the mental and physical aspects of it, but I feel stronger and I try to remember that there is more to being me than being thin. All I want to do is live, and knowing that people in my life care about me is one of the things that kept (and keeps) me alive.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
(c) Arielle Lee Becker 2005
I have a lot of writings from over the years--writings from when I was dealing with anorexia--that I'd like to display because they are a voice that can speak to others. I have poetry, dialogues, rants, entries, etc. These will be slowly posted here. I think sharing is important and extremely beneficial. I know that when I was struggling I would have loved to read writings about eating disorders (and all the respective emotions) on someone's blog--someone who I knew recovered. It's about hope. It's about strength. It's about turning tears to words so we all have something to work with, something to go to, and something to feel besides the pain and confusion.
Writing and sharing is a way to showcase the struggles, the battles, and the pain so that we end up coming out on top. I've learned to be actively ME--a me with whom I am happy. I've learned to live a life with which I am content. But to make a new beginning, one must first realize many things about the self, about the goal, and about the tendency to relapse, revisit, and revert to old habits.
Basically, what I'm saying is: I'd like to help.
So, read, comment, and feel free to email. We can help each other.