Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Response: Finding Love For Yourself...

A few days ago, I received a comment on my latest post from Z. She wrote:

“You really make recovering sound like it's worth consideration at the very least. I know that recovery comes gradually, but how can you decide to recover when you have no love for yourself, let alone the love needed to save yourself? Do you siphon the courage from other people? Is it possible to hate yourself more than you do when you're making yourself beautiful i.e. disordered? You've really given me a lot to think about when it comes to my own issues. I think you are beyond brave to speak out against such a silent horror. I hope one day we can all just look at this as a disease and not something we are meant to be so ashamed of. Maybe then more of us would be willing to get help.”

Believe me, you don’t know how much I hope that one day this disease will not be something shameful. I too hope that more and more people out there struggling will become more willing to seek help. Breaking the silence is certainly a step in the right direction. We all have voices and we can all use them if we decide to do so. It’s not easy, but it gets easier with every word.

Let me first say this: Recovery IS worth considering. Sometimes the decision to move forward is like a switch. Sometimes it’s a slow process of realization. Sometimes it’s an “aha” moment. Sometimes you find it has happened before you even were aware of it. So, the question at hand—how do you decide to recover when you have no love for yourself? Well, you start by trying what you can to love yourself. Forget recovery for a second and focus on you.

You may recall a post of mine from a couple months ago called A Daily Reminder. You have to surround yourself with positive reinforcement. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe it. You hear what I’m saying? It doesn’t matter. Do it anyway. Surround yourself with everything you can. Fake it ‘til you make it. Pretend you believe it. Hopefully one day you will.

It’s gonna make you feel silly. I realize this. But it’s almost…necessary. I mean, I get an alarm message on my cell phone every single morning at 9 AM that says, “I like myself.” It’s my phone telling me to like myself. It’s me telling me I like myself. And I don’t even hate myself, girl. And I still do it. I still make myself receive that message.

Do something like that. Put a sign on your mirror so every morning when you look in it you see something positive. Something that is telling you that you like yourself. That you love yourself. That you are good. It may be false. You may not like yourself or love yourself, but it sinks in. Allow it to happen.

Let me lay it out differently. If you hear the message, “You’re fat” or “You’re stupid” every day for your whole life, you’re going to start to believe that, right? Well, if you hear the message “I like myself” or “You’re good” every day for your whole life, you’re going to start to believe that too.

Cool, huh? Do a role reversal. If you smile because you find the message silly for a while, it’s still serving a purpose.

And yes, you CAN siphon courage from others, but ultimately, that courage must fuel your own courage. You can rely on it in bits and pieces…or for short periods of time…but you need to use it as an example of what you want to give yourself, not a replacement. Know what I mean?

By all means, surround yourself with people who fill you up and help you. Support is vital. Let it buoy you up and hold you above the water so that you can finally start to work on your issues and rise above what is bringing you down. In time, you’ll find that you are doing a lot of it on your own, and you don’t need them to do it for you.

A helping hand is never something to push away. Just remember that the goal is to be helped into helping yourself.

In response to your other question, it is always possible to hate yourself more. But it is always possible to love yourself more too. Don’t choose the wrong end of the spectrum. A choice is easy. It’s the following through that’s difficult, but you have to believe it can happen. You can’t give up on yourself—even if you don’t like yourself.

I hope I’ve given you more to think about. I know I put it all out there as if it’s simple, but it’s not and I will never pretend it is. Please feel free to respond again…and remember—the simplest things (like what I’ve been describing) are sometimes the best things we can do for ourselves. So don’t make excuses… today is the perfect day to begin.

Much love,


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Some Motivation To Start the Week...

You may remember a little something I posted back in 2008. The written version is here. Welcome to the video version! Make this week a good one, everyone.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Response: Making A Change...

I'd like to respond publicly to another comment I received on my latest video post in the hopes that others out there are pondering the same thing and looking for some encouragement.

"Things got better for a few days, and then a week, until I find myself staring at the same question - do I WANT to get better and be more than this? I fight it everyday and some days I give up and give in...other days I'm strong (so to speak) and don't eat at all, I can't allow it. How did you go about making that change? I can't seem to find the middle ground, or even solid ground at this point to stand on. It's either all or nothing, black or white..."

The "all or nothing" attitude is something I understand well. I think many of us feel that way. So, at the very least, you're not alone. It is, nevertheless, frustrating.

But first things first: if you are writing that paragraph above--if you're bothering to take the time to write to me, to even come here and read my blog--you do in fact WANT to get better and be more than "this." It might not seem like you want it when bad days come around, but bad days only last so long. If you're here, you're at a starting point. Or perhaps a middle point. Or better yet--a breaking point.

And you can get past it. But you have to believe you can get past it. You have to take yourself by the shoulders, figuratively speaking, and say, "You can do this and you WILL do this." Nothing can come before that first move.

Part of recovery is that every day struggle you speak of. It's a process. It's a journey. It's a tough place. But you're moving. Because you don't sit there, day after day, with the exact same mindset. You question. You falter. You feel. You hurt. You are at a loss. But you're getting somewhere. You're not stagnant and still. Know what I mean?

It may actually (and understandably) be more frustrating to let days turn to a week or more of doing well, and then BAM--you suddenly feel you're back where you started. It's a let down. It's annoying. It certainly doesn't make you want to keep going, to try again. I feel ya on that one. You're forgetting one important thing, though: You aren't starting over from scratch. Those steps forward you made are not discounted or negated by the fact that you are now stalled again. If you start at point A and you are trying to get to point B, but you stop halfway there, it doesn't mean you're back at point A, does it?


It simply means you're in the middle, waiting. You might not have the strength or the stamina to keep going at this particular moment. But when you do decide to get moving again, heading towards point B, you won't be back where you started... as long as you don't let yourself move backward.

Remember to give yourself credit where credit is due. But back to the question at hand... how do you go about making that change?

The simple answer (but nevertheless, the true one) is: Gradually.

It's a process, as most things are. And you have to do your best to stay aware of everything you're doing and thinking. You have the power to make yourself stop in your tracks, but you have to channel it. You make the change by deciding this isn't the life you want. It's okay if you don't know how to GET to the life you want; all you have to do is want it. I wrote about my conscious decision/my turning point in my post Remembering the Realization. It's completely my personal experience, but perhaps you can pull something from it.

Hold on to the little part of you that you want to nurture and heal. Go with it when you're feeling particularly strong or motivated. Write a letter to yourself. Be kind, be helpful, and explain in detail what you want to be able to do for yourself. Keep it. Re-read it. Ponder it. Let it resonate. There's a post back from 2007 in which I shared a letter to myself from even longer ago. That is an example.

One more thing you need to keep in mind: You have unlimited chances. Do not give up. Don't ever give up. I'm rooting for you.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Response - Tried & True

It's gonna be a long one, folks. This week, someone left a comment on my latest post Video: To the Girl. I read the comment several times, and every time I began a reply, I realized I had far too much to say to simply keep it in the comments section. Furthermore, the way this commenter feels is how so many eating disorder sufferers feel. She is precisely who I was writing/speaking to in To the Girl and I’m glad she chose to leave a comment, so that I, in turn, could offer more. So today, I’d like to display her comment and my (lengthy) response. Thanks, J. I hope you will keep fighting.

“I've listened to your poetry, and I think I am locked inside the only place where I feel sheltered, where I feel safe. With anorexia I lost myself in my search to find something else to hide behind the real me. And now, I have nothing. Now I am only ‘the girl0. And I don't know what to do.

It’s understandable that you’re feeling at a loss. No amount of words or videos will be able to break you out of the place in which you feel you are locked. What a scary thing to feel trapped inside a place of safety while at the same time feeling you are nothing but a shell.

I struggled with anorexia myself and I lost myself too. Or rather, I put my whole self on hold and hid. Every day I hid. Only as I got better and better was I able to realize that there was so much more to me than my eating disorder. If you don’t like the real you, the first step is to begin that process. When you feel okay with yourself, but feel you have no identity, step two comes into play.

You only think you have nothing, but really, you have tools. The hard part is discovering how those tools work and you can bring yourself to begin using them. None of this is easy. And of course, at many points in this process, we all feel like giving up—or even that nothing is working. Thing is, this difficult days and the pain we feel as we experience what it’s like to live without an eating disorder are part of this process. And who wants to sign up for THAT?

It’s scary at best. But you know what? It’s necessary. Or what you’re doing is kissing your life good bye. And let’s face it, life as you know it right now isn’t so great.

After reading your reply, I immediately remembered three specific blog posts I’ve written in the past two years. I found them and I’d like to repost bits here, as they apply. Full links are also offered, in case you’d like to read more. In my post We Are All Special, I touched on something that hits home for so many of us:

So often, there is a feeling of "specialness" associated with having an eating disorder. It's a big part of the reason people are afraid to really recover. They fear losing that specialness, that part of them that makes them someone, that feeling of power, that deep seated persona.

The thing is, we are all special. Specialness does not die with your eating disorder--it just gets re-applied, reassigned to something WORTH that feeling.

I went on to question our thoughts and put the facts in front of our faces, but I ended with:

Your mission, if you choose to accept it: FIND OUT what REALLY makes you special.

Because I promise you--it's NOT your eating disorder.

In my post Filling the Gap, I discussed the problem we all have to face at one time or another: what to do when we decide to leave our eating disorder behind. We’re left with nothing and suddenly there’s a lot of empty space. It can be daunting. I talked about all that is waiting for us if we bother to discover it:

And there is so much waiting for you. There are a thousand possibilities at your fingertips, from the simple every day things to the more complex life goals. You just have to ask yourself one question.

What do you want to do?

It’s an open question with many possible answers…and that’s the beauty of it.

I asked a lot of questions:

What's in your head and your heart? What are your passions? What makes you feel good?

Do you want to make new friends? Do you want to go back to school? Do you want to get out in the job world? Do you want to pursue a dream you’ve often had in the back of your mind? Do you want to have a family? Do you want to travel?

But of course, we can’t always do everything we want to do. The fact of the matter is:

A lot of things can prevent us from doing what we want to do. BUT—and this is a big but—you never let things be an issue when finding a way to fit your eating disorder into your daily life, did you?

I asked you to think about what makes you happy and come up with three things;

Then find a way to incorporate them into your life. Fill that gap.

I can see that this post is already about as long as I anticipated it would be, but I have more to say. You spoke of being locked inside a place and what I need to tell you is that YOU have the keys. In my post Locks and Keys, I tried to figure out when everything started for me. I questioned the importance of knowing where it all came from and I described early memories and events. I explain feeling special for being the thinnest girl. I asked:

Why do memories like this embed themselves in our brains to be picked apart later in life?

Is the brain molded from an early age in a way that could possibly fuel anorexia? Or is the brain already predestined by its very makeup to struggle with anorexia?

But then:

Questions, questions, questions. I don't think the answer is the important thing.
I think learning yourself, figuring out what to do with what your mind IS—no matter how it got that way—is the key.

The real question is: If you have the key, where is that lock? Or more specifically, where are all the locks?

We have so many locks within us. Some pertain to past behaviors. Some pertain to guarded memories. To abuse. To family. To bullying. To trauma. To friends. To pain. To sadness. To depression. There are many locks.

What takes so long is finding them all—each and every one—and inserting that key. And turning it. And watching that flicker of light that happens when you have an epiphany…or a revelation…or a moment of peace.


I know I make it sound easy—and it’s anything but easy—but you have to be willing to see it as it is and give it a shot if you want things to change. Some of the locks are hidden, but once you find them all, you’re on your way.

It's tough to get there. It's tough to find all those locks and make the (courageous) decision to turn that key. But it's something to look forward to. And something to work toward.

And it WILL happen.

And one day you'll be free.

I hope I’ve made sense today. For you, J. and for all “the girl"s out there looking for answers, guidance, or just a little encouragement. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I know what’s tried and true… and I would never suggest anything I haven’t tried myself. Recovery—freedom—is possible. Believe that first…

Keep the faith,