Picking Fights

Interior battles… they are tough.

And I’ve found I tend to pick fights with other people rather than fight the interior battles.

It isn’t a great option. Especially when such an action hurts those around me.

The truth is I am often fighting with someone else before I realize the interior battle I’m fighting. It takes courage to fight the interior battles.

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The truth is I’m getting better at it but I still have to learn. I have to learn to confront myself. I’ve come a lot way but my tendency before emotion is still to turtle rather than to let myself feel it – especially when facing circumstances outside of my control.

And well – circumstances outside of my control seem to abound right now. I’ve started dating someone new. I’m traveling a lot – which I LOVE – but it also often presents circumstances in which I don’t have a lot of control. I’m currently with people who seem to have an affinity for eating all day long. I am eating well in general, but there is something triggering about people who continue eating all day long. (Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I find security in feeling hungry.)

These are the challenges. Add to that the fact that I seem to have adopted a habit of feeling good by “feeling bad” since childhood… so picking fights with other people is horrible and then brings a rush of security. Weird how our minds can do strange things like that.

The important thing is that I can recognize this. The important thing is that I’m learning. I’m reacting faster. I’m also learning that it is okay to make mistakes.

And maybe along the way I’m learning something about conflict.

How I learned to quit… by never giving up…

Don’t be a baby, don’t quit.

Quitters can’t be choosers.

I don’t disagree with any of the messages that we reinforce across the generations about quitting. The truth is that we live in a culture in which people are so often follow their whims or go running at the first sign of a challenge.

I’ve always been known for someone who knows how to get what I want and can do something once I set my mind to do it. I guess that the thing about having an eating disorder. Apparently we are a stubborn and determined lot.

The challenging of recovery was learning to channel that energy and determination towards helping myself, loving myself. I’d spent so much of my time dedicating my energy to fighting for other things. And I had to be taught to reframe the way I think and to fight for myself. I knew my true goals but I didn’t know how to fight for them. And I had to learn how not to give up before a challenge I never could have imagined.

Running became a big part of that… because in running I learned to push myself to do what I didn’t think was possible.

Paradoxically enough, to sign up for my first marathon, I had to know I would be brave enough to quit if I had to.

Yes, you read that right. After all that talk about not giving up, I had to learn to be brave enough to quit? That’s right. Because learning to quit was a product of learning how to never give up.

I learned to fight for me, not for perfection.

Quitting a marathon, that’s not quitting. Rather it is deciding to continue fighting for myself.

Two weeks ago I had to come to grips with the fact that I won’t be able to run my marathon in May. The fact is I need to fly to Italy that evening and after reading a few articles and knowing how exhausted I will be (and how alert I need to be for the event I’m attending in Italy) I decided the risk of blood clots associated with the long flight isn’t worth it. It took me about 48 hours to accept. But finally despite being in the best shape I’ve been in my life, I had to decide to quit my marathon.

Between you and me, it is a blessing in disguise. I am going to be traveling nearly every weekend for the next two months. And the fact of the matter is I was already getting burnt out even before I started my intense training.

I’m bummed but there will be more marathons.

Above all I’m proud of myself. Because this lesson about quitting… I could only learn it by refusing to give up.

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Criminal Fears

I have a small obsession with Criminal Minds. It both terrifies me and thrills me. My roommate of years past forbade me to watch it if she wasn’t in the room because I would end up screaming.

This morning I thought nothing of getting a quick little run in before heading to the airport for my flight back home. Two quick miles… unsatisfying but better than nothing. I told myself the crazy hills of Atlanta make it count like three miles.

Did I mention it was four AM? Which means my body time it was three AM. After four hours of sleep. (Which breaks my rule of getting enough sleep before a run but travel days are an exception.)

The area of Atlanta I was running in was safe. Until I got about a mile out and considered that for a psychopath all I has to do was be present to trigger them.

Way. too. much. Criminal. Minds.

Did I mention my mile back was a full minute faster than my mile out?

Fresh Air

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“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

– rush our to the airport
– spring breakers
– gate checked baggage
– new friend on the plane
– I hope we actually hang out
– warm weather
– no coats
– running in a tank top and shorts
– blooming flowers
– hope
– stepping back
– slowing down
– taking a deep breath
– wanderlust

On Toxic Friendships

Toxic friendships don’t just affect you, they can affect your other relationships, your job, and your own sanity. You may not want to believe it, but you owe it to yourself to determine whether this person is helping you through life or hurting you. – Verily Magazine

The challenge of learning to love yourself… That is a huge part of eating disorder recovery. I am not over-exaggerating when I say I used to despise myself. One of my first assignments from my therapist was to note the times during the week when I really felt good about myself. I would be lucky if I came up with one before my next appointment.

(Isn’t it amazing to look back and see how far one has come.)

Part and parcel with despising oneself is letting others treat you poorly. As I started to heal, I realized that there were people in my life who are beautiful people but my relationship with them was toxic. They were people who left me feeling empty after being with them. They were people who tore me apart rather than building me up. They are people who are fighting their own battles and because of that I was getting caught in the fray.

Cutting people out of your life (or at least taking space) is a real challenge. I have had to take space from two individuals who I love dearly. I will always love them. And my hope is that as I continue to heal I will be able to reenter those friendships from a different perspective. But the truth is that at this moment in time they aren’t helping me to be the person I need to be. Are they bad people? Probably not. Are they fighting their own battles? For sure. But at the end of the day, my primary responsibility is taking care of myself so that I am able to love others.

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It is a difficult decision. One of my dear friends who I had known for years and years started to pull back when I shared with her about my eating disorder. We are fearful of sharing with others about our disorder because we don’t want to be misunderstood. And when, in fact, we are misunderstood, it confirms all our worst fears. When it came down to it, I had to decide to move on, which implied moving on from a whole group of friends. It is scary. But when it came right down to it, I realized I preferred to face the feeling of loneliness than the feeling of being torn apart every time I was with her.

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Little by little, as we give less space to the voices of the toxic friendships and learn to begin to talk to ourselves kindly, it is easier to hear the voices of those people who surround us and support us. We give ourselves permission to receive a complement and believe it without immediately denying it. We begin to let our true friends love us as we are.

The second toxic relationship I have my life is within the work environment. In the past week, I’ve realized that I’ve received at least a dozen complements, but the negative feedback from this one individual brings me down without fail. As I drove home a few nights ago it occurred to me, “What if I start listening to the complements without giving so much importance to the negative feedback?” Sure, I will pay attention to the feedback and glean whatever opportunities for improvement that I can from it. But I will not allow it to make me question myself or my self-worth.

I am not perfect. And I am sure that if half the people who complement me knew me as well as the individual who harps on my weaknesses does, they might not think so highly of me. But that is not the point. The point is that I have learned my value – which coincidentally does not lie in being perfect, but rather in who I am. There is a balance between the complements and the criticism, but that balance lies within me.

But sometimes, as I learn to find that balance, it is necessary to take some distance from certain individuals until I am strong enough to find the balance within myself at all times.

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And maybe one day I’ll pick up the book and keep reading… when I am ready.

And giving myself that time to be ready is the first step in loving myself.

Leap year…

That extra day really threw me off. And I feel like I’m just getting my feet back under me after being away from blogging for ten days. I write blog posts in my head while I drive, but it is funny how they don’t actually materialize. So many blog post ideas… so little time.

Ten days for what?

  • A glorious two day ski trip
  • Yet another snow day
  • One day at my desk playing catch up/preplanning
  • Packing for three trips within two weeks
  • Five days at Mundelein Seminary in the northern suburbs of Chicago
  • Very, very few hours of sleep
  • Old Friends
  • New Friends
  • Prayer
  • Finishing one master’s course
  • Beginning another
  • Deep, meaningful conversations
  • Reflections – so many reflections
  • Dropping out of my marathon due to international travel plans
  • Outdoor runs (thank you, Spring!)
  • Voting

And much, much more. (To say I’m tired is an understatement.)

What would I do with a whole extra day? This year I spent it skiing (which was work but I really can’t complain now, can I?). But I would suggest that we should just have leap day as an extra day in our lives. We should treat it as a free day on life… not just me – everyone!

How many days do I wish I had 48 hours to the day instead of just 24. And this is coming from a girl who is on the go for a good 18 hours a day. Time just seems to fly by. This article inspired me to start keeping better track of how I use my time at work and it has been interesting. I am capable of a lot more than I thought I was. (And I consider myself a pretty focused person.)

But when you are recovering from an eating disorder, there is a lot of attention given to mindfulness. I am a person who tends to run everywhere. People often tell me they know I am coming because of my footsteps. So I’m constantly having to practice slowing down and letting myself feel things… external things (water in the shower, footsteps, the sun on my skin, the keys under my fingers as I type, the sunset, the sheets of my bed), yes… But much more importantly the internal things – the stress, worry about my mom and her current medical issues, embarrassment, regret, sadness, anger… and also happiness, contentment, peace, joy, etc. Because so much of an eating disorder is about avoiding feeling.

My life for the next three months is going to be intense. And I can’t slow it down much, but I can stop and enjoy. I can find moments to face myself and who I am. And I don’t have to go through life running from myself. Yes, the next three months will have me running from Northern Michigan, to Canada, to Korea, to Notre Dame, to Rome… but I will go with myself.

Because whether or not I have an extra day or not, I always have myself.