No Time

If time were a thing I’d be out of it… maybe even in the red. I’m typing this on my phone as I stand in the boarding line for my flight to Rome. (I know I can’t complain… but it does come in the midst of major transition at work and the week before graduation for our students… so not great timing but I have to attend a convention.)

And my thumbs are growing tired for no other purpose than sharing how great it is to have experience validated. This week I had the opportunity to speak with a priest about some major emotional pain I’m feeling which has bubbled up to the surface after several years. It involves a relationship which is both good and bad but I’ve definitely focused on the good and ignored the bad.

What he said to me was one of the most healing things I’ve ever been told. He looked at me and said, yes that is real. You have to deal with it. But you are right,  you don’t have the time right now. So know God is holding you and in two weeks when all this is over we can work through this.

My pain was validated. I was assured I didn’t have to handle it alone. I was reassured that I am strong enough to bare it for two more weeks.

Healing comes in waves. And I know I’ve got more healing to do. One day at a time.

Here we go again…

So a few months ago when my therapist ditched me couldn’t continue working with me, I knew that at some moment I would go back to therapy to wrap up loose ends.

But I needed time.

I needed time to find my voice.

I needed time to believe in myself.

Oddly enough, I need time to feel alone and realize that it was okay.

I needed time to rely only on God.

And I’ve amazed myself. I’ve grown a lot.

I discovered things about myself I never would have any  other way.

I’ve stayed healthy. I’ve faced challenges. I’ve learned to be brave enough to face my emotions without someone sitting beside me. (That was a big one.)

But… the time has come… and here we go again.

This Tuesday found me sitting on someone’s overstuffed chair spilling out my life story all over again. Emotion free. Facts. Narration.

How far I have come. The story is very different. The person telling it the same.

But the fact of the matter is, I’m doing great. I am surprising myself daily. But the fact of the matter also is that I’m up against some big challenges and there is no point in making this harder on myself than it needs to be. It is time to get some support because I’ve got a lot on my plate.

My number one support person is moving away.

I’m facing transition at work.

My studies in psychology are digging up things from the past which are heavy, and why not have someone share that weight.

Those are just some of the reasons.

But what amazes me is my attitude. I went to therapy four years ago because I was out of options. Now I have a lot of options, but I’m choosing for me to get some support through these transitions. I’m choosing for me.

I’m nervous. Sure. Who likes being vulnerable? But I look at it more as creating a space for me to be with myself and confront myself because I’ve gotten very good at practicing those habits on a day to day basis, but right now the amount of things I’m carrying is making it harder for me to do that automatically.

Intake was fine. Whatever – it is telling a story. The hard work of it comes next. But I want that… I want to be true to myself.

And maybe it won’t be the right fit, but it is worth a try. Because I am worth it.

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Raw

You know the feeling… the feeling of raw, unfelt, emotion.

Messy. Tear-stained. Snot-filled. Emotion.

It is what makes me curl up with my knees hugged close to my chest… like the fetal position sitting up.

I hadn’t felt that way for a long time. Months. I almost forgot.

The feeling isn’t a bad feeling. Painful. Hard. Aching.

But it isn’t negative, because I am feeling.

Anorexia is about not feeling.

Anorexia is feeling hunger to avoid feeling emotional pain.

And Monday night was not anorexia – it was life. Life hurts. But life also heals.

Monday night I got the call from a dear friend, more of a “little sister” type person, who I have cared for, listened to, and carried emotionally over YEARS. I’ve feared for her life more than her. Loved her enough for her to be mad at me. And the last months have been TOUGH.

Monday she called me to say goodbye because she was going to check herself in to the psych hospital.

Once, only once, did my therapist ever suggest that if I didn’t get something turned around, she would have to consider referring me to a psychiatrist. And, don’t get me wrong here, I understand fully and respect immensely those who fight try to fight a battle for a long time only to find out that they needed (not through any fault or lack of their own, but simply because of the hugeness of what they are up against) more support through psychiatry. I admire those people, because I would find it very difficult to accept.

And that day my therapist said to me, “If you really feel that way, we need to look into other options.” It scared the S*** out of me. And it also forced me to question myself. It was a turning point in finding myself.

But back to Monday night.

I cried as I hung up the phone.

I tried to be strong for her. But it hurt. I hurt so bad for her. I was scared with her. I was scared for her little girls, for her husband…

And as I hung up it hit me… heavier and harder than a ton of bricks… My mom went through that.

My mom was admitted to the psychiatric hospital when she was diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder. (I just finished studying my chapter on mood disorders so I understand the distinction now.)

It is hard for me to wrap my mind around my mom. My mom who was “normal” according to me until I was 16, only to discover she has bipolar. My mom, who I proceeded to treat and act like nothing had changed for years… My mom, who now I sometimes see as sick and feel guilty for thinking of her that way… My mom, who I’m trying to accept with her illness.

That mom – she was admitted. She lived that horror. She was scared. She didn’t know what was happening.

She never talks about it. She pretends she is perfectly fine now. So does my Dad. I know different.

And I’m always frustrating and trying to accept her as she is – without wondering who she once was.

I can’t figure it out. But one thing I do know, I ache for her more now than ever. I hurt for what she had to go through even if it is blocked from her memory. Because I do know her, and I cried on Monday for that woman I know and love who  had to go through that.

Mom, I know I’m not perfect at loving you. I’m still learning. But, Mom, I want to wrap my arms around you and never let anything happen to you again. I adore you. XOXO

Personal Records

The feeling of soreness is one of the greatest feelings I know.

It is odd how the only moment I don’t feel like running is right before a race. I love to race, but there is a lot of mental energy that goes into racing that is exhausting. It is in racing that the inner argument between “I can’t give any more” and “push just a little harder” takes place. It is the argument of life.

The thing about racing is that it is the one place where my perfectionism doesn’t come in. Sure, I love to win. It is a great feeling. But the fact of the matter is that every time I win, I am shocked. I never expect to win. I never think I’m good enough to win. It isn’t about winning. And it isn’t even about achieving a PR. It is simply about giving my best on that day. It is about pushing just a little further than I thought I could.

And isn’t that what life is all about? It is about giving your best, not to win, but to be the best version of yourself.

Saturday was a great day… but COLD! It is funny how 45 degrees in January feels balmy and right now 45 degrees is enough to send me packing to the gym.

At 25 minutes to the race they shut down main street. Cue me arriving to the start line with just enough time to shove my earbuds in my ears and take off.

I was in the lead since the beginning… 5 overall, 1st woman. That was it, mile one. I crept up to 4th overall after the second mile and that was it. It is an odd feeling being in first that quickly. It confirmed that racing isn’t about winning. It is about doing my best.

I did set a PR for a 10k – 7:09 pace, 44:27. I am happy. But not because I won, or even because I defended my title. I am happy because as I worked my way up that final of four crazy hills and I felt like I had nothing left, I visualized the strength and muscles in my legs. I pushed. And I achieved something I didn’t think I could do.

I don’t know how many PR’s I have left in me. But I do know that, God willing, I have a lot of races left in me. And each one is its own personal record – a personal record of mental strength and determination.

As I came down the second hill I  remembered this race three years ago, a week after my therapist told me I need to stop running. I had held off as much as I could all week, but I was already signed up for the race. It was after that race, that I went back to her and told her that I couldn’t  stop running and we needed to find another way around it. Sure, running and eating disorders can be contradictory. But I am running my way to recovery. Because each time I run, I discover something new about myself. Each time I run I discover an inner strength which is greater than I ever imagined. Each time I run, I get to know myself better.

Personal records are not times, they are mile markers of moments when you taught yourself something new about yourself.

And right now every time I go up or down the stairs and I feel the soreness in my muscles, I am reminded of what an incredible day Saturday was, and what a great things that soreness represents.

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Write my heart out…

All I want to do right now is write my heart out… which is actually a really, really good sign. It means I am feeling. It means I am processing. I LOVE travel, but the last two months haven’t  given me a ton of time to process what is going on. And I think that was providential. So I am beyond proud of myself (because I allow myself to feel that way now), for taking time this weekend to slow down, fight through the headaches, and find myself.

And I made it through Mother’s Day, in one piece… without feeling guilty for not being with my mom because today I wasn’t ready. I think I’ll get ice cream with her this week. 🙂 Because ice cream instead of lunch is our thing. (Did I ever mention my mother wasn’t exactly the greatest exemplar of good eating habits?) And I let myself blog about my mom and her bipolar, another pretty big step because I am so afraid of being misunderstood on that one. I’m so afraid of people judging or not understanding my hurt.

I have a friend right now who is going through a lot. She was raped years ago and is finally facing it. My phone calls with her are hard. They are triggering because they make me desire to have someone to lean on again, and I constantly have to remind myself that I have the support system I need but I can depend on myself. It is a good exercise but a tiring one. She is spinning in circles right now and was even suicidal a few weeks ago and a lot of what she says brings back negative memories.

In some ways I feel like I have nothing to complain about compared with her, but at the same time it makes me realize how deeply I did struggle, how rough it was, that it was real… And how happy I am to realize I am different. It is odd how that validation is comforting nonetheless…

I’m pretty sure I’m going to go back to therapy soon… Not because I’m relapsing… On the contrary I’m actually resorting to eating disordered behaviors less and less. But I’m about to go through some pretty big transitions in my personal life and my job and I think it would be a pretty good idea to have some extra tools to face that. Isn’t it interesting how dramatically my perspective on therapy has changed? I’m pretty sure I will call in the next week or so… or in June. But I know I will know when it is the right time. I was going to call last week when God put two people in my life to give me great advice and perspective, so I took that as His was of saying to hold on for the moment.

Speaking of Him, I am amazed to see how He is helping me in this recovery. A few months ago I spoke with a priest, and at the end of our conversation the priest asked if he could pray with me. He proceeded to pray aloud asked God over and over again, “In His name…” to help me, heal me, take away the disorder, etc. And it was just this weekend that I realized that since then I have really made significant progress. It has become one of my favorite prayers.

Tonight my best friend texted me and I want to save it forever. I shared with her that I got through today okay but that I just want to be able to let my guard down around my mom, and this was her response:

“Not now you can’t. But you will both be in heaven and when you go she’ll be waiting. She’s going to have a couch picked out and a spot waiting for you. And when you get there she’s going to hold you and ask you to tell her everything. She adores you! A cross is carried by many. It is a result of sin entering the world. If you embrace it, it will bring you closer to God. In heaven all will be as it was supposed to be! Your mom was never taken from you. She’s still there and when this cross is lifted… When you see her in heaven… You WILL have her completely – no secrets, no backlashes, no fear! I can’t wait! She’s all yours now and for all eternity. God gave her to you… This  cross is what makes you special. It pushes you to reach for others. It makes you who you are today! You are so incredibly special, N! God has blessed you in so many ways. It’s like he holds you extra close because he knows the cross you’re carrying is heavy. When you cry he sends people into the chapel. He gives you your “second family” to show you love. Hang in there, N! You have so much to give and I know you and your mom are going to love heaven!!! All will be well!”

Then she added:

“N, I was thinking yesterday. If the only reason God gave me my dad with all the abuse was to able to be friend with you and relate to you… I would take it all over again! It would be worth it to me to be able to love you more. That’s the beauty of the cross.”

And that is the beauty of friendship.

And that is the beauty that I hope I can share with at least one person who I can understand because of the ache in my own heart.

My heart aches…

But my heart is full.

And my eyes are full of tears – of both sorrow and joy.

Dear Mumma

Dear Mom,

I want more than anything in the world to write a sappy Facebook post today. I want to tell you how much I love you. And how much you mean to me.

Yesterday my best friend was asking me if Mother’s Day is hard for me. I answered promptly, “yes.” But I struggled to find the words as to why today is so difficult.

The real challenge is wanting to love you. Mom, I want to curl up in your arms and let go. I want to put my head on your shoulder and know that everything is okay in this world. I want to call and cry, laugh, and vent. I want to let you into my world. But I can’t.

Mom, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around you, around your illness, around all that I have lived.

When I was nearly 17 I found out about your illness. Everything made sense, but I didn’t know how to process. I shut it down. I pretended nothing was different. And little by little I’ve been learning to accept, to process, and to learn to live with this.

Mom, you don’t have to be afraid. You are so afraid of stigma, so afraid of people knowing. You don’t have to be. People respect you more when they know the fight you are up against. I wish you would accept it, acknowledge it, but I understand your choice. It is hard. I feel like your life could be different.

Mom, I’m trying. I’m trying to love you. Sometimes I can’t handle it. Sometimes I think I’m inventing it all. Sometimes I think it is all in my head. I’m trying to accept the way you are. And I’m trying to accept a reality that you won’t acknowledge.

Mom, I am upset that I can’t know who you really are. I’m hurt from years of not understanding why you couldn’t be there for me. I hurt when I see you hurting.

But mom, I LOVE YOU! I wouldn’t change you for the world.  You are sweet, you are sensitive, and you adore my father.

Sorry I can’t write the sappy Facebook post. Sorry I sometimes love my “second mumma” more than you and it is easier for me to be with her.

Each day I try a little bit harder. Each day I take another step forward.

I love you forever!

Love, your favorite, 😉

N

Perfection

Upside and inside couldn’t be more aptly named – because it about sums up my life right now. After eight out of state trips in March and April… 88 miles run in April despite all the travel… all I can say is thank God I had to call off my marathon because that would not be happening right now.

I’ve written a ton of blog posts… in my head… because  there simply hasn’t been time for anything.

So today I’m slowing down, resetting my rhythm… vacuuming out the car and changing the wiper blades… literally… because there hasn’t been time for that either and I was down to one flopping piece of rubber on one blade… driver’s side… you get the picture.

I’m into my fifth course of my master’s program… so far so good on the 4.0. Which brings me to my point…

Perfection.

In my Winter I term I had an interesting conversation with my professor because I was frustrated. My frustration was not lessened when his only response to my concern was that the rubrics weren’t realistic and it was pretty much impossible to get an A. That is just about my greatest nightmare. Almost as bad as when I went to Florida a couple weeks ago and forgot my running shoes. (Yes, I’m being sarcastic… kind of… I know, first world problems right… But seriously, I’m not talking about these things as real, I-can’t-live-with-this-situation issues, but yes real personal, internal struggles. Because we all know what these things represent.)  At some point in the conversation, my professor asked me, “why is it so important for you to get an A?”

 

It seemed like an illogical question coming from a professor. Luckily, I was quick on my feet that day, or at least had enough caffeine in my body to appear so, and I garbled out some answer about how the A represents the highest level of learning for the course and of course I wanted to achieve the full objectives of the course.

But the whole time there was a little voice in my head shouting, “Liar.”

I want an A because I want to be perfect. Punto. End of story.

Sure there are some more worthy objectives for me too, but I am also the person who knows from top-of-the-line head hunter/recruiter that a 4.0 on a resume makes it look like your university wasn’t necessarily challenging. Which is most definitely not the case, as I currently procrastinate on the challenge of facing today’s homework.

I am a self-professed perfectionist. I know it and I also try to balance it out. And I’ve gotten better at using that aspect of my personality as a strength to produce quality work, rather than focusing on perfection for perfection’s sake.

So, it isn’t surprising that when I got an email newsletter this week from a Mexican psychologist/nutritionist about “perfection and eating,” it caught my eye. I had the opportunity to listen to the podcast this morning. I’d link it but it is in Spanish so that may not be particularly helpful. So I’ll give you the summary version. I loved the simplicity of it, or maybe it was the perspective, or maybe I was just finally at the right moment of my life to hear this.

She explained perfectionism as a result of two fears: 1.) fear of rejection and 2.) fear of making mistakes. Those two fears have their root in a belief/false view of our own value and worthiness of love. She also addressed the difference between perfectionism and doing your best as not linking our own value on the outcomes of any specific event or job. She also stressed the importance of enjoying the process rather than focusing on the outcome.

Then she linked perfectionism and eating. In my case, I’ve always been puzzled by how someone who has anorexia – a restrictive eating disorder – can also occasionally binge. None of the descriptions I’ve read of eating disorder have been able to explain this to me. Because it isn’t a constant flip-flop… it is a “once in a blue moon” eat way more than I ever would let myself. Or it is being very restrictive but when I do eat – I eat five cookies type of situation. So technically I’ll I’ve eaten in a day is very little, but what very little I do eat is total junk.

She explained that perfectionist often find so much pressure in constantly doing what they should be doing and doing it perfectly, that eating is the only area where they let themselves be imperfect. It is still restrictive, so that characteristic is still there, but the content isn’t perfect.

It helped me understand some of the deeper roots of my eating habits. As I continue to progress in my path to mindful eating, hunger-based eating, and eating in a healthy way… I found one more piece to help me understand what happens in me and how I can work to be free one day.

Because, we are all worthy to be loved. Just as we are.