Off the Grid…

Because as I tried to  think of a title this started playing over and over in my head. (And now pizza sounds really good!)

I wish I had literally been off the grid for all this time I’ve been away… But I’ve once again literally been too busy to blog. (And there may have been a little shutting down coping in there – which isn’t really all that compatible with blogging – aka baring my soul to the world.)

All I’ve got for now is the top 30  things I learned during this summer amidst an incredibly hard goodbye and tons of transition in my life.

1.) Feeling is okay… Not just the day to day feeling – feeling the things  you are terrified of feeling… Feeling until it physically hurts. Feeling till you can’t cry anymore. And feeling my way through the events of this summer I’m hoping is going to give me the courage to feel the things I have been running from for so long – so I can really heal and really be free.

2.) Wine, cheese, prosciutto, and chocolate solo on the beach is not lonely.

3.) You can vacation while everything is not okay – without the pressures of day to day the emotions can just sit there raw and there is a freedom in it.

4.) Relapse is only relapse if you don’t stand back up. I relapsed hard a couple weeks ago – ate less than I  have for years. But I  decided I didn’t want to go there – and I  stood back up.

5.) When you allow yourself to be vulnerable – you can actually feel support. Counter intuitive – perhaps, but true nonetheless. I let people know how hard the transition this summer were for me and I’ve never felt more supported in my life.

6.) Picking at your face doesn’t resolve anything – you just hate yourself more. I reached for all my unhealthy coping mechanisms and reconfirmed they don’t work… just to be sure.

7.) True friends are one of the greatest gifts in this  world. They call you out, stand by you, believe in you, and love you for who you are.

8.) Running is my crack. I love it and it has been an amazing tool this summer. I’m having to be very careful as now I am coaching and doing double workouts a day. (Don’t worry my therapist is read in and we aren’t doing anything stupid.)

9.) Pride in my cross country team is an incredible feeling… It is pride in THEIR achievements, their determination, and their success.

10.) It is easier to be angry than to say  goodbye. Mourning someone who isn’t dying is rough… but it has given me a huge amount of compassion for those who mourn.

11.) Cross training does make a difference.

12.) People know my walk – working on mindfully walking.

13.) I tend to bulldoze/bite people’s heads off as a coping mechanism – I found out why the other day when I controlled it and almost cried instead. Still have to work on all of that.

14.) Seeing teenage girls struggle with eating disorders is incredibly difficult for me.

15.) Haven’t been able to be in touch with my parents much – it is too much to  handle right now. And I’m learning that is okay.

16.) Vacation at both the beginning and the end of summer is the way to do things.

17.) Riding bikes on cobblestones is both painful and difficult.

18.) It is possible to right at 10 page research paper in just four hours.

19.) One of my favorite places in Chicago is Cindy’s rooftop bar.

20.) No matter how many times you take the double decker tour in Chicago, you always learn something new.

21.) Read Death by Meeting if you have trouble with conflict in the workplace.

22.) Those traditional Mexican blouses are really practical – totally felt like I was barely wearing anything all day.

23.) When you plant flowers in the early summer and they all die for lack of water, never give up hope – I’ve got one plant that resurrected to prove it. There is always hope.

24.) Give things enough time and relationships you  never expected to heal may heal.

25.) There is nothing like a hug of a mother. We all need someone who can give us that hug.

26.) Even at your worst you can inspire others… don’t be ashamed to struggle because God can still use it to help someone else.

27.) An “I love you” from a child is always healing.

28.) Salt water is good for the body and the soul.

29.) When  you don’t have any more time for anything, it is surprising what happens when you simply have to make time for other things.

30.) I’m a different person and learning that I can be at peace even when everything isn’t  under control… So despite how difficult this  summer has been – I wouldn’t take it back.

You’ve Got This

I’m facing what feels like the most difficult challenge I’ve been through in my life. Objectively, from an outsider’s perspective, that may seem overly dramatic and just downright incorrect. However, as a master in avoiding feeling for about 90% of my life… the fact that I am letting myself feel through this challenge and simultaneously saying goodbye to my “person”… makes this a truly unique situation.

No one has any advice for me. No one has any solutions. Everyone just tells me to keep going. Take it one day at a time. Live the moment. Accept the struggle.

So here are my top 20 ways I’ve gotten through the last week:

  1. This. Ann Voskamp is one of my favorite authors and EVERYTHING she has posted on her Facebook this week has been exactly what I needed to hear.
  2. A text from a friend who I rarely communicate with on the hardest day of this week (and probably of the last few months) saying she prayed for me in adoration that morning.
  3. A text from my old roommate later in the week letting me know she was praying for me.
  4. The excitement of the new opportunity of coaching cross country. (More on that later.)
  5. My best friend calling and telling me she knew there was nothing she could say but she is there for me and she knows I will get through because I’ve gotten through everything in the past.
  6. Daily Mass.
  7. This song. On repeat.
  8. My parents coming to jump my car that randomly died (why not?) for no explicable reason. The mechanics can’t find anything wrong with it. There was too much going on in my life to make time for my parents or deal with that situation – and this was God’s way of making it happen without me having to go over there which is more than I can handle right now.
  9. My new counselor (she is phenomenal by the way – more on that later too)… And her suggestion I see her again next week instead of in two weeks to get me through this goodbye.
  10. The smiling faces of the students I work with.
  11. The “how’s it going?” of my new boss and his constant encouragement.
  12. A coworker whose reply to my statement, “I’ve never had so many people worried about me,” was, “I’m not worried about you. I knew you would get through.”
  13. Drinks with a dear friend and the excitement of working for the same organization next year.
  14. 24. Because Jack Bauer.
  15. This text from a friend: wp-1469882395894.jpg
  16. The stories of people I know in Haiti on missions and babies dying from malnutrition.
  17. Someone I work with who assured me she has had goodbyes just as hard (aka I’m not a total idiot for how hard this is.)
  18. Another coworker who told me how capable she thinks I am.
  19. Running.
  20. Me – because I look in the mirror and I see someone who is hurting an awful lot but knows she will come out of this stronger, who is brave enough to let herself feel all this, and who is fighting daily to get through this challenge. And because she can look in the mirror and see herself, feel compassion, talk to herself, and love herself – all things she couldn’t do a few years ago.

 

Moral of the Story:

  • I’ve got a  pretty incredible support system. It is a support – not a solution and often we look at them to be something they are not, but as a support system – they are rocking!
  • God is going out of his way to show me he has got me.
  • There are good things going on and all one has to do is look for them.
  • This is hard. It is okay that it is hard. Fighting it doesn’t change it. This is life.
  • There is healing yet to come. It will come, in time.
  • This is recovery.

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

Foreigners

There is simply no hiding it… I’m a foreigner.

Blond haired, hazel eyed, and 5’8″.

Yes, the Koreans in the elevator who wanted to take selfies with me verified it.

I have no clue what they were saying to me.

But at least through hand gestures I could figure out it was because I was so tall.

Oh yeah and they were definitely all business men.

Left that off in my Facebook post to avoid any naughty comments.

Not that I have friends who make naughty comments.

But one can never be too safe.

The weird thing was I had literally been walking back to the hotel thinking about how good for me it is that I do stand out.

I’ve realized during these days in Seoul that how as Americans I don’t think we can fathom what it is like to a foreigner.

I kid you not so much of what I see as I travel this city is written in English.

The spoken part – not so much – I’m very happy to have a translator with us.

But given my physical appearance – every single person I pass knows I’m lost.

No matter how confidently I  walk, how sure of myself I act… they are going to expect me to be lost.

So, I can cut myself some slack, not have it all together, and enjoy being lost.

That’s what I realized tonight at church.

Yes I can follow along with my English translation, but I literally have no idea what I’m doing or what they are saying. And I had to let go and just enjoy being a foreigner.

Somewhere in life I professed to myself that I had to have it all together.

And here I am, totally lost, taking selfies with strange business men in elevators… and the world hasn’t fallen apart.

Actually, the world feels just a little bit lighter.

And by the way the people were happily bowing to me at the sign of peace – they could care less if I’m lost too.

 

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.

God’s Providence Delivered by Snail Mail

You-may-not-see-it-today-or-tomorrow-quote.jpg

Sometimes life is just busy… recovering from the stomach flu, finishing a ten page research paper, trying to catch up on laundry, marathon training, late nights, surprising the parents for breakfast early Sunday morning after dropping off a colleague at the airport on four hours of sleep… You know, a day in the life.

On a few late nights recently I’ve stopped by the mailbox – sometimes dreading the cold and other times marveling at the temperate weather – oh and staring in awe at the full moon. (You always look for the full moon when you are an educator – because the kids go CRAZY!)

And I have received not one, not two, but seven snail mail treasures in the last few weeks. Between that an a small Amazon problem I may have, I think I’m actually beating the bills hands down. Snail mail is one of my favorite things. Those little treasures mean more than ever in this day and age when to shoot an email or a text response is so convenient.

And this particular month it was such a support to feel myself so LOVED that these people took time out of their busy lives to send me a little love. Not only their words and their time but many of the packages contained meaningful gifts that they had thought of just for me.

Of course I tell them thank you… But perhaps they will never know the true weight of their kindness. Because as I’ve learned to love myself, I’ve also learned to let others love me. I’ve learned to recognize and accept their love and kindness and to feel good about being loved.

Looking back, these people have always been there. They have stood by me and most of them knew my story without me having to tell them. For so long I felt so alone. And I still certainly have moments of loneliness, but beyond a shadow of a doubt I know I am loved.

But most surprising of all, had I not been through all I’ve been through, I’m not sure they could love me as I am because I probably wouldn’t have let them. All the pain and all the challenges I’ve faced have made me very vulnerable. And through healing I’ve learned to let people in.

I can’t tell you how many people in the past year have told me that I am more at ease, more approachable, calmer. And I could not have gotten here without the process I have been through.

God writes straight with crooked lines.

 

Life is like…

I have a thing for analogies. They are so useful. You have these concepts or experiences that you want to explain to other people so you use an image that they can understand to convey the idea.

But here is the thing, analogies are limited.

analogy

And every now and again I think I choose the wrong analogy –  for explaining my life.

Because I will have a bad day and think that everything is gone, all the work I’ve done has come to naught and I’m left empty-handed.

That is the life is like dropping a basket full of eggs/pitcher of water analogy.

It is through that lens that all the work I’ve done up till now doesn’t count because what has happened now has ruined it all. (I’m a visual person and I like to have my analogies pretty vivid, so bear with me.) So in this particular analogy I walk all the way down to the village (perhaps with a basket on my head). I make it there, do my shopping, pay for it, and head back up the mountain. (I told you it was going to be far-fetched.) And then I trip… I fall… the water is spilled… the eggs are cracked… I have nothing to show for my journey. Everything is lost.

That is typically the analogy I “go with” on a bad day. Can you say melodramatic much?

So today’s challenge is to find a better analogy for my rough days. And why not going with my favorite life analogy – running?

Life is like running a marathon.

In a marathon there is anything can happen. I’m not talking about running the way Cragg, Linden, and Flanagan did in the Olympic Trials Marathon. (As a side note I never knew what it was to start to love sports heroes because of sheer love of the sport until I started following the Olympic Trials. More on that some other time.) I’m talking about running a marathon and needing to stop to pee, or walk through your water breaks, or whatever other obstacle may come along the way.

Any of those obstacles, first of all, do not prevent you from reaching your goal, nor do they pick you up and set up back at the start line. (This isn’t Mario Kart, people.) Even if they did mean not finishing the race, they still don’t erase the months of training, hard work, and character formation that brought you to the start line.

Further, often these so called obstacles actually are necessary to complete the rest of the marathon.

Sometimes we need those moments to pause as we continue on our journey. They are not failures nor mistakes. They are part of life.

It is hard to convince myself of that – as I bawled my eyes out on the phone to my friend this morning – worrying that the flu I’ve had this weekend is going to send me backwards in my recovery, worried about when is the right time to switch jobs, worried about how I am going to manage to cut off communication with this guy who isn’t getting the message, worried about if my mentor will be there for me, worried about if I should go back to therapy, worried about my ten page research paper I should be writing instead of blogging… etc, etc, etc. Worried if all this worry is what made me get sick in the first place and if it has become that deeply rooted in my subconscious that I’m getting sick without even wanting to?

What if?

I can’t worry about the next mile if I’m not there yet. Life isn’t like the pretty painted picture I had in my mind since I was a little girl. Life isn’t perfect. But life is beautiful; life is full of ups and downs and advances and setbacks. That is the beauty of the thing. It can be terrifying at times. But in the end, it is about who is walking through life not about it being perfect.

There is little I can change about life. But I can decide who I want to be.