Writing: Sarah Thoughts #4

Hey folks!

It’s currently Saturday evening and after a week that felt like a year I’m wanting to post something on the blog. Today is for sharing some of my writing from a couple months ago. It’s a topic I’ve been thinking A LOT about this week, especially as it pertains to my concern/worry/desire to help individuals in early stages of recovery trying to navigate literally everything right at the moment.

The world is different right now, as we all know, are aware of, and feel. Life is entirely different than it was a few weeks ago, even a week ago.

My quick update is: I’m safe, ok, and grateful to be able to distance myself almost entirely. My part-time work is currently closed, and employees are being paid for the time being under the companies emergency pay policy. I’m currently living ALONE alone as the landlords are gone. Keeping myself busy and entertained with walks from home (SOOOOOOO blessed to be able to do this and live in a rural area), started a YouTube channel, lots of jump roping around the apartment, and reading.

I hope you are all safe, healthy, and ok ♥

Now for sharing some writing:

Trauma.
This is something that until recently I didn’t consciously draw into my story or my existence.
While subconsciously it was present from a young age,
there can often be a disconnect between subconscious and conscious.
A space between knowing and being ready to know and explore.

This area is the space between an event and us being ready to at least semi tackle the unpackaging of this event.

Trauma can be SO many things.
Try not to box it or box yourself into it.
Let it be a word that exists,
something you/a friend/significant other/loved one may have gone through.

When someone has experienced an event that was traumatic in nature,
it contributes in some way to their being.
It plays a role.
It’s part of the persons story.
It DOES NOT define them.
It will never define them.
It will never define me because I refuse to allow it to.

We are not defined by one aspect of our lives but rather each component, characteristic, personality trait, interest, passion, experience, etc. and all of these combined.

Every little and big thing plays a role.
Try not to diminish the roles of each puzzle piece,
because after all they are all puzzle pieces and each piece is essential to figure out the puzzle.

As I begin to unpack my own experience with trauma I am learning new things about myself, my story, and my needs.
I am learning better, more ideal ways to nurture myself.
Ways to help myself move forward.
Ways to support myself.
I am essentially tending to my inner child in the ways my inner child was never tended to.

After 6.5 years in remission from anorexia nervosa I am becoming consciously aware of a puzzle piece that has been a portion of my story since before the start of my eating disorder at age 11 that I was not until recently consciously aware of.

THIS.SHIT.TAKES.TIME.

I am a firm believer that things come to the table when we are ready to take them on.
1, 2, 3 years ago – I wasn’t ready.
Maybe mentally I was ready but spiritually I wasn’t.
I am now ready.
I am terrified, floored, scared, and uneasy – but I am ready.

For me, ready doesn’t always mean game face. It might…
But it might mean isolating, dialing back, becoming quiet, going hermit mode, drawing into my core self to try and be there for the parts of me that I do understand fully because those parts need attention right now.

Please, give yourself grace.
Pat yourself on the back.
Give yourself a hug.
Reach out to someone if you are able to.
Cut yourself some slack.
I promise, you will find the puzzle pieces one by one.

And you are absolutely strong enough to put them together and work through the process.

Healing

Healing is like an onion –
you logically know there are many layers,
but you only really see the outer layer,
the one that’s visible.
Only when the outer layer is taken off are the inner layers fully exposed.

Throughout my own journey of healing,
I’ve learned how key it is to tackle one layer at a time.
To tackle the layer that I’m ready to tackle, or most ready.
Real talk, I’m never raising my hand saying “let’s go I’m totally ready to tackle this.”
But I sure as hell am raising my hand saying “come at me I know I can do this.”

With each layer comes a deeper understanding of your being.
More acceptance.
More love.
More respect.
Each layer brings you an awareness that is deeper than you ever consciously experienced before.

Each layer represents a piece your story,
the story that makes you, well, you.
Each layer requires time and patience (and probably some crying).

While tackling each layer may feel like pushing up a boulder,
you can push it up.
You will push it up.

And when you do,
you’ll look back at it and be like:
“I did that and I can take on the next one too.”

June 1st 2008: a story of what it’s like to be living with an eating disorder

Hi all!

Happy Sunday 🙂 Post number five for Eating Disorder Awareness week. This was 4567% unplanned. I wrote this post very late last night while sitting on my floor (sit on your floor often kids, it’s very very grounding), drinking bedtime tea, and instead of reading like I have been doing before bed I decided to open a can of worms… metaphorically speaking of course.

This post induced some crying. When organizing yesterday I saw my binder from treatment and some old journals. Flipping through one of the journals, one page was folded. After reading, I don’t remember why it’s folded. Perhaps that will come. But I think the universe meant for me to read this, and that may or may not be a future post. As I say often when talking about recovery, it’s a process. Let’s say for example there are 20 phases of recovery (arbitrary number for example purposes only): where 0 is the initial starting point, 20 is it never happened, and 19.5 is pretty much as far as one gets (aka “recovered” or “in full remission”)… I’m at like 18. I’m still IN this process. For my process, phase 18+ is the deep inner child work.

I’m sharing this to shed light on what it is like to be living with an eating disorder. I say “with” because it literally is like living with another person, a very abusive person, but one that somehow still gets the final say.

I’ve shared a journal entry before, from 2013 during my time in treatment. It’s linked so read that if you wish, but I think this one, at least for me, is even more powerful because my 26 year old self can feel that sense of fear and pain that comes with the beginning.

Only parts of this entry will be shared below, some parts that get into specific behaviors are omitted for the sake of it not being extremely triggering for anyone reading that is struggling. It is from June 1st 2008. Close to 12 years ago. This is between my freshman and sophomore years of high school and about 4 years into my eating disorder.
Side note, low key pats on back/high five to 2008 Sarah and her writing abilities. Love, 12 year older self.

*Disclaimer: if you are actively struggling with, in recovery from, or feel at risk for developing an eating disorder PLEASE read this only with your own needs in mind. If you feel like this will be triggering please don’t read this post.*

“I don’t understand how this happened. When I hear the word “anorexic” it makes me cringe. But there is part of me that feels a sense of accomplishment. I did enough of what I was told and reached something.
I highly doubt I’ll ever 100% beat this. I want to but I can’t. I feel like even when I’m 50 years old things will still be like this because I’m too far gone. But I don’t want it to be like that then. I want to remember it, how bad this sucks, how much pain I’m in that nobody sees. I need to remember it so I don’t go back.

When I really look at myself all I see is a ghost. There isn’t a person here anymore. It’s all restricting, finding creative ways to get rid of food, losing my friends, losing jumprope, feeling guilty about every single thing.

I can’t focus. My brain is consumed by thinking about how I will act, eat, burn it off. On repeat. It never stops. At home, at school, at practice *I was in cross-country at the time*. I’m obsessed… with myself… with taking myself out… to feel like everything will be ok. Why? What went wrong that this happened.

I want to let this go. I don’t know who I am or what I even like. I’m all over the place. I feel like if I stay scattered people won’t be able to see me. It feels fucked up because I am alive in this world and am grateful for that yet I hate myself. It is like living inside a game, a game in my head. I look into the mirror and don’t like what I see but what I’m most scared of is me.

I hate that I let myself get as bad as I did last year. I’m my own worst enemy. I’m afraid to let this go and this causes me to be in a constant battle with my mind. I don’t know who I am anymore or what I am going to become.

I have good memories of before this all started. But I also feel like I was never enough. Nothing has ever been enough. Especially with my dad. We always fight and it makes me extremely uncomfortable but I don’t know how to stop it. I feel like I’m mad at him because he doesn’t care care of himself. He has Crohn’s and has gone through over a dozen surgeries and I know it’s becoming more of a problem even though he tries to hide it. I’ve told him how I feel and asked him to try to take care of himself. He says he will try but doesn’t and I feel like he is just giving up. I feel like whenever I do try to connect with him about my life he gets angry and is disappointed. And then I get angry. I feel lonely, like I don’t belong.

There’s so much that nobody knows, that I think will be a secret until much later in my life because I don’t want to add more negatives or be seen as weak. The past four years are built on secrets, lying, hiding, and destroying my life for a voice that isn’t even mine. I want to beat this, to feel like I have a family again, to feel comfortable. But I think I still need what I’ve been doing.”

After my own reading this:
26 year old self to my younger self –
Thank you for doing what you needed to feel safe, even if at this point it was terrifying for you, this was a protective mechanism. You weren’t able to make sense of it then. You were young when this all started. You did your best with the resources you had.

“Be the love you never received.
Be the acknowledgement you never got.
Be the listener you always needed.
Look at the younger versions of yourself within you and give your self what it is you always needed.
That is the first step of healing.”
– Vienna Pharon

Myth bustin’ + quote sharing: Eating Disorders & Recovery

Hey blog fam!

Post number FOUR for Eating Disorder Awareness week is all about busting some myths and sharing some quotes that either may be helpful for someone struggling or are just concepts worth thinking twice about. I’ll flip flop back and forth between myths and quotes to keep you on your toes things varied.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ― Anaïs Nin

Myth: Eating Disorders have a “look”
—> an individual can have a life threatening eating disorder regardless of weight/shape/size

“With food restriction comes life restriction, and with life restriction comes misery.” ― Amalie Lee

Myth: Eating Disorders are all about control
—> it’s possible for this to be the case for someone but this cannot be a blanket statement across the board. Each person develops an ED for a different reason or reasons.

“Complimenting someone on their weight loss doesn’t validate their effort – it validates that their effort earns them value or worth.” ― Sara Upson

Myth: Once someone is done treatment they are all better
—> Often times post-treatment is where the “real work” begins. Treatment provides a space to get someone to a medically stable place. The ED served a purpose, that purpose takes time to unravel and create new thought processes and brain pathways around. Learning how to understand and take care of oneself (especially in a society which allows us to disconnect on the reg’) is tough work. It takes time.

“Survival mode is supposed to be a phase that helps you save your life. It is not meant to be how you live.” ― Michael Rosenthal

Myth: [I] am/was not sick enough if: “I didn’t lost my period”, “I wasn’t in an inpatient treatment”, “I didn’t go to treatment”, “I never hit rock bottom”, etc.
—> If you are suffering, you are “sick enough”, and are fully deserving of love and support and care. ALWAYS.

“I’ve never met anyone with an eating disorder who hasn’t had one for a reason. I’ve also never met anyone with an eating disorder who chose to have one.” ― Rebecca Manley

Myth: It’s about the food
—> It becomes partially about the food, but it isn’t about the food.

“To recover is to create a life in which numbness is no longer necessary for survival.” ― Jean McCarthy

Myth: It’s not that big of a deal
—> Anorexia has the highest mortality rate out of all psychiatric illnesses (source). Long term (chronic) and short term (acute) health consequences (from any ED) are a big deal. Health consequences may include: osteopenia/osteoporosis, irregular heart rhythm, refeeding syndrome, heart failure, reduced blood pressure, ulcers, blood sugar, insomnia, seizures, amenorrhea, hair loss, kidney problems, anemia, and more.

“I’m fighting for recovery from an eating disorder in a culture that continually reinforces every behavior I’m trying to break free from. And it’s absolute shit.” ― Shira Rose

Lastly:
Shout out to all you badasses doing this work.
I see you.
You are worth it.
Keep coming home to yourself.
Keep doing the work.
We all grow at different rates.
♥ XO