Embrace Crazy, Love Tex-Mex and Hope On

I just got back from the food store with an arm full of bags of good food. I am always happy that I went to the food store after the fact, but there is a dialogue that my mind knows very well, that happens at some level of consciousness when it is time to go. Sometimes not even a dialogue, sometimes  it is just a subconscious avoidance of the store, until i realize that I have no food and it is because I have been avoiding the idea of going to the food store. Still at the age of…well that age I am… it still can be a struggle to go. Ok, struggle is too strong of a word. These days it is more of a series of thoughts that play through my head.  Although it isn’t even comparable to the difficulty it once was, I am not sure I will ever be able to just get in my car and walk through the doors of a food store and that dialogue not cross my mind, or not feel that slight tinge of discomfort from being around so much food. And however small and fleeting those thoughts or feeling may be, I think they will always be there in that one moment. Like an invisible scar.

I developed an eating disorder when I was a teen, that played with my mind on and off in different ways, throughout the next fifteen years of my life. But after a couple years of therapy that concentrated on just my eating disorder, I came to understand and accept that my E.D. was a way that my mind found some stability and control in my otherwise unpredictable world that I had lived in. It is probably difficult to understand how something like that can help…

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Over the years I have learned that somethings that the mind does are not meant to be understood. Sometimes how the mind creates order out of chaos during difficult times does not make sense, and it can drive you mad if you try to apply logic to it {sorry bad pun in reference to the Mad Hatter… but I love him dearly, so I couldn’t resist}

Eating disorders are considered an addiction. And if anyone else tells you differently don’t listen to them, and if you have struggled with one then you know. It becomes something in your life that your mind and body tells you you can not live without. That if you let go of it, your life will spin out of control. It becomes your sense of peace, calm, control.. your anchor and a rock in life. I suppose in this way it is like a drug addiction, at least that is what the counselors and therapists referenced it to. Having never taken drugs, I can not say that with certainty. But I can image the pull and longing that your body has for the drug. To feel that intense “need” for the high.. or in my case the intense “need” to feel the hunger and the emptiness (literally) inside. Like a craving a heroin addicts gets, I felt a need to feel empty. My eating disorder was my drug. Feeling empty was my high.

To enjoy the feeling that like most people did… that of feeling “full” and “satisfied” after having eaten, was completely alien to me. The only thing that would race through my head after I ate was “get it out!” I remember the panic that would onset after I sat down to eat a meal that most people would consider very small… and yet to me it felt as though it would be impossible to consume in a week, let alone in one sitting.

Although it is no longer a constant struggle in my life, when stressed or when I begin to feel a lack of control in my life, I can sometimes feel my eating disorder pop his head up ever so slightly, just enough to see if I have let my guard down so he can show up. But I never let it. Oh he may give it a good try every once in a while, but he doesn’t win anymore. I am now and have been for quite a while, despite some ups and downs, at a healthy weight and always try to eat healthy, while still indulging in the not-so-healthy delights that I love (i.e.chocolate cake). I do still have some odd habits that extend down from my E.D. One that I am laughing to myself about these past couple of weeks actually. I will sometimes go through a period of time when I am very focused on one certain food. I will eat it daily for a few weeks or months… along with my meals or other healthy foods of course. And it is usually one of the foods that was on my “safe food” list…  back in the day, that I would allow myself to eat. Even though strangely enough, sometimes they weren’t even low calorie foods like one would expect from someone struggling with anorexia. Like bean and cheese burritos from a certain food place I liked. Forget about eating a banana… those were forbidden- but a burrito, well hell that was definitely doable…. at least for a while it was. One day I would wake up and for some unknown reason my mind will have crossed that food off the “safe food” list. Ha. Again, the crazy mind does not make sense at times.

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I am happy to report, I now fully embrace my unquenchable love for all things Tex-Mex … {and chocolate}. I can proudly say that I can sit down and eat these things with complete love and in full enjoyment in the moment… without one single ounce of regret or thought otherwise. And I love that I can feel that. Food is absolutely a very enjoyable part of my life. It took a lot of work and tears, but I am proud of myself that I did not give up when the possible felt impossible. That I trusted in those who could see further down my road than I could at that time and those who told me that I was stronger than I thought I was… I guess some may call it having blind faith, because I did not see how what they were telling me could possibly be my future. It felt impossible and I did not believe one word they said. But I think finding a way to have that type of faith, may have been the only way I was able to get through it. I had to find a way to let myself trust that others may understand things that I didn’t… because they were able to see above the fog, while I was sitting in the midst of it.

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{Side Note:  I’m pretty sure this is what Dr. C would call hope. When you move forward in the dense fog, full of doubt- yep, unbelieving- yep… but trusting- yes. You trust, and that brings hope. And you need to allow a small space for hope in your brain. Because trust me.. without it you don’t go far.}

Then one day it started to clear. And I started to see what they could see. Trusting in someone else’s faith in myself is probably one of the hardest things I have had to do. And at times I still have to do… but for different reasons.

But I now enjoy food. Maybe that seems silly to some, that you would have to work so hard to say that you enjoy food. But that’s ok. I am honestly incredibly thankful that you don’t understand the struggle that some feel in order to be able to say that. I wouldn’t wish an E.D. on anyone. It plays unbelievable games with the mind and leaves invisible scars.1B2B34AA-A727-4E3C-AE9B-9101978CA8B5

Some scars fade away over time… time is a very giving friend on that account. But some, not even time can erase completely. I may always pause for just that undetectable instant as I walk through the threshold of the food store. Ever so slightly that no one around me even notices. But I notice. And the fact that I do still notice makes me happy. Because that means I remember the strength it took to get where I am today. I remember that despite the fact that never believed I would be at this point with my E.D… I never gave up. And all the tears and the f*!&# moments that I thought would never end are over… and that meant holding on was worth it. I am grateful to those who saw what I couldn’t see and kept pushing me through the fog.

Because now I can eat my tacos.. and love every single minute of it.

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9 thoughts on “Embrace Crazy, Love Tex-Mex and Hope On

  1. And in that believing of yourself lizzy, comes the one thing that tests us to the max…that ability to love ourselves because we have dared that journey, seen that you are so worth the struggle and pain, and knew that you were going to make it come hell or high water.
    Yes you can walk through the door now, and acknowledge it as you walk through…because you now ‘know’ the compassion and love within BECAUSE you dared it…and won <3
    I bow to a master my friend, of one of the most courageous journey's one can face, the path of self love <3

    1. i completely agree with you Mark, The ability to love ourselves is one of things that tests us the most. And no matter how much other people tell you how good you are, we ourselves are blind to it until we begin to let go of the negative things we tell and think about ourselves. And believing the negative things that maybe we have been told by others, or the negative we just believe about ourselves is easier to believe than the good. I have not yet knocked away all the pieces of my self-hate wall but it is coming down piece by piece. I can’t take all the credit for it… it has to do with a lot of self discovery, but it has also been because of the people in my life who continually help me feel like a good person, and helped me see that I am worth the struggle because they don’t give up on me. And honestly once I allowed myself to start believing them, I was able to begin changing the way I saw myself. And that has allowed me to begin to love who I am. And you are right, it is indeed quite the journey.

  2. I’ve got the EXACT opposite problem…that you used to have (or course, recovery is continuous…) and I eat too much. I recognized it as a problem a few years ago and began to realize that I eat out of emotion – especially anger and anxiety. So, I’m trying to approach my life a little differently now and trying to recognize when I’m suffering from actual hunger in the body or a hunger in my soul…the two are different, of course.

    And by the way, congratulations to you for enjoying your Tacos 😀

    1. I love what you said there.. the hunger of the body or the hunger in the soul. That is beautiful. And I really relate to that. Yes recovery is definitely continuous. And although it does get easier over time, I’m not sure it will ever be fully gone. But I’ll take where I am at now over where I was then in a heartbeat. And the thought of having to do that recovery all over again is enough bad memories to keep me on the up. Ha

      And thank you.. i do enjoy those tacos.. probably way more often than I should 🙂

  3. I can’t relate to the E.D., but I can relate to Tex-Mex part.. And I can relate to the addiction part. When I was 16 I was involved in a racing accident that damaged my lower back among a litany of other injuries. I healed relatively well, but by the time I was 20 or 21 my lower spinal injury was getting far worse (disc damage, etc.) This was almost 20 years ago now, and spinal surgery then versus now are two entirely different things. The best that could be offered at the time was fusion of the vertebrae that were pinching nerves which according to the various surgeons I saw, may or may not relieve the pain and there was at minimum, a 6 month recovery. Their suggestion was to put it off as long as possible and wait for technology and techniques to improve.

    To deal with the pain, at the time, opioids were prescribed often and at far, far heavier doses than now. I went from barely being able to walk to walking nearly pain-free with the doses they had me on. I also tolerated physical therapy much better because I didn’t really suffer that much during the process and the people I was working with there were making sure I didn’t injure myself worse. Friends and family would tell me later that at the time I always had a mild glazing over of my eyes, but was otherwise present and functioning well.

    At 22 my best friend took her own life. I was still on the heavy doses of medications for my back, but they weren’t needed nearly as much as in the couple of years prior. I received the call at work informing me of her death and my manager at the time told me to take as much time off as I needed with pay. I took a few days off, but during the whole thing I was just.. Numb. I don’t even know if that’s the best way to describe it.. I didn’t feel anything. I had grown up in an incredibly abusive home and had PTSD, but the only thing that really affected me at the time was the nightmares. Aside from that, flashbacks, triggers, etc.. Nothing. Intellectually my mind would snap to that place, but emotionally there was just a gaping void.

    At 24 I decided to get off from the meds. My liver was getting damaged and I had built up such a tolerance to all of them that I was just miserable, but the pain was manageable by that point. After about 18 days of hellish withdrawal (I’m so, so sorry old roommate for your putting up with me during that), about a week later, it was as if everything that had happened that I didn’t react to before hit me all at once. I was a frigging wreck for about the next 8 or so years.

    Anyway.. Addiction and control.. I’m under a lot of stress right now. About 2/3 of it is work related, and 1/3 of it is medical stuff going on right now with me. This was a 4 day weekend for me, but I ended up working about 42 hours on a work project that needed to get done. Right now all I want is to feel nothing, and by whatever means possible. I don’t feel in control of my situation, especially with the health related stuff, but I know I can at least feel nothing for awhile, and that I can control. So, it’s a choice as I sit here. Dip into the pain med reserve left over from my recent surgery and go to sleep? Somehow manage to choke down some hard liquor in spite of the pain in my stomach and esophagus? Vent in comment sections of someone else’s blog?

    I’ve already done the last part. Sorry about that. But the other options? I’ll pass. I’m going to eat a sandwich since I’ve not eaten since breakfast, pop an Ambien and hope for some sleep tonight. Tomorrow is a new day. That pull toward escape though, that’s pretty strong sometimes.

    Your post makes me want tacos. We don’t have taco ingredients, damnit. 🙂 As far as going to the grocery store; there are stores that deliver.. I’ve not stepped into a grocery store in months aside from something needed quickly.

  4. First, of those three options you purposed… please chose venting… every time. I don’t mind.

    Second, if I have learned one thing after trying to stay numb for years upon years is that, no matter what you do and no matter what you try, the feelings are always there waiting for you. You can’t out run them and you can’t hide from them. In fact they seem to grow exponentially when you try to ignore them. And sleeping can only keep them at bay for a while.. I know the feeling of wanting to just go to sleep instead of feeling and dealing with them. And sometimes I think a nice good sleep can help because when you are exhausted and tired everything seems more difficult. But make sure you wake up each day to do it again, because it is always just one day at a time. Some days will be harder then others, but you can always do one more day.

    Third, as far as the need for control… you are in control…you have some serious control actually. The control it takes to not dip into those pain meds takes an immense amount of control. To not give in to the alcohol, another show of incredible control.. you have an amazing amount of control in your life. In regards to control about your health.. yea I know, there is only so much control we can have there. But don’t lose sight of what control you do have there. There are always options and choices in everything. You always have the control of your decisions and how you respond to every bump in that crazy road we are all on. I think everyone who deals with an illness be it mental or physical, can relate to the feeling of not having control of your life.. because there is only so much we can do. Listen to our doctors, get second, third opinions, research and study on our own, adhere to medication schedules and doctor visits… All this we can do and yet still sometimes things go like shit and yet we still continue doing what we should do. And even then we aren’t guaranteed the outcome we want. That’s reality. I am not a believer of bullshit.. ha.. so I wont tell you otherwise. But even though we may not have complete control of what the outcome is, we do have control over every choice there is to make, and that in turn has a huge impact on the outcome. You always have control over the choice of whether you will be stubborn and not give up, no matter what this life throws at you… or if you don’t. And that my friend is the most important thing to have control over. And that shows the strength and control you have. And you have a great deal of both… It is very apparent.

    Side Note: i have heard about the delivery food stores. One near me just started the service actually… I have thought about using them and I probably will during the times when I am not feeling well enough to go out. And it was tempting at first to just use the delivery service to avoid that whole walking into the store thing… but I decided against it. Because that moment, when I walk into that store, I feel in control. I am showing myself each time that I am in control of those fucking demons that use to control me. Because that is the illusion they give you… they make you think you are in control when you give into them, when in reality it is they who have control over you. So don’t take those pills, don’t take that drink, and wake up each day even though some days you may not want to.. because in those moments, when you beat those demons, are the real moments when you are in control.

    well then… that was a lot of words but sometimes I have a lot to say. haha

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