Last November, I started this blog because I wanted an outlet to share my story. It seems like no one ever talks about eating disorders, yet so many people have them or know someone who does. There is so much shame and hiding and I got tired of hiding. I was also really proud of how far I’d come  in my recovery. When I started the blog, I was so close to Recovered I could almost touch it. Writing and sharing my story played a large role in getting me across the Recovered finish line.

Except Recovered isn’t a finish line. In fact, in so many ways my journey has just begun.  So, I’m changing things up a bit. Being Recovered is new and I am still finding my footing. There is so much self-discovery and boundary testing. It’s exciting, terrifying, exhilarating and disconcerting. My hope is that by doing more writing exercises from the book (8 Keys), I can work through this discomfort and continue evolving as a Recovered person. I also want to write about some of the other books I have been reading as well.

So, I am going to try to post more often which means that I won’t be able to put as much time and care into each post. This is really scary because almost everything I have put up on the blog, I have worked really, really, really hard on (that may seem surprising). I know nothing is perfect but I do try to make things as perfect as I can so as to protect myself from shame, blame and judgment (hello defense mechanisms!) I recognize protecting myself from shame, blame and judgment is an impossible endeavor, so I’m summoning my courage to post more and edit less.

The response I’ve gotten from the blog thus far has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive which helps me find the courage to dare greatly. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful community with such wonderful and supportive friends. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my story. And a huge hug to those who have reached out to me. You have had a huge impact on my life and recovery and I am forever grateful.

On to writing exercise #11…

Examining Some of My Personality Traits

Self-Centered. In learning to love myself, I have gotten to a place where I tend to put myself and my needs first* (*as a Mom it is impossible to put myself completely first. While I do spend a lot more time on myself than I use to, my “me time” is often interrupted by my boys and their “immediate” needs (which can include (but are not limited to): food, potty help, kissing an boo-boo, breaking up a fight, fixing a cape, reading a book, playing a game, playing pretend, pressing the “continue watching” button on Netflix – I feel your judgment Netflix). The pendulum has maybe swung a wee bit far towards me and I’m still working to figure out the balance.

On the positive side, I’ve discovered that if I focus on self-care and meeting my needs, I am much more available for my boys. Connection is one of my core values. Brené Brown defines connection as, “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Connection is so important to me. Without it I start to feel unhinged and anxious. When I take care of myself and pay attention to what I need I am much more able to be present and connect with others.

Perfectionist. I still struggle with this. All. The. Time. Especially with the blog. Sometimes it is really hard to write something and get it posted because I feel like it must be perfect. I have to summon a LOT of courage to hit that “publish” button. For years, I rarely wrote anything, even in a journal, because I knew whatever I wrote wouldn’t be perfect. I thought I was the opposite of a perfectionist because I never did anything. I thought I was just lazy. Until I got to the root of why I was afraid to do anything, because I knew I couldn’t make it perfect. Boom. The lazy perfectionist.

I mean why write something that isn’t perfect? Why write something that isn’t the next Hollywood blockbuster? Why do it? Because it matters to me. What I write may not mean anything to anyone else, but it means something to me. As much as I hope my writing resonates with others, I write for me. And that is enough.

To be fair, it is still a struggle. And I am really struggling right now. I have so much to say but I can’t seem to get it out because I don’t know how to say it perfectly. I don’t even know exactly what perfect means. Yes I do. Perfect means that everyone will understand exactly what I am saying and I will be immune to blame, shame and judgment. While I know that is unrealistic, I still can’t help it.

I suppose the positive part of being a perfectionist is that I care. I care how my words affect people. I want people to feel like they aren’t alone but I also don’t want to make anyone feel bad. I care. I really care. I hear people talking about not giving a f*@k, I’m not that person. I give a f*@k.

Impulsive– I am impulsive, mostly because if I don’t do something right then and there, I fear I’ll never do it. I’m not a big doer. I like to think I am, but I’m not. I mean, I’m usually in bed by 8:00 pm. On the weekend. On weeknights, I’ve been known to climb into bed by 7:30pm and doze off to Parks and Recreation. (Any “me toos” out there? … … Bueller? … Okay. Fine. Judge me.)

A lot of this stems from having an eating disorder for several decades. Making plans and then cancelling them because of my eating disorder was my default setting for most of my life.

I’ve been getting better about it. Over the past year, during my recovery, I started adding things to my schedule and doing more. I’ve had some super fun adventures with my Gold’s Fit friends and I made more commitments to meet up with friends on a regular basis.

Now, as a Recovered person, I continue to add more events to my calendar and it is freaking me out a little. It is new, it is scary. But I want to go and do and stay out and experience things. For whatever reason I’m always afraid of being tired or getting a cold. Is that weird? That might be weird. I have two small children so I usually end up with a cold anyway. This is something I am working on and am open to any and all advice on how to find the courage to be more of a doer.

Avoidant. Oh man. THIS. For whatever reason, lately I have been finding ways to avoid writing. I am also taking Brené Brown’s Living Brave Semester and I am having trouble sitting down and doing the work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing it. But it is scaring me. Last week we had to come up with my two core values. We all have a ton of values but she asked us to narrow those down to the two values, that without which, nothing else matters. That was hard. Really hard. I narrowed it down to connection (which I mentioned earlier) and creativity. Those are the two that seem to have opened my world in the last year and without which no other values matter. I had courage in there but realized that connection and creativity were the foundation for my courage and pretty much everything else I value.

Back to being avoidant, OMG, I “avoid” feelings and doing something by using social media, Netflix and food. I will spend 20 minutes scrolling through social media in search of something to catch my attention. I also use Netflix, I’ll get lost in show and spend hours upon hours “avoiding” my feelings. This doesn’t happen as much as it use to but it still happens.

Now I think that binging on tv and scrolling through social media are better than binging and purging on food but I fear, for me, they have a similar function. To distract, to avoid dealing with something else. After a Netflix binge I’m always a bit depressed and wee resentful of the show that made me sit on my ass and watch it for several hours (part of me blame’s the show for being so damn good.)

The last several days I have tried really hard to avoid writing. And yesterday I noticed that I was using food. As you can imagine, with my history, this was somewhat alarming. I wasn’t binging or even looking to binge. I just got uncomfortable with what I was writing (or not writing) so I got up to find a snack. Then I did it again fifteen minutes later. I wasn’t hungry. I knew I wasn’t hungry. At first I didn’t realize I was doing it. I thought I was actually hungry. Then I began to see the pattern. I was just trying to avoid the computer.

It confused me because the only person who ever directed me to food in times of stress was ED Ali, but she’s not here anymore. I don’t feel her, I don’t hear her, I don’t see her. I don’t have any of the other tell-tale eating disorder thoughts or behaviors. It is just this thought that if I have a snack it can buy me some time. It has nothing to do with hating myself, sabotaging myself, binging, purging or starving myself. I’m just looking to avoid doing something because it makes me uncomfortable.

I recognize that I may not be the best person to determine this, but it doesn’t feel inherently eating disordered. I suppose all thoughts about food are not necessarily eating disorder thoughts.  Granted, looking for a snack when I should be facing an uncomfortable feeling is not a great coping mechanism. Neither is binging on Netflix or scrolling through social media. Not super healthy, but also not necessarily eating disordered. Wow, being a person is hard.

That might be the biggest awakening I’ve had as a Recovered person, that life is just hard. No matter what I do or how I look at it, I will face moments that make me uncomfortable. It is what I do when I am uncomfortable that makes the difference. It is time to stop using Netflix, social media and food to avoid feelings. Or at the very least start using them less.

I’m uncomfortable. My life is changing. I’m feeling things. I’m doing more. I am showing up and letting myself be seen. It is scary. It is vulnerable. And sometimes I want to avoid the discomfort of vulnerability. Rather than avoid those feelings today I decided to workout, write and reach out to a friend. Oh, and it’s 8:20 pm on a Monday night and I’m not in bed yet. I dare say things are looking up…