Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How did I recover, you ask?...

I have had numerous people in numerous situations ask me in numerous ways a question that always bites my tongue:

"How did you do it?" 
"How did you recover?" 
"How did you stop?" 
"How did you get over it?"

Anytime I have been asked any of the above, I feel as though I cannot speak. I have always been bad with words, well, spoken words. So, I have been thinking "hmmm, if I can't SAY it, maybe I can WRITE it..."

Well, here goes...

I have prepped for this blog with an attributable list of 3:

1. A miraculously divine work I could have never dreamed up - Thanks be to God.
[Psalm 119:105; 1 Peter 3:3-4; 1 Corinthians 9:22; Jeremiah 1:5, 17; Joshua 1:9]
2. REBT - Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy
3. The most impactful question I have ever been asked: "How would your life truly be different right now at this very moment if your body looked like that, that perfection...?"

1. God. Divinity and purpose... A miraculously divine work I could have never dreamed up.

I have mentioned number 1. in a number of blogs. I recently re-read a blog from July in which I spoke about my revolutionary experience of giving it up, my battle and my restless perfection seeking behavior, to God.
[mentioned July blog: Did I really just say that...?]

Holy chills, no pun intended. I believe the chills I got from re-reading that blog verify its truth and its divine power. I was always envious and vastly intrigued by those who make that statement: "I gave it to God."
How freeing and relieving does that sound? Well, let me tell you, it is way more freeing and relieving than it ever could sound. It is revolutionary. Since that day, I have evolved immensely for I am no longer her...

Not only am I no longer her but, I have truly started being me. I truly love myself (well, most of the time). And, I truly forgive myself. I no longer bruise myself with harsh thought and harsh emotion. I recognize harsh  thoughts and harsh emotions I have every now and then (we are all human, ya know) but then, I let them go. Like inhaling and exhaling, I let them in, I see them, I hear them and then, exhale.

Not only am I no longer her but, I have embraced my divine path as I have openly and willingly allowed myself to recognize and accept it. I am courageous and no longer nervous. I am real and no longer living a facade. I am confident and no longer afraid. And, I am proud and no longer ashamed. I am proud of myself and I am proud to have known her, for she has provided me with a priceless and divine gift -- knowledge, experience, humility, recovery. You can pay for school but you CANNOT buy real, raw, first-hand experience.

Accepting that what I have gone through is priceless and nothing short of divine has freed me.

2. REBT - Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

I have come to know the field of counseling through the University of South Florida's master's program in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling. I have been introduced to many a techniques and models of therapy. One that has truly changed my life as I knew it is REBT, short for Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy. In short, the model's goal is to redirect a person's irrational, catastrophic thinking  about an activating event in order to produce a different emotional response.
A: Activating Event - So, something that happens...
B. Belief -  You form a subjective thought and belief about the situation
C. Consequence - Your emotional reaction
D. Dispute - change your thoughts from irrational to rational (hence RATIONAL emotive behavioral therapy)
A. You eat too many oreos.
B. You think of yourself and downright label yourself as a failure. You label the eating as an end-of-the-world catastrophe
C. You feel guilty, anxious and ashamed
--> The point is that A. does not cause C., B. causes C. Your subjective belief of the situation or event causes your emotional reaction.
--> The goal of REBT is the D. in the ABCD
D. Dispute - change your beliefs in order to change your subsequent emotional response
So, D. - Dispute - Why must it be a catastrophe? Is it really the end of the world? Will the world really stop spinning because you ate too many oreos? Maybe a better belief would be that "hey, it would have been better if I didn't eat that many oreos...next time."

This reminds me of two other blogs that will knock this dispute ball out of the park:

I Shouldn't/Musn't/Cannot vs. It Would Be Better if I Didn't.....


Pressure busts pipes...no pressure, no busted pipe.

3. The most impactful question I have ever been asked: "How would your life truly be different right now, at this very moment, if your body looked like that, like the perfect that you imagine...tell me, what would be different?"

Stumped. I was stumped by my short-lived therapist.
Dr. Langer at USF's Counseling center stumped me as she asked an entirely open-ended question. No, I did not "dump" her because she stumped me. I stopped attending therapy after 3 sessions this summer at USF's counseling center because she helped "cure" me.
This question absolutely stumped me in the best possible way. I had no answer then and I have no answer now. The world would and has remained just as it is regardless of my waist size or my legs'/behind's presence of cellulite. Nothing would truly change. Nothing.

Insight and inspiration. That is what I hope to provide to anyone of you out there reading this blog.

Counseling is all about "ah-hah moments". Those moments that you have that masterful and meaningful, eye-opening, brain-shifting epiphany... those moments when your beliefs and your perspectives suddenly shift.

Ah-hah...one for each, 1.-3.

1. Ah-hah - This was all a divinely planned, divinely designed miracle. I was meant to suffer. I was meant to suffer so I could fulfill my ultimate and divine purpose in life. To speak (or write) and to do it LOUD and to do it REAL.
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 1 Corinthians 9:22

2. Ah-hah - it is NOT the end of the world. Ever. And, this shift in belief and in perspective is a choice. It is a choice I can decide to make on every single new today.

3. Ah-hah - Nothing would truly change. Nothing would change if my waist size changed. Nothing would change if my cellulite disappeared. Nothing would change if I was body "perfect". NOTHING.

This is my testimony and my story. My story of recovery 3 indisputable, undeniably divine AH-HAH moments later...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Real look Inside a Bulimic mind...

Sitting next to my bed is a mini-journal. This mini-journal is turned to a particular entry from the latter part of 2009. Every night, I see it. And that is precisely why it's there. It is there so I can be silently reminded of what used to be. I have left this particular journal entry next to my bed for a few reasons:

1. it keeps me in check. I never have to actually read the entry because I know exactly what it says. Just a mere glancing at the lines of ink on this mini paper is enough to remind me of the horrors that used to be me... of the horrors that used to be her. 

2. it is my motivation. This '09 entry motivates me in more ways than one. As mentioned in reason 1, it motivates me to keep a check mark over that recovery box. It also motivates me to do anything I can so that less people in the world end up here.

3. it brings thankful tears and a calm smile, every single time; pride. The entry, as dark and raw as it is, serves up humble, thankful pride. I once was the writer of this journal entry. I once was a very different, shattered and shamed soul. I once was her but, I am no longer. Pride. Utterly humble, deeply-rooted pride.

Recovery is possible.

People have asked me what it is like to be a bulimic. I believe if you have not lived it and experienced it, it's near impossible to understand. Even having gone through the below, I don't completely understand; I don't know that I ever truly will. But, here it is. The below is real, I assure you. It was written through tears of the devastation that surrounded my disordered eating lifestyle. Sadly, it is the same devastation that surrounds many other's...

Below is a real look inside the bulimic mind. I will leave you with the entry as the end of your reading. This is a real look, a real experience, a real journal entry by a real former bulimic. Make sure you grab that grain of salt 'cause you may need it to swallow the below:

I have only one provider of complete control. When I lose control in life and with food, I know I can get it back in just one act. This act is far from attractive and no one would know I do it unless I told them. No one would know that I force myself into feeling in control when control is spiraling down all around me. It is the only way I can control the guilt and rid myself of the consequences that my loss of control will incur. 
My mind obsesses at the thought of expelling my guilt until I give in to it. Until I do it, I will be in an anxious whorl of compulsive thought. Nothing else can rid my mind of these compulsive ideas. Nothing else can rid myself of the compulsive binge I just trance-like endured.
I have to do it. 
I don't want to do it. I'll be mad at myself if I do it. I'll be so disappointed if I do it. I swore I wouldn't do it anymore. I swore I would never do it again. 
But, I have to! 
"Just do it." Thats what the devil on my left shoulder says. 
"It'll be okay, you don't have to do it. It's bad for you. It's not the only way. Don't do it." Thats what the angel on my right shoulder says. 
"Just fucking do it." Thats what the devil on my left shoulder aggressively and obsessively repeats.
Almost always, the devil wins. And, I do it. I just do it. I throw up. I throw up until I think I've rid myself of enough to feel relief. I throw up enough to lessen my guilt and enough to get rid of at least a part of what I have done.
When I feel like I've lessened the impact and consequence of my binge, I feel incomparable control. I feel relief. Finally, I am at ease. I take a deep breath. And then, reality sets in.
Guilt, shame, disgust... I did it again. I am such a coward. I am such an idiot. I am such a failure. I will never ever do that again... (yeah, until the next time...)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Her history of "Cheat" days...

I caught myself (herself). She almost made an appearance for the 2nd time this week...

She has a history of declaring "Cheat" days. I have often times used food almost like a reward. If I was "good" for a week or two, she earned it: "Cheat day!" Some of my friends reading this may have heard me say that before. I am sure they didn't know that it was an aspect of my disordered eating lifestyle...

Sundays usually ended up as my cheat days. I had all week to work and work out and then Thurs-Sat were days of binge drinking and dancing the night away. I had to look good for that, duh. She had to feel like she looked good enough, anyway. Looking good enough for who, though?...couldn't tell ya... for her, I suppose. So, all week we, her and I, would work together to get to the gym and resist-n-avoid any food temptations. Then, after a week of "good"ness was over, Cheat time! And, cheat we sure did.

This was in the latter years of my disordered eating. I was not a full-time bulimic. I was not anorexic. I was just plain out disordered. Nothing about the way I ate was consistent or "normal". It was thoroughly irrationally thought out, planned out and obsessed over. I knew myself. I had to have a day of "rest". A day I could let go and stop restricting. So, unnaturally, I did the obvious, right? I set aside a special day to binge. This was my "cheat" day.

Well, this week at work, she pierced her irrational head into my life...she tried to, anyway. One of the supervisors that works at my location with MHC, Inc. is getting married next week in New Orleans. So, on Wednesday this past week, we had a potluck style luncheon in her bride-to-be honor. There was quite an array of food; there was quite an array of desserts. Cookies, brownies, cake and pie galore. On a "cheat" day, this lunch room would have been heaven on Earth for her. But, for me, not so much... torture is more like it.

Now-a-days, I have more rationality and forgiveness in my thought processes, thank God. I imagined what it would have been like to be in that room in her shoes. Instead of giving into her ridiculousness (first one-word I thought of to describe her), I was able to just eat. What a concept?! I just ate. I ate what looked good--a little turkey sausage baked ziti (delicious, Sean), some home-made Dominican style rice, some salad (guess who brought salad--ME. haha, shocker), some creamy dips-n-chips, rotisserie chicken... it was what it was--Food. Good, yummy food. I ate until I was full. Then, dessert. I wanted it all. She did, too. So, I had half of it all--rational! :) I had half a slice of divine peanut butter pie, a Publix sugar cookie (one of my all-time favorites), and half of a decadent brownie.

I wanted it all so, I had it all. Ya know why? Because I KNEW that if I didn't, if I had restricted and denied myself, herself would have came back for more anyhow. So, why not just give in to ME now instead of giving in to her later? If I would have left it up to her, I am certain she would have done a lot more damage than I did or could have done. She would have declared it: "Cheat" day! And, cheat she surely would have done.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Serenity Prayer...part two (dedicated to the 12-step crew)

The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

From my first school-assigned attendance to OA, NA or the like meeting, hearing this familiar prayer moved mountains for me.

So did, especially, the NA mantra, as I would call it, "Just for Today."

I was reading the serenity prayer last night before bed. The familiar part is not what spoke to me so loudly this time. It was the second part; the part which is usually left out and not recited. This second part is SO good. It goes like this:

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

"Living one day at a time..."
Just for Today.

"Enjoying one moment at a time..."
Each day, and just for that day of today, enjoying every moment for what it is: a moment that can only exist right now, in the here-and-now, Just for Today. Not for yesterday or last week, not for tomorrow or next month, Just for Today.

"Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace..."
Acceptance. Accepting your suffering, your weakness and, more importantly, accepting your strengths! Give yourself credit for your strengths in every one of your Today's. Don't run from your past or your weaknesses. Don't make excuses for them. Don't catastrophize them. Get to know them, accept them, recognize them and allow yourself to let go of them, Just for Today. Acceptance...of your whole self. This is a key piece of finding peace and recovery.

"Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it..."
Accept the world; it is as He would have it (whoever "He", someone/something greater than yourself, is to you). It should be this way because it is this way. The world is not as you may fantasize or write silent fairy tales about. It is not as you may wish it is or what you sulk about because of what it isn't. Take it, this life, as it is, daily and Just for Today.

"That I may be reasonably happy in this life..."
Key word: reasonably.
Not supremely. Supremely comes next...

"and supremely (happy) with Him forever in the next. Amen"

Just for Today.

Just because I am almost 7 months "clean" from ED does not mean that tomorrow, when that Today comes, that it doesn't deserve my undivided attention.

Every day is a new day. Every day is a new Just for Today.

I choose, Just for Today, on every single new Today, to stay clean.

Keep coming back.