Where do I even begin?
It has been quite some time since I’ve had much to say–or much that I wanted to put out for the inter-webs to read, anyway. I’ve been fighting the “good fight,” albeit unsuccessfully, for several months. In my mind, I knew the decisions I was making were poor, leading me back to places I didn’t want to go, but I went anyway. Willingly.
In May I began my trip back down the eating disordered path. I became a vegetarian, something my husband is convinced re-opened the gates for the eating disorder. In my healthy moments, I don’t think he is incorrect. It began with a food “rule” so simple, so normative, nobody thought to question my motives. Even if they had, any answer about how animals are raised and processed in the U.S. would be enough to satisfy the most curious of people.
After vegetarianism came cutting out other foods and food additives. I didn’t even enjoy my daughter’s birthday cake this year because so much of it was on my “bad” list. Something that, to this day, reminds me how far down into the depths of relapse I had descended; yet, it didn’t stop there. A week after her birthday, one day after my husband left to join a ship for 75 days in the Philippines, I bought a bathroom scale and proceeded to weigh myself often…okay, almost daily…for well over two months. Finally, after stumbling so far down the eating disordered rabbit hole that I could no longer pull myself back out, I confessed much of my relapsed behaviors to my priest and gave myself over to rebuilding my support network. I was “trying to be my own savior,” as my priest so eloquently put it, because things were going from “bad to worse, not bad and staying bad.” His two takeaway quotations were enough to strike me right in the heart and mind. What had I been doing for all those months? I had completely lost sight of the body-positive, healthy, recovery-oriented woman I’d taken years to become; seemingly tossed her aside like trash and ran back to what was comfortable and familiar.
Living in Charleston I’d picked up the “habits” of being a Charlestonian–caring about appearance, clothing, body, and weight more than I had in Ohio. In Ohio, I am built like so many other women I know. Moms who don’t spend hours in the gym or subsist on sunshine and air alone. Living in Ohio I felt like it was okay if I didn’t have my “pre-baby body” back immediately afterward—or ever. Charleston is a whole different ballgame. Now, if you’ve never been to Charleston, SC let me tell you, it is full of beautiful people. In fact, it made #7 on Travel & Leisure’s list of “Most Attractive Cities” list in 2016. If you ever walk around downtown, Mt. Pleasant, or Sullivan’s Island, you’ll see what they mean; not only is the historic nature of the city beautiful, but the people mirror the city.
Lilly Pulitzer and Jack Rogers adorn the bodies of women like a badge of Southern Honor, as if they passed some sacred Southern Charm test that concludes with, “Bless her heart, she just doesn’t fit in.” The only thing dear, sweet Lilly makes in my size looks like a colorful potato sack my grandmother might have sewn, then proceeded to throw watercolor paint all over to try to make it look pretty. Yeah, shift dresses really aren’t my thing, but they sure are Charleston’s. Even Christian radio stations advertise different procedures you can have done at Lowcountry Plastic Surgery and how fantastic the results are, if you go. Everything down here becomes about comparison in a way country living in Ohio was not, and I allowed myself to fall into that trap…again.
I keep saying I’m working to dig “my”self out when, really, there is a team of awesome people who showed up with shovels. Friends who cook with me, eat with me, and even (annoyingly, but helpfully) ask me what I ate to make sure I’m staying on track. God bless my husband for going through this with me again, because even he admits this is not quite back to where we were in 2014, but it isn’t far from it either. At one point while I was putting up a toddler-esque fight with him over dinner a few weeks ago, he just sighed. I realized he was having the same argument with me that I have with our four-year-old daughter. I was acting like a four-year-old about my food.
News flash: I’m almost 31.
That was eye-opening.
The next day I tore the boat apart looking for my old treatment documents so I could find my meal plan. Sitting on the floor with a headlamp lighting my way, I found my journals from treatment and, neatly folded between the pages, my meal plan. Digging it out I started writing out plans to get back on track with exchanges and eat every 3-4 hours. Not a small undertaking, but I was–and am!–determined I am will regain the happy, go-lucky, healthy woman I was when we moved to Charleston 18 months ago. I miss her. I miss her personality, her positivity, her fearlessness. In those moments I realized I exchanged the exuberant, vibrant, and unique woman I had fought so hard to become in order to fade into Charlestonian society.
And for what?
To wear a brightly colored potato sack and a pair of extremely uncomfortable sandals? I don’t think so! Bring on the recycled sari skirts, TOMS flats, and Fair Indigo soft cotton shirts; I want to be the unique, beautiful (inside and out) woman God designed me to be! My faith has grown immensely while living here, even though my eating disorder tried to quell that progress, my desire to serve The Lord prevailed and He provided me with enough support to take down Satan’s “army” of evil thoughts.
The journey to the woman I was when we arrived here is going to be arduous one with undoubtable slips and struggles but, I know I will succeed because it isn’t just me fighting, by my army of supporters who want to help me succeed.
With Body Love,