Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kiddos

Wow, I really miss my kids. Lim Chheang Sear posted some photos of their recent senior trip to northern Cambodia. I wish I was there.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Doable

I wonder why I'm happy.

Is it something in the water?
Is it something I'm doing?
Have teachers just been particularly kind?
Has the harsh Nebraska winter lightened its oppressive thumb?

I seem to live in a state of metacognition. That is, as I learned last semester, "thinking about your thinking." I can't just be happy and enjoy it, I want to know why. In a way this leaves me in a constant state of anxiety in one form or another. When life deals lumps of coal and wet socks, I struggle. When the sun shines at a wonderful 73 degrees and people smile for no reason at all, I still struggle, because I hesitate to accept this joy and instead wonder: How long is this really going to last?

The other day I sat writing about this at the Mill. Coffeeshops provide safe places for me. For some reason I can think less and relax more, and as I did, I realized, I'm happy. Then about two minutes later: Oh no, what does this mean?

I imagine this means, that on some level, I believe that life always needs to be difficult. When life runs smoothly, I cautiously await the next blow. Life is supposed to be hard, tumultuous, and bumpy. Right?

Each time I exited my gate, stepping onto the buys streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I braced myself for the pain. I expected stares. I expected cat calls. I expected to be swiped by a passing motor bike. I expected to be humiliated. And when I wasn't, I expected they (them, those people) were just saving the ridicule for tomorrow. So I protected myself from all possible pain by anticipating the next blow. That way I wasn't surprised or crumbled by it. Back on this side of the globe, my defenses have been less necessary, yet I remember the expectation of difficulty. I wonder if it's necessary or habit.

Happiness is a hard thing for me to accept. I've spent a too-large chunk of my life labeling happy people as ignorant, and the relaxed as lazy. That's not fair. That's not even true. Today, a friend said, "Oh, you're so healthy and balanced." To which I replied, "Huh?" I may talk more about my health, but this girl has friends falling out of her socks at night. She's friendly and social, adaptable and carefree. I may be balanced in one area, but then, that's not really balance at all.

Eighty days from now I will have the most ripped abs and hardcore biceps you've ever seen. Well, that's what the makers of P90X tell me. Seeking a new exercise regimen, I decided to give this program a try. The premise for the work-out involves 90 days of plyometrics, yoga, kenpo martial arts, and upper and lower body strength training. Following phases of 4 week periods, a preferred diet plan comes along with it. For the most part, I'm avoiding the diet plan part, just because I don't need the added confusion. But oddly enough, I feel like P90X has made me slightly happier.

Too often I try to make-up my own definition of "health" and this program has given me a baseline of what other people are doing. Turns out, I've been enduring too much cardio and eating way too many fruits and vegetables. My wise friend Sierra recently helped me see I'm not eating balanced meals. I have a bad habit of eating so that I'm always a little bit hungry. I'll eat all fruit, then all vegetables, then all carbs, then all proteins. It's more a process of getting through the day then any sort of enjoyment of my food. So with her help and this program, I'm learning another way to look at health.

Last semester I woke up at 5am several days a week to attend a kick-butt work-out class that I really enjoyed. But this semester, I thought to myself: What if I didn't wake up that early? What if I got a good work-out at a more reasonable hour? I've been getting more sleep. This makes me happy.

Operating a B level does not come naturally to me. I actually have to remind myself to ease up a bit when approaching deadlines seem to threaten my sanity. I can say: "Making this deadline with A level performance won't actually matter that much in the grand scheme of my life. I'm going to make time for that yoga class."

Lastly, counseling may help contribute to my happiness. Lynn, my new counselor, points out things that someone in my direct friend or family circle could not. Like, "Wow, you exercise a lot. Have you ever thought about cutting back a bit?" Also, as I realized tonight, I can say things to her, that I couldn't say to someone else without offending them. Such as, "I'm afraid to lose control. I hate that I wear a size ___jeans" (Now the only reason I left out the size of my jeans is that I know, some people are reading this looking to validated by that number) .What was most meaningful for me in saying that to her was, I know a friend would instantly think, Well, what's she saying about me? But as a counselor, this is not a friendship. I don't have to be overly concerned with her feelings. This is more of a business deal really. It's less about emotions than it is about gaining tools for life. I'm paying her to help me sort our life.

I told Lynn, "I realized recently, I'm happy."

"Why is that?"

"For right now, life just seems doable."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dirt

This morning my boyfriend, Jeremy, sent me a text message:

"Good morning wonderful. As you start a new week, take time to be grateful for a weekend that was not painful."

Maybe having a companion, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife serves a few basic purposes. Relationships can become messy, but I like to think that Jeremy keeps me focused on where I'm going and where I've been.



Like when I called him about a month ago and said, "I'm sorry. I threw-up."

He didn't say, "Not this again! Why do you do this? You are too much to handle."

Instead he listened intently for over an hour as I tried to understand in my mind what took me to that scary place where turning back seems impossible and asking for help leaves me paralyzed.

I talked. We sat in long silences. But toward the end of our conversation he said, "You know, you haven't thrown up in six months. Six months! You've been doing so well."

He's right. I have been doing well. He was right this morning too. It was a good weekend.

Every time Friday rolls around, tension begins to form around my neck and shoulders, my stomach churns, and my mind starts racing. Oh no, another weekend. So soon? Do I have to? While any normal person might eagerly anticipate the weekend for a chance to sleep-in, relax, and pretend homework doesn't exist, I dread it.

Relaxation is a skill. If you have it, God bless you. If you don't, I feel ya.

The idea of wide open spaces, plenty of time, and lack of schedule makes me anxious. I start pondering all the things I might want to do, but alas, I seem to get stuck there in my head, with the reality of everything I'm not. I can't fully explain it. The best way I know how is to say: When I'm busy, I'm distracted. Whatever I'm avoiding bites hard on weekends.

What made this weekend different?

For some odd reason, when a friend in Campus Ministries asked if I wanted to sing for church this weekend, I said "yes." Even Jeremy said, "Can I ask, why?" I'm not completely sure, but I knew that because I could pick the song, I wouldn't feel uncomfortable singing about something I don't believe in.

I chose to sing a song I wrote about 9 months ago. The whole process of a typical church service at College View Church ends up being quite an unnecessary production, if you ask me. From arriving at 8:15 sound check, to running through the service including transitions (Are we in such a hurry that people really need to be moving around during prayer?), checking for mics, then performing for 2 different services. Oy!

The song is called, "Train." Here's the first service edition (though the second service one was better. No squeak).

"Train" video
(1/23/2010): The whole service was great (but mom, I'm 24 minutes in).

Honesty continues to save me. Admitting my humanity continues to be the most radical thing I've ever done. Telling Jeremy about it later, he said, "I wonder if some people look at you and think that you must be fake because you are too honest."

The prospect made me dizzy as I tried to consider my actions from every possible perspective and every possible angle, but I couldn't. I can't. What am I supposed to do then? "Ya know, I have yet to receive one negative comment as a result of my honesty. I can't worry about what people will think if I'm too honest." I've been overwhelmed the last 3 years at how I've actually been welcomed with all of my dirt, instead of being rejected for it.

Sitting up there, on that piano bench, before a couple thousand people, spilling my guts, does not come naturally to me. It's not easy. I don't enjoy every minute of it. But since Saturday I've received a dozen or so emails and Facebook messages from people in a similar place who said, "Me too. I'm struggling too." And that, is what makes it all worth it.

So this weekend, I'm grateful that I was able to share part of myself with the hope that it gave someone courage for their own journey.

I'm grateful that I have a story to tell.

I'm grateful for wonderful friends, who invited me over for lunch.

I'm grateful for Ben and Ashley, my kick-ass roommates. We are pretty dull compared to what most people do on a Saturday night, but sitting with popcorn and an episode of Mad Men was exactly what I needed.

I'm grateful for P90x which is whipping my butt, yet reminding me that I'm stronger than I think.

I'm grateful for the Mill. Oh, what a wonderful place for a chai latte on a windy day.

I'm grateful for my friend Michael and our talks.

I'm grateful for bookstores and where I always seem to end up, the cookbook section.

I'm grateful for yoga, deep breaths, and meditation.

I'm grateful for Jeremy, who reminds me to acknowledge the moments that are full of hope.

Friday, January 22, 2010

P.W.N.S.I.O.T.D.S

In the Barber home there is a kitchen.
In the kitchen there is a refrigerator.
On the refrigerator hangs a chart.
On the chart are star stickers.
On this starred-chart dwell the hopes and dreams of the Barber house inhabitants, for it reads, "People who need stars in order to do stuff" (or P.W.N.S.I.O.T.D.S. for short).



Priorities in my life seem to be chosen by the rewards I receive for doing them. School is an obvious priority because I have to complete college in order to get a job. When I complete my homework, sit in class, and color inside the lines, I receive scores, thus defining me by a letter of the alphabet, but nonetheless, I earn a grade.

I need money to survive. I work to earn money. When I teach fitness classes, write for the school newspaper, or work in the student center, money comes to my possession and I continue living. A wonderful reason to go to work!

Smiling at people makes them smile back at me. When I'm kind, they're usually kind. When I reach out and take the time for others, the feelings are often reciprocated. I hate to break relationships down to behaviors, but alas, I am friendly because it gets me something too: their kindness.

I drive the speed limit to avoid paying a fine.
I avoid killing people so I don't have to go to jail.
I obey most social guidelines so that I'm not ostracized too harshly.

School=grades
Work=money
Friendliness=friendliness
Laws=happiness

Rewards drive me forward. If I don't get rewarded for it, if my participation isn't crucial, why bother? This explains my flossing habits, my mental health, my spirituality, and my happiness.

"What if we had a chart where we earned stars for accomplishing our own goals?" Ashley suggested one day (she's smart like that). She offered the idea mostly for me, but I like to think she and Ben wanted in on it too.

Several months ago, I told her of my on-going struggle to take care of myself, those small things that no one gives you a grade for: getting enough sleep, eating well, etc. For the most part it seems no one cares if I'm in good physical or mental health, because much of my worth currently seems to revolve around making grades and making money.

"Yes, please!" I cheered. We began daydreaming about all the goals that would go on our list. I bought the poster board, she got the star stickers, the chart has been on our fridge ever since.

At the successful completion of our star chart, the three of us went on a date to Omaha (I know, I know, but what else is there to do in Nebraska? And besides with such wonderful people, how could you go wrong?) We spent the day together pursuing Half-Price Bookstore, dining at McFosters cafe, and wandering around Whole Foods market (the best place to shop for a plethora of all things yummy).

We just posted another star chart this semester. Good things are happening. Well, sort of. Ben drags his feet coming up with goals. Ashley and I are cruising through our second week of flossing our teeth and more, but Ben has some catching up to do.



Me: Ben, you need to come up with goals for our star chart. You're already a week behind. Look, Ashley and have our goals posted.

Ben: [snobbishly] I'm too busy to come up with goals.

Ashley: Well, we can give you a star on the chart for that if you'd like.

Ben: That would be like Heather getting a star for "thinking" about reading her Bible.

Me: Hey, don't attack me. I've never said that your pursuits weren't worthy of a star. You can earn a star for whatever you want.

Ben: I wasn't attacking you, I was using you to further my argument against Ashley.

Ashley: [dramatically] I feel attacked.

Me: I guess everyone must have their own definitions of "busy" because, apparently Ben's too "busy" drinking his coffee to think of goals.

Ashley: All right, let's compare your busys. [puts out her arms motioning us to hand them over]

Me: Huh? I'm not sure what you want me to show you.

Ben: Yeah, I wouldn't want to see her busy and I definitely don't want to show her mine!


"Accountability" doesn't have to be such a dirty word. In fact, it's one of my favorites (along with transparency, authenticity, balance, hope, and persnickity).
I'm not held accountable because I've been bad, in fact I'm doing really well.
I'm not asking for accountability because I'm incapable, I'm just comfortable asking for help.
I'm not preaching accountability beacause it's for everyone, I mean neither is water right?

Having safe people is good.

I started with a new counselor this week. She kind of looks like Bette Midler. I like her. After leaving her office, I felt lighter, more hopeful, and better able to tackle my problems.

I haven't seen a counselor regularly in 2 years. I didn't realize it had been so long. I wonder where I'd be had I been seeing one all along. I'm convinced that eventually, I could beat this eating disorder by myself. But without help, I'd predict independent recovery to take roughly 27 years. I don't have that kind of time.

I need help.
I need to say that out loud sometimes.
I need people in my life who can gently remind me to take care of myself.
I need colored stars to make the way a little bit brighter.

And it is.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Anne

Have you ever said, "I did exactly what I said I'd never do again"?

Have you ever said, "I can't believe this is who I am"?

Often times I try to remember what my life was like before I had an eating disorder. Maybe it'd be better to consult my sister for answers to these questions. Often she offers perspective that I need more than water. But when I try to imagine myself pre-anorexia, pre-life-altering, all-encompassing life changes, I can't even remember what was.

I'm going on four years since anorexia first made it's appearance in my life. Recently, I sought the words to say to a new friend, describing when I first became conscious of the eating disorder in my life. I remember the first signs of illness infecting my body as young as six, pretty much from the time I can recall thoughts, I remember learning what I should and should not be. Six year-olds are perceptive little buggers. Family friends complimented how pretty I was, what a heart-breaker I'd be, never my intelligence or skills beyond my appearance. I saw the sex icons on TV, I saw men's reactions to them. I found the Slim-Fast in our cupboard. I found the scale. I read the magazines. I lost 8 pounds in 3rd grade, the first time my brother told me I was fat in front of his friends.

I remember when the doctor labeled it "anorexia," until then I had just called it "life" as my behaviors changed from average to extreme. I'm not even sure what to call it now. It's too familiar. I can't imagine life without it.

This weekend I fell off the wagon.
I leaped when I should have leapt.
I misstepped.
I did some backsliding.
I went downhill.
I regressed.
I slipped . . . again.

This reminds me off Anne Lamott's words on progress, relating them more to "scootch, scootch"ing than substantial steps forward. We go back and forth, up and down. Progress comes but barely how we thought it would.

Alcoholics slip by drinking alcohol.
Bulimics slip by using food to solve their problems. It's unfair really. I can't go sober from food. So instead, I have to learn how to eat "responsibly".

I hate food sometimes. I hate that I have to eat. I have being around food. I hate that food grins at me from restaurant billboards, movies (Chocolat, Super Size Me, Food Inc., Julie and Julia), and entire TV stations devoted to it (i.e. Food network). Most holidays revolve around some sort of food traditions. People meet for lunch or coffee. Throwing a party? Have a table of food. School presentation? Lure the students in with pizza. Baseball game? Let's all go out for ice cream.

When I was anorexic, I used starvation and control to avoid feeling.
When I was bulimic, I used food to numb myself from certain emotions.
Now, somewhere in the middle, I'm stuck in this tug-of-war between what I want to be and what I've been.

Sierra, my wise friend, pointed out to me today that I'm not eating balanced meals. I'm a person of extremes and my eating habits are less than normal. I realize this. I get a strange high from always being slightly hungry. I try to get the eating process over with as quickly as possible so I don't have to think about. Fullness scares me. I dislike eating with people. I avoid any situations where eating a meal will take longer than 10 minutes.

I realize these fears to be irrational compared to someone who has never had an eating disorder. I realize that most anything I say can be taken as strange or odd, but they aren't odd to every one. If I only wrote to avoid sounding odd, I'd never write anything at all.

I started this blog in August of 2007 to write home about my time in Cambodia. Now I write to heal. I continue writing for the nearly 30 friendships I've made or strengthened as a result of this blog (yes, I made a list). Mostly, I keep writing for 13 of those people who bravely said, in one way or another, "I'm human too. Can we talk about it?"

In the last month, five girls have bravely contacted me sharing their own phenomenal stories with eating disorders.

That's priceless.

We gain strength. We share stories. We heal.

That's why I write about throwing up.
That's why I write about feeling less-than adequate.
That's why I write about my idiosyncrasies and my shortcomings.
I'm empowered to keep writing because I want to start conversations that I've spent too long avoiding.

This is essentially how I met my boyfriend, Jeremy. We started our relationship well aware of each others dirt, pretty refreshing. He's one of those 30 friendships I'm blessed with and continue to learn from.

On days like today, my body carries me from place to place. I'm not even sure how I got there. Too weak to fight, too weary to brace against the cold. Numb to situations in which I'm supposed to react, I'm supposed to respond. Instead I sit. Tired.

A Chinese proverb goes, "Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid of standing still."

I'm not standing still, but I'm definitely doing a lot of scootching. I like to think Anne Lamott would be proud.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Productivity

On Sunday, I had homework to do, as any college student does every Sunday. But my friend Tiffany was flying in from Argentina and asked me to pick her up at the airport. I was picking her up at noon, then I vowed I would go straight to the Mill coffee shop where I'd get down to business.

On my way to the airport, I called Jeremy, my mom, and my best friend, Rachael. Don't worry these calls were compliments of the bluetooth ear piece my dad insisted I wear after watching me drive and talk on the phone, one of those things I wish I didn't do, but don't seem to stop doing. So, the roads weren't icy and I used my ear piece to call some truly wonderful people.

I talked to Jeremy for awhile. We talked about dreams for the future and when we can be together this summer. When I called my mom I could hear the happinness in her voice. We talk about most everything. Our family is learning to communicate better every day and it's thrilling, yes thrilling, to watch. I like that. She asked, "How has ED (eating disorder) been this week?" Sometimes those brutally honest questions are the hardest ones to ask, but the ones we need to talk about most desperately. She knows this. So we talk.

Rachael sounded happy too. We've known each other since 7th grade. Last summer she went to Loma Linda to continue her pursuit of being a wonderful, gifted, brilliant human being. She's quite good at that. She moved to California, started medical school for physical therapy. She loves her classes and feels confident that this is exactly where she's supposed to be.

"That's awesome Rach," I told her. "Not a lot of people can say that about what they're doing. I'm happy for you. I'm not sure I feel that way about teaching."

"Well, I felt differently when I was at Union. But now that I'm getting into what I'll actually be doing, I love it!" She assured me. "Give it some time. Don't give up."

We build each other up well. We're learning how to be better friends the longer we know each other. We're learning to be better people.

I arrived at the airport and hugged my excited friend, Tiffany. Her love for her boyfriend, Diego, beckons her back and forth between Argentina and the U.S. She's a strong girl. The situation is not ideal, but she's hanging in there. We talked non-stop the entire drive back to Lincoln.

I took her to the dorm and went to start on homework at the Mill. I bumped into my friend, Michael. We work together for the school newspaper. Ha, I guess he's my boss, but it sure doesn't feel like it. We talk about what's really going on in our lives. It's terrifying yet wonderful to have trust that the other person won't go stomping on your heart. I feel this with Michael.

Later, Alicia showed up for some company. I accomplished about 1/10 of the homework I needed to in my time at the Mill. I went to a friend's house for a going away party for some friends. I chatted with good people and gained strength in who I am and what I'm doing.

I called Jeremy as I was crawling into bed.

He asked, "How was your day?"

Laying in the dark, recalling the events of the day, I told him, "It was good. I didn't get much done, but it was good."

I told him about what I did do that day, the people I spent time with, the conversations we had.

"Hmm," he said, "that sounds productive to me."

This boy is good for me.

I probably type: "define . . ." into Google more often that anything else. I like knowing the meaning of the words I'm saying. I'm kinda nerdy that way.


Productive:
-producing or capable of producing (especially abundantly)

-generative: having the ability to produce or originate

-yielding positive results

I think the last one is my favorite. Was I productive on Sunday? Yes, yes, I was. I yielded positive results.

I yielded warm, soul-nurturing results.
I yielded strengthened friendships.
I yielded the inside-out warming only attainable by drinking chai lattes.
I yielded confidence and assurance in myself.
I yielded better understanding of people I love.
I yielded greater respect for people I have a lot left to learn from.

I did not yield much homework.
I did not yield many pages read in a textbook.
I did not yield book reports or assignments.

But I yielded greater joy, something that always seems to get pushed to the bottom of my priority list, which seems to go something like this:
#1. ME
#2. school
#3. work
#4. worrying about things I cannot control
#5. perfection
#6. friends
#7. family
#8. spirituality
#9. joy

Yeah, joy ranks pretty low. I wish I was one of those people who relaxes easily, takes life in stride. Some people are so consistant and level, not easily thrown by circumstance. I envy them.

For fear of the New Year's resolution stigma, I have a few goals for this semester:

-must take a sabbath

-I need to learn to eat with people. Must get over fear of food + people

-I will eat food I actually enjoy

-will make time for people, not only when it's convenient

-will operate at B level performance, because frankly, it won't kill me to chill out


Essentially, I will continue learning that life-long lesson of balance and acceptance. Because yielding greater joy, peace, and balance counts as productivity too.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Clinging

I fell asleep in yoga class this morning. It wasn't the type of drifting off that happens when you've been awake for too long, running on caffeine, bright lights, and loud noises. No. I woke up at 7ish and went to my regular hot yoga class. Being it is Saturday I thought: Ya know, maybe I'll take a nap later. I just wasn't expecting it to be during yoga class.

Now it's not like I was in tree pose and just decided to doze. At the end of nearly every class you take, the teacher will hold their hands at heart-center and say, "Namaste," which means: the divine in me welcomes and blesses the divine in you.

Well, I felt quite welcome and blessed today. So during the last relaxation phase of class, I resumed Savasana and didn't wake up for half an hour later when the place was empty.

Five Willows is a good place. The gym I belong to is within walking distance and honestly, when I think about the day I'll leave Nebraska, that's one of the first things I know I'll miss. That might sound crazy, but I spend at least 1-2 hours there everyday. Other days I work the front desk. There are great women who work there, good classes, and every time I go, I feel like I am doing something good for myself.

Five Willows is an all-women's gym. This makes a huge difference. Jeremy jokingly says they are sexist. I say, "Men have been dominating planet earth for at least 2,000 years. We're just getting started." I can wear whatever I want. I don't have to worry about that obnoxious guy (and he's at EVERY gym) who looks you up and down, then sees a brilliant way to talk to you by saying, "Let me help you with that. You're form is a bit off." The problem is, my form is not a bit off and I feel much safer at Five Willows where I am not eye candy.

This is where I take yoga classes and this is also where I teach Zumba twice a week. I also teach Zumba at the YMCA. It took 3 weeks for people to start attending. I've been averaging about 6 per week. But last week, as I walked up the stairs to the cardio studio, a swarm of people were waiting outside the door. What are they doing here? They must be confused. They can't be here for Zumba. "Are you waiting for the Zumba class?" I asked.

"Yeah, have you ever done it before?" one of the women asked me.

The words dribbled terrified from my mouth. "Yeah . . I'm actually. . .teaching it."


By the time class started I had 21 standing before me. I told them my "rules" before we started.

#1. There's no wrong way to Zumba. So let your inner-child out and don't worry about doing it "right". If you're moving, you're doing it "right."

#2. If I screw up and forget a step, just shimmy around in circles until I remember what we're doing.

#3. Thou shalt not look at other people's arm pits, that way, none of us have to shave.

By the first song people were shaking and shimmying, squating and salsa-ing. The energy in that room increased, well, about 16-fold, as people let loose and stopped thinking about the laundry and that idiot at work. With all those wiggling hips and silly expressions, you can't help but smile. That is honestly some of the most fun I've had in a long time.

All kinds of people do Zumba. I had two high schoolers and one brought her mom. I had several college students and some working women. And then there was Steve.

He looked about how I imagine a Nebraska farmer would look dancing to latin music. He wore a white tank top, baby blue jogging shorts, and knee-high socks. His tummy moved a bit as he said after clas, "That was the most fun work-out I've ever had!"

"Well good," I replied. "You're so brave for even giving it a shot and I'm glad you did. You did great!" We chatted for awhile about how bored he was getting with his other work-outs.

Mischieviously he leaned in as he confided, "Ya know, sometimes when I'm home alone, I'll crank up the stereo and dance around the house like a mad man!" His eyebrows inched toward his forehead and his eyes twinkled. "Sometimes you just gotta let it all out, ya know?"

"I do know!" I assured him. He said he'd be back next week.

Now let's be honest. The date of my Zumba class was January 5th. So once many people's New Year's resolutions falter, I might be left with about half that much. I'm preparing for the fact that while 21 people might not ever show up to Zumba again, that same excitement I earned from helping other people have fun can stay. I think it will.

Zumba makes me a better person.

So does yoga
and Five Willows
and my sister
and my boyfriend
and blogging
and a cup of tea
and watching Oprah.

I'm really quite a simple soul. I'm not too hard to please. I don't require entertaining. I thrive from feeling engaged in my own life. Why is that often the hardest thing to do?



Why do the days just fly by? Not from necessarily having fun, but from existing. From getting through another day, another report, another stop at the gas station, another hour in front of the TV. That is not the life I want.

Life can't be a constant honeymoon or vacation either. I get that. The whole prospect of actually enjoying my life is quite new to me. But I'm clinging, yes, clinging, to the joys in my life and the joys I hope to continue.

Hold me to it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nudist

I threw up last Sunday.

I looked at myself in the mirror, whispered a few curses to the reject reflected in it and went about my business. I wasn't planning on it. I found myself in the bathroom before I realized how I got there. My family went to Blockbuster. I went to the toilet. I admitted this to my mom and sister when they got home. They held me while I cried and apologized.

I called my friend Sierra. She's wise. She told me to do the next right thing, to do something to remind my body that I still loved it. I took a bubble bath, staring at the flicker of candlelight on the shiny metal faucet for a few hours while I blew bubbles in the water. Exhausted. Defeated.

Throwing up rids me of that uncomfortable feeling of fullness. So, in a sick way, even though I hate the behavior, I love the effects. I feel better. I don't have to deal with the discomfort. I don't have to handle the emotion. I just quickly forget about it and pretend it never existed. Essentially I never learn to deal, I learn to avoid.

The next day, I picked Jeremy up from the airport and weeped bitter and shame-soured tears. How could I do this again? Doesn't he grow tired of this? He held my hands in his. We took deep breaths. We started over.

For the next few days, I felt fragile. Breakable. Tense. I eat quickly and without talking about it. I avoid food as much as possible. I watch my parents enjoy eating. Dad often finishes his meals with ice cream. I watch Jeremy eat when he's hungry and stop when he's full. Food is just food, nourishment. Food is not loaded with emotional and mental anxiety for them. It blows my mind how easy it seems to be on most of humankind.

Sometimes I try to imagine myself as a cute, innocent 4 year-old, like my little cousin Cosette. She's the polka dotted cutie pie dancing with Oriel (left) and Destaney (center).

I would break into about 1,000 pieces if I found out that ten years from now, little, adorable, wonderful Cosette couldn't see what I saw and resorted to an eating disorder. I would break. It would hurt.

It's so easy to see her as good and pure and worthy. It's nearly impossible to see myself that way. But I was 4 years-old once too. Look at that tummy! I am rocking those pink Jelly shoes.

I keep this picture in a frame that reads: "Be Kind." Some days it's more effective than others. Like last Sunday. Sierra says, "Remember that little 4 year-old child. She doesn't deserve this." I remembered this right before I threw up, but I did it anyway. That's what made it so painful. I visualized the innocent 4 year-old version of myself, but I did it anyway. Who does that to a child?

Similarly, if I visualize this little child inside of me, she may be screaming and crying and begging to self-destruct, but as the grown-up, I can say, "I know you might not understand this, but I'm doing this for both of us." I can choose to respect me and my inner-child.

I mentioned the 4 year-old analogy to my dietician. "I like that," she told me. We talked about how remembering ourselves as children, as good enough, may be key to treating ourselves kindly. But further, she took it in another direction.

"A client of mine told me about a dream she had recently and it reminds me of what you're talking about." She continued to tell me about a dream in which many strong, vibrant women formed a circle hand-in-hand. The women stood proud and confident as a screaming child throwing a terrible tantrum pounded her fists on the outside.

She said, "What if you don't have to be the adult? What if you don't have to deny the inner-child? What if you said, 'You can't come in with that attitude, but we'd love to have you join us when you're calmed down.'"

I know the two voices in my head:
adult vs. child
wise mind vs. foolish mind
good vs. evil

What if it doesn't have to be "vs."? What if it's more of a compromise, a cooperation? I want to learn to listen to the screaming child's needs, but work with that voice to heal.

Our family friend, Tim, has known me since I was in diapers. I grew up with his kids. A few weeks ago, some friends of ours said, "So Tim tells us your a nudist." I spewed a fountain of orange juice.

"Umm, excuse me?" I blurted out. I stomped over to him, "I'm a nudist? What the heck are you telling people?" I implored.

"Well, you write like a nudist," he replied quite casually. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and smiled.

Guilty.
Transparent.
Nude.

Hmmmm.

After hearing a sermon at church last week, about how Adam and Eve were only ashamed of their nakedness after sin, Jeremy and I talked about how more people might go naked if the decision was unanimous for everyone. It's harder to bear-all when everyone else is walking around in so many layers. When someone from the topless side of the beach comes over to the "normal" side, suddenly it's the nudist who gets the cold shoulder.

Maybe I was meant to be a nudist. A few family videos might only further prove this point. I don't love writing this. I don't like admitting this. I don't write for pity. I write for therapy. I'm out of other options. I know what a life of secrecy has gotten me: hurt and alone.

I need healing.

I am healing.

One naked confession at a time.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Marshmallow

I don't blog much over holidays. Too much to do. Too much to relax. Too much to catch-up on: sleep, sanity, peace, Oprah. Here's a little update.

I drive back to Nebraska tomorrow. Which means I can no longer sleep for 10 hours each night. I probably can't do whatever I want all the time either.

Jeremy is here. This makes me happy. We see each other a few days this month, then maybe in February. Long distance is hard. Short distance is good.

My parents are wonderful. Yesterday, we did Zumba together. We shook our tooshies to some Latin beats. Good bonding time.

Today is Saturday, or Sabbath. Whatever you want to call it. I'm going to church, but I don't feel like I have to. For some reason it's easier in Colorado where people know my name.

I have a wonderful family. They came over and we had brunch. I jumped on the snowy trampoline with my little curly top cousins. We de-thawed and played Pit.

I don't have celiacs disease, this is good.

I took my parents and Jeremy to hot yoga. They liked it.

I've been doing a lot of gluten-free/vegan cooking. I'm not half-bad. If you're lucky I'll make you some delightful treats I've been experimenting with.

I miss playing piano. Played for an hour or so last night. Sang out. Slept well.

For the first time ever, I kissed a boy at midnight on New Year's Eve (kissing my Dad on the cheek doesn't count people. Not any more. Muah ha ha!).

I bought a pair of skinny jeans. Please don't judge. Rachael, I know we said we never would, but you broke down first. Apparently, "everyone" in southern California is wearing them. For fear of looking like a marshmallow standing on toothpicks, I'm only going to wear them with boots. Deal.

Last night Jeremy and I made vegan, gluten-free saag paneer and dahl makhti. Yes, that's right.

See the movie "Invictus." Wow. Morgan Freeman was amazing. Now I want to learn more abuot Nelson Mandela.

My dogs are getting old. Trinket walks and bumpts into things. She fell into a window well last week. They can't hear either. They are like two little old, blind, deaf people holding hands through the trials of life. They've been around for 17 years, I suppose that's to be expected.

I need home.
Home is good.
But life goes on.

Onward.