In December 2013, I was gearing up to go to treatment in Florida after 8 years of living in the eating disorder cycle.
In my mind, I had this notion that rehab was gonna be this all-knowing descent into radical self realization.
More or less, I expected to come out of it being Basic B*tch Gandhi… or at the very least, Mother Teresa’s sinful pseudo-daughter. Meditating on the reg – zen-like in feeling, and – of course – still thin because in my jacked up head I thought the weight I felt was “extra” was only there because I binge ate about as much as I starved.
I’ve been a slacker on the blog this past month and some. Tis’ true.
I’d love to make 100 different excuses as to why (and will totally take this as an opp to shamelessly plug the fact that my partner and I are engaged as of a week ago!) but the truth is I have really just allowed myself to overextend commitments.
Whether it’s recovery meet n’ greet coffees or planning recovery speeches or my 9-5 job or traveling for my 9-5 (and recently for a recovery speech) I am at the point where I can no longer give a present (and meaningful) amount of time to any one email, Instagram direct message, or phone call.
Someone told me once that I needed to create boundaries in my advocacy work or I would get burned out and be of no help to anyone, least of all myself. I ignored this for another two years.
Of course I can, I told myself. I cherish ALL conversations and emails. (I do.)
But, it’s dawned on me since that that person had a point.
While I cherish all connection, I also cherish the privilege to show up and genuinely give my invested time, energy and presence.
I simply cannot do that in unstructured ways.
Over the last year, I have received daily emails that range in various needs: from assistance in finding local resources to treat eating disorders, to starting a personal recovery blog, to general recovery coaching, to parents asking about how to talk to their children.
Have any of you – out there blogging in the universe – ever noticed how bloody difficult it is to start a post?
This clearly has nothing to do with what I’m about to delve into, but I noticed that I spent like 30 minutes trying to come up with some “catchy” intro – only to land here – admitting my utter defeat to the intro paragraph.
I lothe introductions and pleasantries. So, Happy Sunday – all the jazz. Hope it’s been a good one. Etc. Etc.
Now, let’s proceed:
DISCLAIMER: I’m covering a topic today that I’ve never seen mentioned in the eating disorder world, and I’m interested to see how you respond. Bash it, critique it, relate to it, I’m open to all feedback (except, like, hateful 1,000-character rants. Then, I’ll just stop reading and repeat over and over to myself “people will love and hate you and none of it has anything to do with you.”)
Anyway, there’s this cultural mantra we live by: “80/20 dieting.” Goes something like – you eat “clean” (i.e. arbitrary set of often mishmashed food rules) through the week, and then you can go ape-shit on the weekend and eat whatever mounds of processed crap you feel like consuming.
*Currently listening to: Michael Franti & Spearhead – Hey Hey Hey*
I have this tendency to write with a specific “flavor of the week” song on repeat (I try headphones so my partner doesn’t feel like he’s being sound-waterboarded lolz.)
Thought I’d start noting them in the case that you have interest in listening to my beats – or relate to the music.
This song’s got me in one of those evening shines.
“You gotta live for the one that you love you know You gotta love for the life that you live you know”
Oh Michael Franti, you’re a babe. Going to see him June 1st at Red Rocks, which is the most magical music pavilion in all the USA land.
Anyway, I digress.
Last week, NEDA published a letter I wrote to kick off Eating Recovery Center’s #MyRecoveryLetter campaign for Eating Recovery Day. (More details on the campaign here…. also, how many times can I use the word ‘recovery’ in two sentences?)
It reminded me: sometimes, I think one of the only reasons I’ve remained so dedicated to writing is the accountability it forces me to maintain.
This morning, a lil mini-documentary about my eating disorder, and recovery aired on Barcroft TV, and what a unique moment in life.
There’s always something to note (like LOLZ on all the “looking into the distance” shots or HEY check out some of the laughable YouTube comments), but I’ll keep it simple.
A reminder today that:
Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. My story is common because I am a white, small, cisgender female who grew up engulfed by “diet and beauty” culture, and the insecurity and expectation that it breeds. That is not to be ignored, but there are millions out there who do not have the same background. Men, women, ethnicities, nationalities, class. I am not the sole representation of what an eating disorder looks like, and will never pretend that I could be or am.
You will never be “sick enough.” You deserve help, no matter your circumstances, religion, shame, or weight.
I had a strong support system when I went to treatment. Most don’t (or they do) and it still means that sometimes they go back to rehab a few times before they get their shit straight. I am still working on what that means in my own life.
Recovery is ever-changing, ever-evolving. That’s why it’s flexible.
It is okay to live with an eating disorder. Recovery is accepting its presence in your life, not ignoring it as “fixed.”
Thank you to my best friend Kim Dyer for being in this, and Kristina Doelling for watching it from her apt in Brooklyn. Thank you to my parents Joanna Byers Hall for putting themselves out there, and being vulnerable to millions as parents of someone with an eating disorder. Thank you to The Renfrew Center for inclusion in the documentary, and taking time out of their lives to participate. Thank you to the camera crew and the producer for not making this salacious. Thank you Bradley’s parents for raising a beautiful child. His life has been the inspiration for so much of my recovery. Shout out to my partner for helping me get through that day, and waking up at 6am.
I am feeling many things, as one does when they see their sniffling face on film. Mostly, I am grateful for the life I have led – in all its ups and downs and side doors and mirrors.