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As we wrap up the first month of 2018,  the cliche remains: “Where did the time go?”

How are we so shocked when we look down at the screens of our phones and realize we’re 31 days into a new year.

Where were we the last 31 days? Did we go into a mindless Instagram vortex and disappear?

OR… do I just tell myself  that because right now, in this moment, I’m feeling that way.

ANYWAY. I detract.

I know it’s “new year, new you” and all that crap, and many of us are off starving ourselves or worshipping new gym memberships or trying to stick to the belief that are bodies “are fine as is” even when we want to act out… regardless where you’re at, there’s an aspect of these “life changes” that doesn’t get acknowledged or valued enough. And that’s the loss.

The loss of the life you were leading. I know we’re supposed to be all like “YAY recovery life. I don’t want that old life back.”

But, as Mark Manson says, you can’t change or grow without losing a part of yourself. And that loss, even when it happens for a good reason, it hurts. It shapes.

And that’s not even getting into losing something or someone for a bad reason.

It’s terrifying.

Out of the hundreds of emails I read each month seeking recovery or ‘what next’ advice, I’d say nearly 50% relate to loss in some way. Loss of an eating disorder. Loss of a relationship. Loss of family. Loss of career. Loss of friendships. Loss of identity. “Who the hell am I without X?”

I’ve been there. Sometimes, I’m still there.

I went on a run last weekend in Boulder.

Boulder happens to be where both my exes (that I’ve documented periodically on this blog) reside.

While both relationships are over and done. The envelope sealed – the future plans discarded– I am always bemused by how easily I can still feel loss when back in their territories.

Ran along the path, through the creek.

Passed a rock overlooking the water that I sat with one of them. We had empanadas that afternoon – 9 months in. We talked about the flood of 2013.

I ran through the city center – past the Illegal Petes and that back alley I made out with one of them in when we were new and tipsy and had just played arcade games until midnight.

I stopped off at a coffee shop when I was done – waited in line for a vanilla latte.

“Linds?”

I turn.

One of them stands there, half smirking.

“Ah,” I think I said. I had a feeling you’d be here.

What an odd thing to admit, in retrospect.

He cocked his head. Stalking me?

More or less.

We caught eyes.

Why are you here? he asked.

Meeting, I lied.

Of course I lied. There’s someone else. He’s in Boulder too. My ex probably assumes that, knowing my history well.

He didn’t push.

We had coffee for 20 minutes. He asked me to read over a new blog post.

Some pains are better left unstated until they are direct.

If this becomes more serious, this new relationship, I will tell the truth the next time.

But in that moment, I don’t know that I was ready to establish the new chapter.

I left the coffee shop. And in that fundamental ex moment, I turned in the frame of the door.

He was looking – his head cocked to the side again.

Smiling in only a way I knew what he was thinking.

These are my ass pants, I announced, pointing towards it.

He nodded.

Don’t lose weight.

Images of us in that same coffee shop, months prior, locking ourselves in a private bathroom.

I grinned back.

He waved, softly.

I felt that faint sort of sadness; grieving, then, over a tiny loss of myself— the two people we were that day were now gone. And they would never come back.

Were we really not meant to be together?

Were things so ‘bad’?

I covered this recently in my last blog post, but a big part of recovery is identifying what ‘needs’ to be lost, implementing a plan, and then somehow getting over the losses and establishing a new identity. That means filling your life with new meaningful relationships or hobbies or adventures or beliefs where the old ones used to be.

I struggle with this. A lot of people struggle with this. As a result, we spend a lot of time feeling lost – or being pulled back to the known.

Pulled back to the known.

Relationships. Anorexia. Alcohol.

There’s a negative and a positive to all of those things – hence, why we have such a hard time staying away from them.

What can I say? We’re human.

When something is lost – no matter if it’s the anorexia, drugs, alcohol, person, job, city – it’s gone. And it will never be the same, no matter what you do. And this, in a real psychological sense, destroys a small piece of you. A piece that must eventually be rebuilt.

I always liken my eating disorder to my relationships. Probably because anorexia is a relationship.

Like my ex, anorexia wasn’t all bad. We had good times. Or at least what to me felt like good times.

No one would be anorexic or voluntarily be in a relationship if there wasn’t something positive (or at least, something that feels positive) coming from it.

And it’s that that pulls us back. We don’t want to accept the loss of that positive feeling – whatever it may be – because then we partially lose something about us – and have to rebuild it – or ‘fill’ it –

And that’s actually fucking terrifying.

What if we never find that ‘thing’ or ‘person’ to fill it? Or what if we never rebuild?

What if we will always live in the anorexia or bulimia days like a football coach who can’t get over the 1976 state championship?

What if we will never feel ”as good as” our anorexia days?

What if we just feel empty?

Sounds exhausting, even to me. And I’m 4 years into this evolving methodology.

This feeling of emptiness—or more accurately, this lack of meaning—is usually known as depression.

To quote Mark Manson again:  Most people believe that depression is a deep sadness. This is mistaken. While depression and sadness often occur together, they are not the same thing. Sadness occurs when something feels bad. Depression occurs when something feels meaningless. When something feels bad, at least it has meaning. In depression, everything becomes a big blank void. And the deeper the depression, the deeper the lack of meaning, the deeper the pointlessness of any action, to the point where a person will struggle to get up in the morning, to shower, to speak to other people, to eat food, etc.

The healthy response to loss is to slowly but surely construct new hobbies, relationships, careers, exercises and perspective evolutions that bring new meaning into our lives. We come to refer to this as “a new me,” and this is, in a literal sense, true. You are constructing a “new you” by adopting new habits to replace the old.

So, here I am. All blah blah blah at you. Babbles McGee, people call me.

But, four years into this recovery business – what can I really tell you that I’ve found to be true? How do I actually go on with said above facts staring me in the face.

Lemme take a shot at this.

Hard truth: our minds have a tendency to only remember the best qualities of our past. This most definitely includes our eating disorders AND relationships. In fact, I’d say those two things top my list of “reframed memories.” We delete the tedious and monotonous and just remember the highlight reel.

Our memories aren’t accurate.

Our brain always thinks that there’s these ‘things’ that will make us happy. We want our instant fixes, which comes in the form of people validation, a meal skipped, or ‘weight lost.’ And in the same impulsive way, we ignore the ‘glazed’ over truth.

But in both cases, our mind is simply reaching for something to remove it from the present.

Relationships don’t end because two people did something wrong to each other. Relationships end because of two people are something wrong for each other.

Most of the time, we don’t leave bulimia or anorexia because it’s killing us (although the media likes to portray it that way.)

We leave it because it is something wrong for us – stripping us from being present or alive to every moment. Allowing a blanket to hide behind so that we never truly live or feel anything.

Starting recovery is full of grief.

You can ra-ra cheerleader dance all over it, but it’s still a loss of something.

It’s a loss of some part of you.

And loss is bloody uncomfortable at best.

People like to see growth as this euphoric, joyous thing. But it’s not. Real change brings a mixture of emotions with it— lingering sadness mixed (eventually) with a tangible presence.

And yes, an ability to feel content and joy. And grief again. And sorrow. And spontaneous happiness.

And new people into your life because you build a life that allows more people to find you.

I saw my ex again last night, dropping off a shirt to my best friend (his roommate, as it goes).

I was late to a date.

I’m buying land in Wyoming, my ex announced. I’m going to build a tire-bail house and live in it off the grid.

I stared at him – fights flooding into mind. We hardly agreed on anything, in retrospect, outside of our attraction.

It all seemed clear again. But, I could still love him for him.

The mushrooms are rooted and growing too, he exclaimed, showing me his mushroom garden in the den.

I smiled.

We hugged.

So am I, I thought – turning away.

I am growing, too.

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As we wrap up the first month of 2018,  the cliche remains: “Where did the time go?”

How are we so shocked when we look down at the screens of our phones and realize we’re 31 days into a new year.

Where were we the last 31 days? Did we go into a mindless Instagram vortex and disappear?

OR… do I just tell myself  that because right now, in this moment, I’m feeling that way.

ANYWAY. I detract.

I know it’s “new year, new you” and all that crap, and many of us are off starving ourselves or worshipping new gym memberships or trying to stick to the belief that are bodies “are fine as is” even when we want to act out… regardless where you’re at, there’s an aspect of these “life changes” that doesn’t get acknowledged or valued enough. And that’s the loss.

The loss of the life you were leading. I know we’re supposed to be all like “YAY recovery life. I don’t want that old life back.”

But, as Mark Manson says, you can’t change or grow without losing a part of yourself. And that loss, even when it happens for a good reason, it hurts. It shapes.

And that’s not even getting into losing something or someone for a bad reason.

It’s terrifying.

Out of the hundreds of emails I read each month seeking recovery or ‘what next’ advice, I’d say nearly 50% relate to loss in some way. Loss of an eating disorder. Loss of a relationship. Loss of family. Loss of career. Loss of friendships. Loss of identity. “Who the hell am I without X?”

I’ve been there. Sometimes, I’m still there.

I went on a run last weekend in Boulder.

Boulder happens to be where both my exes (that I’ve documented periodically on this blog) reside.

While both relationships are over and done. The envelope sealed – the future plans discarded– I am always bemused by how easily I can still feel loss when back in their territories.

Ran along the path, through the creek.

Passed a rock overlooking the water that I sat with one of them. We had empanadas that afternoon – 9 months in. We talked about the flood of 2013.

I ran through the city center – past the Illegal Petes and that back alley I made out with one of them in when we were new and tipsy and had just played arcade games until midnight.

I stopped off at a coffee shop when I was done – waited in line for a vanilla latte.

“Linds?”

I turn.

One of them stands there, half smirking.

“Ah,” I think I said. I had a feeling you’d be here.

What an odd thing to admit, in retrospect.

He cocked his head. Stalking me?

More or less.

We caught eyes.

Why are you here? he asked.

Meeting, I lied.

Of course I lied. There’s someone else. He’s in Boulder too. My ex probably assumes that, knowing my history well.

He didn’t push.

We had coffee for 20 minutes. He asked me to read over a new blog post.

Some pains are better left unstated until they are direct.

If this becomes more serious, this new relationship, I will tell the truth the next time.

But in that moment, I don’t know that I was ready to establish the new chapter.

I left the coffee shop. And in that fundamental ex moment, I turned in the frame of the door.

He was looking – his head cocked to the side again.

Smiling in only a way I knew what he was thinking.

These are my ass pants, I announced, pointing towards it.

He nodded.

Don’t lose weight.

Images of us in that same coffee shop, months prior, locking ourselves in a private bathroom.

I grinned back.

He waved, softly.

I felt that faint sort of sadness; grieving, then, over a tiny loss of myself— the two people we were that day were now gone. And they would never come back.

Were we really not meant to be together?

Were things so ‘bad’?

I covered this recently in my last blog post, but a big part of recovery is identifying what ‘needs’ to be lost, implementing a plan, and then somehow getting over the losses and establishing a new identity. That means filling your life with new meaningful relationships or hobbies or adventures or beliefs where the old ones used to be.

I struggle with this. A lot of people struggle with this. As a result, we spend a lot of time feeling lost – or being pulled back to the known.

Pulled back to the known.

Relationships. Anorexia. Alcohol.

There’s a negative and a positive to all of those things – hence, why we have such a hard time staying away from them.

What can I say? We’re human.

When something is lost – no matter if it’s the anorexia, drugs, alcohol, person, job, city – it’s gone. And it will never be the same, no matter what you do. And this, in a real psychological sense, destroys a small piece of you. A piece that must eventually be rebuilt.

I always liken my eating disorder to my relationships. Probably because anorexia is a relationship.

Like my ex, anorexia wasn’t all bad. We had good times. Or at least what to me felt like good times.

No one would be anorexic or voluntarily be in a relationship if there wasn’t something positive (or at least, something that feels positive) coming from it.

And it’s that that pulls us back. We don’t want to accept the loss of that positive feeling – whatever it may be – because then we partially lose something about us – and have to rebuild it – or ‘fill’ it –

And that’s actually fucking terrifying.

What if we never find that ‘thing’ or ‘person’ to fill it? Or what if we never rebuild?

What if we will always live in the anorexia or bulimia days like a football coach who can’t get over the 1976 state championship?

What if we will never feel ”as good as” our anorexia days?

What if we just feel empty?

Sounds exhausting, even to me. And I’m 4 years into this evolving methodology.

This feeling of emptiness—or more accurately, this lack of meaning—is usually known as depression.

To quote Mark Manson again:  Most people believe that depression is a deep sadness. This is mistaken. While depression and sadness often occur together, they are not the same thing. Sadness occurs when something feels bad. Depression occurs when something feels meaningless. When something feels bad, at least it has meaning. In depression, everything becomes a big blank void. And the deeper the depression, the deeper the lack of meaning, the deeper the pointlessness of any action, to the point where a person will struggle to get up in the morning, to shower, to speak to other people, to eat food, etc.

The healthy response to loss is to slowly but surely construct new hobbies, relationships, careers, exercises and perspective evolutions that bring new meaning into our lives. We come to refer to this as “a new me,” and this is, in a literal sense, true. You are constructing a “new you” by adopting new habits to replace the old.

So, here I am. All blah blah blah at you. Babbles McGee, people call me.

But, four years into this recovery business – what can I really tell you that I’ve found to be true? How do I actually go on with said above facts staring me in the face.

Lemme take a shot at this.

Hard truth: our minds have a tendency to only remember the best qualities of our past. This most definitely includes our eating disorders AND relationships. In fact, I’d say those two things top my list of “reframed memories.” We delete the tedious and monotonous and just remember the highlight reel.

Our memories aren’t accurate.

Our brain always thinks that there’s these ‘things’ that will make us happy. We want our instant fixes, which comes in the form of people validation, a meal skipped, or ‘weight lost.’ And in the same impulsive way, we ignore the ‘glazed’ over truth.

But in both cases, our mind is simply reaching for something to remove it from the present.

Relationships don’t end because two people did something wrong to each other. Relationships end because of two people are something wrong for each other.

Most of the time, we don’t leave bulimia or anorexia because it’s killing us (although the media likes to portray it that way.)

We leave it because it is something wrong for us – stripping us from being present or alive to every moment. Allowing a blanket to hide behind so that we never truly live or feel anything.

Starting recovery is full of grief.

You can ra-ra cheerleader dance all over it, but it’s still a loss of something.

It’s a loss of some part of you.

And loss is bloody uncomfortable at best.

People like to see growth as this euphoric, joyous thing. But it’s not. Real change brings a mixture of emotions with it— lingering sadness mixed (eventually) with a tangible presence.

And yes, an ability to feel content and joy. And grief again. And sorrow. And spontaneous happiness.

And new people into your life because you build a life that allows more people to find you.

I saw my ex again last night, dropping off a shirt to my best friend (his roommate, as it goes).

I was late to a date.

I’m buying land in Wyoming, my ex announced. I’m going to build a tire-bail house and live in it off the grid.

I stared at him – fights flooding into mind. We hardly agreed on anything, in retrospect, outside of our attraction.

It all seemed clear again. But, I could still love him for him.

The mushrooms are rooted and growing too, he exclaimed, showing me his mushroom garden in the den.

I smiled.

We hugged.

So am I, I thought – turning away.

I am growing, too.

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Heavy-hearted, I write today.

Truth is, this headline is declarative. I have no idea why you relapse.

As I sit here in a coffee shop – mulling through this post – I got a call from a close friend.

“Have you talked to X lately?”

“No… He dropped off a couple months ago and stopped answering me, so I assume he’s relapsed.”

“Linds, it’s bad. Just feel you should know before you hear from anyone else. His liver and kidneys are failing. Was in ICU for 13 days. Respiratory failure. Got out and got back on the painkillers. Sister found him slumped over a coffee table. He’s going to die if he doesn’t get help… and I don’t know if you want to reach back out – but we’re trying anything.”

I stared at my phone.

Stomach sinks. Not because it’s unexpected – but because it’s so expected and yet, no matter how much you can prepare for anything – you never know when the day will just come.

My ex might very likely die, which is two of my exes that I am waiting for that call.

“He’s gone.”

I received it once already – when my best friend fell out of a tree.

And I know it’s only a matter of time these days, before I get it again.

Being a messy person creates a messy life. And I have always held a love for messy people.

Perhaps, it’s the “fixer” in me. Maybe it’s the need to feel wanted.

So, with that said – who am I to state something so powerful about “why you relapse.” As though I’m some Gandhi recovery guru – “Yes, my child. This is why you stick your fingers back down your throat.”

Don’t trust anyone who ever makes these kind of statements. They’re full of shit, and looking for your attention (or click).

So, maybe don’t trust me either? Who knows. There’s a lot of paths I could take with that logic, so I’ll end it there and keep on.

ANYWAY.

Every couple months, WordPress sends me an “FYI” emails showing how people find my blog on a search engine.

Outside of the astronomical amount of people who google “hairy chick” or “6-week unshaven vagina” porn (typically spelled wrong in their hungry anticipation – also, what a shock it must be to their horny fingers when they stumble onto my page), a lot of the searches center around relapse.

“eating disorder relapse after years”

“anorexia relapse”

“am I relapsing eating disorder?”

“bulimia throwing up after years”

“flu eating disorder relapse”

The list goes on.

People google weird shit. If I’ve learned anything in blogging, it’s that.

AND PEOPLE GOOGLE EVERYTHING ABOUT EATING DISORDERS.

Down to how much they (or their kid) weighs, how tall they are, and whether that’s an eating disorder – or my personal fave “can you have an eating disorder if you drink wine?”

(Yes. Yes you can. If you’re replacing meals with wine – it’s drunkorexia. Or alcoholism. Or like… something. If you’re googling that, you already subconsciously know, so I’ll stop preaching.)

Anyway, the point is that relapse comes up a lot in these searches.

We are a black and white society.

We’re a digital one too, which means we have “answers” to everything at our fingertips in the form of a search or a Siri-question.

GIVE US ANSWERS NOW, we plead.  Oh internet, give us the way to feel!

Lemme cut it straight: eating disorders don’t have a whole lot of defined, black and white answers.

Neither does relapse.

We relapse for 1,000 different reasons – and all those reasons look different to any one person.

A lot of the time: it’s boredom.

Boredom.

That’s what this post really centers around.

Idle hands are the devils workshop, or whatever that metaphor is.

But, it’s true.

We relapse because of grief, trauma, culture, trigger, etc.

But we also relapse out of boredom – and the resulting feeling that if we’re not doing something – or ‘enough’ – we’re not as “active” as that fitness chick we see on Instagram:

Or we’re not partying in Vegas with Chance the Rapper. (Is he still cool? I was between him and Ja Rule or like, Macklemore.)

Or we’re not coming up with the most clever frat party hashtag, or 3 girls posed with hands on their hips – giggling to each other – looking like they’re having THE. BEST. TIME.

Or, we’re not taking 100 bloody baby pics of our kid rolling around in a play-pin (admittedly, I totally want a kid one day so that kills me.)

Or we’re not the most influential #recovery person out there on the web, inspiring millions:

We feel our life is boring. We are missing out.

It’s the nature of social media.

We see these people living ‘big filtered lives’ – see them on yachts and beaches and hikes – for me, it’s climbers and travelers. Vanlife people. Mommys.

I want what they have, and feel perplexed that I don’t have it yet.

WHY DON’T I HAVE A VAN WITH SOME CUTE CURLY-HAIRED LITTLE BOY.

It’s this feeling of being ‘behind’ – or not being meaningful enough in the world.

We feel boring.

In turn, we feel bored.

When I discharged from inpatient in Florida in February 2014, I remember having the first taste of this.

Sitting around my parents house – going to outpatient in Dallas, wondering “what the hell do I do now that I don’t (actively) have this eating disorder?”

But, the reality is that I obviously did still have an eating disorder – I just wasn’t actively partaking in its behaviors every second. But, you don’t rewire your brain in a couple months. It’s a daily choice that takes many moons.

So, in turn, I felt left with this tense unease of counting calories (because by then, it was still like clockwork) yet also not doing anything about it (like run or purge or simply just hate myself all afternoon).

I was restless. And often uncomfortable –

It was still ingrained to disdain being full. It was still so ‘norm’ to base my schedule around what I would or wouldn’t eat in a day that I just simply did not know what to do with all this bloody time.

I wasn’t free from the mentality. I was only (barely) free of the behaviors.

And I felt caught between this blissful notion of ‘recovery’ life and the reality… which was that my life felt inherently meaningless of purpose at the time.

I had great friends. Loving parents. And enough former lovers to fill a novel – but I didn’t know what my actual purpose was.

What the hell was I doing on this earth if not to be thin, desirable, alluring and pretty (or, as pretty as I could be).

What was the point? And could I do it if I figured it out?

I was 24 at the time, single, and on the verge of starting a Public Relations career in New York. (Side note: I had interviewed the ENTIRE time I was in rehab – got the job, and never even had to tell them I was in treatment. It was golden… I also felt like a fraud.)

Admittedly, I didn’t have a clue what public relations entailed. All I’d ever accomplished in college was a few Grade A papers on literature – and a slew of short stories to obtain my creative lit degree.

I got out of rehab and two days later, I went on a final run before moving back to New York.

I ran 6 miles after not running for months and strained a muscle.

I hobbled into work that first day grimacing as we did the tour of the building.

When you don’t have the skills – or haven’t developed them into your life – it’s easy to feel stressed and go back to what you know.

Was my eating disorder fun? fulfilling? No and no.

But bloody hell – I knew how to do it.

A safety net in an uncertain world.

A “proven” belief set. People do find me more appealing as long as I’m thin, I convince myself when someone flirts with me during a relapse.

Boredom has the same effect of discomfort and uncertainty.

When we sit in what we know – at least it’s what we know, despite how depressing or cruel or secretive it is.

At least we know what to expect – or we think we do.

Relapse is a self-fulfilling prophecy – reminding us not to truly reach for the unknown because the unknown can knock you flat on your ass without any control.

I mean hell, it’s true. The unknown knocks you flat on your ass again and again. The nature of life.

But, life is not about avoiding suffering.

I truly believe, however idealistic this is, that a fulfilling life is about suffering, and constant awareness of the immediateness of the time we have.

Someone I’m dating once said to me “I’ve noticed you appreciate me most when I allow you to feel safe.”

We were in the car, and he was driving 5 hours in a snowy night because I’d admitted I was f-ing terrified.

I laughed. “I think I allow myself to feel discomfort so often in my life that it’s an appreciated reprieve when someone creates an atmosphere for me to just be and breathe out.”

Don’t take that the wrong way. I love discomfort. I find that discomfort is the sole reason I’ve ever accomplished anything in my short life.

I allow it to fill up space so I can move past it and get to whatever the other side is – whether it be speaking to students or writing articles or interviewing or meeting new clients – traveling alone – allowing treatment to run its course in spite of the belief it would make me “blow up like a whale.”

Discomfort has given me a life.

It’s getting to that place of positive acknowledgement of discomfort that takes a long bloody time. And sometime, I feel too much discomfort and I relapse for the ‘norm’ of it all.

Sometimes I think I relapse for the reminder of it. To know that I always have it – tucked away in a pocket.

We relapse for so many reasons – but the belief I continue to live by is that relapse comes in the moments we simply cannot handle the discomfort that comes with boredom or lack of “defined” purpose… or trauma. But trauma is not the point of today’s post.

If there’s anything I could say to my ex today, it’s that.

“Try sobriety,” I’d say. “Try being so uncomfortable you don’t know how you’ll even breathe in again.”

Put yourself out there.

Allow rejection to fill your life.

Go to a dance class and have the instructor tell you you’re not doing the moves ‘right’ – what is right anyway, you can say. Who defines ‘right’?

Allow all the pain you simply can’t believe you could ever feel again – to fill you up in your bed at midnight one night, alone and shivering under your covers – My GOD, I can’t feel this way, you’ll scream.

But, you will. You’ll feel it.

And how bloody human you’ll be when you get through it.

Or hey, how bloody human you’ll be when you don’t.

And have to try again.

No one should grudge themselves the form of escapism that they choose. In some ways, they are wise. Self-preservation can be wise.

But, while it may be wise to try to escape from the world as it is at the moment, it isn’t exactly brave – and it doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for anything else to happen.

Nobody knows how the story ends –

So, God, just live your life – do the best you can.

Forgive yourself when you don’t.

And allow the boredom – and the discomfort of boredom – to take you to places you never thought you’d be.

That’s my 2-cent philosophy, anyway – as I agree to speak to my former treatment center and also, middle school, next month in Fort Worth, TX.

I’ll sit in front of those girls – nervous as hell – uncomfortable – and I’ll tell them the same bloody thing.

Life is meant to be uncomfortable – so you can appreciate what makes it comfortable.

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Heavy-hearted, I write today.

Truth is, this headline is declarative. I have no idea why you relapse.

As I sit here in a coffee shop – mulling through this post – I got a call from a close friend.

“Have you talked to X lately?”

“No… He dropped off a couple months ago and stopped answering me, so I assume he’s relapsed.”

“Linds, it’s bad. Just feel you should know before you hear from anyone else. His liver and kidneys are failing. Was in ICU for 13 days. Respiratory failure. Got out and got back on the painkillers. Sister found him slumped over a coffee table. He’s going to die if he doesn’t get help… and I don’t know if you want to reach back out – but we’re trying anything.”

I stared at my phone.

Stomach sinks. Not because it’s unexpected – but because it’s so expected and yet, no matter how much you can prepare for anything – you never know when the day will just come.

My ex might very likely die, which is two of my exes that I am waiting for that call.

“He’s gone.”

I received it once already – when my best friend fell out of a tree.

And I know it’s only a matter of time these days, before I get it again.

Being a messy person creates a messy life. And I have always held a love for messy people.

Perhaps, it’s the “fixer” in me. Maybe it’s the need to feel wanted.

So, with that said – who am I to state something so powerful about “why you relapse.” As though I’m some Gandhi recovery guru – “Yes, my child. This is why you stick your fingers back down your throat.”

Don’t trust anyone who ever makes these kind of statements. They’re full of shit, and looking for your attention (or click).

So, maybe don’t trust me either? Who knows. There’s a lot of paths I could take with that logic, so I’ll end it there and keep on.

ANYWAY.

Every couple months, WordPress sends me an “FYI” emails showing how people find my blog on a search engine.

Outside of the astronomical amount of people who google “hairy chick” or “6-week unshaven vagina” porn (typically spelled wrong in their hungry anticipation – also, what a shock it must be to their horny fingers when they stumble onto my page), a lot of the searches center around relapse.

“eating disorder relapse after years”

“anorexia relapse”

“am I relapsing eating disorder?”

“bulimia throwing up after years”

“flu eating disorder relapse”

The list goes on.

People google weird shit. If I’ve learned anything in blogging, it’s that.

AND PEOPLE GOOGLE EVERYTHING ABOUT EATING DISORDERS.

Down to how much they (or their kid) weighs, how tall they are, and whether that’s an eating disorder – or my personal fave “can you have an eating disorder if you drink wine?”

(Yes. Yes you can. If you’re replacing meals with wine – it’s drunkorexia. Or alcoholism. Or like… something. If you’re googling that, you already subconsciously know, so I’ll stop preaching.)

Anyway, the point is that relapse comes up a lot with these searches.

We are a black and white society.

We’re a digital one too, which means we have “answers” to everything at our fingertips in the form of a search or a Siri-question.

GIVE US ANSWERS NOW, we plead.  Oh internet, give us the way to feel!

Lemme cut it straight: eating disorders don’t have a whole lot of defined, black and white answers.

Neither does relapse.

We relapse for 1,000 different reasons – and all those reasons look different to any one person.

A lot of the time: it’s boredom.

Boredom.

That’s what this post really centers around.

Idle hands are the devils workshop, or whatever that metaphor is.

But, it’s true.

We relapse because of grief, trauma, culture, trigger, etc.

But we also relapse out of boredom – and the resulting feeling that if we’re not doing something – or ‘enough’ – we’re not as “active” as that fitness chick we see on Instagram:

Or we’re not partying in Vegas with Chance the Rapper. (Is he still cool? I was between him and Ja Rule or like, Macklemore.)

Or we’re not coming up with the most clever frat party hashtag, or 3 girls posed with hands on their hips – giggling to each other – looking like they’re having THE. BEST. TIME.

Or, we’re not taking 100 bloody baby pics of our kid rolling around in a play-pin (admittedly, I totally want a kid so that shit kills me.)

Or we’re not the most influential #recovery person out there on the web, inspiring millions:

We feel our life is boring. We are missing out.

It’s the nature of social media.

We see these people living ‘big filtered lives’ – see them on yachts and beaches and hikes – for me, it’s climbers and travelers. Vanlife people. Mommys.

I want what they have, and feel perplexed that I don’t have it yet.

WHY DON’T I HAVE A VAN WITH SOME CUTE CURLY-HAIRED LITTLE BOY.

It’s this feeling of being ‘behind’ – or not being meaningful enough in the world.

We feel boring.

In turn, we feel bored.

When I discharged from inpatient in Florida in February 2014, I remember having the first taste of this shit.

Sitting around my parents house – going to outpatient in Dallas, wondering “what the hell do I do now that I don’t (actively) have this eating disorder?”

But, the reality is that I obviously did still have an eating disorder – I just wasn’t actively partaking in its behaviors every second. But, you don’t rewire your brain in a couple months. It’s a daily choice that takes many moons.

So, in turn, I felt left with this tense unease of counting calories (because by then, it was still like clockwork) yet also not doing anything about it (like run or purge or simply just hate myself all afternoon).

I was restless. And often uncomfortable –

It was still ingrained to disdain being full. It was still so ‘norm’ to base my schedule around what I would or wouldn’t eat in a day that I just simply did not know what to do with all this bloody time.

I wasn’t free from the mentality. I was only (barely) free of the behaviors.

And I felt caught between this blissful notion of ‘recovery’ life and the reality… which was that my life felt inherently meaningless of purpose at the time.

I had great friends. Loving parents. And enough former lovers to fill a novel – but I didn’t know what my actual purpose was.

What the hell was I doing on this earth if not to be thin, desirable, alluring and pretty (or, as pretty as I could be).

What was the point? And could I do it if I figured it out?

I was 24 at the time, single, and on the verge of starting a Public Relations career in New York. (Side note: I had interviewed the ENTIRE time I was in rehab – got the job, and never even had to tell them I was in treatment. It was golden… I also felt like a fraud.)

Admittedly, I didn’t have a fucking clue what public relations entailed. All I’d ever accomplished in college was a few Grade A papers on literature – and a slew of short stories to obtain my creative lit degree.

I got out of rehab and two days later, I went on a final run before moving back to New York.

I ran 6 miles after not running for months and strained a muscle.

I hobbled into work that first day grimacing as we did the tour of the building.

When you don’t have the skills – or haven’t developed them into your life – it’s easy to feel stressed and go back to what you know.

Was my eating disorder fun? fulfilling? No and no.

But bloody hell – I knew how to do it.

A safety net in an uncertain world.

A “proven” belief set. People do find me more appealing as long as I’m thin, I convince myself when someone flirts with me during a relapse.

Boredom has the same effect of discomfort and uncertainty.

When we sit in what we know – at least it’s what we know, despite how depressing or cruel or secretive it is.

At least we know what to expect – or we think we do.

Relapse is a self-fulfilling prophecy – reminding us not to truly reach for the unknown because the unknown can knock you flat on your ass without any control.

I mean hell, it’s true. The unknown knocks you flat on your ass again and again. The nature of life.

But, life is not about avoiding suffering.

I truly believe, however idealistic this is, that a fulfilling life is about suffering, and constant awareness of the immediateness of the time we have.

Someone I was dating once said to me “I’ve noticed you appreciate me most when I allow you to feel safe.”

We were in the car, and he was driving 5 hours in a snowy night because I’d admitted I was f-ing terrified.

I laughed. “I think I allow myself to feel discomfort so often in my life that it’s an appreciated reprieve when someone creates an atmosphere for me to just be and breathe out.”

Don’t take that the wrong way. I love discomfort. I find that discomfort is the sole reason I’ve ever accomplished anything in my short life.

I allow it to fill up space so I can move past it and get to whatever the other side is – whether it be speaking to students or writing articles or interviewing or meeting new clients – traveling alone – allowing treatment to run its course in spite of the belief it would make me “blow up like a whale.”

Discomfort has given me a life.

It’s getting to that place of positive acknowledgement of discomfort that takes a long bloody time. And sometime, I feel too much discomfort and I relapse for the ‘norm’ of it all.

Sometimes I think I relapse for the reminder of it. To know that I always have it – tucked away in a pocket.

We relapse for so many reasons – but the belief I continue to live by is that relapse comes in the moments we simply cannot handle the discomfort that comes with boredom or lack of “defined” purpose… or trauma. But trauma is not the point of today’s post.

If there’s anything I could say to my ex today, it’s that.

“Try sobriety,” I’d say. “Try being so fucking uncomfortable. So uncomfortable you don’t know how you’ll even breathe in again.”

Put yourself out there.

Allow rejection to fill your life.

Go to a dance class and have the instructor tell you you’re not doing the moves ‘right’ – what is right anyway, you can say. Who defines ‘right’?

Allow all the pain you simply can’t believe you could ever feel again – to fill you up in your bed at midnight one night, alone and shivering under your covers – My GOD, I can’t feel this way, you’ll scream.

But, you will. You’ll feel it.

And how bloody human you’ll be when you get through it.

Or hey, how bloody human you’ll be when you don’t.

And have to try again.

No one should grudge themselves the form of escapism that they choose. In some ways, they are wise. Self-preservation can be wise.

But, while it may be wise to try to escape from the world as it is at the moment, it isn’t exactly brave – and it doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for anything else to happen.

Nobody knows how the story ends –

So, God, just live your life – do the best you can.

Forgive yourself when you don’t.

And allow the boredom – and the discomfort of boredom – to take you to places you never thought you’d be.

That’s my 2-cent philosophy, anyway – as I agree to speak to my former treatment center and also, middle school, next month in Fort Worth, TX.

I’ll sit in front of those girls – nervous as hell – uncomfortable – and I’ll tell them the same bloody thing.

Life is meant to be uncomfortable – so you can appreciate what makes it comfortable.

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Thought it might be a helpful post, this time of holiday year, to remind everyone struggling with eating disorders and recovery and this and that mental illness –

That there is a wide ole’ community in the world that is struggling with you.

That every few people you pass in an airport or on the street, one of them has thought or felt the same way that you have felt. To some degree. In whatever way their reality shapes for them.

I posted a question on Instagram: “What’s the hardest part of holiday season & how has a loved one helped you?”

The responses are varied, but the sentiments are similar.

What’s the hardest part?

  • Family
  • Excited family when you’re not excited
  • Abundance of food
  • No “actual” family celebration
  • Lack of control
  • Diet talk
  • Grief

… to name a few.

How has a loved one help? It was interesting to me to see all the ways people can help – whether they’re a friend, lover, or brother:

  • Mom/Mum
  • Sister
  • Brother
  • Grandma
  • Best friend
  • Fiance
  • Husband/Wife
  • Myself

I’ve included responses below for all of you who might need a little ”relatability” during this next week. Feel free to comment with your own.

And thank you, to everyone on the Instagram community, who responded.

Happiest of holidays to all of you

_________________________________________________________________________________

Seeing everyone around me excited just because it’s Christmas and being wholly unable to feel that. Watching families who exist and want to be together.” – Eleanorclaire_

“For me, it’s definitely the food everywhere, in overwhelming amounts. My Mom always asks me in advance on dinner input so I feel comfortable eating around everyone.” – TattoosYogaAndRecovery

“Holidays are a double whammy of food overload and people overload. Being surrounded by food is a challenge, but also working up the courage to eat in front of people that I don’t typically see. My mom is always willing to let me take breaks, take my plate away, and put my mind in my place saying “you’re not here to make people happy; you do what you need to do, even if others aren’t happy with your choice. It’s your holiday too.” – Thelakowhat

“No matter how long I’ve been out of a treatment stay or how well i’m doing, muscle memory kicks in tenfold around the holidays. By muscle memory, I mean without even thinking about it/wanting to my body seems to resort back to all those terrible, difficult, emotional holidays when I was deeply immersed in my illness. It’s bizarre what the body remembers. So 1) fighting against muscle memory and making new memories and 2) that part of my brain that screams how easy it is to engage in “one little symptom so that I can be present for the rest of the evening!”… I’m lucky to have a supportive family and also friends I can reach out to, but I am my strongest advocate and I need to put a voice to any/all my needs!” – Pfarr099

“Two things: 1. my family doesn’t have an “actual” Christmas and it makes me sad (divorce/siblings live all over the place/etc.) 2. when we all do have the chance to be together, I have a lot of anxiety because of sensory overload and can’t handle more than a few hours, so then I feel confused about wanting togetherness but unable to enjoy it. Working on it though!” – 3rd.degree.bern

All the unknowns and lack of control. Being out of my comfort zone is tough but having someone who knows you’re struggling, reassure you it’s ok, helps.” – Courtney.Seifried

“The hardest part about the holiday season is 1. diet talk and 2. knowing it “should” be the happiest time of the year but not feeling that way. My younger cousins are a great distraction, constantly wanting to play games and goof around. They are (most of the time) very carefree and don’t overthink things which is VERY refreshing.” –Be.You_Not.Ed

The bone chilling loneliness seems overwhelmingly more apparent during the holidays. It confirms that lack of family that fuels my ED. I am trying so hard to be present for my two little boys, but I want to numb my pain and sadness with ED. Having to be social when I am a major introvert with social anxiety wears me out too. I just want to stay home, but I am a people pleaser so i have to put that mask on. I dream of the Christmas where I am in recovery and can focus on Christ and my boys fully.” – Jessy3143

“I have a couple (hope that’s ok) … 1.) The fact that I‘ve changed/grown quite a bit and I still feel that my family doesn’t truly “see” me and expects me to be the healthier, “perfect” version of myself that I was when i was younger, so then it feels like a constant pressure to perform which is exhausting. 2.) It’s overwhelming with all the food, sounds, lights, and so so many questions! Families seem to have little to no boundaries when it comes to asking questions about anything and everything in life, which can often be a recipe for anxiety… 3.) Lastly, the comparison to other families who just seem to be “perfect” and so happy, or comparison to others during the holidays who just seem to have it all together (gift giving, decorating, you-name-it). It’s so easy to get caught up with feeling like you aren’t doing enough, like you aren’t enough, but that is never ever true. Comparison truly is the thief of joy. And I’ve found that if you really open up you will find that you are never alone and can eventually find your own way to make the holidays special over time in whichever perfectly imperfect way that fits for you!” – GlutesAndGreens

“For me, the hardest part of the holiday season is the abundance of food, desserts, etc. and how every holiday seems to center around food. It’s difficult to see everyone eat and eat and now feel any guilt, because for them it’s just a normal part of the holidays … it’s tempting to want to purge after eating, because it’s an “easy” way to deal with the feelings. The person who has helped me the most is my best friend, who listens to me vent these feelings and helps me process and make healthy choices.” – Graceinthegreyarea

“What’s hardest: the sheer volume of food around, and the continual comments about weight, dieting and food that my family make, How a loved one has helped: my wife knows how diet and body focused my family is and she is an expert at stepping in and redirecting comments away from food/weight/shape to more neutral and appropriate topics. I don’t usually have the emotional wherewithal to do that myself so her interrupting it is a huge help, and also reminds me that i don’t have to engage in it.” – Here.To.Survive.And.Thrive

“Stressing over my very big and loud family and their holiday get together with immense amounts of food” – JourneyToAcceptance

“The hard part is that I’m afraid that nothing about the holiday season is not important or exciting anymore. Friends and family have helped by proving that they are what makes it so.” – SharkBoyMeetsWorld

“How your family assumed you’re “cured” because you’re a healthy weight and pregnant. If only recovery were THAT easy.” – Be.Kind.2.Yourself

“The hardest part of the holiday season is wishing my dad was still around to celebrate with me. My family/friends help by reminiscing about him and making sure we still include his memory in everything we do.” – Jhcorum

“The hardest part is feeling the need to “fake it” when I’m not feeling my best. There’s a lot of pressure to be happy and social during the holidays. My fiance helps by checking in often and encouraging me to take some down time when I need it.” – Hradner

“The hardest part is the many different ‘special’ foods around – foods that I used to eat and enjoy without a second thought that now become so attached to morals and meaning and ‘have I earned this‘ that it’s so exhausting and easier just to avoid altogether. The person who has helped me most is my Mum who can see when I’m facing the wall of anxiety and will turn peoples attentions away from what I am/am not eating and who doesn’t make comments if maybe I feel brave enough to indulge in a treat alone later.” – Jesreeves2.0

Hardest thing about Christmas is now that my parents have divorced, I feel like this once warm, peaceful family holiday has turned into an epitome of loneliness and feeling like I don’t really belong anywhere… But I’m glad I have my boyfriend’s unconditional love and support, and I can talk to my mother about anything, so in the end, luckily I’m not really alone <3″ – Haikulapsi

Hardest thing is fighting away my ED. I get into this dumb cycle of ‘oh holidays where I eat a ton, better cut back so I can” and then when I eat something delicious and it isn’t ‘holiday food’ I feel guilt. The love of my life encourages I eat regularly and throughout the day and smiles while doing so, so I don’t have the binge mindset. He is da best.” – A._.quinter

“The large focus on food during family gatherings and the fact that I genuinely don’t like the typical holiday foods – and that food isn’t exciting to me the way that it is for others, so during those gatherings it’s hard for me to feel that same happy/exciting feeling. My sister always makes sure to make a dish with me that I will like and will look forward to eating (as much as possible).” – Gkubilius

Being out of a comfortable “routine” at home then visiting family and having to implement no routine and go more with the flow.… But my parents get it and they usually let me cook whatever I want for the fam, for one thing – and I continually work on patience with myself and letting that stupid shit go. My grandma (still running at 81) and sisters always put me in the best moods, too, and we can laugh about everything. Those good, deep-in-your-belly laughs, which honestly are some of the best things in life.”– ParkingforPatrons

“I find the hardest part is feeling a step removed from the moment. Not only am I making decisions about what I can and can’t eat, I’m simultaneously beating myself up because “it’s Christmas and you ought to be having fun!” Usually it’s the small things that help – mum taking my hand under the table, my sister making my place.  It reminds me that I can be okay with where I’m at, that recovery isn’t just another stick to beat myself with… that struggling with an eating disorder and enjoying Christmas can coexist.” – CharlieBindels

“That hardest part of the holiday season is being around family and feeling the need to constantly explain myself & my feelings under a microscope as they question me… as if those supposedly close to me do not understand who I am at all. My little brother always finds time to sit with me & never asks me a question beginning with “why” but instead inquires “what” is going on for me in my life. He’s a gem. – FayMeredith

Dealing with toxic relationships. Husband helps immensely by not leaving me alone with them, ever; making sure there is plenty of food that I like in the house (oh and red wine); and debriefing with me about what is ok and what isn’t ok and reminding me that I’m fine and that this will pass…” – Kristy_Shannon

“The hardest? Spending is alone; knowing that, my past, memories and grief rearing; and seeing everyone else with others, or celebrating. Suicide…too… last year I tried to jump off a bridge. Friends are family to me, and they are always beautiful. A few have invited me to their Christmas gatherings, which really means a lot.” –OliviaRosesHale

“With regard to ED stuff, I think it’s maybe the fear of being judged for what I’m eating combined with this constant feeling (FEAR) that I’ve “overindulged” and need to purge to make it right. I don’t really have a support.” – IWillNotBeMollified

“Hardest thing – not having traditions to share or happy memories from childhood to reminisce on – while it feels like everyone else does – and trying to maintain a happy fave for my now loved ones so I don’t ruin Christmas… even though I’m in so much pain. Best thing a loved one has done: forgiven me.” – Ange5421

“The hardest thing is the expectation to be happy. The best things loved ones can do is have a small one-on-one conversation amidst all of the craziness.” – Make_Me_Sanguine

“The hardest part is staying grounded and mindful. My best friend is on call during holidays and we have a signal that let’s her know when I’m triggered – she keeps me accountable.” – LiveLaughLoveRecover

“The hardest part is missing my grandmother. Learning how to help myself through it has been helpful but the most helpful thing a loved one has done for me is – my best friends call or Skype me on the major holidays. And that makes me feel like I can get through the day.” – Chelsea_Cath

“The hardest thing is the volume of food and everyone’s lack of desire to “do” anything. Like let’s go for a walk or hike. How can we be active so I don’t feel like a tub of lard after the holidays further pushing me back to ED. My mom let’s me pick the menu so I try to keep it light with veggies and a fruit dessert like pie or cobbler so I feel it’s more “balanced.” – RubyRedJeepMama

Company holiday party (yes, still in all black… one day maybe I’ll try some color lol)
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Thought it might be a helpful post, this time of holiday year, to remind everyone struggling with eating disorders and recovery and this and that mental illness –

That there is a wide ole’ community in the world that is struggling with you.

That every few people you pass in an airport or on the street, one of them has thought or felt the same way that you have felt. To some degree. In whatever way their reality shapes for them.

I posted a question on Instagram: “What’s the hardest part of holiday season & how has a loved one helped you?”

The responses are varied, but the sentiments are similar.

What’s the hardest part?

  • Family
  • Excited family when you’re not excited
  • Abundance of food
  • No “actual” family celebration
  • Lack of control
  • Diet talk
  • Grief

… to name a few.

How has a loved one help? It was interesting to me to see all the ways people can help – whether they’re a friend, lover, or brother:

  • Mom/Mum
  • Sister
  • Brother
  • Grandma
  • Best friend
  • Fiance
  • Husband/Wife
  • Myself

I’ve included responses below for all of you who might need a little ”relatability” during this next week. Feel free to comment with your own.

And thank you, to everyone on the Instagram community, who responded.

Happiest of holidays to all of you

_________________________________________________________________________________

Seeing everyone around me excited just because it’s Christmas and being wholly unable to feel that. Watching families who exist and want to be together.” – Eleanorclaire_

“For me, it’s definitely the food everywhere, in overwhelming amounts. My Mom always asks me in advance on dinner input so I feel comfortable eating around everyone.” – TattoosYogaAndRecovery

“Holidays are a double whammy of food overload and people overload. Being surrounded by food is a challenge, but also working up the courage to eat in front of people that I don’t typically see. My mom is always willing to let me take breaks, take my plate away, and put my mind in my place saying “you’re not here to make people happy; you do what you need to do, even if others aren’t happy with your choice. It’s your holiday too.” – Thelakowhat

“No matter how long I’ve been out of a treatment stay or how well i’m doing, muscle memory kicks in tenfold around the holidays. By muscle memory, I mean without even thinking about it/wanting to my body seems to resort back to all those terrible, difficult, emotional holidays when I was deeply immersed in my illness. It’s bizarre what the body remembers. So 1) fighting against muscle memory and making new memories and 2) that part of my brain that screams how easy it is to engage in “one little symptom so that I can be present for the rest of the evening!”… I’m lucky to have a supportive family and also friends I can reach out to, but I am my strongest advocate and I need to put a voice to any/all my needs!” – Pfarr099

“Two things: 1. my family doesn’t have an “actual” Christmas and it makes me sad (divorce/siblings live all over the place/etc.) 2. when we all do have the chance to be together, I have a lot of anxiety because of sensory overload and can’t handle more than a few hours, so then I feel confused about wanting togetherness but unable to enjoy it. Working on it though!” – 3rd.degree.bern

All the unknowns and lack of control. Being out of my comfort zone is tough but having someone who knows you’re struggling, reassure you it’s ok, helps.” – Courtney.Seifried

“The hardest part about the holiday season is 1. diet talk and 2. knowing it “should” be the happiest time of the year but not feeling that way. My younger cousins are a great distraction, constantly wanting to play games and goof around. They are (most of the time) very carefree and don’t overthink things which is VERY refreshing.” –Be.You_Not.Ed

The bone chilling loneliness seems overwhelmingly more apparent during the holidays. It confirms that lack of family that fuels my ED. I am trying so hard to be present for my two little boys, but I want to numb my pain and sadness with ED. Having to be social when I am a major introvert with social anxiety wears me out too. I just want to stay home, but I am a people pleaser so i have to put that mask on. I dream of the Christmas where I am in recovery and can focus on Christ and my boys fully.” – Jessy3143

“I have a couple (hope that’s ok) … 1.) The fact that I‘ve changed/grown quite a bit and I still feel that my family doesn’t truly “see” me and expects me to be the healthier, “perfect” version of myself that I was when i was younger, so then it feels like a constant pressure to perform which is exhausting. 2.) It’s overwhelming with all the food, sounds, lights, and so so many questions! Families seem to have little to no boundaries when it comes to asking questions about anything and everything in life, which can often be a recipe for anxiety… 3.) Lastly, the comparison to other families who just seem to be “perfect” and so happy, or comparison to others during the holidays who just seem to have it all together (gift giving, decorating, you-name-it). It’s so easy to get caught up with feeling like you aren’t doing enough, like you aren’t enough, but that is never ever true. Comparison truly is the thief of joy. And I’ve found that if you really open up you will find that you are never alone and can eventually find your own way to make the holidays special over time in whichever perfectly imperfect way that fits for you!” – GlutesAndGreens

“For me, the hardest part of the holiday season is the abundance of food, desserts, etc. and how every holiday seems to center around food. It’s difficult to see everyone eat and eat and now feel any guilt, because for them it’s just a normal part of the holidays … it’s tempting to want to purge after eating, because it’s an “easy” way to deal with the feelings. The person who has helped me the most is my best friend, who listens to me vent these feelings and helps me process and make healthy choices.” – Graceinthegreyarea

“What’s hardest: the sheer volume of food around, and the continual comments about weight, dieting and food that my family make, How a loved one has helped: my wife knows how diet and body focused my family is and she is an expert at stepping in and redirecting comments away from food/weight/shape to more neutral and appropriate topics. I don’t usually have the emotional wherewithal to do that myself so her interrupting it is a huge help, and also reminds me that i don’t have to engage in it.” – Here.To.Survive.And.Thrive

“Stressing over my very big and loud family and their holiday get together with immense amounts of food” – JourneyToAcceptance

“The hard part is that I’m afraid that nothing about the holiday season is not important or exciting anymore. Friends and family have helped by proving that they are what makes it so.” – SharkBoyMeetsWorld

“How your family assumed you’re “cured” because you’re a healthy weight and pregnant. If only recovery were THAT easy.” – Be.Kind.2.Yourself

“The hardest part of the holiday season is wishing my dad was still around to celebrate with me. My family/friends help by reminiscing about him and making sure we still include his memory in everything we do.” – Jhcorum

“The hardest part is feeling the need to “fake it” when I’m not feeling my best. There’s a lot of pressure to be happy and social during the holidays. My fiance helps by checking in often and encouraging me to take some down time when I need it.” – Hradner

“The hardest part is the many different ‘special’ foods around – foods that I used to eat and enjoy without a second thought that now become so attached to morals and meaning and ‘have I earned this‘ that it’s so exhausting and easier just to avoid altogether. The person who has helped me most is my Mum who can see when I’m facing the wall of anxiety and will turn peoples attentions away from what I am/am not eating and who doesn’t make comments if maybe I feel brave enough to indulge in a treat alone later.” – Jesreeves2.0

Hardest thing about Christmas is now that my parents have divorced, I feel like this once warm, peaceful family holiday has turned into an epitome of loneliness and feeling like I don’t really belong anywhere… But I’m glad I have my boyfriend’s unconditional love and support, and I can talk to my mother about anything, so in the end, luckily I’m not really alone <3″ – Haikulapsi

Hardest thing is fighting away my ED. I get into this dumb cycle of ‘oh holidays where I eat a ton, better cut back so I can” and then when I eat something delicious and it isn’t ‘holiday food’ I feel guilt. The love of my life encourages I eat regularly and throughout the day and smiles while doing so, so I don’t have the binge mindset. He is da best.” – A._.quinter

“The large focus on food during family gatherings and the fact that I genuinely don’t like the typical holiday foods – and that food isn’t exciting to me the way that it is for others, so during those gatherings it’s hard for me to feel that same happy/exciting feeling. My sister always makes sure to make a dish with me that I will like and will look forward to eating (as much as possible).” – Gkubilius

Being out of a comfortable “routine” at home then visiting family and having to implement no routine and go more with the flow.… But my parents get it and they usually let me cook whatever I want for the fam, for one thing – and I continually work on patience with myself and letting that stupid shit go. My grandma (still running at 81) and sisters always put me in the best moods, too, and we can laugh about everything. Those good, deep-in-your-belly laughs, which honestly are some of the best things in life.”– ParkingforPatrons

“I find the hardest part is feeling a step removed from the moment. Not only am I making decisions about what I can and can’t eat, I’m simultaneously beating myself up because “it’s Christmas and you ought to be having fun!” Usually it’s the small things that help – mum taking my hand under the table, my sister making my place.  It reminds me that I can be okay with where I’m at, that recovery isn’t just another stick to beat myself with… that struggling with an eating disorder and enjoying Christmas can coexist.” – CharlieBindels

“That hardest part of the holiday season is being around family and feeling the need to constantly explain myself & my feelings under a microscope as they question me… as if those supposedly close to me do not understand who I am at all. My little brother always finds time to sit with me & never asks me a question beginning with “why” but instead inquires “what” is going on for me in my life. He’s a gem. – FayMeredith

Dealing with toxic relationships. Husband helps immensely by not leaving me alone with them, ever; making sure there is plenty of food that I like in the house (oh and red wine); and debriefing with me about what is ok and what isn’t ok and reminding me that I’m fine and that this will pass…” – Kristy_Shannon

“The hardest? Spending is alone; knowing that, my past, memories and grief rearing; and seeing everyone else with others, or celebrating. Suicide…too… last year I tried to jump off a bridge. Friends are family to me, and they are always beautiful. A few have invited me to their Christmas gatherings, which really means a lot.” –OliviaRosesHale

“With regard to ED stuff, I think it’s maybe the fear of being judged for what I’m eating combined with this constant feeling (FEAR) that I’ve “overindulged” and need to purge to make it right. I don’t really have a support.” – IWillNotBeMollified

“Hardest thing – not having traditions to share or happy memories from childhood to reminisce on – while it feels like everyone else does – and trying to maintain a happy fave for my now loved ones so I don’t ruin Christmas… even though I’m in so much pain. Best thing a loved one has done: forgiven me.” – Ange5421

“The hardest thing is the expectation to be happy. The best things loved ones can do is have a small one-on-one conversation amidst all of the craziness.” – Make_Me_Sanguine

“The hardest part is staying grounded and mindful. My best friend is on call during holidays and we have a signal that let’s her know when I’m triggered – she keeps me accountable.” – LiveLaughLoveRecover

“The hardest part is missing my grandmother. Learning how to help myself through it has been helpful but the most helpful thing a loved one has done for me is – my best friends call or Skype me on the major holidays. And that makes me feel like I can get through the day.” – Chelsea_Cath

“The hardest thing is the volume of food and everyone’s lack of desire to “do” anything. Like let’s go for a walk or hike. How can we be active so I don’t feel like a tub of lard after the holidays further pushing me back to ED. My mom let’s me pick the menu so I try to keep it light with veggies and a fruit dessert like pie or cobbler so I feel it’s more “balanced.” – RubyRedJeepMama

Company holiday party (yes, still in all black… one day maybe I’ll try some color lol)
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Made a choice this time 4 years ago — full of fear –– walking into rehab:

Perhaps I’ll run around forever — healing my brain and my body — perhaps I’ll fail — and perhaps I’ll never know all of the answers — but maybe I’d never want to, anyway.

S’pose that’s all we need sometimes — the freedom to reshape and believe whatever the hell we need to believe to get on with life.

Spent this morning and night on a roof — only to remember that I’m pretty far from knowing anything — but recognizing  a couple things: what I want and how I’m gonna get it.

Laughed with a best friend.

“Get used to your destiny babe,” he said. “Writing – recovery – all that stuff you talk about – it’s part of your life — forever. Accept it and blossom with it.”

We stared at the full moon.

“I’m scared,” I admitted – after a bit. “Still feel like I don’t know anything about anything. I lost touch with so much for so long: health, body, perception, relationships.”

“Doesn’t matter about that,” he said. “You’re brave enough to admit it – and that’s all that really matters. The rest will follow.”

“You think I’ll just know one day?” I asked. “I’ll just know what the right things to write are – and the best, most productive ways to love another person?”

“Nah,” he said. “At least I don’t think so anyway. Just think you have to choose to recognize the fear – in all of it – and keep goin’ anyway. Keep writing. Keep loving.”

“Touche.”

Read an excerpt from Osho this morning.

Actually, read it as I sit here writing this in a tiny coffee shop in Paonia, Colorado.

There are two types of living: one fear-oriented, one love-oriented. Fear-oriented living can never lead you into deep relationship. You remain afraid, and the other cannot be allowed, cannot be allowed to penetrate you to your very core. To an extent you allow the other, but then the wall comes up and everything stops.

The love-oriented person is one who is not afraid of the future, one who is not afraid of the result and the consequence, who lives here and now. Don’t be bothered about the result; that is the fear-oriented mind. Don’t think about what will happen out of it. Just be here and act totally. Don’t calculate. A fear-oriented man is always calculating, planning, arranging, safeguarding. His whole life is lost this way.

“It’s okay to be scared,” he said – just past midnight.

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s okay to scared as shit.”

He smiled.

“Wanna find a hot springs?”

“YES,” I said – sitting up. “God, it’s cold as hell up here.”

Off we went.

Every moment still a mystery — just getting pretty good at listening.

Every moment evolving — getting pretty good at honoring.

Grateful all the same – for every bit of the confusion and the fear.


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Made a choice this time 4 years ago — full of fear –– walking into rehab:

Perhaps I’ll run around forever — healing my brain and my body — perhaps I’ll fail — and perhaps I’ll never know all of the answers — but maybe I’d never want to, anyway.

S’pose that’s all we need sometimes — the freedom to reshape and believe whatever the hell we need to believe to get on with life.

Spent this morning and night on a roof — only to remember that I’m pretty far from knowing anything — but recognizing  a couple things: what I want and how I’m gonna get it.

Laughed with a best friend.

“Get used to your destiny babe,” he said. “Writing – recovery – all that stuff you talk about – it’s part of your life — forever. Accept it and blossom with it.”

We stared at the full moon.

“I’m scared,” I admitted – after a bit. “Still feel like I don’t know anything about anything. I lost touch with so much for so long: health, body, perception, relationships.”

“Doesn’t matter about that,” he said. “You’re brave enough to admit it – and that’s all that really matters. The rest will follow.”

“You think I’ll just know one day?” I asked. “I’ll just know what the right things to write are – and the best, most productive ways to love another person?”

“Nah,” he said. “At least I don’t think so anyway. Just think you have to choose to recognize the fear – in all of it – and keep goin’ anyway. Keep writing. Keep loving.”

“Touche.”

Read an excerpt from Osho this morning.

Actually, read it as I sit here writing this in a tiny coffee shop in Paonia, Colorado.

There are two types of living: one fear-oriented, one love-oriented. Fear-oriented living can never lead you into deep relationship. You remain afraid, and the other cannot be allowed, cannot be allowed to penetrate you to your very core. To an extent you allow the other, but then the wall comes up and everything stops.

The love-oriented person is one who is not afraid of the future, one who is not afraid of the result and the consequence, who lives here and now. Don’t be bothered about the result; that is the fear-oriented mind. Don’t think about what will happen out of it. Just be here and act totally. Don’t calculate. A fear-oriented man is always calculating, planning, arranging, safeguarding. His whole life is lost this way.

“It’s okay to be scared,” he said – just past midnight.

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s okay to scared as shit.”

He smiled.

“Wanna find a hot springs?”

“YES,” I said – sitting up. “God, it’s cold as hell up here.”

Off we went.

Every moment still a mystery — just getting pretty good at listening.

Every moment evolving — getting pretty good at honoring.

Grateful all the same – for every bit of the confusion and the fear.


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This post has taken me a long time to write.

(What’s new? Generally speaking, everything I write takes me till the next half moon … but I think I like starting posts off by saying something declarative to build anticipation … probably some public relations gimmick. I’m a fraud.)

ANYWAY, this post is hard because I don’t have a solution.

Usually, if I’m going to blabber on about a topic, I like to have an end in sight – but this one is different because I’m not an intuitive eating coach.

I’m just a girl with an eating disorder that feels confused by ‘intuitive eating’ methods – vs reality.

It’s not that intuitive eating shouldn’t be an end goal, it should. In my humble opinion, we all deserve to chow down on Pecan Pie at 4pm on Thanksgiving and move on with our lives.

But, I still feel like 4 years into recovery – and I’m often asking myself “what the hell is intuitive eating?”

It feels, sometimes, like the mythical pot of gold at the end of a rainbow… which apparently costs like $1000s to ‘discover’ and can only be taught by hot, white mid-20 or 30 year old thin women. (Sorry, not baggin’ on any of you out there teaching intuitive eating… but it does start to feel that way.)

Disclaimer: I say this as a late-20s white women writing about the ‘flexible recovery’ life so I understand that that statement could come off as a little “rawr” cat-claw. It’s not.

It’s just this whole notion of ‘intuitive eating’ is conflicting (and expensive) for people like me who have either done a program, been in rehab, or are struggling on their own with a counselor to figure out the mythical ‘intuitive’ tummy.

I get this question a lot from readers. “How did you learn how to intuitively eat without a clock?”

I don’t know, frankly, that I have.

In rehab, it went something like the following:

“Lindsey, how do you feel about breakfast?”

“I feel like I’m not ready to eat it.”

“You are.”

“I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.”

“Nope.”

3 hours later – and 2 mandatory journal entries about how we’re ‘feeling’ regarding our ‘hunger levels’:

“Lindsey, it’s time to eat again! Line up with the rest of the cattle… er, patients.”

“I’m not hungry yet.”

“You are.”

“I’m not, no. I’m not hungry.”

“You are. Your eating disorder is just talking to you.”

*Lifts Middle Finger*

**Herded into the cattle trot with the rest of the other females**

Okay … so I’m a little bitter. But, this far into recovery and I’d tell you if I really thought it was my eating disorder or not. I’m self-aware (enough) to know when my ED ticks and I let it manipulate – and wise enough to understand the forced bureaucracy of treatment centers in America.

At the end of the day, 3 counselors, 3 therapists and a few bored-looking assistants can’t control a gaggle of eating disorder women – so what resulted is that we all had mandatory eating times, including snack.

Basically, we were told to admire the idea of ‘intuitive eating’ like a little kid at Christmas peering into window shops – but we were never really allowed to hold the concept in our hands … or, forks.

Look, I get that all systems are flawed.

I’m not blaming the system when obviously this is an issue within me.

But, how the hell were we expected to learn how to eat when we were literally forced into single-file lines outside of a meticulously decorated barnyard-themed lunchroom (#interiordesign irony for the win) –

And told: “Eat little chickens, eat.”

We didn’t have a choice. So there was no true method of ‘connecting’ to the stomach. It was simply the treatment’s logic of “well, this is a predetermined eating time … so eat.”

(… “Also, Sally’s shift is almost over and she wants to go home and not deal with y’all for another 24 hours so God, just eat the food and fuck off.”)

I remember being generally uncomfortable in rehab. That was the predominant feeling outside of annoyance, fear, boredom, and intensely-uncovered-emotions-rising-to-surface.

I always felt full as well. And unpleasantly full, which made every forthcoming meal a huge psychological pain in the ass.

I rarely felt hunger outside of breakfast, which would make sense if I was some emaciated anorexic who had lived off a grape and a banana for a year and didn’t have any appetite.

But, I wasn’t in that state at that point in my history. I was technically a ‘normal’ weight, so I wasn’t your classic on-an-IV-sick case.

I was medically sound and to this day, completely unsure how my badass dad talked his insurance company into letting me finally get help.

And so I feel like I have a right to state the misgivings of this ‘intuitive eating’ methods that treatment centers manifest.

There was very little ‘intuitive feeling’ about our eating in rehab. We just simply had to eat. 100% or we had ‘boost drink’ and that was that.

You didn’t eat your whole plate – you got shot up with disgusting, chalky milk.

Here’s an argument I know I’ll get: “what about the ‘just do it’ approach?”

I understand that. It’s fair. There are a lot of people who have completely disconnected from eating, and therefore don’t necessarily question ‘not hungry’ and question ‘hungry.’ There is something to be said there about forcing ones self to eat anyway, especially if they’re in an environment like a treatment center.

If not, they just likely won’t.

But, for the rest of us, where is the ‘intuitive’ learning when everything you’re told to do is literally mapped out, implemented, and controlled in sync. And there is PUNISHMENT for not completing.

I’m not going to blame the people working there. But, I will blame the system.

Recovery corporations are making a killing streamlining all us anorexics and bulimics. They thrive financially off our shit.

Back in 2010, New York Times reported that the average cost of treatment is $30,000 per patient.

Yes, you read that correctly. $30,000 buckaroos.

And I can attest that in 2014, it was still the same… if not more.

Rich old dudes are profiting off others suffering – what’s new? Not to mention the incredibly high recidivism rate of people returning to treatment (here’s a 2017 Chicago Tribune article reporting on the anorexia recidivism rates). So, why change the system?

At the end of the day, I wonder if we are truly holding treatment centers accountable – and if not, is it because we don’t have any better idea how to get people to maintain that ‘flexible recovery’ life?

Lemme put it less negatively: they’re doing the best they can. And I’m being harsh. I’ve met with tons of treatment center staff, and counselors in general, who really care about their jobs and helping people like us.

But, you have to look at it from their point of view too. You get 50+ women in a treatment facility with a staff of only 10+ at any given time, it’s like trying to stack a babysitter with 6 kids.

You can’t watch all of them. So, you have to be uniform.

And uniformity shined in our eating schedules.

We all ate together. We all ate around each other. We all abided by the same damn rules.

The problem is that that only works to a certain extent.

I could go on but basically, you know what I’m saying. Humans are different. We feel hunger at different times just like we feel horny or sick or sad.

You can’t lop a group of people into a room and be like ‘PICK UP THE FORK AND EAT ANYWAY.’

Brunch with family over Thanksgiving

It’s taken me a long time to grapple with that acceptance though.

I tend to still hold a lot of ‘ED rules’ around the times I can eat – when it’s acceptable to have breakfast , lunch, dinner etc. – and I’m realizing I have never truly broken free of the ‘timing myth’ of eating.

It’s frustrating as I continue to work on it now.

Today, for example, I knew I was hungry. I felt it early. I had a granola bar and banana  in the car on the way to my Monday Morning Meeting instead of waiting till after the meeting like I usually do.

Then, I felt hungry again at around 10:45am and it bugged me.

“Damnit, I should’ve eaten ALL my breakfast after the meeting so I wouldn’t already be hungry,” I whined privately.

I ate some hummus.

Then, I ate some other granola.

Then, I felt weird when at 2pm I wasn’t hungry and hadn’t had lunch.

Fuck, I don’t know when to eat, I thought.

I’ll just wait till dinner…

But, wait, what if I eat dinner too early and then I’m hungry again by 9?

Head smack.

It’s a beating – this eating disorder brain.

Instead of listening to my stomach, I just look at the clock – and that’s not the way it should be … but to many of us, it’s all we know.

We get so freaked out of being hungry “more than 3x times a day” and eating ”too much” that we feel this misguided ‘safety’ when it comes to eating “only past noon” or “breakfast at 9:30.”

Whatever your little tick is, I relate.

We feel hunger at the “wrong time” like, say, 4:00pm and we’re all like “WAIT WHAT. NO. NOOOO. THIS ISN’T RIGHT.”

I ATE 2 HOURS AGO – WHY AM I HUNGRY AGAIN BODY?!

Look, at the end of the day, I don’t bloody know what the answer is. I don’t wanna spew out some annoying inspiration quote or ‘guidelines’ to intuitively eat because frankly, you’re gonna feel what you’re gonna feel.

That’s just life with an eating disorder.

But I suppose it always comes down to the same reality:

You have to challenge the bullshit.

And also, learn to live with it – in that forever ‘flexible okay’ of recovery.

We can’t change treatment centers. We can’t change the ridiculous standards people have placed on our culture about eating.

We can’t change diet culture talk that tells us we should eat every XX hours, and all that nonsense – as though ANYONE can truly tell us what OUR bodies should and shouldn’t do when we’re all different.

We all have different eating habits. We all eat at different times. Hell, my grandparents eat at 5pm and I’m all like ”HOW?”

But, they probably would think the same when I eat at 8pm.

Tis’ life. And life navigating ED.

As someone commented below: Maybe there’s a middle ground between rigid, time-structured eating and “intuitive eating.” Maybe the definition of “intuitive eating” is also flexible and individual. Maybe the idea of intuitive eating isn’t as useful idea for my recovery.

I exist in a world where I felt hunger a few minutes ago, and scarfed down some green beans and ranch style Texas beans and sweet potatoes.

I was craving it, man. I really wanted beans and green beans and a sweet potato.

How fun it can be – to crave anything these days – when for years I was completely disconnected from any food group or craving.

Suppose I should be thankful – reframe this post a bit.

I’m thankful to have lost hunger cues, and thankful that I am finding them.

I’m thankful that I can acknowledge what happens with the clock, and thankful I am aware enough to see past it.

Forgive and reframe. Be gentle and flexible.

We’re all roaming for the same truth – but that truth manifests differently for each person.

Thanksgiving Hike
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This post has taken me a long time to write.

(What’s new? Generally speaking, everything I write takes me till the next half moon … but I think I like starting posts off by saying something declarative to build anticipation … probably some public relations gimmick. I’m a fraud.)

ANYWAY, this post is hard because I don’t have a solution.

Usually, if I’m going to blabber on about a topic, I like to have an end in sight – but this one is different because I’m not an intuitive eating coach.

I’m just a girl with an eating disorder that feels confused by ‘intuitive eating’ methods – vs reality.

It’s not that intuitive eating shouldn’t be an end goal, it should. In my humble opinion, we all deserve to chow down on Pecan Pie at 4pm on Thanksgiving and move on with our lives.

But, I still feel like 4 years into recovery – and I’m often asking myself “what the hell is intuitive eating?”

It feels, sometimes, like the mythical pot of gold at the end of a rainbow… which apparently costs like $1000s to ‘discover’ and can only be taught by hot, white mid-20 or 30 year old thin women. (Sorry, not baggin’ on any of you out there teaching intuitive eating… but it does start to feel that way.)

Disclaimer: I say this as a late-20s white women writing about the ‘flexible recovery’ life so I understand that that statement could come off as a little “rawr” cat-claw. It’s not.

It’s just this whole notion of ‘intuitive eating’ is conflicting (and expensive) for people like me who have either done a program, been in rehab, or are struggling on their own with a counselor to figure out the mythical ‘intuitive’ tummy.

I get this question a lot from readers. “How did you learn how to intuitively eat without a clock?”

I don’t know, frankly, that I have.

In rehab, it went something like the following:

“Lindsey, how do you feel about breakfast?”

“I feel like I’m not ready to eat it.”

“You are.”

“I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.”

“Nope.”

3 hours later – and 2 mandatory journal entries about how we’re ‘feeling’ regarding our ‘hunger levels’:

“Lindsey, it’s time to eat again! Line up with the rest of the cattle… er, patients.”

“I’m not hungry yet.”

“You are.”

“I’m not, no. I’m not hungry.”

“You are. Your eating disorder is just talking to you.”

*Lifts Middle Finger*

**Herded into the cattle trot with the rest of the other females**

Okay … so I’m a little bitter. But, this far into recovery and I’d tell you if I really thought it was my eating disorder or not. I’m self-aware (enough) to know when my ED ticks and I let it manipulate – and wise enough to understand the forced bureaucracy of treatment centers in America.

At the end of the day, 3 counselors, 3 therapists and a few bored-looking assistants can’t control a gaggle of eating disorder women – so what resulted is that we all had mandatory eating times, including snack.

Basically, we were told to admire the idea of ‘intuitive eating’ like a little kid at Christmas peering into window shops – but we were never really allowed to hold the concept in our hands … or, forks.

Look, I get that all systems are flawed.

I’m not blaming the system when obviously this is an issue within me.

But, how the hell were we expected to learn how to eat when we were literally forced into single-file lines outside of a meticulously decorated barnyard-themed lunchroom (#interiordesign irony for the win) –

And told: “Eat little chickens, eat.”

We didn’t have a choice. So there was no true method of ‘connecting’ to the stomach. It was simply the treatment’s logic of “well, this is a predetermined eating time … so eat.”

(… “Also, Sally’s shift is almost over and she wants to go home and not deal with y’all for another 24 hours so God, just eat the food and fuck off.”)

I remember being generally uncomfortable in rehab. That was the predominant feeling outside of annoyance, fear, boredom, and intensely-uncovered-emotions-rising-to-surface.

I always felt full as well. And unpleasantly full, which made every forthcoming meal a huge psychological pain in the ass.

I rarely felt hunger outside of breakfast, which would make sense if I was some emaciated anorexic who had lived off a grape and a banana for a year and didn’t have any appetite.

But, I wasn’t in that state at that point in my history. I was technically a ‘normal’ weight, so I wasn’t your classic on-an-IV-sick case.

I was medically sound and to this day, completely unsure how my badass dad talked his insurance company into letting me finally get help.

And so I feel like I have a right to state the misgivings of this ‘intuitive eating’ methods that treatment centers manifest.

There was very little ‘intuitive feeling’ about our eating in rehab. We just simply had to eat. 100% or we had ‘boost drink’ and that was that.

You didn’t eat your whole plate – you got shot up with disgusting, chalky milk.

Here’s an argument I know I’ll get: “what about the ‘just do it’ approach?”

I understand that. It’s fair. There are a lot of people who have completely disconnected from eating, and therefore don’t necessarily question ‘not hungry’ and question ‘hungry.’ There is something to be said there about forcing ones self to eat anyway, especially if they’re in an environment like a treatment center.

If not, they just likely won’t.

But, for the rest of us, where is the ‘intuitive’ learning when everything you’re told to do is literally mapped out, implemented, and controlled in sync. And there is PUNISHMENT for not completing.

I’m not going to blame the people working there. But, I will blame the system.

Recovery corporations are making a killing streamlining all us anorexics and bulimics. They thrive financially off our shit.

Back in 2010, New York Times reported that the average cost of treatment is $30,000 per patient.

Yes, you read that correctly. $30,000 buckaroos.

And I can attest that in 2014, it was still the same… if not more.

Rich old dudes are profiting off others suffering – what’s new? Not to mention the incredibly high recidivism rate of people returning to treatment (here’s a 2017 Chicago Tribune article reporting on the anorexia recidivism rates). So, why change the system?

At the end of the day, I wonder if we are truly holding treatment centers accountable – and if not, is it because we don’t have any better idea how to get people to maintain that ‘flexible recovery’ life?

Lemme put it less negatively: they’re doing the best they can. And I’m being harsh. I’ve met with tons of treatment center staff, and counselors in general, who really care about their jobs and helping people like us.

But, you have to look at it from their point of view too. You get 50+ women in a treatment facility with a staff of only 10+ at any given time, it’s like trying to stack a babysitter with 6 kids.

You can’t watch all of them. So, you have to be uniform.

And uniformity shined in our eating schedules.

We all ate together. We all ate around each other. We all abided by the same damn rules.

The problem is that that only works to a certain extent.

I could go on but basically, you know what I’m saying. Humans are different. We feel hunger at different times just like we feel horny or sick or sad.

You can’t lop a group of people into a room and be like ‘PICK UP THE FORK AND EAT ANYWAY.’

Brunch with family over Thanksgiving

It’s taken me a long time to grapple with that acceptance though.

I tend to still hold a lot of ‘ED rules’ around the times I can eat – when it’s acceptable to have breakfast , lunch, dinner etc. – and I’m realizing I have never truly broken free of the ‘timing myth’ of eating.

It’s frustrating as I continue to work on it now.

Today, for example, I knew I was hungry. I felt it early. I had a granola bar and banana  in the car on the way to my Monday Morning Meeting instead of waiting till after the meeting like I usually do.

Then, I felt hungry again at around 10:45am and it bugged me.

“Damnit, I should’ve eaten ALL my breakfast after the meeting so I wouldn’t already be hungry,” I whined privately.

I ate some hummus.

Then, I ate some other granola.

Then, I felt weird when at 2pm I wasn’t hungry and hadn’t had lunch.

Fuck, I don’t know when to eat, I thought.

I’ll just wait till dinner…

But, wait, what if I eat dinner too early and then I’m hungry again by 9?

Head smack.

It’s a beating – this eating disorder brain.

Instead of listening to my stomach, I just look at the clock – and that’s not the way it should be … but to many of us, it’s all we know.

We get so freaked out of being hungry “more than 3x times a day” and eating ”too much” that we feel this misguided ‘safety’ when it comes to eating “only past noon” or “breakfast at 9:30.”

Whatever your little tick is, I relate.

We feel hunger at the “wrong time” like, say, 4:00pm and we’re all like “WAIT WHAT. NO. NOOOO. THIS ISN’T RIGHT.”

I ATE 2 HOURS AGO – WHY AM I HUNGRY AGAIN BODY?!

Look, at the end of the day, I don’t bloody know what the answer is. I don’t wanna spew out some annoying inspiration quote or ‘guidelines’ to intuitively eat because frankly, you’re gonna feel what you’re gonna feel.

That’s just life with an eating disorder.

But I suppose it always comes down to the same reality:

You have to challenge the bullshit.

And also, learn to live with it – in that forever ‘flexible okay’ of recovery.

We can’t change treatment centers. We can’t change the ridiculous standards people have placed on our culture about eating.

We can’t change diet culture talk that tells us we should eat every XX hours, and all that nonsense – as though ANYONE can truly tell us what OUR bodies should and shouldn’t do when we’re all different.

We all have different eating habits. We all eat at different times. Hell, my grandparents eat at 5pm and I’m all like ”HOW?”

But, they probably would think the same when I eat at 8pm.

Tis’ life. And life navigating ED.

As someone commented below: Maybe there’s a middle ground between rigid, time-structured eating and “intuitive eating.” Maybe the definition of “intuitive eating” is also flexible and individual. Maybe the idea of intuitive eating isn’t as useful idea for my recovery.

I exist in a world where I felt hunger a few minutes ago, and scarfed down some green beans and ranch style Texas beans and sweet potatoes.

I was craving it, man. I really wanted beans and green beans and a sweet potato.

How fun it can be – to crave anything these days – when for years I was completely disconnected from any food group or craving.

Suppose I should be thankful – reframe this post a bit.

I’m thankful to have lost hunger cues, and thankful that I am finding them.

I’m thankful that I can acknowledge what happens with the clock, and thankful I am aware enough to see past it.

Forgive and reframe. Be gentle and flexible.

We’re all roaming for the same truth – but that truth manifests differently for each person.

Thanksgiving Hike
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