Handling FULL Disappointment

A pink bow clipped her light brown hair to the side so the little wisps wouldn’t fall into her face. Her eyes lit up, button nose scrunching, matching her wide toothless ear-to-ear smile. She was wearing a floral jumper that her mommy put her in. She waved her hands from side-to-side excitedly as she giggled making the cutest little noises you ever heard.

“Ahhhhh” she said in a high-pitched scream in the middle of the Greek restaurant we were eating lunch at while waving a shiny spoon from side to side. Shiny spoon-entered her mouth, of course. Shiny spoon almost knocked dada out, who was right next to her on the left. Okay, now done with shiny spoon, I thought grabbing it and replacing it with her Sophie giraffe. Again, “ahhhh,” she screamed as she took Sophie, and hit her on the table. Hard. Poor Sophie!

“Good thing it’s loud in here, she sounds like a baby animal,” I whispered to my mom as we both chuckled.

This brings me to another lesson with being in recovery from an eating disorder and having a baby. Having a baby tends to lessen the sting of disappointment. Children, at least for me so far, serve as a priority checker of sorts or at least sometimes, mostly, a really damn good distraction.

As lunch continued, I got an email that upset me, and for a good moment I was disappointed as we all tend to get sometimes. Then a second later, my little girl leaned back on me and said “yaya, ahhhh.” Her cute little body leaned against my knees. Her head tilted back, eyes staring up at me, and how could I really have disappointment, self-doubt or feel like a complete failure when I have this cute little thing staring up at me the way she does. I can’t.

“Hi munch-a-crunch,” I said embracing her little body into an upside-down hug like Spiderman perfected. Spiderman has nothing on Viv though—she does it without the gross spider webs too.

I then re-read the email. Start to finish. Took a deep breath in, then looked back at Viv. Yes there was sting from the words in the email, but there was something positive right in front of me—my daughter. I think this could actually work for non-mom’s too. Think of something really positive that has happened to you and visualize it. Then think, I can’t be so bad if I created this. If I accomplished that at some point. It’s not worth starving for–what is that going to prove anyway?

Also, to be real, I didn’t feel completely better. I still felt as I say sometimes “kind of sucky.” But Viv brought me back to reality. At least enough so that I wouldn’t do something that would set me back in my recovery.

What I do is look at my daughter. She usually grabs my nose or sometimes I get that gummy smile or her sweet giggle. Then I just think, Wow–she came out of me! I may not be all that bad after all. I think this is my, the proof is in the pudding moment—because my little pudding is super edible. Kind of like Oprah’s Aha moment, but more of a reminder of why you shouldn’t, couldn’t, EVER, return back to that bad, eating disordered thought you just had. Even when you are tempted. No. You could never. Ever. Ever. Return. You get it. Right?

What is your proof is in the pudding that makes you realize, hey I am worth recovery no matter what?

 

Trust Your Instincts FULLy: Or The Big Bad Wolf Will Huff And Puff And Blow Your House In

One thing that will happen when you become a mama is that everyone will become a critic. Everyone and their pet dog will give you opinions about what you are doing, what you should be doing, what their friend’s friend does, AND even the dog next door with her puppies does it too! You get my drift, but seriously. You will hear it all.

Now, being a recovering perfectionist, it was hard for me in the beginning to hear everyone’s opinions about my baby. It’s really a simple equation. Unwanted opinions plus a mixture of raging hormones from just giving birth equals an extremely lethal combination. If anorexia was still with me, I would have gone into a tailspin of terrible thoughts ranging from you are the worst mom ever to you are a complete failure at everything you do. This isn’t dramatic either; these are common destructive thought patterns for an anorexic, that is, until the brain is unwired to be FULL through recovery.

Now, this is how you should handle these unwanted opinions, at least what has helped me, if you are sensitive to criticism like myself and have a hard time dealing with the constant chatter in your ear—especially if you are still a recovering-FULL or a recovered-FULL mama. Even recovered-FULL mama’s still have perfectionist tendencies.

Realize the saying opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one, has never been truer…

Look, every person is different. Every baby is different (they are little people with varying personalities much like us) and what works for one baby and mama duo may not work for another duo. That being said, take what people say with a grain of salt and do what works for you. Know, that everyone has an opinion, especially when it comes to raising babies. There are millions of mothers out there and you are bound to run into one that wants to share their expert mama stance with you along the way (because it worked for them, doesn’t mean it will work for YOU). Just politely nod yes, say thanks, and do whatever the fudge you want, DAMMIT #$@&%*! Take everyone’s opinions combined with your own instincts and make motherhood completely your own.

Every experience in motherhood is that, like recovery, FULLY your own. Remember that.

Unless you asked for the advice, then that’s a whole different scenario. Trust your instincts, you know your baby best. If there is a doubt about that, that is just anorexia rudely knocking it’s unkind fists at your front door like the big bad wolf it is.

Just do what the third little pig did. Build your house out of durable brick, instead of out of flimsy straw and sticks respectively, and the big bad wolf won’t be able to penetrate you. You know what works for you mama–trust your instincts FULLy…

 

 

Letting FULLy Go Of The Shame

It’s funny how a baby can change your prospective on absolutely everything. The topic I experienced today was realizing, shit, I have no shame—but in the best way possible.

To think, that not long ago I was a perfectionist that cared so much about what everyone thought. That out of shame I waited to ask for help while struggling with anorexia (considering death as my only option) until I was twenty-six and hit rock bottom. Shame that I was too old to have an eating disorder. I remained “in the closet” because of the negative stigmas. I should have gotten over this so-called “diet gone wrong” a long time ago. Out of shame, my secret was with me for over a decade.

Motherhood is the best way to really learn how to not give a shit. Take today, for instance:

I was walking back to my apartment when my daughter, Vivienne’s, lower lip took over her upper lip turning into a pout, and also resembling an adorable shih tzu (but that’s besides the point), as she started to whimper.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, in a concerned voice, eyes widening as my facial expression turned to match Vivienne’s, which for anyone who has a baby knows is the kiss of death. Basically, it has the opposite of a soothing effect. Yep, my prediction was spot on. Her whimper suddenly became a loud echoing wail.

Then desperate, I did what any mother would do. Break out into song, of course, in the middle of the street. “Old MacDonald had a farm” came out of my mouth, in a pitchy singsong.

When I got to the Moo Moos, her frown suddenly turned into a big ear-to-ear grin accompanied by an adorable chuckle. So of course, to continue her happy spirit, I sang the rest of the ten blocks back to my apartment-with a moo moo while swerving around pedestrians, and oink oink before crossing the street.

I didn’t even see people look at me because I was so focused on my daughter and when I did look up I didn’t care. We made it home with minimal tears, maximizing the smiles with animals noises, and that was all that mattered.

It was in the moment that I was dancing and singing a made up song in the elevator, a rap called “I’m A Baby,” (going to trademark it-it’s a billboard top 20 for sure ;)) that I knew that I had finally let go of all of my shame. I didn’t care what anyone thought. Old Dani would never let her guard down in public. New Dani, didn’t care about anyone’s opinion enough not to. Hey, and if it took recovery for a couple of years and being a mommy to get me to this place, so be it.

Any of you FULL or aspiring FULL mamas feel the same way?

 

 

What A BeautiFULL Baby Staring Back At Me

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who in this land is fairest of all?

Snow White. Damn not her again? Basically, not me—according to the mirror I am a mere dwarf à la Dopey, because of my klutziness—purple hat, green baggy clothes, to complete my Dope look (see what I did there…)

How many of you have looked in the mirror and thought, “Shit, my thighs are like two gigantic tree trunks?” Then anorexia chimes in, “tree trunks? Those look like General Sherman the biggest giant sequoia in the world.” To that I’d conclude, General Sherman? How Ironic, we even share a maiden name. Or to be blunt, Shit, I’m fat.

How many of you have cinched your stomach and spent an elongated time just staring, examining yourself, head to toe, making a list in your head of things you can improve upon?

Well, Once upon a time in a land far far away, I did too.

***

I stared at my fifteen-week baby bump in the mirror. It didn’t look much different yet, just like I had eaten a big meal—a burger or something bloating. I stuck it out a little to simulate what it would soon be. I quickly sucked it back in. I see all these pregnant women on the streets sticking their small to big bellies out with pride. And really, why shouldn’t they? They look beautiful, and it’s an amazing time—a time I thought for a while wouldn’t happen to me. But how come I was still so shy about my growing tummy? Is it the same reason I am still in denial that something wonderful could be happening to me? Were these thoughts and feelings only because I have only been in recovery from anorexia for almost three years? Maybe.

“Get out of the mirror, Dan!” My husband screamed when he spotted me standing in front of the mirror for a prolonged period of time deep in thought. He had nothing but a towel on and smelled fresh of soap and body lotion. I was in such a trance I didn’t realize he was already out of the shower.

“I am just not sure if I like how this dress looks on me,” I said as I stared at my reflection and saw this person looking back at me. She was unrecognizable. I analyzed her hard. My husband’s cell phone rang and he walked into the other room before he could answer. I watched him leave, and then I turned my head back to this person in the mirror.

She had pale skin and huge breasts. Her hair was thick, wild, and long. She was all dressed up and looked professional, maybe even important. But some things were the same: she had a slight bulge in her mid-section and she just wasn’t sure if it was going to work. She felt a little insecure, and maybe even, I hate to admit this, fat.

You’re probably thinking, Boohoo, you are pregnant, idiot, duh—that’s why you have a bump. Cry me a river like Justin Timberlake sang to Britney Spears in his infamous song after she cheated on him. Yes, and I get those sentiments as well because I was thinking them too as they came into my mind. But, I was able to quickly tuck them away. Fuck you, anorexia. I actually like this new person staring back at me too much to even care what you think.

***

You see, even pregnant I had doubts about myself in the mirror.

It’s funny because I look at my eight-month-old daughter gaze into the mirror, unaffected by society’s bullshit expectations, brown eyes sparkling, her cherub cheeks forming a wide ear-to-ear grin. It is like she sees the best thing in the world staring back at her—an amazing confidence. She giggles and turns shyly away. She thinks the baby in the mirror is awesome and she is. She has a sweet smile and the cutest rolls you have ever laid your eyes upon.

If only we could keep that innocence. If only we could see ourselves as a baby sees their reflection.

This begs the question, what would a world without mirrors or expectations be like? Would it be like Fiji before American television was introduced with no cases of eating disorders? Probably. But what can we do today?

Eating disorders are like a gun that’s formed by genetics, loaded by a culture and family ideals, and triggered by unbearable distress. Aimee Liu

We have to keep the trend of love who you are going and really mean it. We have to promote being FULL, physically and mentally (intellectually and emotionally)–and unique as what is really beautiful. All I know is that I want my daughter to always look in the mirror the way she does now. I want her to be completely FULL. I want all of the future children to know:

They are the fairest of them all and it’s not what is looking back at them in the mirror that makes them that.