Coming Full Circle At A P!nk Concert

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Running on the treadmill, my feet slam up and down, up and down. My hair bounces against my neck. I can hear the machine roar, a symphony of squeaks, whines, and screeches. Once I am in the groove, my running groove, none of that bothers me. Sweat pours down the back of my neck, into my sports bra and against my stomach. I listen to music, and all I do is run, like nothing can stop me—and nothing can. P!nk is blaring in my ears, inspiring me—to keep going like the little recovery engine that could.  I can feel my heart beating loudly, lub-dub, to the music vibrating through my ears, lub-dub. It’s not about calories; it’s about feeling refreshed and alive, at peace.

That was me at twenty-six, getting back into exercise after the weight restoration process of eating disorder recovery where I wasn’t allowed to exercise anything except my jaw muscles by eating copious amounts of food– for months. Listening to P!nk and getting lost in her inspiring words—became my go to on the days where all I wanted to do was hide under the covers and give up. On the days where the demon in my head was telling me I wasn’t good enough, I was out of control, getting fat, a failure, and I couldn’t go on.

Next week I am seeing P!nk  live in concert. Performing upside down on a trapeze, singing her beautiful heart out. Hair a funky Mohawk. Redefining beauty by just being bravely herself.  In a world filled with mimics being an original is the most daring thing at times. It took me a while to come to the realization that we are all a little broken. Once we accept ourselves as is, flaws and all, it will be possible for us to heal and put all the pieces back together—and become who we really are. And P!nk you did a lot for me during the early years of recovery where I was slowly putting the puzzle pieces that are me back together:

Your lyrics helped me change the voices in my head like how you describe in “Perfect”.

Your lyrics made me feel less alone.

Your lyrics made me feel empowered.

Your lyrics helped be rid me of shame.

I have come full circle from being the girl that took up very little space.

The girl who was harboring so much resentment.

The girl who couldn’t express or identify emotions.

The girl whose greatest fear was upsetting people.

The girl who thought that starving and numbing out were the only ways to get by.

I am now a woman who takes up space and owns the space she is in.

I am now a woman who knows who she is and fights for what she believes in.

I am now a woman who is physically and mentally strong.

I am now a woman who is a mother, and above all else a role model to them.

Five year later P!nk is still a pillar of strength to me. Back then, she was everything I was not. Now that I am a more balanced individual, she is everything I am — a woman living her truth, an original copy not afraid of not fitting into the mold—actually aspiring to be different. I will be cheering for that and her at Madison Square Garden. I will also be rocking out for all the people out there finding their own path to recovery in whatever they are going through. You are stronger than you know. And soon you will be fully you.

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ED Will Never Ever Be My Valentine’s Date Again

Gosh, relationships. Hard enough before you have a third party involved. If you watch Sister Wives, you know what I am talking about. If you are in a relationship while having an eating disorder it’s like having an ménage à trois, because the eating disorder voice is always there, looming, as the third party in the relationship. You can’t just focus on the two of you, because that third party is constantly pulling at your heartstrings, like a puppet master, causing complete havoc.

Since I have never been one for a three way–I guess I am just not that kinky, but power to you if you are—when I was struggling with ED (short for “eating disorder,” which was coined by author and eating disorder survivor, Jenni Schaefer, in Life Without ED) he was the only thing I had time for. We were exclusive to each other, a monogamous duo. We had the talk many times.

He was romantic at times. On Valentine’s Day he pulled out all the stops, triggering bulimia, a special peanut butter binge-he knew it was my favorite–followed by an epic purge. He was thoughtful like that, knowing this was what an ideal date night for me would consist of–no one knew me, the ins and outs of my mind, quite like my eating disorder.

At times I did try to date. I made a profile and joined the ranks of New York dating singles on JDate and Match.com. At the time those were the big ones. It was difficult for me to take any “blind” date situation seriously. I felt like a caricature of myself out on these dates. I could never take these meet-ups as more than a joke—that would mean I would have to face being rejected or, worse, let someone in and get my heart broken. My eating disorder kept me safe, so I stuck tightly by his side.

For four years during the peak of my self-destruction, he was my everything. He was the only one I had time for because he was extremely demanding. He was bossy, actually verbally and physically abusive. He told me to workout, that my butt was too flabby. Sometimes he would tell me to workout for three hours on the elliptical in the middle of the night, when I couldn’t sleep. He told me not to eat anything all day except for a lean cuisine meal around dinnertime. He told me to wear baggy clothes to mask my shrinking frame. He told me how to order laxatives without people knowing (online—duh!). He taught me so many tricks, he taught me everything I knew. We were so co-dependent that I thought we merged into one. I forgot who I was.

Six months into recovery, was the first time I was able to let someone besides ED into my life. A year and a half later we were married. I finally started to peal away who Dani was without her eating disorder—what she really liked, didn’t like, and most importantly how she felt. I became the real me, not the me I felt pressure to be or who constantly believed I wasn’t good enough. Because you know what I am more than good enough, thank you very much!

My husband, he was not my cure-all, by any means. I am in no way saying that a ring and a wedding cured my eating disorder or made me well, because it didn’t. What I am saying is that because I was happy and healthy enough, mentally and physically, to let myself be vulnerable, the conditions for true connection were set.

So this Valentine’s Day I will be celebrating, four years eating disorder free, with my husband and my 11-month old daughter by my side. We will be at home, in our pajamas, eating takeout and speaking baby babble with food absolutely everywhere—and it will be perfect. I couldn’t even imagine this life years ago, but now I wouldn’t even want to take a peek back out of curiosity. Recovery has brought me this perfectly imperfect spaghetti-and-tomato-sauce-in-the-hair filled image of Valentine’s Day and as challenging and sometimes messy as it will be—I couldn’t picture it any other way. I will cheers to my recovery, with a spaghetti noodle from my hair, for giving me the guts to get rid of my abusive boyfriend—ED.

 

 

This Is Not A Choice

“Why can’t you just eat?” Such a simple question with such a complex answer.

Trust me, when I was at my lowest weight and struggling with anorexia, I knew I looked sickly. I just couldn’t get myself to eat. It wasn’t that easy. That is the biggest misconception about anorexia; that if you just eat, you will get better. Great, if it was just that easy! Eating is against everything you believe, especially when it is ingrained into your DNA not to.

Similarly when I was trying to recover through the Maudsley approach, family based treatment; I couldn’t help but slip with laxatives a couple of times. It was like a force was pulling me towards them like I was in some kind of magical trance. My parents didn’t understand. One time it got really bad. I didn’t respond well—we all didn’t respond well.

I was about halfway through my Maudsley refeeding at twenty-six—I know, it was rough-when my mom found natural laxatives I’d bought in one of the drawers in the computer room at my parents house. I was staying there for a couple of months to avoid inpatient treatment, while working with an eating disorder therapist, and other experts. I had compartmentalized the laxatives as not being a problem. I mean I was gaining weight, eating, doing everything else right. Can’t I be getting better but still abusing laxatives at the same time? I wondered. I know the answer to that now, but just humor me for a moment.

I had tried to justify them to myself when I sneakily bought them because they were “natural” laxatives. Natural meant they were acceptable in my mind—wrong! My mom called my dad when we were on the way home from work and angrily told him what she discovered. He yelled at me for being deceitful.

“All you do is lie to me. I can’t trust you! How could you lie to me?” he roared, his lower teeth overtaking his upper lip like a shih tzu, which was intimidating as fuck—not like the cute little teacup shih tzus I was familiar with.

“I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to—” I said biting my lip hard, tears forming in my shameful eyes.

“You mean, you didn’t mean to get caught! Your mother and I have been busting our assess trying to get you better, and this is how you repay us. You are so ungrateful.”

I swear he had such force in his voice that the car shook with its booming vibrato. He never knew how to handle his emotions, especially over things he couldn’t control. He wanted to scare the shit out of me, scare the anorexia and bulimia out of me, so I wouldn’t do it again. Though that wasn’t going to help. He didn’t understand how powerful this addiction was. He didn’t understand that the last thing I wanted to do was lie to him, to my mom. It wasn’t about trust. I had a problem. I was an addict.

I cried all the way home as he expressed his disappointment in me as a person, even more hurtful, as his daughter. We got home, and as we pulled in, I saw the outline of my mom at the door peering out: her long brown locks, medium-height lanky body, and long skinny arms. How would I get around her without talking to her? My dad’s screams were all blending together as the intensity seemed to decrease, and all I could hear were the same words over and over again “disappointment” and “unappreciative.”

I opened the car door and slithered out like a rattlesnake making its escape, slammed the door shut behind me, and ran past my mom up the back stairs and hid. Yes, you read that correctly, I hid. I didn’t want them to belittle me anymore. I couldn’t take it. Through the vents, I could hear them talking, but only in murmurs. Then they shouted for me: “Dani! Dani!” I stayed in my hiding spot, paralyzed. I felt like a little girl hiding from her spanking.

I hid in a closet in my room under hanging clothes, squishing old shoes with my butt and legs for what seemed like a long time. I whimpered but tried to stay as quiet as possible. It was hot and dark with a little light peeking through the bottom. I saw the backs of dresses from when I was younger. One was dark maroon. I recognized it as the dress I wore to my bat mitzvah. I placed my fingers on it and felt the texture; it felt hard, almost stale. I looked at a suitcase above me where I used to hide laxatives, now I was hiding for them. I was hiding because I was so addicted to them, to my habits, that I couldn’t stop myself from using them. I’d reached a new low. I was sitting in my childhood closet hiding from the world.

I heard my mom calling in echoes. “Dani, Dani! Is this a joke? Where are you?” I heard her faint footsteps far away.

My dad chiming in: “Did she leave the house?”

I heard the front door open and slam close.

Tucked quietly away, I let them panic for a bit. I let them squirm the way I had been squirming these past couple of months, tiptoeing around them, trying everything to please them, following their every order so I wouldn’t be hospitalized. Somehow, in this moment, this felt so much worse than the worst punishment I could think of. I wanted to get even with them in a way. I resented my dad’s reaction; I resented my mom for busting me the way she did. She could have just waited until we both got home, instead of making me get stuck in a car with someone who saw this as the ultimate betrayal.

“You are going to be in big trouble whenever you come out!” I heard my dad scream. Not exactly motivation for me to move. I closed my eyes and tried to slow my breathing, hoping the walls from the closet would close in and suffocate me, end it all right now, right here . . .

“Dani, please, we are not mad at you,” my mom countered his lunacy. Her panicked voice made me feel a little bad.

About ten minutes in hiding, I opened the closet door from the inside, revealing myself. I picked myself up slowly, gaining balance on my two feet and feeling weak and defeated as I shouted, “I’m here, I’m here.” I realized that my voice was in a whisper and not the shout I intended it to be. “I’m here. I am coming!” I screamed again, and this time it was actually louder.

I walked down the front stairs and found them both in the kitchen.

When I saw their faces, I apologized through broken whimpers and tears. My parents both embraced me. I snuggled into my dad’s chest, hiding my face and tears in the warmth of his body. I cried for my parents. I cried for myself. I cried because I didn’t think I could do this anymore. I just cried.

I wish all of us had responded differently. There were a lot of emotions. It was one of the hardest times in all of our lives. My dad didn’t know anything from eating disorders. He thought I chose not to eat. He never heard of anyone being addicted to something like laxatives. But now every year at the NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) walk, my dad stands right by my side listening to the speakers; his unblinking eyes release tears that roll along the contour of his chin and down his neck. Now, he is my biggest advocate and understands how difficult this illness is. He is proud of me, of all the people that beat this. He knows this is not a choice.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or refer to the resources page

 

 

 

Let’s Rip All Band-Aids Off Today

My leg pounds on the ground, ready to pound out the next beat—thump, thump, thump. I can’t help but shake. My leg becomes jittery when I am nervous. My whole body can feel it. I drop my hands, and feel the thump, thump, thump. Stop shaking, I scream. It didn’t listen, dammit. Deja de temblar, I say utilizing my mediocre Spanish skills, hoping my leg understands that better than English. Nope. Then I take matters into my own hands, literally, grabbing my leg for it to stop. Finally, phew.

I feel my nails. They are short and brittle. I can’t help biting them or picking at them. Pick, pick, bite and bite some more. I pick my lip when I am focusing.

“Stop picking your lip,” my husband says–it irks him. I nod my head, as I remain silent focusing on whatever I am focusing on.

“Your head says yes, but your actions say no.”

I whip around and smile his way, knowing he is totally right.

The weird things we do to make ourselves feel better. The weird kinks our bodies come up with to cope.

“Two anxiety disorders in particular, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and social phobia commonly occur with anorexia and bulimia.”[1] I had both. Socially, I would always care what everyone thought about me, and the anxiety would induce me to not go out to parties or other social gatherings. Don’t approach that group of girls; they are going to reject you. My OCD, or rituals, were very particular. I would count numbers, multiples of 13 were considered bad. I couldn’t shut off the light on 13 or do anything for a multitude of 13. I also had to be the last person to shut off the lights and I would chant, “I wish that I was the skinniest and prettiest person in the world.” I would chant this until my eyes would slowly drift into sleep. If I didn’t, I would be afraid I would always remain ugly and fat. If I didn’t stay up until my parents got home on date night, I was convinced something horrible would happen to them. So I pinned my eyes open, staying up till whenever I heard the alarm buzz indicating they were home.

            On top of that, I would obsess about every single morsel of food I did or didn’t put into my mouth: calculate the calories, what I was going to eat/not eat, when I was going to binge/purge etc. and between that I was studying, because I had to be perfect. It was all consuming. When you disappear in your thoughts like that you don’t truly live.

            We repeat things in our heads over and over again in order to blockade certain thoughts, feelings. We don’t eat to numb ourselves too. That’s one of the many reasons why recovery can be so hard in the beginning. All of a sudden you feel everything again and it’s frightening. You actually have to deal with all the underlying issues. All of the emotions rush to your head making the heat travel to your face. The feelings attack every pore, every inch of your body. You want to punch yourself, stop those feeling—but you can’t without tackling them head on. Instead of numbing out, feeling absolutely nothing—nada, zip, zilch–you will start to confront issues and it’s actually so much better than the temporary Band-Aid you put on everything. Some people are more comfortable stuck in their own traps and webs—but it’s better to step out of that comfort zone. Yes, it’s painful in the short run, but in the long run, you feel relief because you give closure to that open wound.

Then when the wound is sealed you can do a little Irish jig (because why not?) and say in a singsong tone “I am back, bye anorexia and OCD you complete jerks.” And give them a figurative middle finger on the way out. They deserve it!

We need courage to get back on our feet and start again after hard times, but each of us has that courage within. When it seems like everyone and everything is against us, we have it in us to prove everyone wrong, even ourselves, and persevere. To say you are perfect after you choose recovery is what would be categorized as an alternative fact (thanks Donald Trump America for that one), but it gets so much better. Life is messy but once you face reality it becomes easier and you can even see the beauty in it, by actually living, believe it or not. We are all kind of broken, but that’s what gives us depth and makes us beautiful.

So next time you are tap-tap-tapping your leg, and you are trying to get it to stop by screaming in different languages at it—at least that’s what I do–remember why you are really doing it. It won’t make your life better by continuing your rituals. Actually without them, life gets so much better—easier and more enjoyable. Let’s rip those Band-Aids permanently off- or in the language of recovery, let yourself be free.

 

[1] Costin, Carolyn. The Eating Disorder Sourcebook, Third Edition (McGraw-Hill Education, 2007), page 31.

New Years Got Me Like: Wah, Wah, Wah

New Year, new start, new resolutions and all I keep hearing are noises reminiscent of an adult in a Peanuts comic strip “wah, wah, wah.”

The lady sitting next to me on the subway with blonde tresses and a raspy voice proudly says, “I am going to lose x lbs.” Translation: wah wah wah. Just stop.

A man in my apartment complex asserts, “I am going to quit eating sugar.” Translation: wah wah wah whatever!

A hung-over mama in my spin class says, “I am going to drink less” in-between wheezes as she chugs along on the bike and according to her on way less Vodka on the Rocks. Translation: wah wah wah. How boring.

Or more precisely STFU! Just stop, stop, stop. Please stop. Setting these goals that will never happen! Never. Ever. Happen.

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I am like the revenge-seeking Grinch that stole New Year’s resolutions. I come with my big brown bag tossing people’s New Year’s dreams out the window, and then retreating back to the outskirts of Whoville. Like come on, why do I need a New Year to tell me to be a better person? Plus, I feel like most New Year’s resolutions are about weight and that makes me very angry on another level. My overall frumpiness feels threatened and my inner ninja fights back hard.

 When I think of New Year’s Eve in my early twenties, I picture myself getting all dolled up in a slutty dress with way too much boobage popping out. I’d cover the girls in a cardigan that I would never take off (ironically feeling too slutty…) and high heels that I’d wobble around all night in like an elephant on stilts. Starting the night out walking confidently filled with high expectations, piss and vinegar, and whatever weight goal I set for myself starting tomorrow.

By the end of the night, and only god knows how many drinks, my head would be in the toilet, shoes in hand—barefooting the streets of New York—crying “I want my mommy” like my daughter does. Because dammit, when I don’t feel well I want my mommy. Don’t judge.

 What makes me so bitter? Well let me fill you in where my deep hate stems from.

I personally don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions because I think you should better yourself every day. I know a very Brady Bunch answer, but it’s true. A part of me doesn’t like them even more because a number provokes it. On January 1st, you are supposed to start whatever your goal is and pursue it hard—weighing it on a figurative scale of your success every day. Like an eating disorder, you are setting yourself up for disaster. This is why I advise you to evolve healthily each and every day of the year.

Every day, try to respect your body, always be true to yourself, don’t waste your time on nonsense, and spend your time with the people who love you the way you are. Most importantly, you will never be everyone’s perfect person, so just be YOU—that unique, vibrant, amazing person I know each of you are. It’s easy to be you everyday, and not fail at it. So just do what comes naturally.

This year, my first New Year’s Eve in my thirties, it will be my hubby and me in bed, watching New Year’s Rockin Eve 2017 or hopefully some Bravo special countdown—I can only hope, this is my plea Andy Cohen! My daughter will be fast asleep in her crib. Again, I can only hope. And it will be absolutely perfect. No expectations except for a kiss from my husband at midnight. And I couldn’t think of a better way to ring in the New Year. Just like every other day.

 

 

 

What Turning Thirty Means To Me After Beating Mental Illness

Only a thin white gown covered my body as I shivered ferociously, despite the plush white blanket my mother had brought from home. I couldn’t move, not even to make eye contact with my mother, who, flanked by doctors and nurses, peered over me.

“What happened to me?” I wanted to ask, but I was too confused to form words. I knew one thing for sure—my head hurt. I closed my eyes again to relieve the pain and blurriness. I could hear the piercing wails of the ambulance, so loud yet ever fading as I went in and out of consciousness.

“Danielle, can you hear me?” the EMT asked with such command, it scared me into answering him. But what came out of my mouth was only gibberish, like playing a record backward in slow motion. The one thing in English I could say became my mother’s saving grace as she squeezed my hand in terror: “I don’t want to die.” Her saving grace, because for far too long I had done everything in my power to die.

My abuse of laxatives had been going on for a good ten years, and I was finally paying the price. I swore I could feel my body breaking down the night before, and I was right. I had known something bad was going to happen, and it did. Like I had a crystal ball, I’d predicted it, and I was lucky I’d asked for help and wasn’t alone. Now, what was going to happen to me?

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It’s hard to believe this was four years ago when my body broke down and had a seizure. Now I am going to be thirty—the big 3-0. I didn’t believe I was going to make it to twenty-six, I was going to die of anorexia. But, lo and behold– here I am and a shit load has changed. I have learned so many lessons and I am here to tell you what thirty and being in recovery feels like. So listen up:

1). My soul feels so much older than thirty so turning thirty actually seems young to me believe it or not.

Growing up with mental illness I took on a lot being the perfectionist, type-A, OCD girl I was. While my middle school, high school and college peers were talking about parties and each other, I was worried about everything from my grades, the state of my family’s happiness, to homeless youth on the street (seriously). I felt like it was my responsibility to make everything in the world perfect. With that superman-like responsibility, I had to mature a lot quicker than most.

To recover from mental illness, you also go through a lot of self-reflection and discovery that makes you feel way beyond your years. This is why turning thirty is a piece of cake. I actually am excited to have a whole decade ahead of me, the first sick-free decade I will ever have.

2). I have perspective from being sick and appreciate things a little more

I appreciate the small things like going out for dinner and being able to eat. I appreciate the fact that I have the strength to carry my daughter in the Baby Bjorn for a couple of hours or at least until my back feels like it is going to give out. I appreciate being able to watch Stranger Things on Netflix and not feeling guilty for being unproductive or not having my own demogorgon in my mind telling me how lazy and fat I am.

3). My possibilities are endless in recovery

It’s amazing what your brain can do when you are in recovery. You have so much more room for creativity when you’re not constantly counting calories. You have more time to have an actual life. Without anorexia, I was able to meet a great guy and now have a beautiful baby girl. He was not my cure-all, by any means, and I am not saying that a ring and a wedding cured my eating disorder or made me well, because it didn’t. What I am saying is that because I was happy and healthy enough, mentally and physically, to let myself be vulnerable, the conditions for true connection were set. Without anorexia, nothing is holding you back. You can do whatever you set your mind to. There is a whole world out there, with endless possibilities.

4). I know who my real friends are

When you go through mental illness you realize who your true friends are and who you have been keeping around as filler. And you know what? Fillings can stick to the cavities in my mouth, thank you very much. I don’t have time for filler-friends of any kind. The number of friends I have dwindled, but the quality has gotten more like that authentic Chanel bag then the fake knock-off on the street.

The facilitator for a webinar I took through the National Eating Disorder Association summed it up perfectly with these words: “Surround yourself with positive people. It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.”

At thirty, I finally feel deserving of surrounding myself with these kinds of people because I am kind enough to myself to accept them. I don’t have anything to hide from them anymore or push them away now that I am in recovery. I am finally embracing my flaws, so I have to believe that other people will as well, and if they don’t, well . . . fuck ’em.

5). I have learned how to say no to the bullshit.

This person cancelled plans on me for the fifth time with no excuse. That person has me waiting over thirty minutes. I am going to leave. Your priorities change too much to care about the bullshit. I have a baby too, and way too much going on. If you aren’t here for the right reasons, bye Felicia!

6). Me time, is more than okay

This is hard to fit in as a mama of a nine month old, but I deserve it and need it. For the longest time I did everything for everyone else and was people pleasing up the wazoo that I forgot about myself. Now I make sure to have some time at the end of the day to write, watch television, and do whatever I need to unwind.

I don’t abuse my body and push it to the limit. I listen to it and let it guide me. It’s like in the book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. The controversy stems from whether the relationship between the main characters, a tree and a boy, could be interpreted as positive (i.e., the tree gives the boy selfless love) or as negative (i.e., the boy and the tree have an abusive relationship). I looked at it more on a positive, with the tree being like a mother figure to the boy, content just to make the boy happy. However, if it were multiple people just taking, taking, taking from the tree, the tree would wind up with nothing, and maybe no one would care. The boy appreciated the tree as a stump, but some people wouldn’t.

I almost wound up being a stump because I gave too much of myself and never gave myself anything or took anything in return. You can’t give, give, and give until there is nothing left of you. You have to find a balance. I am learning that. I refuse to be a stump ever again.

7). I finally feel found.

I know who I am. I know my beliefs. I am not wishy-washy on them like I was in my twenties. I used to be insecure and wouldn’t voice my feelings; scared I wouldn’t be accepted or liked-the horror! Now I am not affected by what others think. I don’t need to be liked by everyone as long as I know I am a good person. If they don’t like me, so be it. Yes, I doubt myself at times, but far less than I used to.

8). I am finally comfortable in my body

Gosh, this one seems like it took forever to achieve, but I am finally here and yes at dirty thirty. Wahoo for that! After I had my baby I realized how amazing my body is and what it can do. I mean it created my little girl so it can’t be all that bad. I am more than my body and when it came down to it my anorexia wasn’t even really about my body to begin with.

9). I accept my flaws and even like them believe it or not

Part of my recovery was realizing that no one is perfect, and that is actually the most beautiful and life-changing realization I ever had. The people who have to pretend to be flawless are the ones I now feel sorry for. I want to shake all those people who are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves and scream loudly in their ears so it registers in their brains: “Snap out of it! It’s okay to be imperfect! Your flaws set you apart in a great way. You will be so much more happy once you embrace them!” Because now that’s really how I feel. And it’s true. I am happier now that I have embraced and even love my flaws.

10). I eat what I want and don’t feel bad about it.

I don’t have good or bad foods anymore. I don’t believe in diets and have a really healthy eating lifestyle with moderation for whatever I am in the mood for. If I want a slice of pizza, I am going to have it, dammit! Now that I am eating normally (compared to disordered) I listen to my body’s hunger cues and enjoy what I am eating. It takes time to get to this place of enjoyment with food, for me it was probably a solid three years into recovery, but once you get there it is amazing

I never was actually aware of the concept of mindful eating until I was recovered and realized that I was practicing it all along—while I kept on getting better and better. I was slowly letting myself become more aware of my feelings and why I was restricting or bingeing—turning to food to cope. This way I am never tempted to over eat or under eat again. I listen to my body.

So this year when my family sings the Happy Birthday song and I blow out the candles on my birthday cake, I will be feeling happy, even grateful to be here. I feel like I have a second chance and am so lucky that I have a beautiful family to celebrate with. So thirty bring it on, I am ready for you!

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Prouder Then Ever Of My Frump

“Dani you always wear the same blues.” My mom said looking me up and down, up and down, eyes scanning me from head to toe.

“That’s because I aspire to be a smurf,” I said straight faced, because you know what? It’s kind of true. Who wouldn’t want to be a cute little blue humanoid and get to live in a mushroom-shaped house? I would change my identity to “Frumpy Smurf.” It would be a perfect fit. But I digress…

So what are these so-called blues? The blues are sets of pajamas I have– all a shade of blue, not an extremely complex concept–which I wear on a nightly basis. Oh and I look forward to getting into them all day long, that sometimes I actually sneak them on during the day too. I know, so scandalous or face with stuck-out tongue and winking eye emoji-worthy crazy. Hands down favorite part of the day: taking the bra off and putting on the blues. And I am not some crazy “blue lady,” believe it or not, this collection of comfies is totally coincidental: The blue life chose me; I didn’t choose the blue life. There is one thing they all have in common besides their color scheme. They are so comfy like what I would imagine being wrapped-up in a Little Giraffe swaddle to feel like.

Anyway, my mom thought I could use a wardrobe overhaul. Which I translated into: Dani, I want to GET RID OF THE BLUES. All I could do was picture her throwing them in a big black garbage bag and me in slow motion screaming: NOOOO.

Viv plays with my blues all the time—giving me big “hugy hugs” in them, playing with my sleeves. I have a zipper on a sweatshirt that she pulls up and down as she giggles at the short hissing noise it makes.

For years when I was struggling with anorexia, actually the majority of my life, I cared so much about what others thought about me. You are not pretty enough for this person or not smart enough for that person. I heard the ana voices constantly screaming in my ears. Now, the only person’s opinion I care about is my daughter’s and she loves me, frump included. She loves me for me–no makeup, comfy sweats, and hair in a messy bun. A child’s love goes a long way. Babies just want to love and be loved. They are so sweet, pure and innocent. They know good people, so when you have a baby’s love and approval, you know you are doing something right. In conclusion, keep being you.

So my reply to my mom would be reminiscent of Cher in Clueless “as if” or “whatever.” Meaning, no wardrobe overhaul needed, but thank you!

So yes I will wear my blues. I feel my best in them and that’s all that matters because remember the comfy blue life chose me and now I choose it back.