I See You…

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Wouldn’t it be easier if we could all remain truth tellers? If words could easily spew from our lips. If we could all be completely transparent.

We wouldn’t lie …

If people’s words back to us didn’t cut us sharply like swords. And it always shocks me how easily those words are said—without a second thought of how much hurt they can cause. 
If we didn’t feel the glaring eyes of others constantly hovering over our backs like a hovercraft.

Those words, those looks, that judgment—gives us shame.

Yet, we sit there and judge each other in whispers and sometimes in screams.

But what if…

If we weren’t afraid. If we didn’t have shame.

If we didn’t have to hide any part of ourselves.

If we didn’t have to get to the age and maturity where we don’t care anymore.

Why is it that we are so hard on each other? We know how hard this life is. We have each driven on the bumpy, winding roads of life—different highways and intersections but they all have challenges. We have learned how to drive on these roads, from years of practice. But of course, there are accidents, traffic, and roadblocks along the way. The potholes can be deep– sometimes you can get stuck– get a flat tire, the engine blew— and while you are waiting for help you can find yourself waiting for hours, days, maybe even years thinking about your next move. Sometimes it’s hard to make that call to ask for help.

To the person that is stuck deep in the pothole trying to claw her/his way out, I see you.

I see you trying to get through the day.
I see you going through the motions.
I see you functioning on auto-pilot.

I’ve been there.

To that person, please speak your truth. I hope courage finds its way into your tank. You can make any car model stronger. It starts by making the call to get repairs.

Then you must take action—make sure you know how to deal with future potholes. This is the hard part. This is the dirty work. You have to work to make a change. Change doesn’t miraculously happen—this life isn’t that easy. There is no magic fix, no abracadabra and you get a sweet bunny out of a top hat.

And after some time, your car will be back on the road–running smoothly, oil changed, gassed-up and ready to cruise again. Yes, there will be bad days once again, but you can deal with roadblocks better when you know how to be your own mechanic.

You will accept the judgment because it’s inevitable and you will be more understanding of other car model’s track marks—a small dent in the hood, a nail in the tire, and a crack in the windshield. You have been there.

And like me, you will see others and understand. You will give them a nod instead of a whispering hover.

You will wear these dents with pride–they made you, YOU.

Accepting My Body

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I look down in the shower at my body.

The water is drip-dropping down my hair, off my nose, down my torso—to my toes covered by a layer of skin—my old friend, fat.

This body has been through the ringer. All bodies have. But you can always find the beauty in the dark. You just have to not give up and keep looking.

Fat, ugh, THAT hideous word.

I can be frank with you. I have NEVER liked you. I have gotten to the point in my recovery journey where sometimes you fall out of memory, but then I look down and see you. You are kind of like that mean relative who I never want to see because you make me feel bad about myself but we are attached by common family so you pop-in every so often. Yes, that would be YOU fat.

“I feel fat.”

“Do I look fat?”

“Gosh, I look fat in these!” I would say your name way too often for many years. To myself, to my family, to anyone I could confide in.

When I first found out I was pregnant, the emotion of thrill was quickly followed by fear. Fear, that I wasn’t strong enough in my eating disorder recovery to handle the weight gain that goes hand-in-hand with pregnancy.  I was finally at a place in my life where I was doing well with my body and now—this would be a huge test.

So fat, as I gained weight with each of my babies I slowly embraced you. I embraced my expanding waist-line with an additional coating of you. I embraced you creeping into my breasts, making me ready to become the family cow. I had to make peace with you.

Fat, you will always be there, a form of excess flesh—protecting my body. Fat, pregnancy made me accept you for what you are, extra padding for this mommy—the strongest kind of woman there is. Extra padding that helps lift my daughters’ one in each arm. Extra padding that gives me the energy and strength to care for them.

This body has been through the ringer. All bodies have. But you can always find the beauty in the dark. You just have to not give up and keep looking.

My children are the beauty I found in the dark. They have helped me accept my body as it is, finding better coping mechanisms. They have reminded me that fat isn’t the enemy—be ridding my body of it, was my way of disappearing, not wanting to be seen. My babies make me want to take up more space and live. In fact, I am afraid to not be here because no one can love them as much as I do.

Pregnancy was the most space I ever took up. And gosh, my body was beautiful– because my babies were inside. This body created them. This body, fat and all. This body, it deserves to be cherished because it does so much.

I look down in the shower at my body.

The water is drip-dropping down my hair, off my nose, down my torso—to my toes covered by a layer of skin—my old friend, fat.  I now more than accept you. I love you for helping me finally find the beauty in the dark—my girls. I am glad I didn’t give up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mama Friend I Forgive You

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I overhear a lot of things at my daughter’s classes. And I must say, there is too much complaining amongst mommy-kind about each other. I hear it in whispers, laughs, sometimes anger.  I thought I needed to set the record straight on my opinion about this epidemic. So here it is and this is my take on how I know a mommy friend is a keeper.

You forgot my birthday mommy friend. Don’t worry, I am not counting my presents and making an exclusive invite list to my big birthday bash at a chic high-end restaurant and YOU BETTER BE THERE OR ELSE. I am most likely ordering in dinner with my family and having my two-year old blow out my birthday candles. I too, believe it or not, am not perfect, and get confused about what day of the week, month, it is here in Mamaland—which is a lot like Disneyland in the high probability rate of tantrums that happen, minus the fun rides. Yes, it’s THAT much fun. This means, I more than get why it may slip your mind. In fact, I more than forgive you and probably didn’t even think twice about it.

You made a borderline offensive comment mommy friend.  You made a joke at my expense about my parenting style. How “I am crazy for breastfeeding so long and co-sleeping” but you didn’t mean to. You thought I’d laugh along. People make mistakes. Yes, my feelings were hurt in that moment, but I’ll get over it. I always do.

You didn’t call me back mama friend. You said you were going to, but I never heard back. Now it has been five days and no call back. I am so NOT mad. Come on, I have done the same thing to you. Life gets busy. Trust me, at the end of a long day of changing countless dirty diapers, dancing non-stop to The Wiggles, at least two toddler tantrums, a lot of tears shed, the last thing I want to do is call anyone back, including you (sorry, not sorry). I am in no way holding it against you.

You ignored my text mommy friend. I saw that you read it. IPhone’s can be truth tellers like that. Big deal. It happens.

You had to cancel plans over four times in a row fellow mama—a different excuse each time. I get it, things happen in life. I’ll most definitely do it to you. Even though I won’t mean to.

What is my point with all of this?

Look I know how it is to feel overwhelmed, down, depressed, so sad you feel like you are drowning but you are eyes-wide-open while the water is caving in on you—it’s absolutely terrifying. I know what it is like to be so in the grasps of depressions hands, that it is literally suffocating you and you can hardly breathe. You want to scream but you are underwater so you can’t–thoughts are blurry, self-esteem absent. You can’t see the positive in anything. Your soul is literally drowning. I know how it is to go through really bad times. I think most people once they hit a certain age do.

This is why I take other things into account and overlook these little insignificant things. Because when you go through hard times you realize what truly matters in a friend:

1). You have always been kind to me and my family— genuinely wishing us the best.

2). We always laugh hard together or have good talks.

3) . You are always kind to my kids, treating them like your own.

4). If I needed you, I know you would be there or at least attempt to get there.

In my mind, even if you are just thinking positively about me and my family you are a good friend. Motherhood is hard. There is a whole lot going on at all times—spaghetti on the walls metaphorically and literally. The kids take up 95% of the day. So why would I get rid of you based on being forgetful, a one-off joke, a simple lapse of memory? I wouldn’t.

Everyone’s life is messy-a sprinkling of good and bad times, hopefully the good outweighing the bad most of the time. Everyone is going through something. It may be different degrees of that something but it is still messy, raw, and I am sure hard as heck And on top of that, we are raising children and have their problems at the forefront. That’s a lot to take on!

The world doesn’t owe you anything. Unfortunately, no one does. That’s why when you find another good person or good people, hold on really tight and don’t drop them for insignificant reasons. Motherhood can be lonely. We need each other.

Repeat after me: I ________ forgive my fellow mama friend for the small thing that got me upset and will not drop them or complain to others in my tribe. Understanding breeds understanding, kindness breeds more kindness—and I want us mamas to be each other’s supports instead of knocking each other down for stupid lapses or oversights (Plus, hello momnesia—it’s real!). We are all aboard this mama train for a ride of a lifetime so we might as well chugga chugga choo choo along and stick together.

 

 

Stand Up, I Dare You

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I was sitting in Madison Square Garden watching P!NK storm the stage in an all-white ensemble like the angel goddess she is. She even flew in on strings like she was attached to a marionette—but let’s be real, P!NK is her own puppeteer and that’s why she is admired by many. She took my breath away as cheers and loud edgy-pop-inspiration filled the jam-packed arena. Some sections promptly stood up, as if P!NK’s all around magnetism pulled them off of their feet—and it did. Of course, my body had the same reaction, but I held myself back. The problem: I was in the inhibited section where everyone was clapping and bopping their heads in their seats, up and down, like bobble-head dolls, but no one dared to stand up. I would normally feel comfortable in this area being an outgoing introvert.  I can be social and enjoy going out to concerts and interacting with new people at times, but it takes a lot out of me.  It’s really in my moments alone where I am energized and recharged. I am not a live loud and dance like no one Is watching kind of girl by nature.

“Let’s stand up!” My sister-in-law, shouted into my ear over the loud vibrato of P!NK’s magical vocals. I looked around, scoping the area, and found not one person in my section was blockading me and my lack-there-of-dance-moves.  Everyone behind me would bear witness.  I mean, me and my toddler dance to The Wiggles, but I wasn’t sure if all these people would be ready for those kinds of moves.

“I can’t, I am a terrible dancer,” I meekly replied taking a small sip of a cheap chardonnay that tasted like wet cardboard. Thought process: maybe liquid courage would help.

Then there was a voice saying isn’t this what P!NK stands for? Confidence, courage, and being you and not giving a hoot about who approves. I reflected back at five years ago when I was at rock bottom with my eating disorder—listening to P!NK, attempting to empower myself—because I was too weak on my own. That’s what eating disorders do– they numb and stifle you. You are not really living. I survived for way too long afraid of making the wrong move, a misstep, terrified of what people would think.

My advice from years of being a member of the walking dead: You have to put yourself out there and live.

It’s better to be laughed at or rejected than to not try. It’s better to love and get hurt than to be alone. If you don’t take chances and push yourself out of your comfort zone you will never be living and experiencing. And then, what’s the point?

It’s kind of like with motherhood. If you aren’t taking chances and making mistakes in the process, then you aren’t learning, living, and growing as a mom. You learn what works for your child through these missteps and successes by trial and error.

Bottom line: You have to get a little messy to get the overall best results. Get your hands dirty if you will.

When my daughter finger paints, I get such anxiety because finger paint can wind up in her hair (and it does) on her clothes, my clothes, walls of our home. But the reality of the situation: big deal.  She takes a bath and it was a great time. She gets to learn a new creative skill, I have a keepsake, and everyone grows from it.

On that thought, “Funhouse,” started playing and I took my sister-in-law’s hand and said “Let’s stand.” We danced and sashayed to the music as I tried my best not to think about the people around me. Then by “Just Give Me A Reason,” I was dancing with no regard for who was watching.

I don’t want my daughters to stand on the side-lines, observers, of their own life stories like I was for far too long.  I want them to be active participants–living life fully, messily and beautifully. I want them to choose to stand up.

This was why I faced my fears and stood up. And dare you to, too.

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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Because She Will Never Be The Same…

IMG_3004This summer I will start the dreaded process that most stay at home moms who have never left their kids before don’t like to talk about—separation. My daughter is starting preschool in the fall and I signed her up for a transitional summer camp program three days a week for three hours. I am dreading it like a high school reunion I never wanted to attend. Dreading it to the point where I have been bringing the topic up to fellow moms. The conversation goes something like this:

“Ugh, I can’t stop thinking about separating. I mean, I just want to protect her forever.” I’d muse as I hold onto my four-month old for dear life in her Bjorn—she still has time.

“But it will be good for her. It will help shape her and make her stronger.” A fellow mom says as we watch our kids playing with a farm, my daughter stuffing markers through the farm doors and windows, because her farm totally would be a marker farm—girl is obsessed with her art.

“I know.” I say I know, but I am not really sure I really mean it.

I do know some things. I know my daughter will be fine physically separating. It may be rough the first couple of goodbyes and tears will be shed no doubt, but eventually she will be okay and so will I. It will become our new routine, our new normal. If anything, it will probably be me having to get pulled away, maybe a security guard or two will be called, maybe I will camp out and spy on her with binoculars. We will see, but we will both get through it one way or another.

My daughter is very social and active so she will love everything about summer days filled with sports, swimming, other kids—I can’t even make an argument to not let her go. There is one thing I worry about. When I hear it’s good for them to separate the reasons I hear are: so they can become more independent, stronger, it toughens them up. I hate all of these reasons. Why do we live in a world where kids have to be tough? Is it bad that I want my kids to keep their innocence as long as possible? Is it bad that going to school to me means it’s the start of this shedding of innocence process taking form?

I am afraid because I won’t be there to fiercely protect her the way I have been since she was born. The second she was put on my chest and we did skin-to-skin I knew she was the new love of my life. I would do anything for this little being and as a mother I have been. If a classmate is being mean, I won’t be there to pull her away from that little asshole and tell the kid “pushing is not nice. Be gentle.” I won’t be there to comfort my daughter when she is crying, tears racing down her cherub cheeks. I think about this constantly and all I want to do is hold on to these next couple of months, take her back into my womb, and never let her experience rejection of any kind.

Part of this thinking probably stems from my own experiences. I am five years in recovery from a long-standing battle with eating disorders. I used my eating disorder as protection—to numb out when life got hard, a coping mechanism. If I was bingeing and purging, I didn’t have to deal with mean kids or not fitting in. If I was focused on my eating disorder I wouldn’t get hurt. The reality is, I did get hurt, worse than another person could ever hurt me. I always wonder if I were in a world where you didn’t have to armor up–become stronger and tougher—and too nice wasn’t a weakness, would I even have an eating disorder? Probably not.

What if my daughters are too sensitive like me? Now, I am strong because I have been through a lot— I became strong, learned new coping mechanisms, learned how to defend myself and not people please up the wahzoo, but I don’t want my daughters to go through what I went through to deal with this world. I’d love them to be able to keep their innocence yet I know that is impossible.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately as the date approaches.

So when I drop my daughter off and she runs off playing with her soon to be new friends or holds onto me for dear life, I don’t know how I will get myself out of the classroom door. I know she is not me. She is already a way better version. She is sweet and sensitive but has an amazing sense of humor mixed with a little pizazz-girl has some spice! I know she will be okay. I will have to give her a big hug and kiss and be strong for her. I will size up her pint sized classmates and pray they are a nice bunch or call a hit out on each one of them. And I will always be there to support her and hold her hand on the sidelines, guiding her as best as I can, so she doesn’t fall victim to self-destruction in the face of adversity like I once did.

I just can’t help but be sad because I know the day I drop her off it is inevitable that my daughter will never be the same.

 

Five Lessons from Five Years in Eating Disorder Recovery

December third is a big day for me. It marks my five-year anniversary of being in recovery from ED. What that means is that five years ago to the day, December 3, 2012, at five in the morning I texted my mom, “I need help.” A couple of hours later I had the seizure that brought me to my rock bottom. I’d thought I could feel my body breaking down, 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. Ever since that day I have committed to recovery because maybe I wouldn’t be so lucky if there was a next time. Here are five lessons I have learned along the way.

1). Recovery doesn’t mean life is going to get easier it just means that you now handle it differently and you have more reasons to believe it is worth it. Oh and you actually enjoy it! I went from a life of being sick filled with only work and obsessing about food and weight (working out/ binging and purging/starving) to having a family of my own–a husband and two daughters–friends, and a closer relationship with my family. These connections that I avoided while sick, out of fear of being discovered combined with my innate feeling that I didn’t belong, now make me feel whole. Now, that little voice of anorexia is so easily knocked out by anything positive in my life—my husband’s lips against mine, by making a difference, by my ability to think clearly, by my two baby girls. Too many things are more important than ED. ED was my world before recovery-the only all-important thing in my life. Now, on a scale of importance ED is like a distant cousin five times removed—you get the point—not even a thought.

2). Time really does make it better. Recovery seems to be a waiting game with time being key—for someone with no patience like me that proved to be hard at times. I remember hearing this and thinking no way I’ll always struggle, but it really has dissipated more and more with each passing year.

A large part of this reason is because I am constantly learning new things and evolving as a human being. With ED you are so set in your eating rituals and routines that everything stays the same—you as a person can’t change. When you aren’t focused so much on ED you can live and experience which helps hush the ED voice. Through these experiences I realized how amazing my body could be and that made me reevaluate my recovery up till that point making it even stronger. My pregnancies and breast-feeding are an example of this. My babies needed nutrients for them to thrive in and out of utero, which made me look at what I was eating and strive for more variety—thus making my recovery even stronger.

Basically ED will go from center stage to a backup singer to a small part of the technical crew and then to the back row in the audience. This combination of time and non-ED experiences makes me believe one day ED will be completely eliminated—I can tell I am getting there.

3). There is a gray area and it’s a much better place than black and white. I have a personality where I am either all or nothing. I was the girl that had to get straight A’s in school, nothing in-between, or I’d be an automatic failure in my mind. I was the girl that had to be the first one at work and the last one to leave and never took a vacation. I was the girl either binging (then purging) on every food possible or starving myself. I had an all or nothing mentality and if I was going to do something–it had to be the best or to the extreme.

Since finding recovery I have found this gray area called moderation and it’s actually pretty great. I find myself sometimes just doing things because I enjoy them (can you believe it?) not to be the best or with a purpose. I now don’t have to earn my leisure. I can watch a movie because I feel like it and deserve to relax not as a reward system. I don’t have rules that I need to follow, for instance, I don’t feel guilty if I don’t workout every day. I also don’t have fear foods, and allow myself to have anything I am in the mood for but not in excess. Moderation is a good and healthy place to be.

4). Everyone isn’t going to like you, but that’s okay. Trying to get everyone to like you is an arduous task—and you will never succeed because newsflash: not everyone is going to! You can also lose yourself trying to please those around you. For a still recovering people pleaser/perfectionist this was a tough pill to swallow. But what I have come to realize is that “haters gonna hate” and it’s not a reflection on you. Bottom line: People have their own issues that make them hate people for different reasons whether they are big green eyed monsters, need attention, or simply put they can—there are so many reasons why people hate, the list can go on and on. It’s not even worth thinking about!

Be kind to everyone and if people don’t accept you still then it is their loss. I struggle with this because I am very sensitive by nature. There are people in this world who are energy vampires and I have learned through recovery that you are most definitely better off without them sucking your blood like the leaches they are anyway.

5). It’s okay to not be okay. In fact, it’s more than okay to say, “I am not okay today. I am not perfect and there is no point pretending to be. The smile on my face is as fake as Kylie Jenner’s admittedly-injection-filled-pout.” Sadness is not a weakness, admitting you are feeling down and trying to make it better is actually brave. Hiding it is actually the cowardly and easy thing to do. If you hold in all your sadness and emotion that’s when we turn to destructive ways of coping and numbing like ED. It’s okay too, to not have an exact reason for why you are feeling off. With mental illness you don’t need a reason.

I find on down days I talk to those closest to me instead of pushing them away. I tell them I am feeling off. Sometimes saying these feelings out loud is a way to admit to yourself what is going on and is also a reminder that you are not alone and people care about you. I then give myself time to write or sweat instead of avoiding those feelings and holding onto them. Bottom line: no one is perfect and life gets better once you embrace that.

So here I am, five years later typing away while my three-month-old daughter is smiling, sleeping soundly in her sleep-sack-burrito contraption in her bassinet. My almost two year old is in view through her monitor, little tushie up in the air, a sea of Wubbanub’s surrounding her. My husband is to my other side watching Stranger Things on his ipad and I am writing while simultaneously breathing in a sigh of relief. With ED, I was so alone, so sad, so defeated, deeply hurting– now I have so much love in my life I feel relief. I am so happy where I am right now—they are my strength and I am a big part of their strength. This life is where I always want to remain and I can only have it in recovery. Five years recovery strong, here is to never looking back…