Category Archives: Showing My Scars

People Like Me! Who Knew?!

I just returned to my current home of Elko, Nevada from a Christmas week in my childhood home of Siskiyou County, California.  After looking through all the photos I snapped (yes, I finally figured out how to use the dang camera!), I realized a few things.  First, I definitely need to pay more attention to my hair.  My standard beauty routine of showering, applying a little mousse, ruffling it all up, squinting into the mirror and telling myself “no one will notice” is not fooling anyone.  The camera doesn’t lie.

Second, it’s so sad that I used to think I was always in the way; that the people around me would have an easier time if I wasn’t here.  That’s one of the main reasons I nearly took my own life when I was seventeen.  Third, it’s wonderful to be so distanced from that hopeless frame of mind that I feel only sadness, not sameness, with that despairing girl. 

This trip home proved the demons wrong, the ones who fill my brain with thoughts of “You’re worthless.  No one likes you.  The only reason they invited you over is because they feel sorry for you.  Don’t let anyone see you eat.  You don’t deserve to feel good.”  I went home for 9 days and was simply exhausted from visiting dear friends and family!  People who love me and hugged me!  They gave me the best gifts.

Susan gave me leftover turkey, Theo gave me half her bed, Jamie gave me her baby to hold during church, Smokey gave me his arm to snuggle under during a movie, Don gave me a leather scarf slide he’d made, Matt gave me a hard time about being a crazy old lady with too many cats, and Coleman gave me a compliment by asking me how to braid. 

It’s crazy to remember the days I would tear apart a razor blade with a Leatherman and slice my forearm when I was left alone in an empty house.  I didn’t need to despair; I only needed to migrate.  Feeling worthless and abandoned and are not the same as being worthless and abandoned.  The same goes for fatness.  It’s unfortunate but true that wounds, whether real or imagined, are equally detrimental to our sense of well-being.  We need to take control of our minds, listen to our rational brains, and believe the goodness in our lives.

I am overflowing with goodness.  I haven’t slept in a week, and I stuffed every day with all the good things in life.  Playing cards, making new friends, catching up with old ones, dancing ’til the wee hours of the morning, eating candy cane Hershey’s kisses, drinking gin and tonic and playing pool, sitting in a leather shop listening to old cowboy stories, watching The Pink Panther, eating homemade creme brule, and knowing I am truly loved and valued.  It was an excellent Christmas 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Showing My Scars

A Good Kind Of Mental Block

I have been wanting to write about my experiences with bulimia, but I’m in such a strong, positive mental state that I can’t dredge up those lonely, hopeless feelings sufficiently to write directly from that place!  It’s great!

These days, if I eat an apple and feel fat, I tell myself (and believe it) “You will never get in trouble for eating an apple.  Fruit is healthy and feeling full does mean you are gaining weight by the second.”  I used to agonize over the full-belly sensation of drinking a big glass of water, but no more!  The rational part of my brain says that water has zero calories and hydrates my body, nourishing each cell and prolonging my life.

It’s tough to improve upon the classic trail mix of raisins, peanuts and M&M’s, my favorite snack of the last week.  I read the nutrition label, knew how many calories were in each serving, and ate more than the recommended 3 tablespoons anyway.  Seriously, who sits down to eat 3 tablespoons of anything besides cough syrup?  The difference between my chocolate-eating habits of 2010 and those of 2004 are I no longer freak out and throw up.  I eat, then email, watch TV, work out, or call Casey on the phone for a chat. 

Recovery is fun.  I will never be at the place I was pre-bulimia and masochism, when I ate homemade banana bread, ice cream, garden salads with Ranch and pork chops in moderation with nary a thought for calories and was thin as a person could want to be.  That’s ok.  Thanks to my struggles, I’m more compassionate and brave.  I figure we all have some issue to struggle through in this world, and bulimia/masochism/suicide combine to form my Achille’s Heel. 

I’m very grateful that this Christmas, I am enjoying See’s candy, running regularly on the treadmill, drinking peppermint tea, savoring candy canes and really looking forward to chowing down on whatever treats I find in my stocking.  As long as they aren’t the candles shaped like chocolates.  I took a big bite of one of those a few years back, and thought “This is the worst chocolate ever – it tastes like wax!”  Thanks, Susan 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Showing My Scars

“Silent night, (cough, cough, hack) Holy night…”

 ‘Tis the season for the flu virus. Nothing announces the holidays quite like a fever sweating through your pajamas and coughing until your abs are sore.  Ho, ho…hack, hack, hack.

Most people return from Las Vegas with memory cards full of pictures, ticket stubs from shows, a lingering aura of cigarette smoke, and a worn-out credit card. I came home with the chills and a throbbing head, coughing until I gagged.

Usually, I’m one of those people who’s in denial of when they’re sick. “No, no, I’m fine, it’s just a little cough,” I say. I proceed to go to work and infect those unlucky enough to share breathing space with me for more than two minutes. This time, I decided to be considerate and called in sick. My decision was aided by the fact that I had to rest in between showering and getting dressed. Climbing up one flight of stairs left me winded and looking for a couch.

Previously, illness stressed me out because my first thoughts were I’m going to miss a workout! I’ll lose my muscle tone! I’m just going to lay around and eat and gain weight! This is the first post-bulimia sickness where I told myself and earnestly believed, Hey, it’s ok to rest up when your body needs a break. In the last two weeks, you’ve changed jobs and houses, gone to Las Vegas for a week, and had one day off work. No wonder you’re sick!

I chuckled at the treadmill in the living room and realized I better be able to brush my teeth and stand up at the same time before I jogged any number of miles. I’ve had friends tell me, “You don’t need to run on a treadmill!” but I know one of the reasons I look like I don’t need to exercise is because I exercise. I’m looking forward to resuming my usual four-mile routine, but right now my body needs rest. My eyeballs need exercise, though, so I’ve been lying on the couch watching reruns of That 70s Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, I Love Lucy and of course live coverage of the NFR. You can take the girl away from the Finals, but you can’t take the Finals away from the girl.

Having only worked one job with paid sick days, I usually stress about losing income when I’m out sick. I realized I could be sick a few days and my paycheck would be fine, since I’d been working more than five days a week, and, besides, God’s taking care of me. He always is, I just forget that He knew I was going to be sick before the first cough. God created the world; if one of His children has the flu, her care and financial well-being is definitely within the realm of His power to remedy.

As much as I detest being sick, this illness definitely brought some good, lasting lessons for which I’m thankful. Next time, the devil’s gonna have to try a little harder to steal my joy 🙂 Now, if only the pharmacy delivered aspirin and orange juice….

Leave a comment

Filed under I Love The Lord, Showing My Scars

It’s OK

Even though I am a few years recovered from bulimia, I still have disordered eating habits.  I check the size of my stomach at least a dozen times a day.  I nonchalantly pinch the skin of my waistline, a few inches from my little white scars, to check my “fatness.”  I turn my head to see if the bone between my neck and shoulder sticks out enough.

Once in a while, I walk past a mirror and realize, “Hey, I’m skinny!” and it makes my day. 

Sometimes, I realize the American truth that women are constantly picking apart their bodies and wishing they looked differently.  Maybe I’m not obsessing over my bulimic past; I’m just about normal.  I like to think that.  Not everyone is 100% happy with their lives or bodies. 

When I catch myself stressing out and craving chocolate – and lots of it – I wonder, Am I about to have a relapse?  If the thought of eating a big meal, dessert, and a couple glasses of wine makes me worry about gaining weight, does this mean I’m not not “recovered enough” to let loose and enjoy my food and myself?

No.  I’m pretty sure it means that I, like non-bulimics the world over, crave sugar when stressed/tired/overwhelmed/sad/lonely/PMS-y.  Everyone gains weight if they eat large meals all the time and don’t exercise!  The world is not picking on me; I just have a mortal body. 

Sometimes I do get an incredible urge to stick my fingers down my throat.  I realize this is a red alert situation, and I call a friend to talk me out of it.  Just saying “Tell me again why I shouldn’t throw up” breaks the stranglehold of isolation and brings me back to reality.

Reality is nice.  It’s a place where I can screw up, fix it, and not be perfect.  I can worry a little about holiday weight gain (who doesn’t?  It’s the season where carbohydrates are the new oxygen!) and know it doesn’t mean I failed at recovering from bulimia.  Maybe I will have little daily wrestling matches with the bulimic demons that used to control my life.  That’s ok.  We all have our demons and our strong points.  My strength is in the Lord, and He will fight ’em off for me until the day they nail the lid shut.  I’m safe 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Showing My Scars