29 September 2010

Dear Anorexia . . .

Dear Anorexia,
You made me
and my
W O R L D.
Leaving me with
n    o    t    h    i    n   g . . . . . .

for years,
when you started to fade away
my fingertips would
reach out,
grasping for you

Anorexia is thy name
And I was thee.

My soul and yours
a hazy mixture
Unable to be part of

You did serve
A purpose
Or two

Protecting me
In a strange and

Anxiety calmed
Depression staved off

(For a while, anyway
It was never a permanent

It is so hard
To let go
even now

Your voice still screams
You don't deserve
to eat
You don't . . .

But I know there is
option of returning to you

In order to live,
I must allow you to

It is time
to say good-bye.

Your usefulness
Is gone
All you can bring me is

And I have already cried
so many t
because of you . . .


I want

The arms of my
husband around me
Not your snakelike



The smile
that you tried to

My thoughts
are becoming
of your interference

And I am beginning
to finally


25 September 2010

Forgiveness, grace and anorexia

Tomorrow my husband will return home for good.
I have a lot to forgive. But perhaps not what people think.

My doctor says to me, "You left him first." This was very hard to take, particularly right after David left. I came home from class, his things gone and the house stripped bare of his artwork. I didn't need to read the note he left. The bareness echoing through our home told me what had happened.

Anorexia had driven him away.

Anorexia nervosa is a strange disease. It can kill you and the logical part of my mind understood that. But it is so seductive. There was just something about feeling empty, airy; bones protruding and stomach concave that just drew me in time and time again.

I was unable to give up anorexia. I was afraid to give up anorexia. I didn't know any longer who I was without the disease.

Anorexia also is a disease that fights back. The more I've tried to recover this month, knowing that was the only path to any kind of life and any attempt to salvage my marriage, the more I've eaten and the harder I've worked, anorexia has been at work, too. Insidious, sneaky; planting unwanted thoughts and fears into my brain.

It just doesn't get it. Anorexia isn't welcome here anymore.

It was only through the grace of God that I was able to eat when I was lonely and doubtful that I could either recover nor regain my former life. That life seemed so far gone . . . I really felt I had lost everything.

So why did I keep going?

Grace showered down on me, covering me in God's love and caring as I struggled to escape anorexia's grip. I prayed every day for release, to please this time allow me to escape. It really has felt like a prison sometimes.

God heard me and made it easier each day to nourish myself, to try and bring myself back to life.

With grace comes forgiveness. First I needed God's forgiveness for a slew of broken promises. Promises that I would stop abusing laxatives. Promises that I would stop starving myself. Promises that I wouldn't cut or do a multitude of things to degrade myself.

Promises broken. And yet God forgives me each and every day.

But I also must forgive myself. For too long I have blamed myself for developing anorexia. I have blamed myself for what my illness has done to my husband, family and friends, and I have since apologized to those who loved me.

But I left out one person. I haven't apologized to me for what anorexia has done.

I am sorry from the bottom of my heart for hurting myself, one of God's creations. I didn't deserve that kind of treatment, and I will try to treat myself better each and every day. For out of loving myself will I be able to give love to those around me.

As I sit here, my last evening without my husband at home, I think about forgiveness and grace. I forgave him a long time ago. For my doctor is right; I did leave him first. I left him for anorexia, shutting him and everything out until I didn't believe there was anything else. I do not blame him for leaving; in fact, it was probably the most loving act he could have done even though it hurt like hell for both of us.

It will take a long time to heal. I am only at the beginning of recovery. Anorexia continues to scream its lies at me; sometimes as just mere background noise, sometimes loud and obnoxious taunting about my newly gained pounds.

Anorexia whispers, You can be thin again. Thin Thin Thin ...

I was thin; I was skeletal. I am becoming slender and healthy. By no means am I overweight and that is one of the worst lies anorexia keeps throwing at me, as if it will make me return to it.

I won't.

As I told my doctor the other day, I had already decided I would either beat anorexia this year or kill myself. I don't want to live another year like this one. Plummeting weight and the all-pervasive wish to just die, die of anorexia because there felt like there was no hope of escape. I was smothering and I knew my body and soul couldn't take much more.

I will keep moving forward, toward life and laughter and my true love back with me again. The anxiety is sometimes so strong it feels as if it will consume me, and the call of anorexia is still seductive, but . . .

I will keep moving forward.

"Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; 'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home." John Newton, "Amazing Grace" 1779

15 September 2010

De-romanticizing anorexia (Ten Days)

"Many miles many roads I have traveled / Fallen down on the way / Many hearts many years have unraveled / Leading up to today." Madonna, "I Deserve It"

I sit here and think that in ten days, you could be home and real life can begin again. I have been half frozen without you. I have been cold and lonely, and I have cried many tears while on my knees begging God to bring you back to me.

But . . . I have survived. I have not sunk into despair nor have I turned to anorexia for solace. I have fought hard and emerged victorious with each bite of food and drink of Ensure Plus.

I have survived, and at times even felt joy and happiness. The wind and the sun have blown through my hair, the fading warmth of fall a promise of a better tomorrow. I am able to dream again, and in those dreams are you and I, one once more, healthy and happy and content, learning and loving and growing in this life.

At first, I railed against this separation. That is lessening as I realized that each one of us face many things throughout the years, and this is what God has chosen me to face at this time. It has hurt and has made me cry and become angry, and perhaps that is what I needed to do.

At first, I was angry with God. I didn't really understand and I was caught in a maelstrom of emotions and pain as I contemplated a future without you.

Then hope was offered. I began to believe we would have a future together. I didn't know when, and that was hard, but with each kiss I felt your love and longing, and remembered your promise.

Now I am beginning to understand why I needed to go through this. I needed to learn I could survive and recover from anorexia, that I have the internal strength and that it won't kill me if I only draw upon that strength and fight back.

I needed to learn that recovery from anorexia nervosa is a lifelong process. I will constantly need to draw upon my strength and resources to fight and overcome this inexplicable and evil disease.

I have survived. No one can ever take that away from me. Anorexia cannot take that away from me. This part of recovery, this victory, is mine.

This doesn't mean I don't need nor want your support. It will be ... My breath catches in my throat and my heart races as I think of it ... for us to be together again, to hear your encouragement as I continue to move forward in this journey.

But in the end, it is my fight and I will need every ounce of internal strength to win. Anorexia is a formidable foe and doesn't give up easily. But I will recover and learn to laugh and dance and love myself again.

For too long, I gave up fighting for myself. I started to believe I really couldn't recover and that was okay. I began to believe lies, lies that told me I was not worthy nor able to recover, lies that said I didn't deserve to eat, lies that enticed me to forever become thinner. Lies that I allowed to define me solely based upon a number on a scale.

I have learned since you have left that numbers mean nothing and that anorexia was really in control. There is nothing beautiful or graceful or delicate about being emaciated and starved. I have looked at the pictures, at my stripped-down arms and stripped-down body and no longer wonder why you were so afraid and frustrated with my belief that was an acceptable way to be and live.

But I wasn't really living.

I did romanticize anorexia, as much as I denied it. I was caught in a web and couldn't find the weapon to cut myself free. And therefore I moved forward, trying to escape and yet feeling so trapped ... I felt as if I were in a jail cell, left forgotten and broken, left to die.

Every morning I prayed to God to either release me or let me die. You see, I couldn't live with anorexia anymore. I wanted out and I believed the lie that only death would free me.

The lion's share of my anger has been directed and aimed at anorexia. It is evil and has destroyed so many lives. It took almost everything from me; body, soul and spirit. It has scarred our lives and me and for that I am sorry.

I struggle not to cry as I write this. It feels like it has been a long journey toward wanting to live and recover from anorexia. To move from one mindset to another in the space of two weeks is both exhilarating and exhausting, and my emotions have veered from despair to hope and everywhere in between.

It has been two weeks since you left, and each night I still turn and reach out for you. You are not there, and yet this morning hope entered my mind and whispered soon, soon . . .

And I smile. 

10 September 2010

A prayer and a promise

"My soul glorifies the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior." The Magnificat

A prayer

Hear my cries, O Lord!

I will prevail only
With Your mercy
and kindness

Fill my spirit
With courage
and hope

Free me
From this evil
I fight every day

Surround me with your light,
and protection

Know that I am
your servant
And I glorify your name


It is only through the Lord's grace and mercy that I am slowly recovering from anorexia. It is very hard to eat sometimes, and there are moments when I want to give up. It is hard to eat meals, and oddly harder to eat alone than with others.

Each morning begins with breakfast of yogurt and granola, and recently some added pecans or walnuts for more calories and healthy fats. I now pray at each meal, a simple prayer that the food will nourish me and allow me to become healthy. I am actually hungry at breakfast time, and thus it is my favorite meal of the day.

My other two meals vary, usually a sandwich and yogurt or pudding for lunch and some type of pasta with meat and bread and butter for dinner. Then there is the three bottles of Ensure Plus and I have added a mid-afternoon snack since my metabolism is quite active and my weight gain will plateau if I don't add more calories.

I don't exactly count calories, as I find that still too triggering and reminiscent of the days I was enmeshed in anorexia, but I have a rough idea from years of constant vigilance over what I ate.

I am amazed I can eat the amount of food I have been eating for the past two weeks without major anxiety. It still feels as if anorexia has died within me, although the enemy (and that is what my doctor says anorexia is) tries to fight back and make me feel bad for eating "so much." I pretty much tell the eating disorder voice (I will no longer give *it* a name because it does not deserve one) to shut up and that I'm not going to listen.

I have to make sure I don't tell myself to shut up while in public. :) (I suppose I have done this a few times. I don't really care what people think.)

Another amazing thing is to step on the scale and want to gain weight. I plan on getting rid of the scale in the future, but right now with things still in flux I need to make sure I'm not losing. Dr. Sackeyfio told me today I could plateau or lose because of the additional stress and feelings I am going through, and that I will most likely need to add even more food/calories to my day.

I can do it. I am doing it. There are times I miss David so badly . . . But I tell myself this is the only way to any kind of life. He still is a strong source of support, telling me he is proud of me and celebrating with me when I had cookies with dinner just because I wanted to have cookies.

Then there is his promise — that if I stay healthy, we will get back together. Hope fills my soul each time I think of his words. There are times I am impatient and I want us to be together now.

Then I wonder . . . I have been battling anorexia nervosa for four years, and this is the third time I have made a concerted effort to become healthy. Maybe God wanted to make sure this was my recovery. Maybe He wants me to believe in myself; that I am strong and capable and able to do this.

And each day, I do believe more in myself. I still cry and feel lonely, and I might feel this way whether David was here all the time or not. Refeeding is a very emotional and lonely time, and there is no way out except for through.

"The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age . . ."

07 September 2010

One week later (what I have learned)

It feels like it has been forever.

David has been gone for one week.

It hurts like hell. I miss him so much . . .

I live between hope and despair. Hope that we will get back together. Despair that we won't. And an all-pervasive anger at anorexia and what it has done to me and David, my friends and family, my very soul.

I have raged and cried every day this week. It hits me at the weirdest moments, sometimes at night as I lay in my bed alone, sometimes during the afternoon after I have been feeling strong and hopeful all day. The sudden realization that he is not here and I have to do this alone. I miss everything about him; his smile, his enthusiasm for interesting projects and the world around him, his gentle arms around me and holding me, his wild graying hair that is all over the place . . . everything.

We have talked a lot and seen each other a few times during the past week. I sometimes ache to hear his voice, and call just to touch base. I feel like I am being weak during those times, but as I said before, I will not be ashamed for loving someone and wanting to reach out to that person.

I have learned much about myself these past weeks. I am emotional and cry at the oddest moments. I can still feel joy, such as when I was driving to class and singing "God of Wonders" with the music full blast and the sun roof open. I sometimes panic, but usually am able to stave off that feeling. I can reach out to someone else in need and give her hope, not thinking about myself and the pain I feel.

I have wonderful friends who have spent hours listening to me, and a very gentle therapist who has talked with me pretty much every day since David left. Dr. S keeps telling me I can do this, and first and foremost I need to become healthy to rediscover and find myself. He insists that I am more than my weight and body size; that I am so much more and that I can return to full life.

I have learned I want to live, live fully. I don't ever again want that life of purgatory, between living and existing, that I have had for almost four years with anorexia. I have found out I am strong and I can fight the eating disorder voice and win. I have not missed one meal nor one Ensure Plus all week. Even when I'm not hungry. Even when the grief threatens to double me over in pain. Even when it is late and it would be easier to skip the Ensure Plus "just this once." There is no skipping Ensure Plus or meals no matter what; skipping become sliding too easily for me.

We have talked often and always say, "I love you" at the end of the conversation. We have seen each other a few times, and I can tell he misses me (and I know I miss him) by our interactions. I sense he is lonely and a bit lost, and not sure what to do. Right now it's "wait and see," and that doesn't really feel very comfortable, but that is where he is at and I need to respect that.

I also know he is afraid to hope. He is afraid to believe this time I will stay well and not again be lured by anorexia. I understand his fears and why he has them. It has been a long four years, so he needs to see that I will get healthy and stay healthy. I have also always been afraid to really hope I would get better during other times in the past.

But I hit rock bottom. I can go no lower. My only choices are to climb up and really live or die.

I have learned many things this week. That weight doesn't matter and being thin is unimportant. That counting calories and obsessing over every bite is the biggest waste of time. I can't believe how much time I've wasted on anorexia. But I also have learned that regretting doesn't do anything.

I know this time I am going to recover and stay well. I feel it in my heart. All doubts are gone. God has transformed me and is leading this recovery. I can't go back. I must move forward. I have to do this, first for myself and then . . . then, hopefully we can be together again and move forward toward the beautiful life I know we can have and that we have been dreaming about, and talking about, even this week.

I have learned how very much I love David. I just pray it isn't too late.

05 September 2010

Hitting the target (of anorexia)

5 September 2010

My hand pulls back the bow string, the arrow securely attached and my eyes aimed at the round circle in the middle. The circle represents anorexia. I want so badly to hit this circle and to kill anorexia. I am swearing under my breath, cursing anorexia for all it has done to my life . . .

It is early evening. The time when day's end and twilight begin to meld into one. The sunshine held that peculiar autumnal quality, a mixture of warmth washed with pale yellow. A reminder that summer is dying and soon this part of the world will be covered with snow and ice, and the sunshine will hold light, but little warmth. Our ancestors would be making preparations for the coming winter.

Now we wait for winter's onslaught and think we are ready with our houses of wood and stone and vehicles of steel and rubber. But we are separated from one another by these artificial structures, The world we have created often prohibits turning to each other for warmth and companionship during times of need, and we remain cold deep down inside as we walk through a dead world and wonder if life will ever return again. The turn toward winter has begun . . .

Anorexia is a cold companion.

I think of all the things anorexia has stolen from me as I aim at the target.

It has taken away my husband, the love of my life. I have not been a full partner for years. I have been too busy counting calories and plotting ways to lose weight. I have been obsessed with the number on the scale.

(Every morning it was the same thoughts, hammering at my brain. Is my weight low enough? Please God let it stay in the double-digit. Let it be lower today. Tell me when it is exactly the right number so I can finally relax and do something else, anything besides think about my weight one more second! Free me from this obsession, because I will never be thin enough. God, are you listening??? Am I thin enough now? Can I eat something without feeling guilty or punishing myself? God why won't these thoughts leave my brain? FREE ME FROM THIS SLAVERY!)

It has stolen my health and strength, stripping my arms almost to the bone. I have been sick much of the time since my relapse in January, and I needed an NG feeding tube in February.

It has robbed me of myself. I allowed anorexia to almost completely destroy my personality, swallowing quirky traits and endearing qualities until I have become a shadow of my former self. No longer did I sing Christmas carols in July or ring up a friend just to talk about life and love for hours at a time.

It has tried to crush my spirit. I have woken up many mornings wishing I were dead. I felt I could never defeat anorexia. I felt I never could complete graduate school. I wanted to hide in bed until the end came because I didn't think I could turn it around. 

I am barely able to pull back the bow string, but I will not give up. I am going to hit one part of that target before calling it a night. My rage is at anorexia and I will be damned if I will turn it inward anymore.

My first attempts at letting the arrow fly are pathetic. The arrow is hitting the grass, the side of an outbuilding, the garage. Everywhere except one of five round circles printed on a piece of paper and attached to a large square of Styrofoam.

Suddenly . . . Bang!!!

The arrow hits the top right circle. The mark is so very close to the round bull's eye. It's just a hair's length off. Damn!

Still, the arrow did hit the target and a circle. I feel very proud of myself and shot off a few more arrows just for fun, enjoying the weakening sunshine and slight breeze in my long hair. I hit the target representing anorexia, and told myself it will die.

I went to talk to David the night he left and I wanted to die when I realized he wasn't going to come back home. However, we did talk of reconciliation and how we both still love each other. That night I slept on and off for about two hours at a time. I kept listening, thinking he might change his mind and still come home. It was the loneliest night of my soul when I realized around 4 a.m. that his van wasn't going to pull into the driveway and he wasn't going to come through the back door.

I wanted to die. But a stronger feeling took over. I wanted to live, really live. Live as I haven't lived for years since anorexia took over. I couldn't stomach food that first day, but I could drink six Ensures (three regular and three Plus.) And so I did and it was the beginning.

I knew what I had to do the next day. I had to eat and get healthy. Three regular meals and three bottles of Ensure Plus. I have kept up this regimen ever since. I have much hope we will reconcile and be a couple, a family again.

But I'm beginning to feel an even bigger hope. That I will become myself again. The person I was before anorexia, only better and hopefully, more understanding and compassionate of the needs of my husband and others.

As I went into the house today, I looked at the scratches on my left thumb and the red marks on my left arm. My hair was in my face and there was dirt on my boots and dust all over my black dress. And I didn't care. Because I realized I didn't just hit an arrow on a paper target. I am beginning to hit the target when it comes to recovery. 

Being recovered looks so far away. But finally, finally the road of recovery is the one I have chosen. I may feel pain and I may cry every day because I miss my husband. I am not ashamed of that. I will never be ashamed to love someone and cry because I miss him. 

But I also step forward each minute and this time I haven't looked back. I have hit rock bottom. I have finally hit rock bottom and God in his mercy has used it to transform me and lead me to healing. I truly believe anorexia died inside me last week.

I truly believe I will finally live.