Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The List

So, as you know, it is Wednesday. I like to link up with (she has a polka dot sweater that I desperately want). I like to plan cute outfits and do a nice little overhaul of my closet to find something unique. But I was thwarted this morning. The whole only-one-car-thing. Stephen had to be somewhere 20 minutes away from where I work. He had to be there at 9:00, I had to be to work at 9:00. I had to leave for work 30 minutes earlier than usual.

I was a little short of time. So I did the best that I could. I only had about fifteen minutes to get ready. (Seriously. 15 minutes!) So I went for my go-to: jeans, t-shirt and a splash of something else (if I can).

{Shirt - Yard Sale}
{Purple Jeans - Yard Sale}
{Stripey-Vest-Thingy - Thrift Store}
{Awesome Socks - Forever 21}
{Earrings - madebyjewls}

Now, I know I'm smiling in those pictures, but once I saw them, all traces of happiness or a smile were wiped off my face. I felt like crying.

I usually go through these cycles. I'll get my self-esteem train heading up Confidence and Love Yourself Mountain. I'll even get going at a pretty good pace. I'll forget to worry about how I look, how much I weigh or if those jeans make me look "fat". Sometimes I even feel pretty and confident in my clothes, even when I'm completely nekkid! 

And then some little thing will happen and it will send my train speeding down that mountain towards the depths of despair and deprivation. 

And I am not kind to myself.

I've struggled with an eating disorder and my self-esteem since I was thirteen years old. It's funny how a handful of hurtful, thoughtless comments can send someone down a completely different path. It wasn't until I was told that I needed to lose weight or I wouldn't be "liked" or people would make fun of me, that the concept of skinny-fat, beautiful-ugly even entered my head. But once it was there, it burrowed deep into the softest part of my soul and set up a war-zone. 

There were days I would try my hardest to not eat anything. Nothing. I would do my best to make it look like I was, but I would deprive myself of food. Of love. Of acceptance. And then... I would snap. I would eat like a monster. This is called binge eating. And it is nearly impossible to explain it to someone who has never struggled with it. All I can say is it is as if some monster in your soul roars up and demands that you stuff yourself until you feel sick, until you feel so full that you can't even move. 

And then you cry. 

You cry because you don't have control over you life. You cry because you know what you are doing is wrong, but you don't know how to stop. You cry because you just want to be like everyone else. How do people just... eat?! Like it's nothing. They can take two cookies. They don't deprive themselves, they don't stuff themselves. You cry because you can't understand normal. You can't fit yourself in that mold. 

You cry because you hate your reflection.

You cry because all you want is love. Love and acceptance. 

And it isn't there.

Friends, I can't tell you how many hours I have spent hating myself. Not being able to name one thing I loved about me. And the worst part of all was, I couldn't let anyone know. I had to have the face of the extrovert. The confident girl. The one who laughed the hardest. It's all an act, but no one can know. If they know, it will all come apart.

I have lived my life like this for over eight years. EIGHT YEARS! And then, one day, I just... didn't want to live that way any more.

I honestly can't remember exactly what happened. What triggered it. But I can remember that moment. The first time in a long time I found something to love about the one person I can't get away from: Me.

I was crying, again, over a week of starvation followed by two hours of uncontrollable eating. I looked in the mirror at my tear-stained cheeks. It was as if I saw my face for the first time. I saw that I had long, long lashes. Eye lashes that perfectly framed large, sad blue eyes. And I recognized beauty. Beauty in my own face.

A miracle.

I wanted to love more of me. I started a list. And I would tell myself that list every time I looked in the mirror in an attempt to stave off the accusations of imperfections and un-loveableness.

The list was small: Eyelashes, collarbones, hands. I would repeat that to myself over and over and over again. And then I would add something. And it would come without work. I would surprise myself.

"I love my eyelashes, collarbones, hands and lips." What? Wow, look at that. I did have beautiful lips.

I've added a lot to that list. And I have days where I avoid the mirror as I repeat it to myself feverishly - wanting to feel love instead of abhorrence at myself.

It can be so hard. But then I forget. I forget that I don't like me, and I am happy. I go through my days normally. I eat without much thought. (If I think about it too much, that's when it gets out of control) I do my hair without a negative commentary running through my head.

And then, for fleeting moments, I look in the mirror and I think, "Daaaammmmnnn girl! When did you get so good looking?!" I surprise myself. This skirt looks fantastic. That shirt made me look tiny. And it makes me happy. Not in an obsessive, this will make me prettier kind of way. But in a, "This enhances what I am" way.

They say an eating disorder never really goes away. It's like alcoholism. It's always hanging over your head. For me, whenever I am really stressed I just... stop eating. I see how long I can go without food because I am "busy" I don't want to disturb myself. (Ridiculous, right?) It gives me some kind of control. Or at least, the illusion of control. This is when I am my most out of control. It always makes everything worse.

But I fight it. My husband helps me fight it (I'll tell you more about what he has done for me later). And I even come out on top. This week has been hard on me with all of this stress. But I'm still fighting.

I will never give up because I am worth it. I believe that everyone deserves love and compassion, acceptance and joy. I try to accept everyone around me for who they are, to pass by their faults and love their virtues. I deserve this from myself. 

So when I saw those pictures today, I fought the tears and I started going through my list. Over and over and over again. They may not look bad to you (I am not fishing for compliments, merely baring my soul), but they were a train wreck to me. So I keep saying the list. I'm saying it now.

Someday, my list will be so long it will take me hours to say it all.

Someday the list will be just one thing: I love me.


  1. WOW! I am totally blown away by your amazingness! Wow! I can't even imagine what it's like to feel the way you do and I won't even begin to say that I know exactly how you feel but I want you to know that you're amazing! You really are! It's a struggle for sure and will be for the rest of your life but I have full confidence you will get to that point where you can love yourself completely and even though this disorder will hang over your head and try to get you down, you will be able to remain strong as you always have been! You really are stronger than you realize and just the fact that you are here today and not six feet under just proves that you have such strength inside of you! I hope you can always remember that strength and know that you are beautiful and gorgeous in every way!

  2. Thank you Steph. I always love your words of encouragement :)