Friday, October 30, 2015

putting the gold in golden

be nice; treat others how you want to be treated. don't say something you wouldn't want to hear yourself. don't TEXT something you wouldn't want to read yourself.

blah blah blah

where's the real gold in the golden rule?

i think it's recognizing how we should be treated; how we deserve to be treated; how we should treat ourselves.

i read this blog today about those messages we say to ourselves every day. my favorite part is where she says that we are never going to criticize ourselves into something. it's true: we know that if we want someone else to do something, we are nice to them; we compliment them and work to motivate them. but if we want to do something for ourselves, we often berate ourselves and minimize any steps we've taken toward our goal.

today a friend messaged me: "I'm in need of one of your blog postings to a) motivate me to make the changes I need to and b) tell me I am good enough the way I am." i was honored to receive that message. but she didn't really need me. she needed herself.

but, even in saying that, i know how she feels. when you aren't happy with something in your life, external motivation feels stronger than the internal voice that is often the opposite of motivating. my internal voice beats me up for not running one day out of the week... but it never compliments me for the other six days. it never tells me what a great job i'm doing at, well, most things in my life.

i have this new cat. cat stevens (cat for short) is a very sweet and loving one-year-old that likes cuddling and is fantastic at not jumping and scratching. when i brought him home on tuesday, i was shaking. i've cared for other people's pets. i've cared for other people's children. but i've never been solely responsible for a living thing. (well, other than plants. and those have all died rather quickly.) i called my sister (who has a six month old new baby) and commiserated. "MY LIFE IS JUST LIKE YOUR LIFE NOW!!!"

...or something like that.

i noticed this new side of me emerging: i was wanting to rush home to check on cat; i was looking forward to nesting and cuddling with him; i wanted all my friends to meet him and bond with him. in other words, i was treating him like gold. like i wanted to be treated. like i wanted to treat myself.

why don't i run home to pamper myself regularly? to spend time with myself? to spend quality time with my friends as a priority?

my advice to my friend that messaged me? look to the things you are grateful for. list them. acknowledge them. move forward from that place of acknowledgment.

i'm grateful for the run i completed today; the friends i get to spend time with tonight; the plane that i'm currently blogging from; and the motivation to treat myself well--the motivation that blooms both internally and externally.

keep moving forward; keep motivating yourself and those you care about, whether or not they're human. (enter halloween zombie/vampire references.)


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

dear diary

when i was home last weekend, i found my childhood diary. it was locked, so i then had to find a hammer.

ok, adi had to find a hammer.

once inside, i curiously read through entries written from 7-15 years of age. it was pretty hilarious: i titled each entry (much like a blog post), and numbered all the pages so that i could say "see page 62" for updates on past topics (paper-based keyword search!).

i also went back and re-wrote some of the early entries with better handwriting... and then made a note that i shouldn't have done that, and apologized to my future self for doing so.

i found it very important to record events of note, especially every birthday gift i received and on which days my sister was a brat (titled "shayna the pain-a").

the thing that stuck out the most to me, though, was the amount of change from there to here. case in point, this entry about how i hated the whole state of california because it was in that state that my parents sent me to a sexuality education class:
"I knew I wouldn't like it here as much as I did in MS. I took a sex education. Everyone always seems to be talking about it. I don't feel comfortable. I didn't know hardly anything about it in MS. I liked it there much more. see pg. 41--I was right"
(page 41 was before the move, when i worried about how terrible living in california--and spelling it--would be.) and now? i dare you to try to engage in a conversation with me where i do not mention sexual health. change.

and thank god people can change. we shouldn't go around expecting people to change in the direction we want them to, but the true miracle is that we can and do all change. it happens in our own opinions and attitudes; it happens in our relationships; it happens in our yoga practice. the change goes up, it goes back, it goes around a bit, and then it flips. expecting or guessing at the direction of change: impossible? worthless? a waste of time?

yesterday i received a text from someone that hurt me about six weeks ago. receiving the text was a little unsettling--it kind of came out of nowhere. i had to sort through my feelings by texting with approximately 16 of my closest friends.

what did i figure out? it took a sleepless night to tell me that i was clearly still bothered by this, and while i appreciated the text, i kind of didn't know what to do from there. i'm not the same person i was six weeks ago. and, as evidenced by the apology text, the sender isn't either. change.

i'm not about to launch into some deep analysis of this situation. quite the opposite actually. i am left with this feeling of gratitude: i am grateful that we can change. i'm grateful for my growth; i'm grateful for the growth those around me experience. and i'm pretty amazed at our overall levels of morphability.

but, on the other hand, the other evidence the diary presented was my desire to write, to record, to be precise, and to make sure my reader felt fully informed and could understand the whole story. and THAT is still me. 28 years later: very much the same. and, yet... so. much. change.

ps: sorry i said you were a pain, sister. i love you!

Friday, October 2, 2015

just share it already!

I've written before about how *not* telling people about bulimia makes me feel like I'm lying. I've written before about how being open about bulimia reduces my shame and helps dispel society's stigma.

today I next-level-ed it: I let my undergrad sexuality class ask me about bulimia. (it was relevant; we were discussing the female sexual body, including body image.) I told them I wanted them to be exposed to it in a real way and encouraged them to ask anything they wanted.

I was scared to death.

I'm not sure of what. judgement? that they'd lose confidence in me as a teacher? that they'd lose respect for me? that they'd find it inappropriate and report it? --I don't think it was any of those. i think it was just the extreme vulnerability.

I planned to write a whole blog about this tonight. I wanted to unpack this a little more. but, as I sat down to write, I got an email: an email from a young academic across the pond. she has written me before, and I shared something she said to me in an earlier blog post.

"L" shared something so vulnerable with me tonight. her vulnerability in sharing this with me (when she has never shared something like this before) humbled my vulnerability in class this afternoon. L asked me if I was willing to share it with my readers, and I feel honored to do so. she didn't feel that she had another outlet, and she didn't feel like that she could post it for herself, but she wanted to feel heard in some way. I'm not posting all of it; I've edited it a little for length and I've removed anything that could be construed as "tips" or things I thought might be extremely triggering for someone in recovery. read as much as you can:

Today, I woke up with stabbing pains in my stomach shortly before 7am. The laxatives I took last night before I fell asleep were kicking in. I lay there for what felt like hours, until the pains become so strong that I knew I urgently needed to get to the bathroom. I stumbled out of the bed and made my way across the hall. The pain is always the same – so excruciating that I swear to myself that I will never again take another laxative. There were tingles all over my body and I broke out in chills. My insides felt as though they were going to implode and for a second I thought about the damage I must be doing to myself. I stripped off and gazed at myself in the mirror, sucking in my belly as hard as I could. I pressed my hand to my stomach, checking to see if it somehow felt as flat as it did yesterday. I breathed a sigh of relief - it didn’t seem like I gained much weight from the horrific 12 hour binge purge marathon I had yesterday. I looked at the scales and wondered whether or not to get on. I knew that I would be horrified at what I saw, so thought it would be best to wait until tomorrow.

In the shower, and felt so weak that every move I made was an effort. It felt like my bones weighed 3 times as much as they should. My arms were so heavy that it was difficult to wash my hair or my body. I always hate the shower; it forces me to confront every inch of myself.

I made it to my desk a little after 11am, and collapsed onto my chair, out of breath and completely exhausted. Two friends emailed to ask if I wanted to go for lunch later that day. I spent over an hour going back and forth in my mind: ‘you can’t eat today - you ate too much yesterday’…‘if you eat you won’t be able to stop and will put on at least another pound’…‘but one more day of binging and purging won’t hurt in the long run, ‘this will be the last day, tomorrow you can start again’…‘if you do this you are throwing away all of the work you’ve put into losing weight so far’…’you’re fat enough as it is, don’t eat anymore’…’fuck it, just today so, tomorrow you’re only having 100 calories’.

And that was that.

I met them at 1pm and ended up eating a pretty large dinner instead of a lunch. To my friends, I looked the same, I smiled at them and laughed at their jokes. But all the while my heart was thumping in my chest. It felt like my thighs and stomach were getting bigger with every passing second, and I wanted nothing more than for them to just leave me alone. As I ate, I was hunched over, embarrassed and ashamed of my body, worried they would think that I was getting fat.

I figured if I just kept eating until I was completely full, I could purge it all up in one go. So I ate more, I bought 2 chocolate bars and ate those at the table, left my colleagues and went to the nearest corner shop. There I spent $25 on snacks and ate it all, and by then it felt like I had ripped the lining of my stomach. Unable to stand upright, for the third time today, the pain was so sharp I had tears in my eyes as I tried my best to get to the nearest toilet. Although I have gotten pretty good at purging; it is still a difficult thing to do, especially when I’m crying at the same time. My throat was still raw and sore from all of the purging I did yesterday. With one hand down my throat, I punched myself in the stomach with the other as hard as I could to help get the food up. Even though I was sore all over, I could feel my entire body relaxing, the panic and the fear became less as I vomited. There is nothing scarier to me than feeling full. I purge quite forcefully, so I was gasping for air as I sat on the floor in the cubicle trying to gain enough composure to continue purging. Sitting on the floor of a public toilet cubicle crying next to a toilet bowl full of vomit was not how I wanted to spend my day.

I cried as I walked from the bus stop to my house. Once inside, I raided the cupboards. Anything at all that didn’t need oven time or defrosting, I threw into my bag. It was 5:30; I was so overwhelmed with panic that I started to hyperventilate. I slammed the cupboards and the fridge, took the stairs 2 at a time, sat on my bed, and ate, and ate, and ate. The pain was excruciating. It was a struggle to breathe because each time breathed in, the pain got sharper and sharper. The front door opened – my dad was home from work. All I could think was ‘I need to get sick!!’ I rushed to the bathroom, locked the door and turned on the shower. I couldn’t bare to undress and actually get into the shower; my stomach was bloated and undressing makes me feel even more ashamed and disgusted with myself. Sometimes sleep in my clothes and tonight was going to be one of those nights. But I didn’t stop there.

I went downstairs, said hello and closed the kitchen door behind me and began prepping food for another purge. I ate the additional food when it was ready. Having purged so much today already, I knew this time would be extremely difficult; my gag reflex was completely gone.

There are already 3 vomit stains on my carpet, now I have a 4th. I cleaned up as best I could.

It’s 10pm and I am completely wiped out. My entire body aches and tingles, and my heart is racing. I lie across my bed, and a voice in my head keeps saying over and over ‘what are you doing to yourself?’

for me, reading this was like a distant memory of a nightmare I had once had. the parts where she talks about the emotions and constant self-bargaining, the body-checking in every mirror, the accelerated heartrate, the self-loathing as she falls asleep. I haven't had a day like that in years. but most of her story was very similar to days I've lived through. they are days I've tried to put behind me and forget about. but I also think that there is value here.

there's value for me: remembering where I don't want to be again.
there's value for those who haven't experienced eating disorders: a tidbit of understanding.
there's value for L: she got something off her chest--and believe me, i know the value in that.

there's value for society:

talk about it,

share it,

and get it out there.