When your strength is stolen

Friday morning I listened to a voicemail from my dad asking me to call him back immediately.  

chosen because she was happiest when surrounded by family experiencing new things.

Fast forward several calls, a talk to the police, a call to my brother vacationing in England and several dizzy spells brought on by sobbing.

My mom had passed away… Very unexpectedly.

My mom was effervescent, full of laughter and life, kind beyond words, welcoming to every single person she encountered and … my best friend.

She was my safe place, my role model, the one who got me before I even understood what I was feeling; she challenged me and celebrated all moments (victories and defeats). She was the glue of our family, who kept the peace and made everyone feel valued and special.

She was my mom, and now more importantly, she was Baylor and Nola’s Gram. Or as she liked to sign letters: “Grim” because when B and N say Gram it sounds a little more like a soft i sound. She came to my rescue when I was panicking about a sick child and would happily giggle while playing on the floor and up and down slides with the twins. She was silly and loving and thought that they we’re smart beyond their years. She mailed them fun notes and the ones that were 3 feet by 2 feet had outlines of her hands and feet. (Those will never be thrown out.)

She was the person who gave me confidence in my own ability to be a mom.

She also gave me strength to get healthier and gently stuck with me through the worst of my sickness and ever so steadily helped push me forward. She was my strength.

I feel as though my daughters have been cheated. I know I am biased, but my mom was so creative, so encouraging, so loving and exciting. She filled a room with light and fun. They deserved more time with her. SHE deserved more time with THEM.

The thought that keeps bringing me to my knees is the fear that Baylor and Nola won’t remember her. Throughout my recovery journey the strongest motivating element has been Baylor and Nola having a strong, healthy mom and role model.  The desire to be at my best has grown tenfold because now, I will work everyday to emulate, channel, and bring her spirit to life.

I know she would tell me, this isn’t goodbye, it’s just see you later. At her funeral I said it is now our job to live with our hearts full, laugh as loudly as possible, and keep our spirit full of life because that’s how she lived everyday.

I know right now my heart is broken and my strength has been stolen but I will work everyday to honor her heart, laughter and spirit. These are her legacy, we are her legacy. I’ll make sure it’s honored and remembered.

Please work hard to keep your TRUE Strength.

All eyes on me

Some people like to be the center of attention and some people prefer to blend into the background.  What does it mean to admit that I enjoy being the leader, in front of people, taking charge and being a slight ham at times… especially when there is a camera before us?

We just returned from a week long family vacation at the beach… with 17 other people all in one house.

Let me break this down… 

Vacation = wonderful … so thankful to be able to take a vacation

Family = I love my family and our family unit (the five of us) are tight knit, supportive, easy going/relaxed and fun.  If you peal away the disorder being around extended family is wonderful – they are fun loving, smart and enjoyable.  I love our family.  But we know you can’t just simply shed the disorder – or we would!

So… I’m used to eating in front of my family unit, and even with that comfort I often “apologize” or explain why I’m eating (as if they are thinking anything other than… yea – all good! Go for it).  That means there were 13 others living with me day in and out for the week, who I am not comfortable enough with to push through the struggle and not let restriction try to take over.

At the beach = is this a surprise that this would be a stressor for someone who has battled eating or exercise disorders?  Clearly not.

Before the trip my anxiety levels and disordered thoughts were firing on all cylinders. A good and bad thing about this trip is that our routine is to make most of our meals in the house – we grocery shop, make our own food throughout the day and then have family meals for dinner.  It is helpful that I was able to have control over some of the grocery list.  Helpful because for myself and many who’s disorder makes them feel more comfortable in restrictive mode will use any excuse not to eat.  Mine has always been… well there’s nothing here I can eat.  “Nothing I can eat” is simply not true but the disorder justifies it.  What it really means is I don’t feel safe eating it.  I do have a dairy allergy so my disorder loves to use that as an excuse as well.

Family dinner meals are the hardest.  The disorder has given me very rigid routines… times to eat, foods to eat, and exercise needed to justify the meal. All of that has to go out the window and a BIG part of going through this long road of recovery is to function each day without this strict routine.

Here comes the all eyes on me moments…

We all sit down for a meal (or the meals all week).  It happens to be a type of food I truly don’t like – not that the disorder doesn’t like – I just don’t.  All eyes feel to be on me as I pass on the main dish and gingerly take a few green beans… I know in my mind I’ll eat some of “my food” later … but feel the questioning eyes.  In reality no one probably even noticed but my disorder liked to “feed” on this feeling.

Later I quietly made a small meal.  All was going fine and I felt like I was making some progress, albeit baby steps, I fought the desire to eat in my bedroom in private and that made me feel like I was moving the disorder mountain.  All good until… one family member said… “having a second dinner??” Oh my goodness. The comment was innocent on their part and goes to show that when I thought all eyes were on me during dinner I was being more self centered than anything because this person hadn’t noticed at all that I hadn’t eaten before.  BUT I felt like I’d just been gut punched.  The sergeant fired up and wanted me to put the meal down…  I immediately started thinking… well they all saw my crazy hard workout this morning.  Maybe I don’t need this… I could just stop eating.  NO… I was hungry and I wanted to win.  I didn’t want to just go to sleep, I wanted to have energy for the next day, I wanted to play with the girls, I WANTED TO BEAT the disorder.

Fighting an ongoing battle with the sergeant is what I’ve signed up for and I will quiet him.  Something that has helped me and maybe it will help you too is to find things to focus on as motivation for getting better.  Mine are my young daughters.  I want them to have a healthy and happy mom who is a positive and healthy role model.  I am driven by them, but the action has to be from within.

I share this experience because the fear of it was almost paralyzing before the trip.  At times, facing it while on vacation was exhausting, but all in all, it all passes and I not only survived, I loved the memory making and laughter filled week.

You, too, can survive what scares you and continue to make strides to beat whatever disorder you’re battling through. Stay strong…

TRUE Strength.

Here are my motivations … what are yours? 

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Moving mountains

You can’t move a mountain with a single shove, no matter how strong you are. Rather it takes moving stone by stone sometimes even pebble by pebble.image

A good friend reminded me of this as I shared with her the reality of my health and battle with the disorder. I love the visual as I think it applies to many challenges and struggles.

For my CrossFit friends think about your first day at the box… You didn’t walk in and knock out a sub 4 minute Fran and probably didn’t hit three muscle ups in a row. Little by little your form, strength and endurance improved and that once mountainous goal that once seemed so out of reach is now within reach or one that you’ve conquered.

As motivational as this visual is there is also a very tangible reality associated to it. Today I was reminded that while figuratively moving those stones and pebbles, sometimes one you’ve moved to the new spot (the healthy spot, the goal, the new achievement) can roll down and hit you in the head.

It can be frustrating, maddening and make you want to just throw it up and say f’ it. For me, during my battle with the disorder it causes that drill sergeant to fire up. The orders start barking – sounding off saying that I’m out of control, I need to restrict, need to revert or stop trusting the process and my “team” of counsellors.

The battle today is not necessarily to move any stones forward… It’s simply not to move any backwards. That alone will be the struggle.

Stay strong have TRUE Strength.

(More about what has caused the trigger to flare up soon after I can process a bit more.)

Getting through… not thriving

Our minds are amazing animals…

Mine works in overdrive most days and for many years has operated almost as a separate entity – separate from many feelings, creating it’s own reality and truth, putting on a strong smile and a “power through” face.

After realizing that I was just simply getting through – instead of thriving – I started seeking help for a long standing disordered relationship with food and exercise… to be brutally honest the technical term is exercise anorexia.  Although I’ve bounced a bit in and out of healthier stages I’ve never truly been in a state where my mind is quiet and I’m not obsessed with what I eat and how much I exercise.  After my daughters were born I was determined to stop the cycle and set a positive example for them.  I would not wish this constant battle on even my worst enemy and I will spend my days making sure I don’t let my daughters model my disordered behavior.

SO… why put this all out in such a public way? For me… saying it out loud makes it real.  My mind is REALLY good at separating my reality from real reality.  It can tell me I’ve eaten SO much or that I’m getting really flabby… it can tell me that I’m not tired and that if I stop to relax I’m being lazy.  But saying it out loud brings in logic and truth… and I can’t hide once it’s out there.  For a long time I have been … “ok” I’ve not been sick per se, I haven’t been too under weight… but I haven’t been right or healthy.  I was getting through but certainly wasn’t thriving.

When I started seeking help one of my counselors talked about the constant dialog in my mind.  If you have experience with disorders you understand this concept, if not… imagine a drill sergeant in your mind constantly questioning every thought and action, every bit of food you’ve even THOUGHT about eating, every bit of exercise or every moment of rest… constantly.  From the precise moment you wake to the point you finally, finally fall asleep.  It is exhausting.

This counselor said that not everyone has that constant dialog… I still am in disbelief but I’m dedicated to seeing for myself if this can stop.  Part of that process is being brutally honest to myself and part of that is putting it out there in public.

This blog has served as a motivational device, a place for snarky fun, and as a way to share real life challenges and successes.  I’ve heard from some of you that some of my experiences have helped you and I’d like to ask that I have a shot of doing that again.  I’ll be sharing some real truths about the process to become healthy – for real.  And not just become healthy but THRIVE.  I have two beautiful little girls who are my biggest motivation and an amazing support system around me.  I hope if even for one other person, I can help add to your support system.  It’s a long and challenging journey… but one that is worth taking.  Who wants to just simply get through?

If any of this rings true to you… I hope my future sharing and messages can help give you TRUE Strength.  

“Actually”

A family member of mine… we can call him “George” (remember the old abominable snowman cartoon with Bugs Bunny where he’d “hug him, and stroke him, and cuddle him, and sing to him, and call him George, duh.”) uses the word “actually” in a way that grates on my nerves.  Be prepared, now that you’re reading this, you’ll hear it more and I promise it will drive you crazy.

This person, when asked how the day was, will respond – without fail with… “Actually… not too bad.” Or, “Actually it was good.”

Why does this drive me crazy? Well think of it in the same light of our justice system… we are innocent until proven guilty.  This use of the word “actually” implies that the person assumes that the day is going to be bad and then is surprised… it wasn’t too bad, “ACTUALLY.”

Why come at a day with the assumption that it will be a bad day? hugo-the-abominable-snowman

In my most snarkiest voice… suck it up buttercup!  

Remember … you ACTUALLY do make each day what it is… watch a little Bugs Bunny, run around outside, laugh at yourself and have a good one!

TRUE Strength

 

Brutal Honesty

Sometimes the hardest TRUE Strength is honesty.  stronger than this

And the chart topper is honesty with yourself.  It’s amazing to me how easy it is to lie to ourselves and convince ourselves what we want to see as reality.    

My lie… the reality that my disordered thinking and tendencies have started to resurface.  In my experience, and I don’t dare speak for everyone, the harshest reality as a person who has battled eating disorders or disordered thinking is that it never really goes away or is officially treated.  It’s my addiction. Compared to someone’s alcohol or drug addiction. As odd as it sounds… restricting, over exercising, controlling is comforting to me.  The scariest part for me is that my disordered thinking comes under the veil or cloak of doing something healthy.  It just goes too far.  It’s enticing… alluring even.  Always under the best of intentions… and then slips.

It’s very easy to say there’s nothing wrong or I’m all under control.  

But the TRUE Strength reality is … honesty is harsh… and it’s time to get honest.  

My friend, Meggie is someone I really look up to.  She is brutally honest and open about her struggles and as a recent first time mom has been experiencing all the amazing ups and downs and blurred reality of newborn life.  All while still being honest about these ever present disordered thoughts.  Her article about Orthorexia encouraged me to seek more guidance and to acknowledge I may be loosing control and need to be more honest with myself.

Meggie writes for Saltyrunning.com.  You can read her full article HERE.  

Perhaps, such an honest post is not all that fun to read… but, if it can encourage even one person to get some help, it is vital.  Thank you for sharing your TRUE Strength with me.