My Never Ending Dilemma…

Hi, my name is Ashley and I am recovering from Anorexia Nervosa.

That has been my identity for so long. That has been my pride and my mission. My saving grace.

Since the age of 12 I spent my hours counting calories, restricting my food intake, recording everything I ate, weighing myself multiple times a day, consuming ridiculous amounts of diet coke, purging any food that felt like “too much” or “unsafe”, taking laxatives multiple times a day to make sure I got rid of every last thing in my body that escaped the restricting and purging, the list goes on…I was confused, couldn’t think straight, dizzy, constantly exhausted, always consumed by thoughts of food, calories, and weight, couldn’t sleep due to starvation, and felt the palpitations in my heart as I stood up or tried to walk up the stairs. I knew nothing but my eating disorder.

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And some how, in the midst of all the damage I was doing to my body, I was able to get by. I went to school and work, barely making it through, but i did it. And as miserable and painful as all of that was, it was the easier than having to face my emotions and deal with the monsters from my past.

I’ve spent the last 3 and half years in and out of treatment centers, hospitals, outpatient programs, and support groups. I’ve seen months of great recovery only to always fall back into the depths of Ed (eating disorder).

And after all this time, I am in a place in my journey I have yet to experience that is probably the most confusing part of recovery I’ve encountered yet.

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I have finally created a life for myself outside of treatment. I have an amazing job and work with wonderful people, I have the most incredible and supportive group of friends, I’m going out and having fun, I’m starting school again in the fall, and I am completely independent and living on my own. And I created all of this for myself without the help of anyone.

I am not willing to let my Anorexia take all of that from me and I feel so passionately about that.

So I eat, I go to work, I talk about shit that sucks, I have fun with friends, I pay my bills…

And because of that, I am flooded by my past, all the trauma, pain, fear, anger, and sadness.

And I can’t run from it anymore because that would mean going back to Ed, and if I do that I lose everything else, all the good along with the bad, and it’s just not worth it anymore.

But then there are nights like tonight when all I want is to feel the hunger and obsess over the food, calories, and weight so that for just a moment I can have some relief from monsters in my head…

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But it’s not an option. It can NOT be an option for me anymore. My body can’t physically handle it because of all the damage I’ve already done and I can’t lose this life that I finally have and love.

So I wake up every morning and I do what I need to do and try to have fun to forget, but while everyone sees the smile on my face and the laughter in my voice, no one has any idea the pain behind it all.

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Unexpected Rejuvenation

I went home this weekend to visit my little sister (who’s not so little anymore) and my mom.

Going home has always been a risky situation. I love my family, don’t get me wrong, however, the level of disfunction within our family system is a little triggering to say the least. So with my recent struggles with using eating disorder behaviors again, I was a little nervous.

But to my surprise, it was a great weekend!

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Prior to driving home I had a really good and important session with my dietician in which I made the commitment to eat 3 meals and 1-2 snacks every day for 2 weeks, no matter what. In other words, I’ve been really struggling and my dietician needs to see if I can get back on track myself or need to go back to some higher level of treatment.

Today is the end of day 4, and I am proud to say I am following through on my commitment 🙂

So back to this weekend…

We didn’t do much, mainly just hung out around their apartment, watched movies, talked, played games, ate…you know, the usual. It was simple and simple was just what I needed.

On the drive back (a long 4 and a half hours) I spent some really amazing time with God. I have been so distant from Him lately and last week started to realize that there is no way I can do recovery or life without Him.

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I’ve always thought that I had 2 options in life, my eating disorder or having to deal with the trauma in my past and that there would never be peace or relief. BUT THERE IS ANOTHER OPTION! And He has been there the whole time just waiting for me to realize it 🙂

So with that, I am feeling ready to conquer this eating disorder and live the life God created me for! I’m so stoked about it. And at the same time I realize it’s going to be hard work and it won’t always feel this great. But I know it is possible and I know He will never give up fighting for me!

Actually Living

One Big Puzzle

The thought of actually living, not just surviving, is a terrifying thought.

Because living means feeling and uncertainty, getting hurt and failing. But I’ve been told living also means love and joy, connection and fulfillment.

Does the good outweigh the bad? I guess I can’t know until I give life a chance…

How does one begin to live after 22 years of simply surviving? Is it possible for an infant to run before she has learned to crawl?

I believe in a God who loves deeper than we can comprehend and is powerfully good beyond belief, and yet He feels so far away. I used to have a  hope and a faith that I could hold onto when everything felt so hopeless. I don’t know where it went. I know it’s still there but I can’t seem to access that part of who I am and who He is in me. And that, above all else, is terrifying.

Because if I don’t have Him to live for, I have nothing.

Living is terrifying if I have nothing to live for. And yet here I am, still kicking. Because I know He is in there somewhere. In the depths of my heart that have been so wounded they have been sealed by such fierce scar tissue and are painfully hard to tear back open.

But it must be done… or what’s the point?

It is so easy for my purpose to be to restrict and see the number on the scale go down. It’s so much more confusing when there is no answer, no specific end point. When everything is blurry and uncertain and complicated.

Losing weight is easy, it’s straightforward, it’s specific. Living is the total opposite and I don’t know a thing about how to do that.

So I’m scared. Actually living is terrifying.

A Messy Room = A Chaotic Life

I have come to a realization tonight….

When my room is messy, my life feels so much more chaotic, but when it’s clean and organized I can breathe much more freely.

Call me crazy but the symbolism is huge!

This past week has been soo crazy and tonight I came home from work to my disastrous room feeling so overwhelmed. Dirty laundry scattered, a pile of clean laundry in a heap on the floor because there was no time or energy to fold and put away, bags with contents from a night out with friends, shoes kicked all over…ahhhh!!!

So as tired as I was from a looooong shift at work, I cleaned my room and now I feel so much better and so accomplished. I can rest satisfied tonight 🙂

So, if your life feels chaotic, try cleaning your room. It might just be that simple 😉

My Baby Boy

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My little baby boy, Charlie, passed away this morning due to sudden congestive heart failure…

My heart is broken. We adopted him when he was a mere 6 weeks old and 2 lbs, 10 years ago when I was 12 years old.

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He lived with my mom and sister in Southern California while I am up in Central/Northern California. I am making a trip home to visit in a week and a half and I can’t explain how devastated I am that I will be a week and a half late. I just wanted to hold him and give him a big kiss on the head one last time…

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My dogs, more than anything in the entire world, give me more joy than I’ve ever experienced. The love and connection between a dog and his/her owner (to me) is one of the most sacred relationships one can have.

I love you Charlie ❤ I love you so much and wish I could have been there to say goodbye. The pain is so deep.

My memories of you are so wonderful and bring such love to my heart. I will forever cherish those, Chewy, so thank you.

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I hope you are in Heaven with God now, laying on His lap looking down on us. See you in Heaven Chubby. I will miss you forever…

❤ I love you so so much!

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Autobiography

Grease Logo

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about writing a book about my story…it’s something i’ve really wanted to do for a long time, it just seems like a daunting endeavor. I don’t know the first thing about writing a book but the other night I thought I would just try to start…here is what I’ve got for the Prologue…

Grease. Not the black stuff you get all over your hands when trying to fix your car, but the 80’s musical starring John Travolta. Grease; Grease is the moment everything shifted.

That was the theme of my high school dance team’s Homecoming football game performance. Standing on the rough, red, and yet oddly cushioned track (I was clearly not a runner), I wore my satin Pink Ladies jacket counting down the minutes until show time. In that moment I was certain of many things. I was certain that adrenaline was rushing through my veins, that I loved to dance more than anything, that it was cold outside and that I really had to pee, and I also knew that I was never going to be good enough, at dance, at being popular, at all of the above. And it’s only now that I can look back and realize that I would have given anything to stay within those certainties, even though along with those came pain and self-hate. But at least there was solid ground to stand on; at lease I knew what was happening.

Because in one minute, one moment, one phone call, everything in my life became the complete opposite: utterly and terrifyingly uncertain.

I no longer had the privilege of housing simple 16-year-old concerns, worries, and drama in my mind. I would no longer be stressing about finals, scared about getting asked to prom, or insecure about my outfit choice for school photos, because suddenly I was terrified for my life. In the blink of an eye my life turned upside down, because my life was on the line.

2 Steps Forward, One Step Back

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I’ve been on this recovery journey for 3 and half years now and let me tell you, it’s fucking exhausting. Reaching out for help and support has never been an area of strength for me. And so I create this blog with the hopes of it being an outlet for myself and a guide in my recovery, as well as an place to begin sharing parts of my story.

So please engage with me. Ask questions, start conversations, share posts. My hope is that my story can help others, in one way or another. Big or small.

What I promise is that what you read on my blog will be real to the core. This is my life and my story, vulnerable and raw.