Addiction: Old Habits Die Hard

A20D1498-8BC8-450D-A1F7-2CD635E1BD42Today marks year 8 since I left a rehabilitation center for eating disorders. That’s not to say it’s all been smooth sailing since. In fact, at times the waters have been rockier than Chris Brown and Rihanna’s relationship.

The past few months, I’ve been having the time of my life. I have an incredible group of friends, I’m making money, having fun, and blah blah blah. Yet, unbeknownst to the world, there was still an internal struggle with my old friend ED. (Eating Disorder) Although I haven’t “relapsed” as many would say, I have certainly regressed in terms of my behaviors, feelings, and thinking.

I look at ED as some abusive ex partner that continues to slide back into my DMs. It’s like ED can see my glow up, and can’t resist swooping back in. ED sends out a message, and I ignorantly open the new inbox notification that says… “I miss you.” I want to respond with a poop emoji but next thing you know a heart has been sent and we’re talking till 2AM. 

It’s clear to me that these moments come when something within me is out of alignment. Regardless of how good life is, when I feel too much uncertainty, or a lack of trust in myself or life… *knock knock knock* Here comes ED with his never ending list of food suggestions and criticisms to “help” and control me. Can you blame me for feeling like life has had a fair amount of uncertainty these days? #2020 #isthisreallyhappening

Eating disorders are all about control, so this is my sick and twisted way to cope with the lack of control I feel in my own life. Then, this coping mechanism turns into a habit, and if I’m not careful, a relapse.

It goes a little something like… “You know you want to try that cookie. Go for it. Treat yo’self! You should finish them. Thick is the new fit so I’ve heard.” … “Can’t believe how much you ate. You’re going to be able to feed a Mormon family with the amount of rolls you’re going to have on you tomorrow. You better find a meal to skip soon.”

More often than not, it’s quite counter productive as you can imagine. I end up feeling like Gollum without a ring, but much fatter. (I don’t know why I write so many references from The Lord Of The Rings when I haven’t even seen all of the movies.)

Do I worry about relapsing in the future? I’d be lying if I said no. Heck, I worried today at the vegan buffet. That said, I refuse to let ED win. ED has ruined relationships of mine, and nearly took my life. Yet ED has also taught me some of my most valuable lessons and insights. I do not hate ED. In fact, I love ED for all of the strength and growth it has given me, but I also do not want ED to be an active part of my life again. 

I’m here to say It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to regrettably respond to a DM every once in a while. You learn from it all. Just make sure you don’t take the loser back completely.

 

How I Feel About My Body Image Since Traveling

C380A78D-9673-4DA8-9012-F97FFA8C5D20 A big part of traveling the world is experiencing the culture, and that includes the food. What happens when you consume an absurd amount of pad thai and befriend a bunch of bros who eat about six meals a day? You guessed it. Thighs that are thicker than the minds of those who don’t believe in global warming.   

Before traveling the world, I was a fitness instructor, I worked out seven days a week, and was vegan. Not the vegan that still eats vegan ice cream and french fries. The kind of vegan that looks at the package at a grocery store for 10 minutes to make sure they know all of the ingredients. So, as you can imagine, a lot changes both physically and mentally when your daily health and fitness routine goes from Kayla the fitness guru, to Honey Boo-Boo.

Having struggled with a sever eating disorder for years, it’s not hard to guess my initial reaction to my reflection as my body changed was not a positive one.

“It looks like I have a food baby the size of my ex boyfriends ego.” Was the kind of internal dialogue I would have when I had to get dressed in the morning.

Somehow, someway, things started to shift. I couldn’t even tell you why or how. I started to live more freely. I began to look at my curves as sexy. I was beyond grateful that I allowed myself to eat what I wanted, and experience the culture, without the excessive guilt or counting calories endless times a day like I used to.

Between the liberation of eating what I want without internally freaking out, and having people like me for me, it’s easy to see I used to give a fuck about all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons. I realize that if I was the twig I had wished I was, I’d want to look more like me now. You want what you can’t have. Even though society says one type of beauty trumps the rest, I beg to differ. Plenty of people prefer having something to hold on to, in which case, I have no shortage here.

My mother tells me “There’s a cover for every pot.” That I believe to be true. For every body type, there are plenty of others who’d admire the beauty of it. However, the most important thing to be able to do is cover your own pot. You can always trade lids when another comes along, but you don’t want to be left feeling cold because of the way you feel about who you are or how you look. I’m hoping that metaphor comes across as good as it did in my head.

Did I grieve today when I couldn’t fit into the pants I tried on in a store in Japan? Yes, but mainly because they were sexy af and I would have worn them so much. Gosh, I’m getting so salty just thinking about it. Let’s be real though, I do not have the physique of a typical Japanese woman, and that I’m okay with. Do I wish my body was different? Also yes. Though I appreciate what I have and how I am, I’d be lying if I said I was thrilled about all my extra fluff. Some is great, but I’d love to distribute the rest to my ass if I’m being honest.

If I was huffing and puffing like a chain smoker with asthma after walking down the block, that’s one thing. However, that’s not the case. Im living my best life, doing just fine. In fact, more than fine. Beautiful curves and all.

CagED: Living With an Eating Disorder

The only break I got from my living nightmare, was when I was asleep. My eating disorder consumed me. “When will I eat next? What will I eat? How will I be incognito when the lunch lady clearly sees me grabbing my 6th cookie? I already have a rivalry with her, so fuck it. Plus, I can just have Alexis get me more. God damnit, how dare they take so long in the bathroom. The audacity. I need to be alone in there. If only I was thinner… “ something along those lines was the loop that played on repeat in my head.

To think I used to live that way is almost surreal. The severe amount of anxiety and imprisonment I felt in my own body and mind became second nature. The double life I had to live sucked the life out of me, but I couldn’t even tell. I was able to fool myself and everyone around me. 

“Wow, how can you eat so much and be so skinny? Do you have a super fast metabolism or something? You’re so lucky!” Said an acquaintance that I reluctantly agreed could accompany me one day. Meanwhile, she only was watching me eat the last quarter of my meal. Although I was thrilled she called me skinny, her even noticing my eating habits made me want to mush the rest of my ice cream in her face.  

It was like I was in an abusive relationship with ED, my eating disorder. I didn’t want anyone to acknowledge it was happening, or make me remember that it was a toxic relationship. 

“ED is always there for me. ED comforts me everyday. Yes, ED is controlling, manipulative, and causes me mental and physical pain, but I love ED. Id be lost without ED. ED is my everything. How could I ever live without ED?”

Thankfully, my desire to be free eventually outweighed the comfort of being cagED. My passion and dedication to heal and love myself became the key to unlock me from the captivity of ED. I learned a lot from ED, but I’ve learned more by shutting that door, so I could walk through another one that wouldn’t keep me cagED. photo-1507750809133-76dfbb107d68

My Terrible Twos

chris-benson-411764Journal entry

6/4/17

   As my sister slept on a flimsy air mattress on the floor to my studio, which was probably like sleeping in a palace to her considering all of the festivals she’s been to, I walked over to my mother as she finished her morning coffee (because you know you have to wait for mothers to have their coffee before you get serious about anything) I pulled her over to my kitchen nook and asked her if she had a minute to talk. She looked confused and concerned as we sat down across from each other. I apologized to her for the years of suffering I had caused her through my addictions, foolish behavior, and disrespect in the past. Though I’ve apologized before, it was very vague, and I felt I owed her an apology that was more specific and sincere. My hopes and expectations were that she would be happy about my apology, accept it, hug it out, and move along our merry way, but it didn’t go quite like that…..

She titled her head down so her gaze peered over her glasses strait into my eyes. “I’m the one who’s sorry. I’m sorry that you were put in such a poor situation that you had no control over when you were a baby. I remember what you said yesterday about babies being like sponges, and it made me think about what you must have went through at that time. ” She went on to talk about how my dad went manic and was hospitalized when I was two (which I knew, but never really thought about what it must have been like for me). Things turned to shit as my mom tried to keep everything together as she panicked. My grandparents flew in from across the country freaking out, and I was there unable to understand and process why he was gone and why the energy was all over the place. Basically my sponge of a brain was soaking up madness, and confusion. My mother ended with “Things were never the same after that..”

A week later (today), as I sat on the front porch waiting for my therapist to see me, I saw her old Boston Terrier starring and me curiously through the glass door. Once again, the door opened and she stood there flawless with a smile. I sat down and immediately started to vent about my regression. Though I’m better than I was before I started all of this, my thoughts about food and my body checking have slightly increased since my last visit. I blabbed on about how I haven’t been feeling as good since my mother and sister visited a few days ago, even though I had a great time with them. One thing lead to another and I told her about my meditation this morning where I cried out of nowhere, like a soccer player who dramatically leaps and falls to the ground in agony after an opposing player brushes up against him. I Also mentioned later that I gave an apology to my mother while she was here, having no idea it could have everything to do why I’ve been feeling out of whack.

So, all of these emotions are coming up “randomly” now because I didn’t process them when I was two. The door opened when, for the first time, I entertained the thought of what life must have been like for me then. Can I just fast forward to me happy, in love, with a bangin’ body, an awesome career, and a ton of money? Is there a way to skip the whole feeling like shit part of processing old emotions?

You know that feeling when you’re playing mario kart, or some race car driving video game, and you drive off track and spend the next minute anxiously waiting, watching all of the other cars pass you by? Maybe you don’t know what I mean, but I can assure you, it isn’t a good feeling, and that’s how I’m feeling now. I definitely feel like I fell off track even though I’ve continued my meditation practice. It seems as though ever since my mother and sister visited last weekend, my “I’m transforming, life is beautiful” phase has turned into. “What the hell. Why am I not enlightened yet??” I realized it’s kind of like working out for a few weeks, and then getting pissed off that you didn’t win a body building competition.  

A Food Junkies Journey

IMG_2428 (1)Life from my perspective was a complete tragedy. The only things keeping me from taking my own life at that time, was that it would cause my family so much pain, and this deep sense of knowing that I was going to somehow get out of this shit hole, and create an amazing life for myself.

I was lying on the floor in someone else’s house, crying as though I was a child who had just discovered Santa wasn’t real. Lost, lonely, relapsed, stranded, broken, broke, and confused, were just a few words to describe my state of being at that time. All I could wonder was why I chose to move to California because at that point it felt like the world was trying to tell me my time was up.

At that time, I had just crashed my car, and my plan to travel up north and find a place to live in the Bay area abruptly came to a halt. My destructive thoughts were running rampant, like someone trying to find their phone when they know their crush is waiting for a response. It was hard for me to do anything but pity myself and my circumstances, but I knew I had to keep going. Not in a persevering or heroic way, but because I literally needed to find another place to sleep.

After a copious amount of confusion and angst, I booked my stay at a retreat. Esalen is a retreat on the cliff of Big Sur, with hot springs full of naked people, food for days, and workshops mostly consisting of people who you would picture walking around barefoot with flower crowns, putting sage all over everything, and practicing kundalini yoga before sunrise. I went for a writers workshop in hopes to get out of the writers block I was in. With my insecurities bigger than my belly after a binge, I figured I’d keep my clothes on in the hot springs, get as much out of the food buffet as humanly possible, get out of my writers block, and have a place to sleep for a few more nights as well.

Next thing I know, I’m sitting there on a bench overlooking the ocean, but unable to appreciate its beauty. The sky was as blue as the cloth I would imagine a stork carrying to deliver a baby boy. The water washing up on the rocky shore below me, was crystal clear, like the tears that were rolling down my cheeks. With no home, no car, and resurfaced addictive thoughts and behaviors, I questioned what I had gotten myself into, and how much longer I had left to live if I kept this up. This leap of faith seemed to be turning into a leap of failure.

I felt a pain in my chest so deep and full of sorrow that it couldn’t be ignored. Sitting on the bench, I lifted my gaze and starred out at the magnificent cliffs of Big Sur, and the glistening water of the pacific ocean. With an aching heart, I thought to myself “My heart needs this.” I brought my awareness to the pain and acknowledged its presents without judgement. “Hello pain.” I thought to myself “I need to feel this contrast and pain to evolve and move forward, but I’ve felt you long enough, and you can go.”
The pain instantly vanished. I had caught my brain feeding me these lies that life was awful. It was as if my awareness made my ego flee in disappointment and embarrassment of it’s discovery.

Profound insights and circumstances were taking place, and it was only just the beginning. That night I took out my notepad and wrote “HELP” in bold letters, and closed my eyes as I prayed to the air and fell into slumber. Not soon after opening my eyes the next morning, help is what I got, but not in a way I was expecting.

Shortly after my fourth round of breakfast the next morning, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to survive another episode. I was legitimately scared for my life, and was under the impression that I would surly be rushed to the ER if I tried again. I was hoping that when I asked for help, a mentor would have miraculously come into my life, or I would have mustered the courage and strength to stop because I had enough. I asked for help, and that is what I received in the form of scaring the living daylights out of me, and causing my body to start falling apart.

After that, I stopped my addictive behaviors with my newfound determination. I’m sure the fact that I thought I would be dead soon otherwise contributed to the change as well. Wasn’t really the way I wanted to go out. I knew I came out to California to find more of what my heart needs to evolve and become a better version of myself, not to have my heart stop entirely. That being said, the destructive thoughts and behaviors didn’t end there. This was only the beginning of a very long journey of recovery.

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