Tag Archives: eating disorder

Kilroy Was Here

The war in which I fought, the war that left its indelible mark on me, was not a major battle lauded by historians as a great victory or a lesson learned.  It was not researched after the fact, analyzed, viewed from various interesting angles and dissected by great minds with the intent of culling any worthwhile data it might provide.  Nor was it documented with video equipment and reenacted, or detailed in studious dissertations.  It was not noted at all, in fact, by any person alive on planet earth, either during or after the terrible war had essentially ended.  It is actually only briefly noted within a massive list of words and definitions by a single two-syllable word that resides in Webster’s Dictionary.  Just one word to explain the hideous events that changed my world forever.  That annihilated me, though I fought for survival ever so gallantly.  One word.

Incest.

The battle was fought in my own home behind doors that were kept locked with the intent of keeping the boogieman safely outside.  But the boogieman was a resident of the house where I grew up.  He built it.  The locks were pathetically ineffective.  The fox was guarding the hen house.

I had to maintain the highest level of invisibility achievable by a child who was terrified of those who gave her life, only to metaphorically take it away.  I could not draw my name upon the wall to mark my passing.  To commemorate how I had fought and suffered.  No “Kilroy Was Here” left on a board or stone to prove I had been, though I was no more.

I cloaked myself in darkness, but again and again, the darkness betrayed me.  For it did not hide me from my father who quietly sneaked into my room at night and took what he wanted from me, leaving little behind.  It did not soften the impact of being raped, abused and used.  It did not shield me from his warped lust.

I could not leave a mark as a witness of what I suffered at their hands as they used me to satisfy their whims or to release their raging anger.  I could not speak of the atrocities.  Nor memorialize the tragedy.  No one knew of the war in which I so desperately struggled and fought.  I could not tell them.  I was a prisoner of an unknown and unacknowledged war.  People do not want to hear, they do not want to know the ugly truth of the torture such prisoners endure.  Even when the war is supported, they turn their head and shut their eyes.

“Kilroy Was Here” was a proclamation.  It was created as a visual symbol to commemorate the GI’s presence.  He left it behind as a sign for those who would come after.  To let them know he had been where they are now…and had lived to tell.

I have no clever graphic.  I have only words.  I leave them strewn here on this screen for those who will come after me.  And sadly, there will be many more who come after.  More broken souls who start their life wounded by those who were supposed to die protecting them.  Staggering under the weight of every form of child abuse.  And like any soldier who endures and fights in horrendous conditions while attempting to survive the unrelenting attacks of a deadly, disguised, fanatic enemy, we are each one forever changed by what we have endured.

We may survive, but we don’t get out alive.

 

Ricochet

Ricochet  ric-o-chet
Noun:  A shot or hit that rebounds one or more times off a surface.  (The action or movement of a bullet, shell, or other projectile when rebounding off a surface.)
Verb:  Rebound one or more times off a surface.  (A bullet ricocheted off a nearby wall.)

 

Crazy thing about all that abuse when I was a kid so many years ago.  The gun was loaded.  The bullet fired.  Head shot.  And one point blank to the heart for good measure.  But the damage didn’t stop there.  Those bullets ricocheted around inside of me for decades, causing more and more damage.  Until the abuse that happened years before took an irreversible toll, leaving me brain dead.  And my heart, what remains of it, lifeless and numb.  Destroyed.

Did a number on me, as they say.  Ricocheting all over the place the way bullets do.  The shots fired by my parent’s abuse changed me.  Forever.

As such, the bullets that ricocheted off the wall of my head and heart during my childhood were massively destructive.  They bounced from one thought to another, laying waste to any particle of a healthy ability to see myself through eyes of acceptance.  Or to have the ability to find any worth within me, if there was any to be found.  They tore through me, shredding my heart and leaving me in unbearable pain.  Pain I could not process.  The backlash was ugly.  Healing was limited.  Diagnosis: impairment permanent.  The numbness felt like relief when it finally enveloped me.  Until it became my normal state of being.

I didn’t know at the time what was taking place inside of me.  I didn’t realize I was forever being altered by the shots that reverberated through every piece of me, slicing me to bits as I fought to hold myself together.  Fought to keep walking.  To keep going, in spite of my deadly, mortal wounds.

When you’re a child, the walls of your heart and mind are pretty weak.  Ricocheting bullets created bloody holes, weakening any protective layers I’d managed to devise before they bounced again, ripping through tissue, personality, thought processes and emotions.

In spite of the mortal wounds, no one could tell from the outside how damaged I was within.  The blood I bled was not visible to the naked eye.  No one knew the secrets I kept and how much those secrets were hurting me.  No one could see the impact of the ricocheting bullets that tore through my soul again and again.

Now, things other people can do…they’re really hard for me.  Things like taking showers.  I have to close my eyes and curl up my toes just to step in a bathtub.  Because the feel of that wet porcelain takes me right back to when I was a kid.  My dad soaping me all up before he slipped his penis in me. Or rubbed it all over me.  Made me dirty, in spite of all that soap.  The kind of dirty you can’t wash off.

Even eating is hard.  More damage from the ricochet.  I’ve struggled with eating disorders and food almost my entire life.  And I’ve had them all. Binge eating disorder.  Anorexia.  Anorexia bulimia.  Food and I, we’re all mixed up.  A total mess.  Don’t know why, but the simple act of properly nourishing myself is not permitted.

A simple thing, like talking to people, is fraught with danger.  Especially people with power.  Seems the fear of people and authority figures in particular makes it really difficult for me to feel comfortable enough to simply be. To quietly exist. I always have to prove myself.  Work harder.  Longer.  Do more.  Provide more return on investment.  And even then, I can never let my guard down.  Because those people, the normal ones who rule the world, quickly discover I’m worthless. An object to be used.  Abused.

That’s what my parents taught me.  When they fired the kill shots.

Those steel bullets that pierced my heart and sliced my brain all to bits just keep bouncing around inside of me.  Tearing more flesh.  Ripping fresh holes.  Keeping the old ones open and bleeding.  Time hasn’t taken the bounce out of them.  If anything, their dance has become more frenzied with time.

I feel the bullets still bouncing around inside of me.  I try to catch them in my hand.  To stop them.

They ricochet off my fingers as I vainly attempt to grasp them, slicing through my soul yet again.  Undeterred.  Doing what bullets do.  Still ripping me to shreds.

 

Zombieland

I sometimes have weird revelations.

I’m not thinking of anything in particular and suddenly, a fully formed concept pops into my head.  As if I’d been working on it, trying to figure it out for days.  Then at long last, the insight is simply there.  Crystal clear.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had these unsettling mini-thoughts; thoughts that flash into my mind almost as fast as they disappear.  Thoughts about my life.  About where I’ve been and where I am now.  And where I’ll never be.  Because I’m stuck in Zombieland.

I’ve had goals, dreams, aspirations…whatever you want to call them.  Things that I’ve been working for and towards my whole life.  They’ve kept me walking.  Kept me putting one foot in front of the other.  Kept me looking ahead more than I looked behind.

Now, I can’t avoid facing what I’ve denied for decades.  Now, I am compelled to look behind.  Now, it’s hard to find a reason to keep walking forward.

I’m not sure when things changed.  But I had one of those weird, fully formed revelations.  And I realized with certainty, I’ve come to the end of the road.  I’ve passed the point where dreams die and I’ve reached that place where I can barely recall a time when I had dreams.  I suddenly see I’ve been foolish to believe I could actually realize any of the dreams I’ve been striving for so arduously.  They’re not going to happen.  They will always be nothing more than a dream.

I should have seen the truth much sooner.  I have deceived myself  and now, with nothing to reach for, my soul withers and rots.

I’ve arrived in Zombieland.  It’s where I live now.  Always have.  But I used to believe I was somewhere else.  I used to have hope of escaping.

No more.  This is where I will die.

Little by little, I have had to let go of everything that was sacred to me.  I’ve had to let go of all that I had hoped would resuscitate and restore me.

I used to love to sing.  In the car.  In the shower.  Around the house…at every opportunity.  I had a good voice.  Not extraordinary, but I was a great backup singer.  And if the song was right and in the right key, I could sound like Karen Carpenter.

Along came ED.  The eating disorder that I thought was as harmless as a dormant volcano.  Something set it off again and now, I’ve all but lost my voice.  Purging keeps my speaking voice raspy.  My singing voice has been silenced completely.  I’ve lost one of the few things that brought me happiness.

I’ve struggled to accept my body.  I’ve struggled to accept who I am.  But there was one thing about me that I liked.  One thing that was special.  I had gorgeous hair.  It was long, thick, shiny, soft and beautiful.

I don’t know if the aging process changed it or if the eating disorder contributed or if it was a combination of the two.  But now, my hair barely grows.  It has fallen out at an alarming rate for no detectable reason.  And it’s thin, brittle, dull and frizzy.  I’ve lost the one thing that allowed me to feel a little bit good about myself.

I had an extraordinary memory.  Now, I can’t remember what I was thinking or what I was doing from one second to the next.  If I don’t write things down immediately, they’re gone.  I make lists for the grocery store, to-do lists at work, set reminders on my Outlook calendar, all in an attempt to remember things I once would have never forgotten.  Thoughts are gone almost as quickly as they come to me.  If not captured in ink, they sink back into the murky waters of my brain.

One by one, the few things that gave me a small sense of worthiness have all been stripped away.  The list of the pieces of myself I’ve left behind and lost is long.  The list of what remains is nothing more than a blank page.

There were other things, more practical things, that have fallen away.  I wanted to have enough money so I would never have to worry about making ends meet.  I wanted to have enough to retire early so I could finally leave the struggle behind.  The struggle of pleasing bosses who only want more and who are never satisfied with what I accomplish.  I wanted to be able to do some fun things.  Just for me.  Ride in a hot air balloon at least once in my life.  Lay on the beach for as long as I want and splash in the waves.  Let time pass me by without making demands.  Without requiring me to do something that makes me valuable to someone.  Without having to fight for the right to breath air or to constantly apologize for my lacks and defects.  For wanting to be the lucky one for a change.

I dreamed of having a great job.  Before I retired.  A job where I was recognized as having value and where I was allowed to be part of the team.  I wanted so badly to make enough money to chase the fear away.  To belong.  To feel good about myself.

I hoped for love.  Someone to love.  Someone to love me.  And this, this is where I wanted pure extravagance.  Excessive love.  Deep and vital connectedness.  Unending acceptance.  Tender.  Committed.  Sustaining love.  Love that would make life worth all the pain and wounds and destruction that came before it.

I wanted to be pretty, but there’s not much that can be done.  It is what it is.  And age steals even what little there was.

I wanted to find emotional healing.  To be free of mental illnesses.   Sadly, it also is what it is.  Effort doesn’t count and prayers haven’t moved this mountain.

The revelation that hit me was interesting because I was unexpectedly able to clearly see I am no longer working toward attaining or reaching any of the things that have previously motivated me.  They’re gone.   All of them.  The hopes.  The dreams.  The desires.  Even the desire for restoration of what has been lost.  Gone.

Now, I exist.  I get up, do what I have to do, go to bed, try to sleep, then get up and do it again.  And again.  And again.  And the emptiness of it doesn’t even matter.

I’ve given up.

I’m in Zombieland.

No highs.  No major lows.  Nothing to look forward to.  Nothing to cherish from the past.  I’m numb and have run out of things to live for.  I’m existing in the land of the walking dead.  Nothing moves me.  Nothing can revive me.  I watch life go by while remaining untouched and empty.

I do what Zombies do.  Exist; nothing more.   I no longer care that I’m a Zombie.  I’ve stopped fighting it.  Stopped trying to get from where I am to somewhere else.  Stopped trying to become someone else.   I no longer hope for much of anything.  I’m simply grateful to survive the day without trauma.

Tomorrow will come and go.  My life in Zombieland will be tomorrow as it is today.  A vacuum.  A place where nothingness thrives.

It is the space in which I live and it is the place where I will die.  No reason to fight it because I’ve already lost the battle.  Nothing to hope for because what is will always be.  And I will always be a Zombie.

It’s done.  I’ll be a Zombie until my physical body finally joins my heart and soul in death.

All I have left to leave behind is Zombie dust.

Fathers Lost

My brother lost his father in 2010.  And he’s still struggling with the loss today.  This was the man he had always admired.  Looked up to.  Respected.  Believed in.  Wanted to be like.  His father actually died in 1998.  But it wasn’t until 2010, when I had a failed sinus surgery, one that was a nightmare, that things changed.  Because I just. couldn’t. survive. another. trauma. alone. This, in turn, caused the demise of my brother’s father.
My brother and I didn’t talk much at all for years.  Didn’t have a relationship.  I was the black sheep of the family.  The one who struggled.  Who tried hard but failed.  Who never quite got it right.  Mark, my brother, on the other hand, has worked at the same place for 33 years.  He was very successful.  Still is.  He is happily married.  He does well financially, especially with the combined income of him and his wife, who is a nurse practitioner.  No money worries.  House paid for.  Able to travel internationally a couple of times a year.  There is a big contrast between us, and though he is younger, I’ve always felt “lesser than.”
So perhaps you can get a small glimpse of how frantic I was for some help and what desperation it took for me to reach out to him.  To confess to my inability to go on alone any longer.  I was NOT making it. I had started to have horrible asthma symptoms as a result of all the sinus issues, almost dying once, collapsing in the ER.  I was constantly physically ill, having fought the sinus infection from hell for a year (my incompetent doctor created a super-infection – long story) and the surgery had failed because when the specialist entered my sinuses to clean out the infection, he discovered I no longer had sinus bones.  They had been eaten away by the massive infection  – the worst he had seen in 23 years of practice.  I had only a thin membrane between my brain and sinus cavities and my optic nerve and sinus cavities.  He needed special equipment for this delicate surgery.  So he had to stop almost before he started and he told me it would be bad until he could reschedule and do what needed to be done.  It was worse than bad.  On top of all this, I was fighting an eating disorder.  Having problems with electrolytes and had made a couple of visits to the ER as a result, once in an ambulance. I had been in counseling for 10 years or more trying to recover from the childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by my father and neglect and abuse of my mother.  I felt totally worthless, had recently been left by my husband of 22 years because he fell in love with another woman, lost my job, had accumulated massive debt as a result and couldn’t cope a second longer.  I was alone, scared and freaking out.  I needed a hand to hold.  I needed some support.  I needed my brother.
Part of what made everything come to a head was being dumped by a friend at the door of the hospital the day of the first surgery.  She was to come back and get me right away once the surgery was over, I explained at check-in.  The nurses were not happy.  Someone was at least supposed to come in and talk with them so they could explain what to expect and what care I would need afterward.  They finally relented and called my friend to make certain she would, at least be available to come get me.  So I sat in the waiting room alone, watching families huddle and hug, encourage and share their love.  I watched a few pray together.  I saw them surrounded by friends, family, church pastors.  And I sat alone.  Waiting.
 When the surgery was over and my friend had been called, I was put in the outpatient prep room.  I lay there, miserable, bleeding, hurting, unable to breathe and scared, listening to the nurses talk about how my friend had said it would be an hour or two before she could get there, that she was involved in something else.  They were throwing “well, I never” all over the place.  I heard.  It hurt.
 When she finally arrived, I could barely walk to the car.  She did agree to stop by the pharmacy so I could get my prescription filled and pick up needed supplies.  Alone.  I leaned on the shopping cart and was grateful for it.  When she arrived at my house, she didn’t even help me out of the car or to the door.  I got out.  She drove away.  I struggled with my purchases, finally getting in the house where I collapsed on the couch.
The night that followed was one of the most horrific of my life.  I was so tormented, I still can’t find words to adequately describe the torture, my panic or my overwhelming anxiety.
Because of that horrible night, I e-mailed my brother the following day and told him where I was in life, what was going on and that I needed him.  I totally expected the rejection I had encountered in the past. I was pleasantly surprised.  He responded in a positive way.  He reached back.
He reached back because my mother finally came clean.  You see, after my father died, our mother started talking about how he had sexually abused me.  In fact, she couldn’t shut up.  She told EVERYONE.  Without any discretion, with no filter, no holds barred, as they say.  Of course, she also told my brother.  He didn’t believe it.  But for some reason – maybe a miracle – when I threw up all over him about the sad state of my life, he heard and finally believed.  He came from 3-1/2 hours away and took me to the hospital for my 2nd surgery.  He cleaned up blood, got me soup and talked me through the hardest part of the healing process.  He also asked if he could visit with my counselor to learn more about me…what had happened, where I was, what I needed.  I gave the counselor permission to tell him anything that might be helpful.  And this is when his father died.
I feel horrible about it.  Mark had always seen what his father wanted him to see.  He believed.  He loved.  Admired.  Suddenly, the very word “father” was a curse to be spit from his mouth.  He was angry beyond belief…more angry than I have ever been.  He despised the man he had once adored.  He has told me repeatedly that it was a good thing he was already dead, because if he wasn’t, Mark swears he would kill him.  I am totally confused by this.  I don’t hate him…so why does Mark?  It’s perplexing.  It’s disturbing.  And I feel responsible for taking his father from him.  Because, you see, his father and my father, they are the same man.  The one who sexually and physically abused me loved, cherished and cared for Mark.  He was Mark’s hero.  And I destroyed his hero.  A hero I never had, certainly.  For I lost my father long before he died.  Mark didn’t lose him until years after death.  I’m not sure which loss was harder.
Not that Mark blames me; but I do blame myself.  I hurt for him.  But I can never give him back what he has lost, because, in truth, he never had it to begin with.  He loved an illusion.  And sadly, that illusion has been decimated.   Because of me.  
I have never been able to celebrate Father’s Day.  Now, my brother can’t celebrate it either.
I’m not sure if the loss of his father is a good or bad thing.  I’m not sure if his illusion was healthier than knowing the truth.  I feel as if I took something precious from my brother.
But in reality, I suppose my brother’s father, my father, is the one that is actually responsible.
And now, we both hate Father’s Day…together.  Because we can’t forget the father we lost at very different times in very different ways.
 

If I Should Die

“If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

I had a really bad night a few nights ago.  A really bad night.

It started off with me just feeling extremely tired.  Later, I woke up with a bad acid reflux attack.  Thought that was the worst of it, but then I started to crash.  At least, I think I was crashing.  It’s a bit of a blur.

I realized too late that I was crashing.  Or was maybe crashing.  Probably crashing.  Went for the salt and potassium.  Knocked all the spices off the rack and broke the nutmeg bottle…it was glass; can you believe it?  Shards went everywhere.  I couldn’t think well enough to deal with it then, other than to get the pieces off the floor so my girls, my sweet Miniature Schnauzer girls, didn’t cut their little paws.

I drank a gallon of water with a sports additive included and held mouthfuls of salt on my tongue.  Used the last of my electrolyte strips.  I hadn’t been this bad off in a long time.

I don’t know why I crashed like this.  If I was crashing.

Whatever was going on, I was sick.  Extremely sick.

“…I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

I have been careful.  I haven’t thrown up as much.  I have gained weight and I’m very upset about how much I have gained.  Very upset.  About how much I’ve gained.  Gone up a size or two.  I’ve kept food and I’m upset about that.  Very upset.  Still purging, but not as much.  Not as radically.  But here I was…crashing.  As I used to crash when I was at my worst.  When I was throwing up 5 or more times a day.  Getting rid of everything I ate.  Everything.  I was in a scary place.   Back then.  Maybe not surviving.

Maybe.  Not.  Surviving.

And somehow I was in that place again.

The only reason it mattered, the only reason I wanted to live was my dogs.  My Schnauzers.  My babies.  They need me.  I love them.  I want to be there for them.

I prayed that God would let me live so I could be there for them.  They are the best dogs I’ve ever had.  I want to take care of them.  I want to protect them.  I want to be a good mommy for them.

They are all that matters to me here on earth.  They dance and go crazy when I come home.  Kiss my face.  Wiggle little stubs and run in circles.  Affectionately nip my arm.  Make me feel like I matter.  They care if I come home.  Without them, it wouldn’t matter if I came or went.   Without them, I am totally alone.  Otherwise, my life is not worth living.  Otherwise, I would have let the darkness take me.

But this night, my heart was beating too fast.  Hard.  I was freezing and then I was clammy, burning up, sweating, unable to breathe.  I couldn’t stand up.  I was too weak.  I thought I was going to die.  I prayed and asked God to help me.  Because my dogs are worth living for.  They depend on me.  They need me.

I need them.  I need their love.

They give me a reason to live.  They are my only reason to live.

If I should die before I wake…

Who will take care of my babies?

I need them.  They need me.

Because of them, I must not die before I wake.   Not yet.  Not now.

 

 

Hair

When I was younger, I had the most incredible hair.

I didn’t have much going for me.   Who am I kidding…I didn’t really have ANYTHING going for me.  I was overweight.  Totally uncool.  I wasn’t pretty.  I wasn’t popular.  I wasn’t the kind of person anyone would ever want to be.  I didn’t have a bubbly, warm personality.  I was so shy, I was invisible.  I was different. Odd.  An outcast.

Robin Singing 1979 fbBut I had incredible hair.  Really incredible hair. (That’s me with the guitar.  When I was a lot younger.)

It was thick.  Long.  To my waist.  Glossy.  The kind of hair that made others envious.  It was a really lovely color of ash blonde.  Straight.  Beautiful.  Thick.  I got comments about my hair everywhere I went.  Restaurants.  School.  Work.  Stores. 

It was a standout feature.  My only standout feature.

Because otherwise, I was plain.  Fat.  Dumpy. Not at all desirable.

When you are nothing, having one feature that makes you special is something to hold on to.  It’s something that sets you apart.  It’s something that makes you okay in a very small way, even when everything else about you puts you in the plain, worthless and unwanted category.

When you’re nothing, you take what you can get.  And you’re thankful for whatever little scrap comes your way.

I was nothing, except for my hair.  It was all I had.  It was the only thing that made me a real person.

Well into my 40’s my hair was the one thing that caused me to be noticed.  It was the one thing for which I received compliments.  It was the only reason I was pretty at all.  I cut it shorter, though I kept it mid-back in length.  I colored it, permed it, stopped perming it but continued to color it, layered it.  Trying to fit in.  But  regardless of what I did, it was still thick, shiny and beautiful.

It was the only thing that made me okay.

I don’t know what happened.  But something did.  Age.  Weakened immune system. ED.  Stress.  Extreme distress.  Isolation.  It took a toll.  On my hair. Thinning.  Darkening.  Texture change.  Graying.  My one asset disintegrated.  Evaporated.  It seemed to happen overnight.  I noticed it when my hair became frizzy and wavy.  Then it started falling out in handfuls.  Then it lost it’s beautiful gloss. Suddenly, the only thing I had ever had going for me was gone.

Gone.  As if it never was.

Which is why it’s so hard now.  Now that my hair is not…special.  Now that nothing about me is special.  Now that nothing about me is notable.  Now that nothing likely ever will be.

My hair is thin.  It’s brittle.  It’s short.  Well, short by my standards.  Below shoulder length, but not long; not long like I want it to be.  And I have a lot of gray.  Gray that I color every few months.  To try to appear a little younger. A little more vibrant.  The texture has changed, and not in a good way. It’s coarse.  I battle split ends.  I take vitamins and use shampoo to promote growth and health, but my hair continues to fall out at an alarming rate.  By the handful.

Suddenly, it’s not special in even one small way.  I’m not special in even one small way.

I know.  I was never really special.  But my hair was.  Once.  It wasn’t just normal; it was extraordinary.  It made me appear acceptable, even when I wasn’t.  Now, I can’t even pretend to be human.  I can’t pretend to not be completely abnormal.  I can only hope I don’t go bald.  And become even more of a freak than I am already.

I can’t hide behind my hair anymore.  And it can no longer hide me.  Or make me acceptable.

In fact, instead of gaining ground, I seem to be losing.  Losing ground.  Losing hair.

When will it end?  Will it end?

I used to have great hair…

ED & Friends

Meet ED.   He’s a complicated guy.  A friend.  But kind of not.  He’s brought some advantages into my life that I really love.  And some fairly dark, hard things too.  In some ways, he’s been extremely helpful.  I have welcomed his arrival. But he has also (possibly) attempted to destroy me.  Maybe.  That’s ED.  That’s the kind of guy he is.  It’s a complex association.  Fairly dysfunctional.  But I’m totally into him.  Don’t want to let him go, no matter what he does to me. 

We’ve had two very intense relationships during my lifetime. 

I met him when I was in my mid-twenties. Young, but still older than most who meet him for the first time. Guess you can call me a late bloomer.  I had just learned that my new husband didn’t love or want me and I was totally crushed.  That’s when ED stepped in to fill the gap.  He introduced me to his friend, Restricting.  And to their mutual friend, Excessive Exercise. Next thing I knew, I was running 13 to 15 miles every morning, walking for an hour every night, doing another hour of general exercises, all while counting the number of croutons and cherry tomatoes I was allowed to have on my salad.  I had a 30 minute window of time in which to eat each meal.  If I couldn’t eat within the window, I didn’t get to eat.  The rules were rigid, but they were for my own good. ED assured me he had my best interests at heart.

The last time I weighed myself during that first relationship, I got down to 84 lbs., but I lost more after I stopped weighing. 

I felt so powerful with ED by my side!  If I hadn’t broken my hip running when I was in my mid-30’s, who knows what would have happened.  But that injury effectively ended my ability to fraternize with Excessive Exercise and when we parted company, it became extremely difficult to keep the weight off, even though Restricting was still in my life.   I was eating 500 calories every other day, but gaining weight.  Sadly, Restricting’s friendship alone wasn’t enough for me anymore.  The pounds accumulated in spite of our partnership and everything unraveled.  

My relationship with ED was in shambles.  I wanted him back, but didn’t know how to reach him. He moved away and left me all alone, breaking my heart nearly as badly as my husband had.

Then, after 22 years of marriage, my (now ex) husband told me he had fallen in love with another woman.  This, along with several other traumatic events (loss of job, church, dog and failed suicide attempt) brought ED back into my life.  At long last!  It was so good to see him again!  And I reestablished close contact with Restricting too.  Together, they introduced me to a new friend of theirs…Purging.   We became inseparable.

With Restricting and Purging on my team, the pounds fell off.  I was ecstatic!  Something good was finally happening in my life!  In short order, the tiny person I had long felt hiding inside of me was back. 

ED likes me thin; skinnier the better.  And I like myself that way too, so we get along famously.  But by the time I hit 90 lbs., I was encountering some physical difficulties I didn’t experience when I was younger.  This time, probably because of Purging, I would frequently find myself unable to stand up or to remain standing.  My muscles simply didn’t respond to the command of my brain.  A couple of times, when I let my dog outside to do her business, I drunkenly staggered into the yard and fell unceremoniously to the ground. I was too weak to stay upright and my muscles weren’t working.  Each time, I eventually managed to crawl back inside the house.  But I didn’t yet understand the impact of my relationship with my new friend, Purging (I later learned about his cohorts, Low Potassium and Low Sodium).  My hair fell out too.  And the muscle cramps were unbearable.  But ED and his friends were my best buddies.  You do what you have to do for your friends.  You don’t kick them to the curb just because things get a little difficult.

At some point, Restricting and Purging introduced me to Binging.  Not BIG BINGING. Binging, Jr. With Binging, Purging and Restricting by my side, by taking supplements, I was able to (mostly) make it through the day without medical intervention.  There have been a few scary ambulance rides and overnight hospital stays. But ED and his friends are sticking with me. Whether I like it or not.

And I do like it. But I don’t. It’s complicated.

I need to be as far away from overweight as I can get.  ED’s helping me with that.  I pray he doesn’t let me down…I need him.  No, ED doesn’t make my problems go away, but he does make me able to face the next day.  He gives me the ability to tolerate myself. And the ability to tolerate being alive. 

Honestly, what more can you ask for from a guy?

Killing Time

“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”  Henry David Thoreau

I have done a great deal of killing time in my life.

I’m killing time now, working a temp job where they rarely keep me busy.  So I sit and stare at the computer screen, bounce around the internet accessing the few sites that aren’t blocked, rearrange papers, write posts for my blog, straighten files, pace, go to the bathroom frequently, and count minutes until I can finally leave.  I would rather have more work.  Killing time is mind-numbing and tiring.  But they are paying me to sit here and I need someone to pay me to do something, so I sit.

When I was a young teenager, I wanted to run away from home.  The abuse was shattering me.  But I made up my mind to finish high school.  I realized even then that to run and never finish school would severely limit my possibilities.  I believed in possibilities.  So I killed time until I graduated.  When I was 14, I discovered a new way to kill time.  I discovered drugs.  Discovered they were the perfect way to run away from home while still living there.  They were hard to come by back then.  Even pot.  But I saved my lunch money each week and at every opportunity, I bought what I could.  Whatever I could get my hands on; it really didn’t matter.  I was killing time until I could leave home for good.  Not just with my mind.

When I married the man I truly believed I would spend my life with, I thought I was going to start living at last.  But when he told me he didn’t love me, didn’t want to know who I was, didn’t want to hear about my experiences, thoughts, dreams, needs, or anything that was going on inside of me, I started killing time again.  Waiting until God would work an amazing miracle, a miracle that would result in my husband falling in love with me.  I never doubted it would happen.  Eventually.  I never thought it would take years and years and years, so I did have concerns as time drug on.  Holding on was difficult. But by then, I was a good time killer.  I prayed and did the best I could, living with a man who rejected and disliked me.  I waited fairly patiently right up until the day he left me for someone else.  I killed 22 years waiting for a miracle that never came.  Waiting for him to want me.  To think I was worth something.  I killed so much time, I was no longer young.  Not yet terribly old, but getting very, very close.  Not yet a senior, but definitely on the wrong side of middle-aged.  Honestly, I was shocked when God didn’t come through.  Shocked and destroyed and utterly alone.

I’ve killed time waiting for lesser events.  To be old enough to drive.  I got my driver’s license 3 days after my birthday, only waiting that long because they didn’t give the test every day at the county offices where I had to go to take the test.  I waited to turn 21 so I could buy my own booze.  I killed time waiting for a mate, back before I married.  And I’m killing time now, waiting for someone special to come into my life.  I’m afraid God isn’t going to come through for me in the relationship arena this time either.  I’m afraid I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life.  And I’ve pretty much been alone all of my life, so it’s hard at this stage to believe there is going to be a happy ending to my story.  Hard to believe it’s worth killing more time over.

I am beginning to fear I have killed so much time in my life, I’m never actually going to live.

I’ve killed time while I was trying to build a career.  Trying to climb the ladder.  I’ve killed time working long, crazy hours, doing what was required and more, believing my diligence would be rewarded.  But it wasn’t.  When I became “too expensive” (they could hire someone younger for less money to do the same job) or tried to express an opinion or took an ethical stand or some new manager just didn’t like me, I was booted out the door.

I’ve killed time trying to lose weight, believing that would make me a “real” person.  A person who was worth something.  Because obviously, my fat self wasn’t worth a plugged nickel.  And when dieting and exercising didn’t work, I found my good friend ED.  ED came to my rescue.  But even ED has let me down.  And I’m killing time once more, trying to get back to my goal – being invisible – hoping I will be wanted and prized if there isn’t much more to me than bones. Bones don’t require anything.  They aren’t much of a bother.  Bones aren’t needy like people are needy.

I’ve killed time trying to save money and sell houses so I would finally be able to live in a relatively safe part of town.  That involved working like a fanatical person because my husband, who thought I was ridiculous to want a better house in a safe area, didn’t want to work.  He made me feel guilty about wanting that safety. That comfortable house.  My nest has always been important to me.  It never was to him. Which is one reason I find it laughable that he is now set for life, living in a 3 million dollar home in a very safe area, while I would be homeless if not for the ridiculous generosity of my brother.  But I killed that time, saving, trying to find a way to make it happen, only to have the one home I truly loved yanked out from under me when I lost my job.  I finally ran out of options.  I killed so much time, I completely ran out.

I don’t know whether I’ve damaged eternity, killing all that time.  But I’ve certainly damaged myself.  Maybe eternity is paying me back by withholding from me everything that has ever mattered to me.  Life has always been just a little out of reach.  I’ve kept trying to grasp life, reaching for that carrot, believing the day would come when I would finally clasp it in my hand.  But that day never materialized.  Hasn’t yet.    At this point, I’ve killed decades and decades of time.  Forgive me if my hope and faith tank is empty.

Unfortunately, the only way I know to live is to kill time until something happens.  Until I finally unearth an opportunity.  Until something changes significantly.  Until I finally meet someone.  Finally reach a certain age.  Finally achieve a goal.  Finally get that promotion and / or raise.  Finally find love.  Finally have that house.  That job.  Live in that ideal location. 

The problem is, I’m out of time.  But I’m too cowardly to put a gun to my head or to jump off a building.  Yet, I’m finding, in killing all the time I was given to spend, I have actually committed a type of suicide.  It has just taken me a very long time to finally reach the end.  In killing time, I’ve killed myself.  Slowly.  Painfully.

But I don’t think eternity cares.  I don’t think I’ve even dented it.  If anything, eternity has simply shrugged and turned away.

Yet here I sit, counting the seconds, still waiting.  Killing more time.

 

Thanksgiving Day

I have been trying to work at being more thankful.  I tend to be a “glass half (or more) empty” type person.  And that’s something I don’t like about myself.  I don’t fully understand why this is my tendency, but I recognize it.  And I try to change it.
 
To be certain, my life has not been especially easy or blessed.  It has been an uphill climb, wrought with struggles, challenges, difficulties, wounds and trauma.  I’ve had to fight and work diligently to get to the starting line…the place where most people being their journey…because of the abuse I experienced during my formative years, thanks to my parents.  The past 10 years have also been especially brutal. But, having said that, I do still have things for which to be thankful.
 
On the negative side, I’ve experienced extended periods of unemployment and they have devastated me financially.  I don’t even have a job at the moment and the little unemployment that was available to me ran out long ago.  But thanks to my brother, his wife, and my aunt, I do have a roof over my head, even though I lost my house along with my last job.  I don’t know what I would do without their help, but I do know I would be homeless.  I’m thankful for my family and a warm place to live this winter.
 
Hannah & Zoe
I am thankful.

Waiting inside the house my family provides, I have the two most wonderful little Miniature Schnauzers on the face of the earth.  That’s certainly something to be thankful for.  They greet me with wiggles, dances, and yips of joy when I arrive, even if I’ve only been gone long enough to check the mail.  I get kisses as they vie for attention, longing to be petted and held.  They fill my house with life.  In the evenings, they snuggle with me on the couch, lying on my lap.  And at night, they cuddle close, keeping me warm, kissing my nose or hand from time to time.  We are pack mates.  They love me totally, completely, unconditionally.  They need me.  I need them even more.  They give me a reason to keep going; to get up in the morning.  I’m very thankful for their sweet, innocent, tender little hearts and humbled that they have been entrusted into my care.

 
Though I am very alone, having experienced the collapse of my marriage when my spouse left me for another woman, I have family who loves me, even though I don’t think I deserve their love.  I also have a couple of friends who care about me, in spite of my glaring flaws, faults, and deficiencies.  I rarely see them.  Still, I know they care.  This is yet another thing for which to give thanks.
 
My problem in all of this is that, though I am grateful, I find myself incredibly overwhelmed by lack, emptiness, and the hardships of my life.  I try to look for the positives, to find things for which to be grateful, but it’s often not easy.  There are so many difficulties, hurts, and needs.  So much brokenness and destruction.  My financial challenges tend to make me feel so overwhelmed, I have anxiety attacks.  I can’t sleep.  I am terrified of what is going to become of me if I can’t find work soon.  I’ve been looking since February and though I’ve been in a professional position for over 20 years, I can’t even find something as unskilled as a receptionist position.  My teeth need a lot of work and I don’t have the money to fix them.  My car is very old.   I am often overwhelmed with depression and anxiety.  I fight an eating disorder and feelings of worthlessness.  I also have a hard time forming meaningful connections and healthy relationships.  And I feel so stupid.  Because I got myself into a mess somehow and I can’t find a way out.
 
I am thankful.  It’s just that I have fairly desperate needs that extend far beyond the meager resources available to me.   I am on a sinking ship with no lifeboat and little hope.  And I can’t swim.  I need a few major miracles…without which, I’m probably not going to survive.
 
I also fear the future as I get older and older, all alone.  I so wanted to share life with someone who would love me.  Someone I could love and trust and give myself to fully and completely.  Someone who would believe in me and who would find the person I am to be worth loving, caring for, cherishing, keeping.  My heart aches, throbs, longs for this.  Instead, I have my two little dogs who wag their stubby tails every time they see me.  They jump up and down for joy and can’t get enough stroking.  Belly rubs are heaven. They follow me everywhere.  But even they cannot bring to me the fulfillment my heart has so long desired.  They fill a need.  A big need.  Just not that one special need.  I am thankful for them.  I adore them.  They are my world.   But them being in my life doesn’t heal the bleeding, oozing, overwhelming wound in my heart, nor does it completely chase the loneliness away.
 
I am thankful this Thanksgiving season.  Truly I am.  In spite of all the (seemingly) impossible challenges I face.  And certainly, I’m thankful life is not worse than it is.  I could be on the street right now, without my precious Schnauzers, living under a bridge.  Yet, I feel terrible because I need so much more.  I feel terrible that there are so many areas of lack.  I’ve failed to overcome.  I am consumed by despair.  For there are many things that steal my joy.  Things that etch the pain ever deeper into my raw and broken soul.
 
Today is a day to give thanks for what we have.  I’m attempting to do that.  I hope, in spite of all the difficulties and hard times each of us may be facing, we all find many things in life for which to be thankful.   Even if we have to look long and hard to find them.  Even if every moment is a struggle for survival.  I hope you have more blessings than hardships.  I hope we can all find something to cling to that gives us the strength to continue.   Even if the darkness of our world is threatening to consume us like a Thanksgiving turkey.  There are always leftovers.  And they can be quite tasty.
 
 
 

Words of Wisdom

Sometimes, deep thoughts and questions come from unexpected places.
 
This week, “People” magazine had a special double issue to celebrate their 40 year anniversary.  In this special double issue, they asked several major movie and television stars what advice they would give their younger selves, if given that opportunity, and then printed their responses.  Interesting, right?  Actually, most of the advice was pretty bland.  Lacking depth, trying to be cool and catchy.  But it caused me to think about what I would tell myself if I could talk to me when I was in my teens. 
 
First of all, what a thought!  I would LOVE to have that opportunity.  To be able to tell myself with assurance what I needed to do, needed not to do, needed to pursue, needed to pay attention to and what to avoid.  Oh, my!  If only!  It’s a nice impossible dream.  But it’s also, I realized, an exercise that could, perhaps, help someone who is now in a similar place to the place I was in when I was younger.  So maybe, beyond being a lovely fantasy, just maybe, there is something worthwhile to be gained.  Something that could help another avoid a great deal of pain.  To keep them from wasting their life. 
 
Slim chance, but, whatever.  I’m indulging myself.  So, let’s get to it.
 
One of the first things I would tell myself is to not stay in relationships that are toxic and damaging. This probably seems totally obvious to most people, but when you’re raised in a home that is rife with every kind of abuse, negligence, and permeated with rejection, it doesn’t seem obvious at all.  You learn to expect and accept these things.  You learn that, for reasons you don’t understand, you don’t matter in any way, to anyone.  To have someone tell you that you don’t deserve to be treated badly and give you permission to get out of this type of situation is…well, it’s revolutionary.
 
Maybe I wouldn’t have landed in a good situation if I had gotten out.  Been removed from my parent’s home.  But an abusive foster home, staying with people who  weren’t, like my parents, supposedly hard-wired to love me, couldn’t have been as damaging as staying in an abusive home where the people who are supposed to love, nurture, and protect are instead berating, belittling, rejecting, abusing, using, raping, hitting, molesting, and hating me.  The longer you are told you are nothing, the deeper that message goes.  The more you are treated as if you are worthless, the more you believe it.  And if the people who are telling you that you are nothing are your parents, the people who are supposed to love you beyond reason, the message is driven into the very core of your soul.  You believe.  Because they are the people who are supposed to see value in you and help you discover who you are.  To help you to find your way.  To help you reach your potential.  They are supposed to have your best interests at heart. So the parental relationship, when warped and broken, warps and breaks you much more significantly and deeply than any other relationship.  It doesn’t mean foster parents wouldn’t have hurt me if they had also been rejecting and abusive.  The hurt simply wouldn’t have been quite as devastating.
 
Staying in the abusive home environment set me up to stay in two abusive and loveless marriages.  Had I been able to learn early on that being abused, used, discounted, and disdained isn’t acceptable, it would have changed the entire course of my life.  No exaggeration.  Therefore, I would tell my teenage self to tell someone what was going on; what my parents were doing to me.  And if they didn’t listen, I would have told that young me to tell someone else.  And someone else.  And someone else…until SOMEONE heard what I was saying and got me out of that situation.  Got me out of that horrible toxic environment.  Got me the help I needed.  That would be my advice, my words of wisdom from lessons learned the hard way, to any young person who is living in an abusive home right now.  As with any unhealthy relationship, the only loving thing to do for yourself is to get out.  To take care of and protect yourself.  So, tell.  Tell until someone listens.  Let the authorities get you out of that destructive environment.  So you can start to heal.
 
Which brings me to the second thing I would tell myself, or tell any other teen who is like I was then: Get psychological help.  Counseling.  Right away. 
 
We have a tendency when we are young to think there is a lot of time.  That time itself will heal us.  We have no sense of urgency.  We think we can hang on a little longer until we get to a better time or place.  A place where it’s not as costly, where we’re better equipped, and then we will be better able to afford, both emotionally and financially, the care we desperately need.  We can then process what we need to process.  But this isn’t true. 
 
When we are young, it’s fresh.  It’s right there, easy to access.  We’re more open.  The pain is on the surface and it’s reachable.  As we get older, all the techniques we used to trick our mind into helping us survive another day have become hardened into place.  Disconnecting has become automatic.   The pain goes underground.  We shut down.  We bury feelings, thoughts, emotions, ideas, insights.  We sell ourselves piece by piece as we disassociate and numb out.  And when we finally have the money, resolve, and time to deal with it, we have to find the coffin we hid and buried so long ago, dig it up, then try to understand and feel things that are in that coffin.  But those things have calcified inside of us, becoming rigid.  Difficult to change.  It’s harder to unearth all the intricate, damaging details of long ago abuse.  
 
Don’t wait.  When we are broken, when our soul has been poisoned, we do so many unhealthy things we wouldn’t do otherwise.  Like the many people who don’t value us, we tell ourselves we don’t deserve to be loved, cherished and wanted.  We convince ourselves we don’t deserve good things because we are flawed.  Defective.  We tell ourselves that we, our feelings, our dreams don’t matter.  We destroy what is left of us.  Because we don’t believe we deserve anything positive.  The choices we make are compromised because we can’t see clearly or correctly, nor can we think in healthy ways.  We need to heal so we can have a life worth living.  That’s why my words of wisdom to my younger self, or to others in a similar situation, would be to strongly insist on getting help.  Get it early.  And give it everything you have. 
 
I haven’t learned many lessons in my life.  I’ve struggled to simply see the step in front of me and haven’t been able to contemplate the next step beyond that.  This is what struggling each day simply to survive does to you.  And that’s why I would love the opportunity to tell myself these two important pieces of wisdom.  So much hinges on these two things.  It’s what would cause everything to turn out differently than it did.  Not doing them lays the foundation for the pain, brokenness, heartbreak, numbness, destruction, and disappointment that follows.  All of which lead me to this place of depression and desolation.  If I could go back and tell myself these two things, my entire world would be different now.  Everything would shift.  Because if I got out of those destructive relationship, then built relationships that were healthy, deep, valid and validating, I would not be isolated, broken, and disconnected now.  I would have real friends.  Real connections.  Healthy relationships.  Which would give me purpose and meaning.  A reason to live. 
 
And if I got the help I needed early, I would have been able to love myself.  To hold the people responsible who needed to be held responsible.  To see everything that came next completely differently.  No more surviving…I would have been able to live.  Working through my feelings and healing would put the pieces back together.  So I could take healthy steps.  Dream dreams.  Succeed. Believe.  And hope.
 
Sure, there would be setbacks and times of failure. But the overall course would have taken me where my heart wanted to go instead of leading me into a place of deep darkness and emptiness.  The outcome would have been much more wonderful.  Life might have actually been worth living.
 
I can’t go back.  I can’t tell myself the things that would have changed my world.  But I can tell you.  Hopefully, you will hear me.  In time.  For it to make a difference.