enjoy the ride.
if you’ve read the blog so far, you now have the skinny on me. you’ve seen I’ve failed at life, sometimes quite dramatically, in a host of arenas - health, relationships, addiction, and of course, money - the usual culprits. you’ve also seen how, at the 11th hour, when the shit gets a little too real, I’m able to pull myself up and out of every single situation and ride off into the sunset - so to speak. it’s true. no matter what’s happened, I’ve always found a solution - my own happy ending. I’m not saying it came easy, or fast, (though if I’d been a bit less stubborn, it would have), but keeping an eye on a solution, this is when time, and things, get the opportunity to right themselves.
you have to trust your instincts.
you really are the only one responsible for you.
I don’t have lots of patience for people who choose to stay stuck. it’s too painful. time is too precious. some people find me a bit too straightforward. if you want a nice, handsy, hold approach, that’s pretty much what you’ll get… someone holding your hand! there was a time I thought that’s what I needed, but as you can see, it didn't do me a bit of good.
remember, it doesn’t really matter where you started from - it’s more important to know where you want to go.
no one can help if you choose to stay stuck, and frankly, honesty is in short supply these days. not because we’re bad, or ridiculous, but because we’ve forgotten to trust - trust ourselves. that’s the key, the missing ingredient, to everything. how to make impossible, possible.
when I was lost in the chaos of an eating disorder, miserable and depressed, it wasn’t because I hadn’t tried. I’d tried dozens of things, but nothing worked. not even god. god didn’t help at all. of course, I didn’t think god was on my side. I believed god was maybe on your side, but not on my side. that’s how deep a wound can cut, and how deep the lies we tell ourselves, day after day.
doubled up with cold, in a dreary, woolen coat i’d wound around me twice, i sat numbly in front of the dietician, in a psych ward, surrounded by the drug infested playground that was Langley Porter hospital. I knew I was there because I was useful to them, for a new drug trial they wanted, which I wanted no part of- but they’d no use for that part of the equation.
when she somberly explained why I wasn’t losing more weight, that my metabolism had pretty much shut down, to save me from myself, that my constant state of freezing was due to the same biological caretaker that took such good care of my body, putting energy in the few places I needed, so I wouldn’t die, that my hair falling out and everything else going wrong, that wasn’t giving me the waif like figure I thought I wanted, well, she said, that energy may be time limited.
i heard her drone on, about vitamins and nutrients, and all at once, I had a deafening realization. the state i’d put myself in had nothing to do with thin, thinnest, or prettiest. it had been my steady, desperate way I’d hoped someone might notice me. see me. really see me, and hold me, really hold me, and love me. but the thinner I got, or the fatter, the people around me kept disappearing. I was too much. too much. then I felt something, like a shockwave in my heart. the hidden hope i’d be rescued, I knew, would never happen. even if it had, I’m not sure I could’ve let anyone in. my capacity for worth was so tiny at this point, I may have fought it like a tiger.
this realization, that endless suffering and isolation would cause someone to rescue me, and no one had, was the moment I knew for certain none of this was working - it would never give me what I truly wanted.
it was then, I was done.
it was weird, incredibly strange and surreal, and yet in another kinder, weird way, it felt safe. you don’t have to think much when you’re in a treatment program. it’s like kindergarten - with a lot more rules - rules to wake up, rules to go to bed, lights on, lights out, meal times, group sessions, and of course, visitation hours. that is, if you’re lucky enough to have someone come visit- someone you actually want to see. let’s face it, most people here were not in the most functional relationships. addiction does that to you. it’s such a downward spiral, it tends to drag everyone down with it, because there’s just no room for anyone else, and so, it becomes all about you, or me, as the case may be.
I kept losing weight because I was in such a controlled environment, until I couldn’t lose anymore. my body rebelled. it knew I was starving to death, and a body wants to take care of you. so every calorie that went in, stayed in.
the scariest part were the drugs. hospital drugs. I didn’t know or understand prior to checking in what a teaching hospital was, or what that meant. this is the place where interns “get their hours,” where they “learn on the job,” and all the patients like me that were in the eating disorder wing, me, and my not too merry band of misfits, whose biggest pranks were smuggling in laxatives and cigarettes, or making it to the bathroom when a nurse was out of earshot- we were the lucky consumers of all the drugs they were testing.
there was just one thing I knew for sure. drugs, for some reason, terrified me.
after being interviewed and assessed as a person with a serious eating disorder, I was checked into the psych unit/ eating disorder program. why a psych unit? this is where the treatment program lived - inside the four walls of a psychiatric hospital. was this scary? not yet! this was a voluntary check in - this time. not to get too far ahead, but there would be more than one stay in the psych ward/ eating disorder unit.
on the previous highlight reel was information my two bulimic/women friends had shared prior to check in - they let me know i’d lose boatloads of weight while in this very treatment program, as it was nearly impossible to binge there. all the patients food was weighed and measured, and if it wasn’t meal time, it was generally kept locked up. music to my ears.
there wasn’t much known about eating disorders at this time, but because anorexia or bulimia are almost always accompanied by depression, it was a neat and tidy add on to the hospitals psychiatric program - and billable insurance… so as the heavy metal doors clanged and shut behind me, I was soon to meet my merry band of misfits.
this is what I discovered.
people who struggle, who wake each day unhappy with their lives, or their bodies, or themselves, are some of the strongest people in the world. why? because they don’t quit. they wait, sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly, for a miracle.
a miracle can come in many forms.
because I’d landed in this hospital, because I was desperate, and yearning for an end to the unhappiness and sameness I was stuck in, when the nutritionist/dietician, the same nutritionist/dietician i’d previously brushed off, who was barely my age, who was once again seated calmly in front of me, in her very proper work attire, legs crossed, arms cradling my file, told me something - words i’m sure she’d said to others - but that moment, and those words, it cracked the stuck thing inside me. I finally understood why I was doing what I was doing. those words changed my life in that moment, and with them, I found the ability to change.
but that all happened in part 2.
there may be pieces missing, but I don’t care… i’m back. back from the long, terrible years I lived in a pile of self help-ness, that never helped, because I could never figure out what was wrong, so i could fix it.
i’d gone to college, and quit college, and moved to Hawaii, and wanted to be a singer, and had a zillion jobs, and started and sold businesses, and got married, and had babies, and got divorced, and became penniless and homeless - then I worked triply hard to make a pile of money to hide the shame of that, and lose it all because of the shenanigans on wall street.
someone once said it was god’s money. that may be true, but still, I tried to hang on. i used every ounce of creativity and desperation I could muster, until somehow, i made things happen. banks who trusted me gave me money, at a time when no one got loans. friends loaned me money until i was able to fix and repair and sell the house that had been without windows and doors for a year, and pay it all back.
I was $1.7 million dollars in debt at the time the world was upside down in the recession, and people were losing homes front, right, and center. I was finally able to sell the house i almost lost four different times, to pay off all the money I borrowed, and then i cried. the guy who bought it told me he made as much in one commission check as i’d made from the fifteen years of hard work that got me to that point. i’m sure he meant no harm, but it cut deep.
of course, there were the bad relationships, the ones that can break you, faster than a broken economy, that really mess with your head. i left them all as well. there it is again - that same old question: why did you stay?
here’s my answer: I stayed, because i didn’t know i deserved better.
you deserve better.
back by popular demand. my voice. on the podcast.
#relationships… past the expiration date.
be forewarned - if you find swearing offensive. there are, indeed, F bombs.
p.s. this is the “before” podcast.
there’s always a happily ever after. that’s how I roll. I believe in happily ever after. I just had to learn it’s up to me - to make it happen!
podcast recording. press the white arrow.
there are times in life, when you just get tired, really tired. tired of normal. normal is sameness, and normal is not being in control. control for me only alluded to one thing - how many calories am I putting in my mouth? there I was, with the same problem, over and over. the measurement of success or failure strictly delineated by weight, and how few calories I’d ingested - which had me constantly verging on starvation. I considered that a good day.
after a few weeks, or months of this, there’d come a breaking point, and the bingeing would begin and round and round it went. this was painfully consistent, this circle I traveled in. social isolation becomes pretty top tier at this point. self esteem from this behavior hits ever new lows, with depression sidling in closer and closer - either from lack of food, and nourishment, or self loathing, or loneliness. take your pick, any one alone is a killer, but eating disorders seem to wrap it all in one svelte package. but not until I could fit in the exact right thing, would I go anywhere, or do anything different, at all.
I had the 500 calorie a day phase, and there was the hot air popcorn and bran muffin phase. that was my favorite. it allowed for lots and lots of time to slowly and deliberately chew, and feel relatively guilt free. the bran muffins of course, were considered to have some laxative effect, so that was a plus. it was always, how fast can I get rid of these calories? I used exercise and laxatives and enemas as companions on the journey of seeking less and less of me, until I was so thin, I felt almost invisible. but that was good, right? when I was so very thin, no one saw me, and I liked it. it felt safe. it was the same if I ballooned up to my highest weight. no one saw me then, either, because my body was padded and insulated from the world I clearly found so terrifying.
this drama I realized, was never going to end, and I was exhausted. I wanted it to stop but I had no idea how to make that happen. the pattern I’d created and fallen into had been with me for so many years, from that tiny beginning in my teens when I asked myself - am I too fat?
so it was then, when a couple of women I knew who were bulimic, told me about a clinic in San Francisco. they said you didn’t need to pay for it if you qualify for medi- cal. which of course, I did, as I was barely able to hold a job. working at all depended on how tight my skirt was. if it wasn’t, I could work. otherwise, the shame and embarrassment I felt about my body was so strong, I wouldn’t show up.
I did go to that eating disorder clinic - which was not an eating disorder clinic at all - but a psychiatric hospital. desperation breeds strange bedfellows.
to be continued
I’ve been plagued with every manner of eating disorder in my short life. the first started with the plain irritation of being irrefutably too thin. at the wrong time. like when I was 12. every single one of my friends were on diets. in high school, the grapefruit and egg one was big, as was Atkins, or, the “I only eat lettuce and carrots” one. when I’d go to these “I will not eat, but I will cook for you!” friends homes, they’d delight in stuffing me with grilled cheese sandwiches and piroshki - because as anyone on a diet knows, there’s nothing better than watching other people eat what you won’t… with the secret hope they’ll get fat, right?
up until college, I could still eat a bear - not a real one, but I could out eat anyone, and never gain an ounce. then something happened. all the girls around me, as usual, were on a diet. it got to me. I thought, maybe I was too fat? this was the first time this had occurred to me, so I too went on a diet, a very restrictive, college freshman type of diet. I’d have one box of instant oatmeal with a carton of milk in the morning, and a nice, hot, stove top ramen at night. period. I must’ve lost a lot of weight, but I liked it. I felt good. in control. I felt sexy and powerful and I thought, I had this! until I got really hungry, and m & m’s and chocolate and peanut butter and chips and pretty much anything else not tied down, started calling my name. loudly. and so it began. the nightmare. and it always was at night, mostly. there seemed to be a part of me in control during the day. but when the lights went on, and dusk settled in, let’s face it, I was hungry, and, I did not have a plan. the only plan was to not eat. but the part of me that wanted to eat seemed to have more say, and more power, and so another day would be ruined by a giant binge, and once you get started, I mean, why stop? it’s all ruined anyway, right?