Thursday, December 31, 2009

“Ding-Dong: Relapse Calling!”

Note: I took this blog post down after writing it last night because I felt it was written from a very post-recovery perspective, which I know many of you are not ready to hear. But based on the feedback and comments I got after taking it down, I've decided to go ahead and put it back will be interesting to hear how you all react to this. :) I had a bad night. Ok here goes!
* * * * *

Wow - Some Days it’s JUST as Hard.

I remember this. In a huge way, it’s humbling for me to experience this tonight, and to write it down for you. But then again, I promised to be honest with you, and I know you can relate, so once again, here are all of my guts. The good, the bad, the ugly… the completely flatly humbled. If you had asked me yesterday if I thought I would come within an inch of relapse today, I probably would have said “no way, not me.” Yet here I stand, on the edge of the cliff, looking out into the abyss of nothingness once again.

“Do it.” Ana says to me.

* * * * * * * *

Three years ago I married my best friend. We were both actors – and met on the stage. We still love the theater, but find it harder and harder to fit the demanding rehearsal schedules into a more “normal” life. We tend to still get our annual fix though, (in fact we just closed the DC premier of one of our favorite musicals together.)

Tonight, my husband, let’s call him Judah, received an out of the blue casting call from a Director friend of ours looking for a last minute replacement for a show that opens in 3 weeks.

“That’s great – I’m really happy for you, Judah” I said as I was driving home, genuinely excited for his opportunity, but feeling a twinge of sadness knowing I would miss him over the rigorous rehearsal weeks ahead.

I had just hung up the phone when I began to feel a completely unexplainable sense of anxiety. What would this mean? Three weeks alone? What am I going to do with my evenings? Of course this blog came to mind.

A mischievous little devil popped up inside of me that I haven’t heard from in a while and pointed out “You’ll be home alone. No one will be watching you or what you eat. You’ve made a few friends on those pro-ana sites… come on, give it another whirl – for old time’s sake - it’ll be fun!”

I pushed the thought out of my mind, as I have become so accustomed to doing for the past few years. But I continued worrying about the impending loneliness of the weeks ahead, and what I might do if left alone.

Judah is my world – he is absolutely the light of my life. I began to feel worried and incredibly anxious as I pulled into our parking space, pushed my way through the icy December air and into our house.

The warm, sweet air hit my face like a fireball. Judah was waiting at home to kiss me goodbye before leaving for his first rehearsal.

I didn’t mean to get into a fight, honestly, I didn’t. But sometimes I really suck at verbal communication and I think I ended up sounding really selfish. Maybe I was being selfish. I want him to go do the show, but I really will miss him, and his being gone is going to be hard in a lot of ways.

And, out of the blue, Ana stepped in to my aid.
“Let me handle this” she said as she breezed by me confidently.

The next thing I knew, Judah was gone and I was sobbing on the bed, screaming with my face in the pillow like I haven’t done in years.

Ana was there, sitting on the bed next to me, stroking my back with her fragile little hand saying “There there. If he doesn’t care, don’t worry – you know I do.”

And that’s how I got back on the edge of that damned cliff.

I stayed on the edge there, feeling claustrophobic in my own skin for a good twenty minutes. It felt like hours - tears streaming down my face and soaking my pillow as I stood on the precipice. What to do. Ana was telling me to starve myself. Mia was telling me to empty the fridge. And, for the first time in a good 3 years, I could not even hear Kate.

Just then, the phone rang.
I ignored it.
It rang again.
I silenced it.
It rang a third time.
I looked to see that it was Judah calling repeatedly.
I did not pick up.
Ana and Mia were still in my head.

I got a voicemail from a rather frustrated and sad sounding Judah saying:

“I just wish you would talk to me. It’s really not fair to me or to you …obviously I care about you, and I don’t know why you’re so upset with me. I try, I really do – to help you and support you and to give you what you need. And if something conflicts, we need to talk about it, but I just wish you would actually talk to me. I love you.”

And it dawned on me what had happened – again.

You see, Ana is a very jealous friend. She doesn’t allow me to love or pay attention to anyone more than her. I sat bolt upright in bed and wiped the tears away. I replayed our fight in my mind and listened, with horror, to the alien words coming out of my mouth in slow motion, instant replay:

“…Because I suck as a wife.”
“I’m sorry – apparently I’m just not good enough…”

And it dawned on me: that’s not me talking.
That’s Ana doing what she does best:
1) Telling me what a big, gigantic fuck up I am and
2) Pushing away real love since I’m not worthy of it “yet.”

The rest of this evening is history. Did I restrict instead of eating dinner? Did I purge my brains out? I’m not sure the answer really matters. The important thing was that I recognized that Ana was, once again, attempting to destroy my relationship with my husband, and I resolved not to let that happen. I picked up the phone. I called him back.

To tell the truth, I didn’t starve, binge, or purge tonight. (And I deserve a freaking trophy for that, am I right?!) But I almost feel like that is beside the point.

Five years ago I resolved to recover because of the havoc Ana and Mia had wreaked over my life and over my relationships. Since then, it’s not been an easy road. Have I relapsed? Sure. I’ve fallen on my face over, and over, and over. In a sense I think I will always be in recovery. But that is OKAY! I’ve learned a lot about accepting myself, flaws, failures, relapses and all. Sometimes we forget that we need to forgive ourselves just as much – if not more – than we need to forgive others who hurt us. I chalk tonight up as one big win for Kate, for Judah, and for the happiness I’ve built in my new recovered life.

Can any one of you out there in cyberspace celebrate with me? Tonight is a big night, and no one knows it but me (well, and now all of you J). Because when Judah comes home, I’ll be present here – waiting for him, ready to be here for him, too. I could very easily have missed that, as I have missed and lost so many nights and relationships before.

I really wonder what you will say to this.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Words, Illusions and Paint

I've been quiet today, reading your blogs and getting to know the individual members of this community a lot better.

I feel a deep sense of longing, of loss that I can't fully explain. Most of the time, I don't think in words - I feel things, I hear music, I see colors. I paint.

I painted this.

Your blogs have touched me. I feel like I've known you my whole life, at the same time we've never met. It reminds me of being in that underwater place, looking up at the sun through the ripples...wondering what it's like to breathe.

I know that some of you don't trust me because of my claims to be in "recovery." This painting will always hang prominently in my house as a reminder to me. Never forget, and never give up hope.

It feels strange to say, but, I love you.

Sleep tonight, little anas, if you can. It always helps.


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Monday, December 28, 2009

Dear Kat, I’m Sorry.

Almost exactly ten years ago, on a snowy December evening, I was at my lowest weight. There were other things going on that day besides my existing as a thin person, but I didn’t realize it until last night when the memories came flooding back.

I was babysitting an adorable, bright-eyed, 8 year-old Kat. Yes, the Kat you all know and love. Our parents were out for the evening. Kat was 8 years old, snuggling under a blanket on the couch watching a holiday figure skating program, and I was in the kitchen getting dinner ready. Of course I wasn’t going to be eating, but mom had left specific instructions for a dinner that had to be made, and the job of making biscuits fell on me.

I was feeling particularly elated that day, having reached a new low weight, and particularly proud of my own self control for having fasted for an extended period of time undetected.

Yes, things were going great.

I just paused for about 5 minutes after writing that last sentence, trying to decide if I really want to expose one of my least proud moments to you… but I have decided, as I promised, to be honest with you, so here goes.

I had just finished making the dough for the biscuits when an intense craving to eat hit me. Insistent to resist the urge, I kept my eyes on the doughy mass, pulled out the rolling pin, and started cutting out biscuits. “Just don’t eat, just don’t eat” Ana kept whispering in my ear.

Somewhere in my clouded mind between Ana’s whispers not to eat, my blurring vision, and heart racing as decision time came – another voice, tiny, subtle, weak said “just eat a little – you can eat just a bite. It can’t be more than 30 calories.”

I grabbed a small piece of the floury dough and took a bite. It was gross, but I had to. I will never be able to explain why I had to – you have to experience that to know what it is, just like you have to experience an ED understand it.

Kat breezed through the kitchen, curls bouncing, pretending to be a figure skater, blissfully unaware of the internal crisis I was facing at the counter. She plopped herself back on the sofa with a cup of ginger ale.

I continued with the rolling pin. Just making biscuits. This should be easy, right? I needed another bite of dough. Just a small one. Then another. Then another. Then ANOTHER! Soon, another voice I had never heard before was screaming in my head “EAT THE DOUGH – EAT ALL OF IT FAST!” meanwhile Ana was saying “Just step away – don’t eat! STOP! You are such a failure!” And a third voice, much quieter and weaker was whispering, “what is this madness?”

The dough was gone.

I was shaking. I looked over at Kat, who had moved onto the floor with a small picnic she had made of ritz crackers and soda.

That was the day I met Mia.

At the end of the night, I made another (successful) batch of biscuits, made sure Kat had had the dinner mom had planned for her, and made sure she was bathed and in bed. I went to my room early to spend some quality time hating myself.

I am starting with this story because in order to be transparent with you, you need to first hear my confession – the confession that hurts me more than any other wound.

I owe Kat an apology for a wound that I can never heal. I introduced my best friends Ana and Mia to Kat. The three of us (myself, Ana, and Mia) were the cool big kids with the glamorous life and the skinny jeans and the dysfunctional eating habits Kat watched and learned from. Yes, Kat’s eating disorder is her own, and I’m not even sure how consciously aware she ever was of my own issues with Ana/Mia and EDNOS, but I also know that it could not have been easy for Kat to have been left at home alone while Ana and Mia babysat.

How many times did Ana, Mia and I sneer at that little girl Kat for happily eating her spaghetti dinner? Did we judge her for her weakness of eating, knowing we were better? I know we did. I remember that little girl – 4 years old - happily playing in the bathtub, caressing her round belly with water and loving herself just the way she was. I am sorry, Kat, for all of the times I left you home alone with Ana and Mia. KATE wasn’t there. I missed it.

EDs, if you hadn’t already noticed, tend to put you in your own little door-less glass box – “safe” from the world, but where no one can really touch you. I began the process of pulling myself out of the rubble of my shattered box of ice and glass, bleeding and gasping, around the same time Kat checked into the glass hotel, ready for her makeover.

Kat and I are 7 years apart. Kat has been experiencing her disorder about as long as I have been in recovery, which means that, we basically missed each other. I’m sorry that, in many ways, I failed you, Kat. And whenever YOU are ready to check out of that glass hotel, I’ll be waiting here. And while we both know I can’t help you chisel your way out, I promise I will be waiting here with oxygen, towels, band aids and gauze to apply pressure to your wounds and keep you breathing through the long and hard recovery process. I won’t let you down again.

I love you. I miss you. I’m sorry.
And I can’t wait to really meet you someday.


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Dear Anas, Dear Kat - A Preface

Dear beautiful little Anas,
I appreciate all of your feedback - positive, angry, and everything in between.

I'll be blogging more about what happened to kat, more about our lives together (there's a reason she's not said much about me in her blog, which i hope to begin address in the next blog post), my life with my best friend Ana, and some of the thought processes that brought me where I am today: happy, safe, and free from Ana's tyranny over my life. That said, I have a unique perspective to share with you since I've been on the inside looking out, and was able to find a path to happiness. I used to get so pissed off at shrinks, pastors, and "friends" who thought they had the "easy answer." I know a hell of a lot better than that. I know the many different places all of you are in in your own journey, and I therefore have a TREMENDOUS amount of compassion and understanding for the difficulties you endure just in your day to day existence. My hope is that, in time, you can view me as the big sister you never had, and the one I have, in many ways, failed to be for Kat.

I hope Kat is reading this. She left my house on Christmas eve and we haven't spoken much since then. I love her. I miss her. I'm heartbroken. But I'm a fool in love and I have to see this through.

And, just to set the record straight for those of you who missed the earlier posts, Kat took down the blog of her own free will - deleted her posts, and all. No one made her do it. I went to her blog and saw the URL was free. I knew I had to tell my story now. You all met Kat in chapter 3. I'm Kate, "Kat's" big sister, and I'm going to start with Chapter 1.

i love you "kat."

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Promises, promises.

Dear little Anas.
You are all so beautiful, and I am looking forward to getting to know you better. By now you know that Kat is no longer operating this blog, so I wanted to do the right thing and take a moment to introduce myself.

As you may have picked up on from the flurry of comments, I am Kate, "Kat"'s sister. I have intentionally chosen to use my real name here rather than a pseudonym because I have decided, after a lot of internal debate, to go ahead and be completely honest with you. Yes, I've made my decision and I am going to make my most private inner thoughts vulnerable to you in the same way my sister has. I know a lot of you are angry, frustrated, hurt and confused by what is going on here, so I'm ready to step out and talk.

I welcome your comments - all of them. Your anger, your frustration - your pain, your anxiety, your despair. Life with an ED, as you well know, can be a pretty lonely path. I know because I ate slept and breathed it for so long. It's true, Ana and I are no longer on speaking terms, but boy do I know her well.

For now, I'll be brief, so here is my thought for tonight:

When Ana was my best friend, she made me a lot of promises. Promises that I would be happy. That I would be loved. That I would be beautiful. That I would be worthy... if, if, if... when, when when... Just another 5 lbs, THEN I can be happy. WHEN I am thinner, I will be perfect. IF I was lighter, that thing wouldn't have happened to me or that person wouldn't have hurt me.

Has Ana ever delivered on her promises to you? She never did for me. Don't get me wrong, there were temporary rewards and thrills for meeting a goal weight or refusing that dessert... but at the end of the day, I discovered that the more I gave into her demands, the more ferocious her "appetite" to consume my life became. (Pun intended.)

One day nearly 5 years ago I decided to "break up" with Ana for good.

And I discovered that I couldn't.

This is my story.


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Thursday, December 24, 2009

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To those who have found this blog,

I am a recovered anorexic, and I offer you this. Ana destroys relationships. It wounds the family members you care about. It stifles friendships.

It is not the answer.

It is not control. It is weakness.

Ana may not kill you, but the people you love will be lost to you. Your husbands. Your boyfriends. Your children. Your parents. Gone.

Ana is torture. Loneliness. Hatred. Despair.

You deserve more.

There is life beyond Ana. Joy. Love. Laughter.


It is within your reach.



I am telling you today that I never thought recovery was possible, and it is.

But you have to want it, and be prepared for a fight to the death.

It's ana or you.

In the end, ana was not the friend I thought she was.

I turned to her in every time of despair.

But she was my abuser. She didn't offer me control.

She controlled me.

It took me 15 years to realize that.

I lost everything learning that lesson.

I will never say recovery is easy.

But I want you to know it is possible.