Moving and Anxiety

Shallow, unsteady breath, heart racing, uncontrollable shaking, the taste of metal in my mouth, lump in my throat, red hot tears stinging my eyes on the verge of spilling over, nausea, the feeling of the walls closing in around me, and the thoughts…all of the thoughts.

Quite a few of these “episodes” have left me exhausted and disheartened the past few weeks.

On November 1, I joined D as we moved to Tokyo, Japan. We left S at D’s parents, we left our home, we left our friends, we left comfort. Normal life is on hold, and the anxiety I had been working to conquer now has its claws deep inside of me, again.

I feel like a disappointment for reaching this point. How, after a previous international move, too many goodbyes to count, therapy sessions, self-help books, talking all of this through with my home team, all under my belt, how is this still a thing? How have I not conquered this already? Why does it still have its grip on me?

I am so torn between wanting to experience Asia, wanting to make the best of our short time here (6 months), and wanting to throw in the towel and go home. But, I am the most stubborn person I know, so I know that I won’t. I don’t want to be a further disappointment. I don’t want to be seen as weak or a quitter. I don’t want to be known as someone who gives up when shit gets hard. So, I will stay.

I am trying to keep in mind, “wherever you go, there you are,” and to remain present and grounded in the now. I am working to implement ways to lessen or prevent anxiety in certain situations. I am trying to prove my strength and resilience to myself and to others. I am learning to surrender.

“Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.” – Eckhart Tolle


Moving Feels

The reality of our impending move is setting in hard.

I don’t know that I am ready for this next phase, and I have all of the emotions and feelings.

I am excited for the possibilities this new chapter will bring.

I am afraid of the unknown and unfamiliar.

I am happy for the opportunity to travel more.

I am worried about losing the friendships I’ve made.

I am curious about the culture (and food) we will learn so much about.

I am nervous about the possibility of repeating our last move.

I am apprehensive about S being on the plane for so long.

I am scared to relive the homesickness and loneliness I felt throughout our last move. I am scared of driving people away because of my insecurity in our friendship. I am scared of ruining D’s time abroad, again. I am scared of missing out on things happening at home. I am scared of feeling worthless, helpless, stuck. I am scared of the feeling of not having a purpose. I am scared of relapse with eating, with self-harm, with OCD thoughts and habits. I am scared.

I am anxious.

The past few weeks have been riddled with anxiety. Nights are hard. Sometimes I can’t sleep. Sometimes all I want to do is sleep. Days are okay – alone time is hard. An okay morning can quickly snowball into an anxious afternoon if I think about moving for too long. It hits me out of nowhere – I can’t breathe, and the next thing I know I’m sitting on the floor, crying. I feel pathetic. I don’t understand why I can’t handle this. I’ve been there before, I know what to expect, and yet it’s still just as hard as last time.

It doesn’t make it any easier that we still don’t have exact information regarding the move. I knew to expect this, so I’m not sure why I am surprised. But, I want answers. I want to know where exactly we are moving. I want to know when. I want to know exact lengths of time. I’ll have some of these questions answered, eventually. But most will remain unanswered sources of anxiety.

I know the success of this move is mostly dictated by my attitude about it. I will make or break my success throughout this chapter. That’s a scary thought, especially since I know negativity will most likely break it, and I’m feeling pretty fucking negative right now.

For now, I will focus on breathing, being open and honest, and trying to create a positive outlook on this incredible opportunity we’ve been given.

“Negativity is cannibalistic. The more you feed it, the bigger and stronger it grows.” – Bobby Darnell

“So, you didn’t always eat like this?”

“So, you didn’t always eat like this?”

I’ve reflected on this question many times since it was asked last week.

A year ago, this question would have set me on edge, left me feeling fat and unhappy. Now, this question made my day.

I spent last week eating, drinking, and having an amazing vacation with a friend in Mexico. I spent most of my time in a bikini, and I never once had an urge to use an ED behavior. I ate when I was hungry, drank when I wanted to, and was able to walk around without hating myself.

That’s not to say there weren’t some negative ED thoughts creeping in. I had to work hard to not compare myself, I didn’t necessarily feel confident in the bikini, and I left knowing there are still parts of my body that I want to “fix.” But, it was a success in the sense that I was able to let those thoughts stay just thoughts and not control everything I did.

I had fun. I got to spend quality time with a new friend, getting to know each other and making memories. I chose happiness.

I know that I worked damn hard to get to this point. I put in the effort and tears and uncomfortableness. And honestly, I am still working hard – it is still a battle I have to guard myself for, even though the fighting is easier and way less frequent.

After some recovery wins, followed by a few days of trying to decide what diet I want to start in order to “fix” the parts that made me uncomfortable in said bikini, I let my guard down and watched both “To the Bone” and “Feed.”

I had seen the trigger warnings, the reviews, the negative backlash that “To the Bone” had received, and alternately, the praise that “Feed” received.

“To the Bone” was just as expected – a rather underwhelming account of a “typical” ED experience. Yes, it was triggering. No, it wasn’t very realistic – at least not in the sense of the struggles I’ve witnessed and watched others go through at the hands of the disease.

Definitely wouldn’t recommend this one to anyone not significantly far along in recovery.

“Feed” was different. Written by Troian Bellisario (PLL is a guilty pleasure of mine), “Feed” is a dark movie depicting an ED from a slightly different angle. Sure, once again, you have the “typical” ED movie background, but if you look past the white, valedictorian who experiences a trauma that sends her spiraling out of control, you get a true sense of what it means to “hear” ED.

That got me.

I’m hesitant to admit that it took me at least half of the movie before I realized **spoiler** Matt’s ghost (Tom Felton) was indeed ED. It’s all woven together very carefully. Olivia (Troian Bellisario) believes that Matt shows back up to help her through life, when in actuality Matt is her ED voice, controlling her every move.

The power Matt/ED has over her was all too familiar – the constant nagging, pitting the world against her, telling her she doesn’t need the food, telling her that without him, she would be nothing, telling her she’s not sick – these are all very real ideas that ED can drill into a brain. It was intense to be on the outside looking in.

Overall, I thought “Feed” was an incredibly powerful movie that more accurately displayed the mental side of ED.

After watching these two movies, I feel a little emotionally raw. Like seeing pictures of someone who was once a good friend enjoying spending time with someone else. I find myself missing the comfort of ED, especially in this uncertain transition period for D and I.

So, I am continuing to reflect on the question – “You didn’t always eat like this?” That question means the world to me – way more than my friend will probably ever know. It shows me how far I’ve come. It shows me my strength and courage. It prevents me from wanting to go back. It holds me steady. It proves that there is hope for growth and change.

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

Process or Place?

Is Recovery a Process or a Place?

This is a question I continue to struggle with. I don’t know the answer.

At times, I believe recovery is a place – a place of freedom, hope, and positivity. I get so busy enjoying life that I forget that worrying about food or weight was once commonplace. I meal prep to save time during the week instead of to meticulously count calories. I workout because I like feeling strong and fit. I am happy, I am free.

And then, I let my guard down.

It happens quickly – a glance in the mirror that leaves me lingering a little too long, an old picture on Timehop – and I’m heading back to that dark place.

Clothes don’t feel like they fit right. My stomach isn’t flat enough. How am I here again?

It’s these times I guess recovery is a process.

Although I don’t know that there will ever be a point where recovery is only a place, I am thankful that I am currently in a place of recovery far more often than not. I never thought I would make it to this point.

I’ve shared this before, but when thinking about the process of recovery, this has helped me so much!

Autobiography In Five Short Chapters

Chapter I

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost… I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in this same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it there.

I still fall in… it’s a habit… but,

my eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

– Portia Nelson

Midnight Musings

At 14, the last thing on my mind was politics. I was much more concerned with making necklaces out of Mike’s Hard Lemonade bottle caps or what I would wear to the Teddy Geiger concert (swoon). My less than conservative political views, open-minded ideals, and unabashed acceptance for people came later with the 2008 elections. It wasn’t until having my “Obama for President” sticker ripped off of my car while it was parked at church that I realize just how much my ideals clashed with the majority of the people around me. 

My youngest sister is discovering this much earlier. At 14, she is defending LGBTQ rights to family members, she is shutting down racist comments made at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and most recently, she is standing up to her peers when it comes to these issues. 

It saddens me to realize that at 14, K is more open-minded, outspoken, loving, and accepting than many of the adults that surround her. It saddens me to know that the path she is on, the path of standing up for equality and loving all people, is a path that will cost her friendships and relationships. 

But it also makes me an incredibly proud big sister. As I talked with her yesterday, I realized that she is willing to have the hard conversations, willing to risk the friendships and relationships, willing to become “one of those people” in order to stand up for what she believes in. This takes tremendous courage and bravery. 

This attitude and desire to be open-minded and accepting of everyone and to promote equality for all – this is what we need more of. This is what gives us hope. This is how we break down the fear that has paralyzed us as a nation. This is how we learn to love. 

Will Love Win?

As hard as it’s been, I’ve tried my best to stay out of political conversations over the past few months. Not only am I not really sure that I LOVE any candidate at this point, but I also believe that everyone is indeed entitled to their own opinion. That being said, once an opinion begins to outwardly evoke hate, I can no longer quietly sit by and ignore what’s being said.

In the past few weeks, I’ve seen post after post of hate. Hate against all different groups of people – the LGBTQ community, Syrian refugees, Mexicans, Planned Parenthood, the list goes on. I saw the hate before this, I’ve posted about it before, but I don’t think I necessarily realized how close to home it’s gotten. These most recent posts have been from my very own family and friends on Facebook.

To think that in 2016, there is so much fear and misunderstanding in America that one man (shout out to Mr. Trump) can unite a campaign fueled entirely by hate is mind-blowing. It sickens me to see this disgusting and twisted campaign gaining so much support, and it scares me to think of the fate of America if he is elected.

Last night I watched a video of a fictional child refugee fleeing her home country in search of safety. Once it was over, I read the comments. I cried as I read one man’s comment that Syrian refugees were “cancerous rodents” that he refused to let destroy America. I reported this man and his Facebook account was deleted. There were many positive comments in response to his negativity, but I also know that he isn’t alone in this way of thinking.

My time abroad truly opened my eyes to the fact that usually, America cares way too much about things that don’t matter, and way too little about things that do.

Things that don’t really matter – if there is someone of the opposite sex in the stall beside of you or at the sink washing their hands. Side note – I happen to love the gender neutral bathrooms I’ve encountered in Europe…they’re much cleaner than most gender specific bathrooms in the states, and I’ve never felt unsafe. GASP!

Things that do matter – human lives. Not just the American ones – all of them. No matter the race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc.

So, why don’t we stop with the hate. Stop with the supporting of the hate campaigns. Stop with the fear and the misunderstanding of people who might be a little different than us. Let’s help each other out. Let’s live and let live. Let’s welcome these (and other) refugees with open arms, love on them, and help them through the hard times they are encountering. Let’s love.

I Am Happy

In my last post, I said 3 words that I never thought I would say while living here – “I am happy.”

The depth of those words didn’t really resonate until a few days later. They weren’t just words. I AM happy – the happiest I have been in over a year – and it is wonderful.

When we first moved, I didn’t think it would be a walk in the park. But, I definitely didn’t think it would be as difficult as it was, either. And here I am – 1 year, 12 weeks, and 3 days later – stronger, more brave, and so much happier.

The realization of that happiness sparked something within me. I began doubting our decision for D to quit his job and us to move straight back “home.” The whole reason for moving back immediately was that I honestly didn’t think I could be happy ANYWHERE else. Since that wasn’t the case anymore, maybe we should explore a few other places first? Did we need to settle somewhere right now in order to have a community in the future? Do we need to live somewhere we want to raise kids, when kids are still multiple years down the road? I began to think about my reasons for wanting to move back to Virginia immediately, and with the question of happiness aside, the only thing I could come up with was that I am scared of losing my best friends. The same best friends who stayed by my side while I lived almost 4,000 miles away for over a year. The same best friends who have seen me through some of my bests and some of my worsts. The same best friends who I know love me unconditionally. What gave me any reason to question that living a little over 1,300 miles apart would suddenly change everything? Nothing. All of the worry, all of the doubt, it was all unnecessary. So, after a lot of talks and some tears, D and I have decided to put our move to Virginia on hold and give Texas a shot. I have no doubt that this will be another difficult move – it’s a transition, and transitions are hard. But, I now know that I CAN be happy in other places, and I will.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know when my mindset shifted. I assume it was gradual, but maybe it was sudden? All I know is that I HATED my life here, and now I don’t. I know that I wanted nothing more than to move right back to Virginia with my friends, and now waiting a little doesn’t seem so bad. As our time here draws to an end, I regret how unhappy I was, and I am sad to say goodbye to this chapter of my life. How much more could I have traveled if I had just been happier? How many more people could I have met if I didn’t let anxiety cripple me? How much more could I have grown if I had taken a step back and let myself live? The good news is, we still have about 13 weeks left here. We have time to take a few extra trips. I have time to push myself to try new things and meet new people. I have time to purposefully connect with the people I do know here. To let myself flourish in this newfound happiness.

I am nervous, but excited. I am scared, but brave. I am intrigued to see what this next chapter holds. I am ready to take on life. I am happy.

2016 Goals

January 2016.

A new year. A new beginning.

A time to reflect on the past year’s successes, failures, highs, and lows.

A time to set goals for the year ahead.

This New Year’s Eve came and went without much of a celebration (besides Clemson winning the Orange Bowl – Go Tigers!). Living in a different country, away from our friends and family meant no New Year’s Eve festivities – no parties, no countdown, we even missed our midnight toast due to a stubborn cork and a broken wine opener. But, we did have FaceTime calls, a great football game, and the promise of this being the year we move home – not the worst New Year’s Eve ever!

The new year tends to stress me out a bit. After all of the alcohol is consumed, food eaten, fireworks finished, the topic of resolutions or goals is breached.

Although I know goals are important – they push us to better ourselves – the thought of setting a goal and not reaching it gives me anxiety.

I decided to ignore that anxiety this year, set multiple goals, and post them here to hold myself accountable for meeting them.

(In all honesty, I’ve already given up on one of the goals and decided I should probably post the rest before they went the same way!)

2016 Goals:

  • Read 50 books
  • Yoga 30 min/day
    • This is a lofty one for me. I HATE yoga. Or, I should say – I hated yoga. On Monday, I started Yoga Camp on Youtube by Yoga with Adriene and it’s been an incredible experience. I know my body is definitely going to benefit from the stretching and I hope I can learn how to quiet my mind and be present in the moment!
  • Read my Bible 5 days a week
    • I started this one late last year – just trying to keep it going!
  • Read 1 chapter of a business book 5 days a week
    • I just realized that a lot of my goals center around reading!
    • I would like to start some type of fitness related business within the next year or two, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can!
  • Increase bench max to 125 lbs
  • Increase deadlift max to 225 lbs
  • Increase squat max to 225 lbs
  • Run at least 1 5k
    • I need some motivation to continue including cardio in my routine of workouts
  • Reduce OCD symptoms
    • More to come on this in a later blog
  • Blog at least twice a month

There you have it – my 2016 goals!

2016 is going to be a big year for D and I! Between moving home, new jobs, and very soon, a new puppy sister for our soon to be 3 year old fur-child, we have a lot to look forward to! Here’s to a happy, healthy, much awaited 2016!

“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.” – Melody Beattie

All of the Feels

I think I have more feelings than I ever thought I had.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a rather closed off person – less attachment equals less of a chance to get hurt. My parents frequently described me as unaffectionate and uncaring. I never really thought that was true – shy, apprehensive, and anxious I could see, I just didn’t see how that translated to a lack of affection.

As I’ve matured, moved away, met new people, I’ve realized that while I’m not quick to get sappy with my family, if I am in environment where I feel safe to be myself, I have no problem opening up.

I can see that this rings truest when I am around D, C, or A. People who I know love me for who I am and have my back no matter what. People whose backs I have no matter what. People that I couldn’t imagine doing life without.

I’ve talked a lot about missing home and the people there before, but last night I realized that there are multiple ways to miss someone or somewhere or something. Ever since we moved, I’ve missed C and A every day. It’s a constant feeling, one I know is always there in the back of my mind, but also one that I can distract myself from. I like to tell myself that’s how they feel too! 🙂 When you get caught up in life – dog walks, work (if you’re working), schedules, appointments, etc. can work as distractions to keep your mind off of the fact that you miss something. I don’t constantly sit around thinking about how I miss C or A, even though I know that feeling is always there. (Side note – I also constantly miss Whole Foods, Chipotle, and Target).

But, there are different types of missing. The other kind happens when I let my guard down for a few minutes and it hits me hard. This type hurts – heartache, pit in my stomach hurts. It doesn’t happen as frequently as it used to. Actually, during our first few months here, I think I lived in a perpetual state of this type of missing – not healthy. But now, it happens at random times throughout my day or week. A memory, a story I want to tell but then I realize it’s 3am their time, a missed facetime call, a missed event due to distance, or something as simple as needing or knowing they need a hug. Little things (or big things) can trigger this type of miss. It leaves me wide awake at night, hugging myself a little tighter, reminding myself that I only have 5 more months until we are reunited for good. It also reminds me to stop for a second, say a quick prayer, and be thankful for having friendships that cause this type of missing. (Another side note – I have never had this type of miss for Whole Foods, Chipotle, or Target).

But, I also wonder if I am alone in this phenomenon I’ve discovered about myself. D, or C, or A never talk about experiencing this shift in types of missing. It makes me worry that out of everyone this move and this year touched, I was the one who struggled the most to handle it appropriately. It makes me feel weak, anxious, and a little alone. It makes me worry that things might not be “normal” as I knew them before we moved, once we move back. I can’t shake it.

Missing someone is not about how long it has been since you have seen them or the amount of time since you have talked…it is about that very moment when you are doing something and wishing they were there with you. —Anonymous

Just Show Up

For the past few months, I’ve been obsessed with Glennon Doyle Melton. A few months ago, I went down a long rabbit hole of TED Talk YouTube videos and happened to stumble across hers. 

Since then, I’ve explored her website/blog, followed her on Instagram, and ordered her book (it’s next in my lineup of books I need to read). She’s just so damn inspirational – her story, her journey, her authenticity – it’s incredible.

Not only does her journey give hope to the messy people of the world (I consider myself a very messy person), but she is a living example that you really can come out of the other side of whatever situation you may be facing. Her story gives so many the “permission” to be vulnerable, to own up to the imperfections in life, and to admit that recovery (from any and everything) is an ongoing process.

Two important phrases that have stuck with me through reading Glennon’s blog are:

  1. Do The Next Right Thing
  2. Just Show Up

The first – Do The Next Right Thing – is one I’ve been using for a while in my own recovery. I’m not sure where I first heard it, but it has been crucial throughout my journey. I have found that for most people, taking recovery life day by day feels impossible. Many times, even hour by hour can seem out of reach. But, if you can focus on doing the next right thing, life becomes a little less complicated.

Let me explain. Throughout recovery, whenever I “slipped up,” I immediately labeled that day as a failure. If I skipped lunch, the day was shot, might as well skip dinner too. And while I’m at it, I should probably run a couple extra miles. And why not weigh myself? Then the next day, I could get back on track…until I slipped up again. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t get out of. I wasn’t giving myself any room to improve “bad” days or any room to be human and make a mistake on “good” days.

Insert “Do The Next Right Thing.” All of the sudden, it didn’t matter if I skipped lunch. The day wasn’t ruined because I had the power to recognize my slip up as a mistake and do the next right thing. The next right thing could have been reaching out for support, canceling my workout, or eating a snack. Whatever it was, it was positive and put me back on the right track.

By choosing to do the next right thing, I didn’t have to feel guilty or overwhelmed or shameful. I could stay in the moment and be proud of myself for making a positive and healthy decision. And, if a day is comprised of a bunch of next right things, it gives a lot less time for wrong things.

The second – Just Show Up – is a new one for me. This is one I wish I had heard early on in recovery! There are probably many ways to interpret “Just Show Up,” but for me it’s all about letting go of fear and perfection and putting myself out there.

In college, I was a part of an on campus ED recovery group. Not only was I TERRIFIED that my friends might find out, I was also in a constant battle with myself over if I actually NEEDED to be a part of this group or not. I saw everyone in the group as “sicker” than myself. They were skinnier, they ate less, they exercised more. Was this true? I honestly have no idea. But at the time, it’s what I perceived.

I spent each week worrying about going to this group. Would I pass anyone I knew on the way? What would I say? Could I get by with not saying anything? Then, I spent each group meeting worrying about what I would say next or what I already said or most importantly, trying to keep my stomach from growling by drinking tons of water. Needless to say, I was not mentally present very often.

Looking back, things could have been so much different if I would have JUST SHOWN UP. Yes, I was there physically, but I needed to show up mentally. I needed to be aware of what was going on around me, aware of what others were saying, and less aware of perfecting what I was going to say. I needed to just be there, in the moment, taking part in something that could have had an even bigger impact on my life than it did (thankfully, I did make a great friend through this group).

I see this constantly play out in my life. From dinner dates with friends to conversations with coworkers or students – how many times have I been so overwhelmed with anxiety and NOT shown up? How could these moments be different if I decided to JUST SHOW UP?

This is something I plan to really work on in my life. I don’t want to miss opportunities because I am anxious and worried it might not work out. I want to be someone who SHOWS UP no matter what.

For now, that means calling a volunteer organization that I’ve been trying to reach by email because phone conversations cause a lot of anxiety.

It also means putting myself out there for an outdoor fitness boot camp business that I want to start when we move back to Virginia.

Both of these are way out of my comfort zone. And both require me to JUST SHOW UP!

I realize now that doing the next right thing and just showing up go hand in hand. The thing you show up for might just be your next right thing. So, be brave. Be strong. Believe in yourself. Do your next right thing and just show up!

Also, a big thanks to Glennon Doyle Melton for being the amazing human being that she is. 🙂

“Life is brutal. But it’s also beautiful. Brutiful, I call it. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together so tightly that they can’t be separated. Reject the brutal, reject the beauty. So now I embrace both, and I live well and hard and real.” – Glennon Doyle Melton,