My name is Melanie. I am a 42-year-old recovered/recovering anorexic. I was actively involved in my disease from the time I was 12 until the age of 24. It was an intense 12-year battle with many hospitalizations, countless hours of therapy, all in the wake of handfuls of heartbroken loved ones. I wanted to be better with every other fiber of my being, the opposing fibers longed to hold onto my disorder for as long as I could. I was fully convinced that this would kill me, and I had, in many ways, conceded to that. I would have periods of “health”- meaning I was holding over 87 pounds – however, these periods of health were usually fueled with drug use and other forms of self-deprecating behavior.
When I was 24, I had moved back home to enter yet another treatment facility. By this time, I had given up hope for a full recovery and had used treatment as a reprieve. It was during these times that I relinquished control if for no other reason that the fact that I was completely exhausted. I would make a terrible mess of my life and body and right before my breaking point, throw up my hands and allow myself to be hospitalized. I had moved back to Buffalo in October. In typical Melanie fashion, I had refused to go to the treatment center I had moved back for and by January I was looking at a positive pregnancy test.
I meditated this morning in preparation for writing this part. The part where I sit on the bathroom floor staring at the dizzying octagon tile, the same tile I had stared at while I threw up a gallon of ice cream 2 days before, instead now I sit staring at a faint blue positive sign inside a teeny, piss clouded window. For the first time I can remember I feel absolutely no fear. Something in the energy surrounding me that day shifted and while every odd was stacked against me, I KNEW this was meant to happen. I felt and breathed with the entirety of my cells and I heard it say “This is good. This is true. This is right” I immediately felt my power, the power that was growing inside of me.
In my pregnancy and then in motherhood, I found my recovery. I found my purpose and the desire to not only survive but flourish because I had taken the value off myself and put it on something else. Through the years I would falter from health, yet this truth leads me back to a place of wanting more. In accepting that I wasn’t worth enough and placing it on my babies, I had to return to the notion that without a good healthy me there is no good healthy them and whether I was consciously aware of it at the time, I conveniently placed the responsibility on them. I did try to keep the responsibility on them for a while and that was not fair. When you have children you realize what love really is. Its loving independently. Your love for them is not contingent on what they give. It is in and of itself. But the flip side is you can give as much love and parent as perfectly as you think is possible but they are watching and absorbing all your schemas and until you heal those the cycle will continue – if you don’t love yourself you will inevitably fuck up again and though you love them independent of yourself, yourself is part of the equation. Yourself is the way we stop cycles. Yourself is the road that veers to another route. You don’t have control of their maps, but you add to it and take away and I definitely added some roads straight to co-dependency, I added some roads that lead directly to Anxiety Town. We add roads because that is what we are taught and told and believe to be true until we re-teach ourselves- until we re-hear the stories and add our own detours to the map.
I was a good mother, a capable, present mother filed with unlimited love and tireless empathy. I had another child 3 years later, another miracle, no less magnificent than the first. He is a different light, a definite soulmate of mine from another time. Our history goes way beyond the 13 years we’ve been here together, I am sure of that. During this time of raising these 2 beauties, my marriage fell apart and I in turn fell apart, again from exhaustion in trying to keep the “falling apart” from happening. In my falling apart I did not begin the binge-purge/restriction cycle, instead, I found a socially acceptable obsession in the form of exercise and weight training. I signed myself up for fitness competitions because my motto has always been – if you’re going to do it, overdo it. I hid under the pretext that this is the opposite of an eating disorder. This is making me healthy! This is making me strong! I lied, albeit unknowingly, to myself and everyone else around me. As my journey to the perfect body began once again, so did the of loss of any self-love and respect I had acquired in my recovered years. After my divorce, I began and survived a 4-year relationship that was beyond any abuse I could have ever imagined suffering. It was worse than my childhood traumas; it was a living nightmare that I thought I might not survive. I again lied to myself and told myself my children were not affected by this person, as they had little to no contact or interaction with him. But, what they did have was unlimited interaction and contact with the ghost of their mother, who was living in a constant state of panic and fear. I was unable to place my recovery in anyone and anything else. It was time for me to strip bare and get to work. It was time for me to stop the cycle, my own cycle and cycles I had learned There were roads that I was traveling on that were on my mother’s maps, there were towns I visited that were built by my family and teachers and peers. The universe I lived it was a compilation of everyone I ever cared abouts shit, mixed in with my own shit and it was literally crashing down on me. I had mentally reached rock bottom and my rock bottom at 38 was far darker, with way more to lose than my 20 year old rock bottom. I was destroyed. I was nothing, I had allowed everything to be taken from me. I was too embarrassed to reach out to anyone for help and kept it all as hidden as I could. I was humiliated, ashamed, I hated myself with a vengeance that anorexia had never seen. I went to a battered women’s shelter and got counseling. I learned how to protect myself and potentially my kids, in lieu of the threats, so that I could begin to do the work. I started to meditate, and through this mediation I learned I could not sit still – I learned how loud and incessant the monsters in my head were. To quiet them I taught myself to chant, I tried chanted louder than them, I screamed my mantras some nights when I was alone and eventually I learned to temporarily silence them. I taught myself to sit still and again, I began to feel my power. But this time the power was not growing in me, this time the power was coming from me.
The intention for this blog is to establish a new advancement deeper into recovery. Where not only the behavior or actions changes but the mindset and patterns that led to those actions change as well. To encourage and inspire transformation from the core, from the soul of ourselves rather than robotically mimicking healthy behavior and expecting emotions to change accordingly. To learn to feel and sit in uncomfortable-ness as opposed to running away, grabbing tools from our addicted arsenal to dull and ease the pain. To gain the strength and hope necessary to be brave enough to sit. Quietly. With no fear of what we may hear.