Author: melaniecmccarthy

The intension 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.

Choosing To Surrender

Surrendering and giving up are two entirely different concepts. When you give up on something you are no longer taking action. You have now given the opposing force the power by discontinuing any interference. The problem here is when we stop actively fighting, what we are really doing is succumbing and this is where your power is taken. This is where you actually HAND it over willingly when what we truly desire is to have our voices be heard, to continue to have influence on the direction that our paths are leading. Giving up usually occurs in the presence of resistance – resistance to what is. When the resistance becomes too daunting or discouraging, we say, fuck this I give up – submitting to it with all inclusiveness. In giving up you have allowed your truth to be taken from you in defeat. You are ceasing any further action. In the battle, “YOU” are no longer a variable. Your voice has been given up in dismissal.

When you surrender you are making the conscious choice to adapt, bend and move forward with a condition or circumstance. When you surrender you are actively choosing to hold space for that energy without trying to change or modify it in any way. In this beautiful position, action and involvement are still required from you – Any and all change is coming from your acceptance and in the undertaking of it. It is giving power to the fact that you cannot control outside variables, yet you are choosing to establish your adaptation in the response of yielding.

To surrender is to empower, to give up is to lay down to defeat.

Surrendering requires faith; Faith in yourself, faith in the understanding that all is as it should be- right now in this moment. It lies in the full acceptance that certain components are unyielding; in you choosing to honor that you are not all-knowing and that life is process of learning and experiencing and tweaking. Its walking away from the microscope and adjusting your lens from time to time. It is encompassing fluidity and growth.

That being said, when I urge you to surrender I am not saying that you should give up or throw in the towel. What I am saying is: Lets make an active vow to acknowledge and in that acknowledgment, let go of the desire to adjust any outside dynamic. The power is in ourselves. When we surrender we are actively professing that the only thing requiring any type of manipulation is our perception and what lens we choose to look through.

Today, through the act of surrender, I will look through my hearts eyes instead of the anxious, stir-crazy eyes that have been in relentless combat with what is. I am choosing to honor that my environment has been adjusted and I am willing and open to continue loving and choosing to be a source of positive energy to fill this new space of mine. In my active surrender I will feel the sun on my face and listen to the quiet of my home with gratitude for the peace and stillness. I will accept love in whatever form it comes to me today; whether it be the blue sky, my partners hand on mine, the continuity of the day as well as the progression of it. I will surrender to the air I breathe along with the safety and comfort that comes from that and I will walk away from trying to alter any of these offerings bestowed upon me. With a soul full of hope and recognition for the capacity to just be, I will continue to radiate the energy that I wish to receive in this bountiful circle that is our world. I will not attempt to dig my roots too deeply anywhere; instead I will carry my heart and offer it to this new home of mine. I will cherish peace in the comfort of being and trust in the continuation of things and their flow – the way water flows over rocks, acknowledging and noting their presence, trusting in the way they will change its course.

How will you pay tribute to your voice and surrender today?

Triggers In Isolation

For weeks I have been reading memes on social media diligently reminding me that this time is a blessing; our air is cleaner, we have been gifted quality time with loved ones, we are all appreciating family members just a little bit more in their absence, we’re getting more rest – so on and so forth-  While I whole heartedly believe all these things to be true and beautiful in their own right, I also find myself  carrying around a significant amount  of shameful fear in the acknowledgment that I feel extremely triggered.

I am making a conscious decision to sit with these feelings and evaluate, as opposed to doing what’s always come natural for me: running, avoiding, frantically reaching and searching for something to make me feel better and less uncomfortable. In sitting with these feelings, I can’t help but wonder- Could struggling to stay at home be triggering to those who have always struggled to feel at home in their bodies?

People with eating disorders are typically very disciplined and pride themselves on accomplishments and productivity. These qualities are like the socially acceptable equivalent to perfectionism. While many of us are finding comfort in regimentation and strict routines, this can run parallel to our disease and cause an unhealthy sense of Déjà vu.

Addictions across the board can have many common denominators. One of these denominators is isolation. So, while here I am speaking directly on eating disorders, this can apply to any addiction- be it drugs, alcohol, food, sex- and I must admit, in this new strange form of seclusion, I sense some previously dormant feelings becoming re-activated. To me mandatory isolation reminds me of being sick. It reminds me of completely being solitary, not connected and innately different than the rest of the world. Isolation is a place where it can be extremely easy to get “stuck in your own head.” It is reminiscent of days that seemed pointless to partake in and were obsessively centered around food. In our isolation we can feel cut off from support systems or even worse- be closely confined to unhealthy or even toxic situations.

Having teenagers, my days are yet again, largely centered around food. Usually the first question anyone asks is “What’s for dinner” and the next is –Is today a day I need to venture out to the grocery store? And here is where I realize that small successes are now new quests to conquer.

I considered myself to have been in recovery for 17 years and still to this day the grocery store is source of major anxiety. Its too much. Too many lights, too many people, too many choices. Too many questions – am I being healthy this week? Am I succumbing to the fact that I am raising teenage boys and need to stock up on shit food because they are, after all, growing boys and I don’t want them to be weird and not eat boxes of Oreos? Am I doing all organic this week? High protein low carb? Maybe Vegan?? Its overwhelmingly distracting and chaotic for me. For someone with an eating disorder, having to push past hundreds of people with all your food choices glaringly on display is like a humiliating walk of shame. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wanted to make a sign to stick in my cart that says, “IM NOT A GLUTTON – I HAVE A BIG FAMILY – THIS ISNT ALL FOR ME!” As if this thought process wasn’t unhealthy enough, all of a sudden we now have actual signs to remind you to take only what you need.

Do not take too much.

 Do not be greedy and leave others without.

To many of us still trying to intuitively just know and trust what we need, this can be a daunting task filled with uneasiness and shame.

Then there is the issue with Social Media and the newest pop culture catch phrases. Sayings like: “Netflix Binge” (insinuating that watching television is comparable to some overpowering, savage act of debauchery) and “Quarantine 15” (suggesting that we have no restraint and will all gain 15 pounds just from being home) Not to mention the Instagram influencers squatting their dogs and re-enacting TRX moves with silk scarves slammed into door jams because now you have absolutely no excuse and isn’t a global pandemic the perfect time to get into shape?!

We are existing in an environment where all the outside signals are telling us – CONTROL THIS! Control your snacking. Control your anxiety. Control your fear and your anger. Control your weight gain.  We are getting mixed messages from ourselves and the outside world that this lack of routine and control is what’s going to eventually lead to our demise -but for us it was always our routine and control that were the hands of death holding us under.

Maybe what we need to do is fight to be ok without it. To be just as beautiful and strong and empowered sitting on the couch as we are out there crossing accomplishments off our lists. Maybe we need to hold onto the same amount of self-acceptance during our third episode of “Tiger King” as we have after we finish a competition. Maybe we need to dig into the grounds of our home and make peace with the roots the same way we need to dig into our center and make peace with our hearts. Maybe our vulnerability in saying, ‘I’m not ok’ is where our loveliness and strength resides.

What I Have Learned About Being A Peacekeeper And Why It Doesn’t Work

I saw a quote the other day from Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed. It read: “Nice is a peacekeeper. Honest is a peacemaker.”

Hmmm..

I read it a few times and really let it soak in. I AM a peacekeeper in every sense of the word. I despise conflict: it makes me unbelievably uneasy. I flutter around comforting and lullabying everyone’s uncomfortableness in order to avoid any unnecessary outbursts, because to me, conflict is processed as just that: An unnecessary outburst. I run around putting Band-Aids on cuts that have not even happened yet.

There was a time when I would have said a world without conflict would be a beautiful thing and something to strive for. But no, in all actuality it would be a terrible thing! Without conflict there is no truth. There is no authenticity and boundaries cannot be established. Without boundaries we have no borders; the lines of where we stop, and the world begins are transparent and in that transparency, there is no hope for grounding or attaining any personal growth.

No conflict means you are invalidating virtually every feeling or emotion that you or someone you love is carrying. Avoiding conflict is admitting that you are focusing and working only on the immediate and failing to cultivate the long term. No conflict will keep a hand over your mouth forever and isolate you from ever experiencing true intimacy. Your loved ones deserve to trust that your words are your truth and that is what they love, not the model you send out to speak on your behalf. Your loved ones deserve to trust that all the small, mundane issues aren’t being kept in your back-pocket building resentment; they shouldn’t fear the day the damn breaks. They deserve the real you.

You cannot establish trust with complacency. In your compliance you are hiding and sheltering the undeniable you. Maybe that you is afraid-Maybe that you doesn’t feel worthy of unconditional love; perhaps you believe that you will only be loved as long as you are a pleasant, good girl with an agreeable temperament. Maybe that you feels frail and small. Is it possible that the “you” you’re trying to protect with a smile really needs to be fed with “I disagrees” and “I feel’s” so that it can grow proud, strong and true? Maybe you could try whispering to that you – “Tell me. I will still love you in this awkward and uncomfortable space.”

I pride myself on being a nice person. I work hard at that shit but maybe I work too hard. Reading that quote made me think; What would I rather be? Nice or HONEST? I would much rather marry the two than to keep my truths hidden behind a smile. I would rather honorably evolve with my authenticity than to halt any growth with my pleasing disposition. I promise you- your niceness can cause a lot of destruction. Live in love and in truth. We are givers and healers; we are not pretenders.

Cyclical Thinking

I have heard this term countless times throughout my eating disorder journey. Sometimes they were called obsessive thoughts, incessant thoughts, intrusive thoughts, compulsive thoughts – They all have slight differnces in meaning but all in all, its your mind inability to just shut the fuck up. Cyclical thinking is like a hamster wheel in your brain only instead of one hamster, there are hundreds of them constantly running on this wheel of thought- over and over and over again…

This type of thinking reminds me of a repetitive scene where my kids open the refrigerator door, stand there like zombies and then declare, “There is nothing to eat!” Eventually they tire of the mindless staring and walk away only to return minutes later to perform the exact same act. Open door. Stand there. Declare ‘There is nothing to eat!’ Usually I’ll let it go 3 or 4 times before I say, “The same shit is in there! You know this and yet, here you are again.” Those who suffer from cyclical thinking are very much like teenagers opening a refrigerator door to observe, to draw a conclusion and adhere to that conclusions as if it were fact- And we do this over and over again. We open the door expecting a different situation, yet finding the exact same thing.

Why??

Maybe it lies in our inability or unwillingness to adjust or try to somehow modify the situation. Never once have my kids ever MOVED anything around. Never once have they attempted to break down the quandry like so: “ok there’s cheese and butter and – oh look! over there, there’s bread!” – (Enter the grilled cheese sandwich) The problem there is no ACTION IS TAKEN.

So here we are, teenagers standing in front of the fridge, opening the door to the same shit yet expecting something different with no active involvement from ourselves. Personally, in my journey I have found my brain never stops. It is like a manic explosion of thoughts that only quiet when I am asleep (and even then its questionable.) The most disturbing part was realizing that all this is going on all day long and I wasn’t even AWARE of it. While my brain is comparing, judging, replaying the past, changing dialogue in the last conversation I had, planning for future uncomfortable situations, going back to old ones and wishing for a dynamic change – I have been driving my car, talking to my clients, concocting chemical formulas, responding to emails, etc.; Basically living my life, but am I REALLY there? Hell no! So many of us exist this way. We live in a displaced reality that can be downright torturous. So what can we do about it?

Acknowledge – Acknowledging is the first step in changing any behavior. Being aware that it’s happening so you can consciously make the effort to insert an action to change this dynamic is imperative.

Practice Mindfulness – Think of this as staying in the moment. If you are having a conversation with someone and you find yourself drifting off into your head, if you find yourself bombarded with thoughts like; ‘What are they seeing? Are they judging me? Do I have lipstick on my teeth? I shouldn’t have been so short with the kids this morning’ – then I would suggest taking a breath to center yourself. Remind yourself that this person is trusting you with whatever information they are presenting. Honor that. Put the focus on them. Create space for them and concentrate on gratitude for this human connection. Grant yourself allowance to deal with the fact that you forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer later, right now you are honoring your current situation.

Organize and Challenge – This is the tricky part. This is the part where you will have to be very brave and courageous. This is the part where you decide you are worth change, as uncomfortable as the process may be; this is where you show up and fight for yourself. Try organizing your thoughts. I understand they may seem too numerous to count but I have found that for every 5 new thoughts or fears that I have, there are just as many that have been hanging around for a while. We carry these thoughts for years, they are like old friends – but really shitty friends. They’re cowardly and brutal and we kinda know that but they are so comfortable and familiar we choose to close our eyes to a lot of their bullshit because there is some safety in that, in knowing what to expect even if what we’re expecting is pain. Once you’ve identified a few of the “hanger ons”deep dig and begin to challenge them.

I use to tell my therapists that I felt constantly torn between my “sick mind” and my “intelligent mind”. There was a part of me that KNEW I wasn’t fat yet I still continued to FEEL fat. When I dug deeper I realized the word fat was an umbrella for a lot of uncomfortable emotions. What I really felt was unworthy, undeserving, like I was too much and taking up too much space. It was a constant battle between my intelligent mind (where facts are stored) and the sick mind (where your limiting beliefs are stored ) When you’re getting ready to begin your journey in challenging these intrusive thoughts, when you finally decide to coax the tiny voice of hope and actively decide to let it grow, you will need to reach in and find your intelligent mind where the facts are stored because you’re going to need them to build your case like evidence to be used in court.

My old friends say things like, “You’re unlovable” -facts say I am not unlovable. Realistically its probably more accurate to say that I am love. I am filled with so much love and empathy and care that I probably sought out people that didn’t have very much love inside themselves, I sought out sponges to absorb this abundance of love I have. My old friends would say, “you’re not good enough.” Facts prove I am enough as my children feel safe and loved around me, they know I will protect them- my fiancé loves and supports and accepts me and my children as we are. This makes me enough.

Challenging is the scariest but most magical part. This is where you can take control. This is where you get to say no and it’s not only heard but accepted and honored. This is where you claim yourself as enough and start to build the path for healing.

You are loved. You are enough. You always have been.

This is me

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.