Two Years of Recovery

Two years today.  That is how long it has been since I checked myself into treatment at Eating Recovery Center (ERC) in Denver, CO.  It is strange and also wonderful to think that it has been that long.  It makes me reflect on how far I have come in that span of time and all the improvement I have made.  It is incredible to think of just how far I have actually come and the accomplishments I have made considering even four years ago entering inpatient/residential treatment the first time around I believed that I had little to no hope and even at ERC I had days where still felt there were things that I did not believe I could overcome.

In two years I have changed my life for the better…

Today I am back to doing what I love, which is writing.  I am able to write and read, which is something I was worried that I had lost forever.  In the throes of my eating disorder, I was unable to do either because of my lack of concentration.

Today I am able to participate in life again and not miss out on the things that I love most.  I am able to go to football and soccer games, watch them at home, feel the joy of fanaticism that I have always had in my heart.  ercThere is nothing like finding that joy again and embracing that part of myself that I love.

Today I am able to have relationships with people.  I have the kind of friendships that I want and deserve and that my friends deserve.  I am not so caught up in my eating disorder that I am unable to have any other relationship but with my eating disorder.  I am not alone and isolated, losing relationships because I would rather have my eating disorder instead.

Today I am overcoming and have overcome many issues that have plagued me for many years.  My fear foods list is now down to a very small number of items when I used to have a huge list of fears and only a small list of safe foods.  My eating disorder is nearly faded away.  The thoughts linger, especially in tough times, and haunt me sometimes, but behaviors are nowhere to be found.  Slowly, but surely, I am working on my body image and it is always improving.  I constantly work on trauma and rape and I have gone from not even being able to really mention it four years ago, barely talking about it two years ago, still blaming myself a year ago, to today and within the last six months finally not blaming myself and working through what happened.  The OCD will be next on my list to tackle though I have worked through quite a bit already.

Next month I will be returning to Denver, CO.  I will return to the area where I truly began my recovery journey.  I will return as a professional, not a patient.  I will return to attend the Binge Eating Disorder Association’s 5th Annual Conference.  There are few words to express the joy that I feel at this moment.  My life has shifted from illness to wellness, from existing to living.  Two years from now, I can only imagine what I will have accomplished, what will have changed in my life.  I am only too excited to find out and to go on that journey!

NEDAwareness Week

Welcome (a little late) to National Eating Disorder Awareness Week!

Usually I am on top of and prepared for awareness week every year, but this year it snuck up on me.  This year I have been busy with recovery, which feels very fitting for this week.

Every week I am attempting new challenges, taking better care of myself, and doing more and more healing.  I feel strong in my recovery, stronger than I have ever been.  And it continues to improve the more effort and hard work I put into it.  The hopelessness I used to feel was the farthest thing from the truth.  There is hope in recovery and I have continuously been finding it in the challenges I overcome, the strength I gain every day, and the more healing I do.

Last week I was so proud of myself for yet another successful year of celebrating my birthday.  It may seem insignificant to most people, but after so many years of believing that I was undeserving and too worthless to have a birthday, especially over the last 5 years having it be within 10 days of the anniversary being raped, it is a huge accomplishment.  This year especially with the anniversary being so big and choosing one of my favorite yet most feared fear-foods for my birthday dinner.  I enjoyed my dinner.  I did not fear it.  I enjoyed my Seahawks cake, too.  And that is huge!

This awareness week, I can remember these things and be especially proud.  Recovery is possible and full recovery is closer and closer.

To read what I wrote for Provincial Eating Disorder Awareness Week, go here!

The Anniversary Day 2: Choosing Recovery

On what is to me the second day of the 5-year anniversary of my rape, I reflect upon my journey over the last five years.  It has been a hard fought journey of the days and weeks after being constantly reminded and replaying in my head the events of that night to these most recent months where I do not have those thoughts anymore but work through all the images, thoughts, feelings, etc. that are still stuck in my mind that have never gone away.  It is a journey that I finally see an end to after over four years of blaming myself, convinced it must have been my fault because those around me told me so and I told myself so because I believed everyone and I believed that I did not do enough to protect myself, as if I could have done something more.

It was not my fault.  I could have said ‘No’ a thousand times more and it would not have made a difference.  I cannot change what happened, erase it with magic or forget it somehow.  What I can do is work through what happened.  I can stop blaming myself, work through all the pain, anger and sadness, and find full recovery from this just like I am finding recovery from my eating disorder.  I can stop using the eating disorder to try and cover up all of the feelings and instead feel them.  I can choose recovery.

I fight through the pain and memories of the rape to finally find peace and find recovery.  I choose recovery over the blame, living in the eating disorder, and being stuck in that night.  I know recovery is possible and I will get there.  I will heal from this.

February 10th, 2009

I met him through a mutual friend I trusted.  He seemed polite and well-mannered.  When we started speaking about our likes and dislikes, we started to find little connections.  It seemed as though he was the nice, good-fitting guy my friend said he would be for me.  It was with no hesitation after our blind first date that I invited him back to my apartment where we had first met that night to continue talking.  I felt at that moment I had no reason to mistrust him.

It soon became obvious that I did have reason.  A little after we sat down to talk, red flags came up that I did not know how to listen to at the time.  It was too late by the time I tried, I was being raped.  I was trapped in paralyzing fear, by his body and strength, and an IMG_1792overwhelming sense of uncertainty of what to do.  If saying ‘NO’ did not work, then what would?  I doubt anything would have stopped what happened.  I did what I had to do to survive instead.

In the aftermath, I took the rape-kit, did the report, and like many who report a rape, received a letter two weeks or so following stating that no charges could be brought against him since it was a “he-said-she-said” case.  My heart immediately sank because I had a text message a day later of him quasi apologizing and admitting his guilt and I knew what happened that night.  It truly broke my heart to know that I was about to face what had happened to me through therapy, in school (I was in college at the time), and even in the places and people I thought were safest.

Over the next several years, I struggled with my eating disorder that only worsened significantly after the rape.  While still in college, I had friends who decided to walk away from the mess of a person I was becoming.  And the friend who set me up on the blind date?  She never spoke to me after I told her what happened.  I struggled every minute I was in my apartment having to look at the places where it happened and live in that place.  I was able to move only briefly into an open dorm on-campus.  Therapy was few and far between at this time because of the limitations of living in a more rural area and I struggled finding therapy until after graduation.

So after those first several months, I learned not to speak about it.  It seemed as though people blamed me, others shamed me, and it only hurt to bring it up.  I kept quiet until this past year when I started to find my voice in recovery.  I slowly IMG_1794spoke about my recovery, my struggles, and learned that together not only are we stronger, but we can make a difference.  We can inspire each other through our words and our stories.

Today, I face the 5 years anniversary of my rape a different person than I was before.  I am a stronger, healthier, and happier person.  I have worked relentlessly to overcome one of the deepest wounds in my life.  I have fought for this “recovery”, too.  It still may hurt and I still may have quite a bit left to work on, but I am getting there and I am closer than I ever have been before.  I know it is possible to heal from this.

For more information about rape, sexual assault, and abuse and for support:

http://www.rainn.org/

http://project-unbreakable.org/

http://www.unslutproject.com/