Everything Flows Onward

finding my dharma. living my dharma.

Renewal of Vows November 20, 2009

I was going to apologize for my inconsistent blogging but instead I decided to accept that I’ll probably never be a person who blogs on a regular basis (unless it’s regular that I’m inconsistent and in that case, I’ll proudly boast that I blog regularly). So even if I come here in spurts and even if I take a month or more off in between, I’ll feel uplifted that when I do make it back to my blog, I’m giving you a true part of me that is honest, open and heartfelt.

Here’s the truth. It’s not always the case, but a lot of times when I stop blogging it’s because I’m not riding the highs of life. Either I’m just coasting through or else I’m down in the dumps. The way that has always been my pattern is that when things get hard for me, when I struggle, I recoil. I go inward (in a bad way), refuse to ask for help, refuse to voice my hardships even when that is the time I most need to.

This was definitely the case in my last hiatus. As a matter of fact, I’ve told a few people now that this last low was actually the lowest I’ve felt since I was in therapy 2 years ago. It hurt me to say it at first. Just like before I entered therapy to get help with my ED, I was ashamed to say I was struggling or needed help. I think in this case it was hard because I’d been doing so well and it undercut my pride so greatly to say that after 1 year of doing so well, that I had “fallen prey” to ED again. I was supposed to be “recovered.” I mean, c’mon. It’s me we’re talking about. I was supposed to do recovery better than anyone ever has, right? Who me? No I’ll just need this one experience and then I’ll be a “pro” at recovery.

So I didn’t do recovery “perfectly.” So life happened and it happened fast. So I got caught off guard. So I stumbled. But did I fail? Am I failing because I still don’t feel quite back to where I was? For a little bit I thought I had. I couldn’t believe I had gone back to that place. The desire to restrict was so strong. It was so clear to me that I’d become checked out. I couldn’t concentrate on conversations with people. I was becoming abnormally forgetful again. I was crying a lot. And those desolate thoughts of “I can’t live my life like this.” “Why me? Why again? ” “Will this ever end?” came right back to me. The mental and physical fatigue that comes with it. I questioned my strength and my ability to remain a warrior in the fight against ED. I doubted my ability to win another battle.

This went on for a few weeks. And then, one day, I said it out loud. “I’m struggling with Ed right now.” One of the most powerful things I’ve done for myself in my recovery is simply to be open about it. I figure, the more people I tell, the more accountable I’ll be held to my own health and recovery. So at the risk of overshare, I just started telling people close to me that I was struggling. And I realized I hadn’t failed. Not even close. For starters, I’m immensely proud to say that during this period, I NEVER restricted. Not once. I wanted to. I wanted to really really badly. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I’m grateful for the strength that I did have from my previous bout with ED, the strength and awareness that I had gained that kept me from depriving myself of nutrition.

Like I said, things aren’t quite back to where they were before, but I’m working on it. I’m trying. I’m not giving up. I’m taking some new lessons from this. For starters, and the whole point of blogging today, I am RECOMMITTING myself to a CONTINUAL effort to be healthy and proactive in maintaining my recovery. One of the downfalls to thinking that you’ve “perfected” recovery is that if (and/or when) relapse happens, you’re caught blindsided. The mistake I made was thinking I’d be immune to any kind of relapse.

Another mistake was that I was defining relapse too extremely. To me, relapse was going back to my old patterns and not knowing what I was doing and/or not wanting to go back to healthy eating. This of course is wrong. Now that I am body aware again after struggling with ED, I don’t think it will ever be possible for me to not know again when I am becoming detached from my body and leaning towards disordered eating.

So here are a few of the lessons I’m taking away from this latest battle:

For starters, once again I have discovered the importance of being vocal and open equally during the highs and the lows. I will no longer be ashamed when things feel as though they’re going downhill. Instead, I’ll be honest about it. I have an amazing support system ranging from my amazing family and friends to my cybershala on Twitter. I’m loved by these people and I know they want me to be happy and healthy, so why not let them be there for me?

I also think it’s time I became a little more of an activist in the recovery world. I think it will be good for me, it will keep me motivated. But also, how wonderful to be able to help others like me? When I was in therapy and I started to become happier, I was finally able to see just how deeply in the dumps I’d been for the entirety of my untreated ED. I have always meant it when I’ve said since then that I wouldn’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy (if I had one) or the most heinous person on the earth. What an awful, awful way to have to live our lives. It’s unfair. No one should live like that. So I want to be more active, in anyway I can. I have a lot of love and compassion to share and I think there has never been a better time for me to share it with the ED community.

Finally, I am going to have start by showing myself a little compassion. For Namaste Book Club right now, we’re reading a wonderful book by Pema Chodron and I’m learning a lot about befriending myself and everything about me. My favorite line from the book so far is when Pema writes, “The desire to change is a form of aggression toward ourselves.” So often I think I’m working to rid myself of my ED. I think, “If I can just do x,y and z, I’ll be free of these thoughts.” Or ,”I’d be so much happier if I didn’t have to deal with ED.” Well sure. Of course I would. But the truth of the matter is… I have Ed’s voice with me. So this isn’t changing. Now my work (and believe me when I say it’s work) is to learn to live along side of that voice. To be aware of what ED sounds like vs what Jenny sounds like. To allow mindfulness to help me when I want to react to Ed. Recovery isn’t black and white. I don’t have to feel like a swinging pendulum. I can listen for and be soft with Ed when he pipes up. I can kill him with kindness, even.

The key here, the most important thing, is that I acknowledge my ED. No more hiding it. No need to go back and forth. No need to be anything other than what I am. And what I am is a young woman who lived with anorexia and who works to strengthen herself everyday from it. I won’t let my past or current battles define me. I refuse to be “Jenny, who had an eating disorder.” But I will work with what I’ve been given. Not defining myself by my ED struggles does not mean that I also ignore them all together. My ED and recovery are not things to hide any longer. I am honest (and even outspoken) about every other aspect of my life. This will be no exception.

It occurs to me that I’ve written blogs very similar to this in the past but here it is again. No matter how many times I reiterate and reshape this same idea, I’ll rewrite this  blog every day til I die and mean it. No matter how many times I have to do it, I will always and forever commit myself to health and happiness, to truth and to freedom.


Campaign of Gratitude: Day 1 November 24, 2008

This week I’m on a campaign of gratitude. It’s Thanksgiving week, and so I figure there’s no time like the present to do it. My goal is going to be to update at least 5 times this week and talk about something for which I am grateful. Shouldn’t be too hard.

Originally I started by making a list of what I wanted to talk about each day but a couple things happened that caused me to alter my subject for this first day. 1) I pulled out an old notebook this weekend to bring to yoga teacher training and, 2) a disturbing article I found online.

The notebook I happened to pull out was the one I used when I was in therapy with Jane my last semester at Murray. There were a couple journal entries in there. The most notable was the first entry, dated July 18th 2007. It was shocking reading the things I wrote:

“…How I feel is confused, chaotic, without control. I feel pressure from myself to get past this, pressure from others to do what they think is best and fear of letting everyone down.”

“I freak out when there are unknowns.”

“I’ve receded into a totally isolated place in my mind and I’ve kept myself from being really honest with even my closest friends and family.”

“Mood swings: I got the nickname of ‘Bipolar Jenny’ last year.”

“Now I am trying to face my demons and I intend to work past them. Now I feel vulnerable and chaotic all over again but the only way I know how to deal is unhealthy so I feel more out of control because I have no coping methods to turn to. I hate being vulnerable. I do not tolerate weakness on my part. I need to be a stonewall and a pillar of strength. I don’t want to be taken advantage of.”

I finished reading that first entry and it was weird how I could only remotely remember those feelings. It seemed to me I was reading about a third party. I was a little taken aback and simultaneously grieving for this girl. How could any single person have all of that going on in their head at one time? Such an unfair burden to carry. No one should live that way.

Then I moved to the next entry and was baffled once more.

July 19th 2007:

“You know, sometimes, I may freak out, but when the day is over there is one thing I know about myself and that is that I am strong and I will achieve the things I want. And I’m positive—I know I will get over this hurdle. Life can be a struggle but all it takes is knowing you can make it… with a little bit of work. And I am ready to work.”

Just one day later, there it was: hope and resolve. What a gift. How lucky am I that it was with me, literally, from the beginning. On July 18th I had hit the lowest point in my entire life to date. But on July 19th, I was already asserting my determination. I’m filled with so much pride for that girl. I’m actually at a loss for words. That girl was me. ME. I know when I wrote that second journal entry that I had no idea how impressive it was. I had no idea the implications. I wonder now if, as I was writing them then, I believed them. I mean, it’s clear I did on some level because I’m here now and I’m infinity times healthier and happier. One thing I know is that for as much as I yearned to recover, I certainly hadn’t really considered what life would be like once I had done so. I had no idea it could be so good and so free.

So this becomes the first subject of my gratitude this week. I know this seems like an egotistical way to start the week, but I maintain that until we find the light within, we cannot shine it out. But today, I am grateful for my strength, my resolve, my optimism. I had so much help along the way in my recovery but I also must recognize that without my own determination, I’d never be in the place where I am now. So I’m going to honor myself, give thanks to myself. I’ve done myself a huge deal of benefit in the past year and a half.

The other thing that brought this idea for day one’s gratitude is that I saw this article online: http://www.newsweek.com/id/170528.

It tears my heart out to think that anyone else is living the way that I do. It seems like it was one thing for me to have struggled but the idea of other people struggling is almost intolerable. No one should go through life that way. It’s just not fair. Something has to be done; these girls need to be reached out to. And I want to be one of those doing it. I don’t know how I’m going to do it yet and I don’t know what the community in Evansville is like, but I’ve got to do something. I have been given a great gift and it is only fitting that now, I should pass it on to someone who needs it, too.


it begins at this moment October 23, 2008

Filed under: comfort,growing up,life,optimism — Jenny @ 1:47 am

The saying goes that yoga begins at that moment when you want to come out of a pose. Your leg starts to shake a little, the heat your building up seems to increase exponentially. You aren’t in pain, but you sure as heck have been more comfortable in life. You feel like you’ve been holding for ages and your brain gives a tiny squeak, you think, “Just let the instructor say ‘release’, already!” But instead the instructor says, “3 more breaths.” You think, “Three more breaths?! Is this a joke?!”

Yoga starts.

You stop your brain from screaming and you focus. You turn inward and you breathe, and you survive. You move on to the next sequence.

I never realized until tonight, how much this would come in handy outside of the yoga studio. I’m not in pain, but I sure as heck would say I’ve been more comfortable in life. Admittedly, I needed my time earlier today to be upset, and I was. I felt a little overwhelmed. But underneath it all was this sense of calm. I know it’ll all work out, this is a hiccup. This is my thighs burning in Warrior II. But it always starts with the little brain scream, “Is this a joke?!” and then, just like in class, you breathe. I’m breathing through it. I’m calmer because deep down I know. I know that I’ve done a lot to surprise myself, and there’s no reason this shouldn’t be another example.

And there’s always this one thing to look forward to: before I even know it, the instructor (should I capitalize that word?) will say, “Release” and it’ll be time for the next sequence.

The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains of hell are with me.
The first I graft and increase upon myself…. the latter I translate into a new tongue.
Walt Whitman


positive May 7, 2008

Filed under: adventure,optimism,words to live by — Jenny @ 3:08 am

There’s a lot of potentially positive things on the horizon. It’s a time to remember that there are ups after the downs. Some things carry more certainty than others right now but what’s more important is that regardless of what happens, it’s the getting there that’s offering me the most excitement at present. It’s good to be focusing again on the journey and not controlling the outcome.

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become. ” The Buddha