Miles 13 & 14

26.2 A SERIES

Everyone has dreams. Since I was about 16 years old, one of mine has been to run a marathon. When I cross the finish line in NYC on November 5th, I’ll likely do so with a recorded time of between 4 and 5 hours. In reality though, it will have taken me much longer to get there. There are things inside and outside of us that bring us closer to our dreams. There are also things that delay us, that push us so far away from our goals they are sometimes out of sight. If we are lucky, little by little, we are often able to transform those stumbling blocks into building blocks–they become the foundation for our strength, resilience, and ultimate determination. This series aims to uncover my long journey. Each week, I’ll share the people, places, and things that have brought me to the place I am at today, and that I hope will carry me from the starting line in Staten Island, to the finish line in Central Park. Mile by mile–this, is my 26.2.

Miles 13 & 14: A Bigger Body and A Bigger Life

Anorexia is the only disease I’m aware of that tells you you are a failure when you don’t do it. If you’re an alcoholic or a drug addict and you make it a day without using, you may feel like shit, but your brain knows that you’ve won that day. If you’re a chronic overeater and you stick to your meal plan, you might have cravings, but you know your restraint means success.

Anorexia, or Ana as she is called by so many of her current and former followers, has always told me that I’m a failure in a voice that is as coaxing as it is abusive. Whether I was in the full throes of the disease or in my fight to recover, Ana would trickily try to convince me that eating was taking the easy way out–that feeding myself was a sign of weakness. Anorexia is an insanely ironic disease: the “stronger” you get at the behaviors of the disorder, the weaker you become in real life. Truly, the perfect anorexic is the dead one; any other outcome is really quite simply, a failure.

But I did not want to die, at least not all the time. Choosing Ana but not death meant I was essentially serving a prison sentence. My cell was my mind and there was only space for two people: me, and my disease. When I was at my worst, there was not one moment in a day where I wasn’t obsessed with weight or food or exercise. I remember I would be dead asleep, and would wake up because I had to pee. As I’d walk the 30 ft to the bathroom I’d think: I should probably wake up more often to walk in the middle of the night, it would burn more calories. 

When you tell someone you used to struggle with an eating disorder, often their first question is, which one? In my experience, most of us have struggled in some capacity with both anorexia and bulimia. For me, anorexia was all about success, and bulimia (or Mia) was all about failure. My goal was usually to eat under 400 calories a day. When I failed, I’d purge. Purging was not fun. It was gross, and sometimes painful. If I broke down and ate something that was especially difficult to refund, I’d often end up with broken blood vessels in my eyes from the strain it took to bring the food back up.

Sometimes when people get sober when they are older, they look back and wish they hadn’t wasted so much time drinking. I am one of the lucky ones, I got sober when I was twenty-five. This means I don’t have a ton of regrets about the amount of time I spent drinking; I only had a couple of years where it really wasn’t fun. I cannot say the same for my eating disorder. It was never fun. Even when I was thin, it was never good enough; there was no happy place to be had, only misery. What I regret most about my eating disorder was the time I let it take from me; I can’t imagine how much more I could have learned and accomplished as a young person if I my mind hadn’t been so preoccupied with being thin. As I was counting calories, experiences and opportunities were passing me by. As my body failed to shrink as much as I wanted it to, my life continued to get smaller and smaller.

While I went to an extremely helpful inpatient and outpatient treatment center for my eating disorder for a few months when I was 23, my real recovery began when I got sober. As I saw other women struggling to let go of drugs and alcohol, but hanging on to their eating disorders for dear life, I knew I had to let mine go. I had reached a pivotal point: I’d either let these diseases kill me, or I’d follow people’s suggestions and amass some tools that would allow me to live in the world as a productive, healthy, and maybe even happy, human being.

I know I haven’t been in a treatment center in quite a while, but I fear that’s the element that might still be missing from these places–making it clear to patients that there is joy to be found beyond these horrific diseases. I know a lot of women in recovery from their eating disorders who are still obsessed with weight and food. They are not restricting anymore, but they still count calories. They don’t stick their fingers down their throat, but only because they seldom allow themselves those foods that might initiate that urge. This pains me. I want those women to know that feeding themselves and allowing for the possibility of their bodies to get stronger, and maybe even a bit bigger, also allows their lives to get bigger. When we are nourished, our minds and our hearts grow along with our bodies and our eyes can finally open to a world full of possibility.

When I was starving myself, I could never have imagined reaching Mile 13 and 14. I loved running, desperately, but I never had the energy to go beyond 3 or 4 miles–there was never enough fuel in my tank. Feeding myself properly has had the most incredible impact on my running–I can’t believe how far I can go and how strong I can feel. When I run I work out my sadness and my fear and my doubt. No matter how bleak things can look around me, running clears a path so I can see a way forward. It is my uncomfortable comfort; it continues to make my life larger and more joyful, each and every day.

Miles 13 & 14 go not to you Ana and Mia, but to all the courageous women who’ve left you behind for something better. May their bodies grow strong, their hearts beat brave, and their only hunger come from their insatiable craving for more and more life.

 

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this piece, I hope you might like to continue with the series… please consider following me through WordPress or through email by using the links on this page. You can also follow me on facebook  ~all support is appreciated. thank you. x

47 thoughts on “Miles 13 & 14

  1. Over half the miles covered and your writing grows stronger with every passing yard. This is such an honest piece of writing and another testament to the strength of character that shines through each time I read what you have to say. I have no real reference for Ana and Mia but it doesn’t lessen my respect for you in facing down those demons.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think no matter what I am writing, my number one goal is always honesty–so you’re compliment is really a big one–and coming from you, all the more. I appreciate having you as a reader, especially when the topic is not one you can necessarily relate to. That’s something i have had to work on–writing despite the fear that not enough people will relate to what i am saying. I think I’ve fought through it pretty well the past year. Some people say, “write for yourself.” I’ve adopted instead a “write for one person” focus. There’s this purity in saying that I only write for myself that I can never seem to get to–it’s just not true. I’m definitely writing for someone besides myself–and i think i’ve finally come to understand that this doesn’t diminish the sincerity of my love of writing.
      Well, that wasn’t the response I expected to give you! Thanks Nik!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s such an interesting perspective – and I really like the idea of writing for someone. It’s still a long way from writing for everyone and I get the sense that it frees your writing rather than inhibiting it. The great thing is that you are already aware of what works for you and you’ve got plenty of fuck-the-rulebook attitude. Never lose that!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you stumbled across our blog since it allowed me to stumble across yours! I’m so proud reading this, it is everything I wish I could have read this time two years ago. Good luck with your marathon, enjoy the journey, every mile really is a lesson learnt, every mile is a new discovery about yourself, every mile reveals how strong you truly are. Life is so much bigger than any disease, let’s chase it 😛 xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience, I genuinely mean it when I say it was very inspiring to read. Without first hand experience it’s hard to imagine the full impact that has on day to day life, but I can begin to extrapolate how draining it must feel (physically and mentally) thinking you need to restrict yourself to such a low intake each day. I will keep in mind your struggle and success when I have tough days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul, you have an incredible way of translating other people’s experiences and understanding how the lessons they’ve learned can be applied in your life as well. I think it’s a real gift; it makes people feel understood, that’s a beautiful thing! x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My scribe today is a runner
    I’m calling her that
    Her title today
    Though. She has fought
    many others on the way

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
    Maybe I’m older
    She is however
    Our enterprise
    She is however.
    Today’s spice.

    Sprinkle it fondly
    With glee
    Hope and ambition
    Sprinkle with love
    Within you for sure
    It’s a given.

    From London
    With love.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Right on the mark. I have to say, I’m finally comfortable with my lifestyle change, a change I really worried would send me back down the path. But my body AND more importantly my mind both know I need fuel to get me through a marathon. While I do look in the mirror see imperfections, I don’t dwell on it. My body can do amazing things that most would never dream of. And to me, that is perfection.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right Erin. These days I try to look at my body in terms of what it can do–when I appreciate that, I definitely see beauty in that mirror! So glad you are on a good path with this stuff. I imagine being a gymnast could have been challenging I have a good friend who i was in treatment with who was/is a gymnast and coach and she would always tell me there was a lot of pressure there.

      Like

  6. thank you so much for this post! I am in awe by your strength and how much you have overcome. I too have struggled, and running has played a big role in my recovery. It was amazing when I finally saw that my doctors and my family were right and that I ran better when I was a healthy weight and was eating more. Keep posting- so many people do not like to talk about eating disorders but so many people suffer silently and need to read about how recovery is possible and suffering is nothing to be ashamed of

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading Kate!! I am really inspired by how many women have reached out to me and told me that they too have struggled, but how running has become a part of their recovery. That makes my heart really happy. You are right, recovery definitely IS possible– hope you keep spreading the word as well! Thanks so much for reading and for reaching out, so happy to have your thoughts here!! x

      Like

      1. Sorry, I always forget that some people may want to remain anonymous on the web–I should probably think more before asking that so often. Hope that was ok! Thanks Jenn, glad you stumbled as well! x

        Like

  7. Ps. The marathon is nothing about the race but it is everything about the journey. And I think you do good with journeys. Every time you put those trainers on, every time it feels uncomfortable when you run. That’s the spice. It’s making you strong. Thank you for sharing your amazing story.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for sharing. I was discussing Ana and Mia with a friend of mine and wanted to write something on it myself. But I have been fortunate for not having experience with any sort of eating disorder personally, and I don’t think I could have done justice to the topic. You said it all… Excited to read more about your journey.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much. I think it’s also interesting to hear other perspectives as well–even if someone hasn’t experienced something themselves, being the friend or family member of someone affected is a valuable experience to share as well. Not sure exactly what your perspective is but perhaps you should still give it ago. I think the more eyes on the topic, the better. Thank you so much for coming along for the ride with me here!! x

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love what you’re doing with your posts right now – it’s a fantastic concept of breaking down the miles of a marathon – really shows that a marathon (and other races) are so much more than ‘race day’. The journey is most definitely the most important part.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ella!! I think it’s actually mirrored a marathon pretty well because it’s been SO damn tiring, lol. I think about giving up on it all the time–sounds about the same, right? 😉 I appreciate you following along though, means so much to me, thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. qplourde

    Great piece. Although I haven’t had the experiences you have, I know how running can heal and help with all bad feelings of sadness and doubt. I’m glad to keep checking in on your training!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Q!! It’s insane to me to look back at my life and think of all the things that running has helped me through. I think the marathon feels like such a big deal because it’s sort of my thank you to running–it’s saved me life many times over.
      Have a great week hon. x

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, thank you so much Bron, I am so glad you enjoyed reading it. Thank you for your well wishes on the marathon as well–I am taking all those wishes with me that day, they all help!! So glad to have you here. Thanks again.x

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s