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Faster than I can.

I’m so count-y this morning. I just want it to be time to eat.

I’m certain it has nothing to do with food and everything to do with my head. But I don’t want to put in the work. This exact moment I’m tired of putting in the work.

I just needed to say that somewhere.

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Running around in your head.

I feel like I should recap my day. Touch base with the multitudes of people who come across my words. (This is where you laugh. I know no one reads.)

I survived this day. Better yet, I was thriving by evening, even in spite of a nauseating headache.

I took a lot of cbd today. I dunno that it ever really did anything. I haven’t been that much of a basket case in a while.

While at the car place, Chris very patiently overlooked my psychosis. I couldn’t stop moving or rubbing my thumbs into my palms or rubbing my hands on my jeans or rubbing my fingers against my thumbtips.

Fuck. So disordered.

But after Collin assured me there were no loose parts and it might be my struts but maybe not but was definitely something with the oil but still the car wouldn’t implode, I felt better. And felt like maybe I could navigate the car til next Thursday when he’ll look at it again. Fuck, the car gives me such anxiety.

But then I drove in a bunch of snow and it was strangely empowering. But really, above all else, it just really meant everything to me that Chris practically forfeited an after work shower to be there for me and treated me regular even tho I felt anything but. I’ve missed him so much and it felt like breathing to connect.

And R was really spectacular today too. Every day she is coming into her own and navigating her way, alongside her anxiety and depression. She makes me proud.

I feel a little bit like I lost the entire day. But I didn’t lose me entirely and I’ll take the win.

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To divide something so real.

So I want to talk about all of my weekly goals. Delve a little into what they look like and what they mean to me. How it all came to be. I should probably do this before I have weeks and weeks and weeks of thoughts that I can’t catch up with. (Newsflash: it’s been weeks and weeks and weeks already.)

First, I want to say that the precipitous to all of this was a workshop of sorts that Rachel Martin held on her Finding Joy page. She posed the questions, (I’m paraphrasing and filtering through memory and self here) “What is it that you’re waiting til 2020 to do? Why are you waiting 8 weeks to get started? What would it mean to have 8 weeks of progress come the new year?”

The seed was planted.

Then the universe kicked life into gear from there. And now I stand here telling my story.

Week one (Nov 11): Commit to an eating window from 9am til 7pm.

Eating is continually the thing in my life that I navigate. I used to live deeply inside a binge eating disorder. I have always used food as a friend, a connection, a coping mechanism, a stress reliever, an avoidance, an <insert thing here>.

Back in 2013 it was the worst it had ever been. I didn’t even know I had an eating disorder. I thought I was too fat to have an eating disorder. I thought I could only have an eating disorder if I was thin. Hell, I wished I had an eating disorder so I could be skinny! (I was sweet and naive…)

It wasn’t until I was back in school and studying nutrition and learning about eating disorders that I realized that I was drowning in one. I ate so much food it’s painful to think about now. And I never really gained weight because I ate so clean. I only ate proteins and fats and some vegetables. No grains, dairy, sugar of any kind, fruit, nuts. It was just about Whole30, but more strict, for three years. But a crazy obscene amount of food.

After acknowledging my eating disorder, I worked to navigate the things I was hoping to satiate with food and eventually ate mindfully and presently and satiated my pain in healthier ways. Or so it felt.

I lost weight and it was awesome and I felt great. And then I got the flu and after a few days of no food, I succumbed to an orange. Which feels really strange to say. I hadn’t had sugar of any kind in years and thought of it as my heroin.

Everything unraveled slow like molasses after that.

Fast forward six years: a pregnancy, a miscarriage, a wedding, another pregnancy, a newborn eventually turned three year old, a tween, a teenager, the rest of my family, and navigating lifetimes of….just..everything. And I was (am) still using food to function. (Far less destructively and dangerously as I once did, but still.)

I wrote, publicly (…with my name attached to it and everything) to another group I’m in that my goal would be to be healthier and have a healthy relationship with food, but that I’m terrified.

Terrified of not functioning. Terrified of not keeping up. Terrified of drowning. Of losing the comfort of friend, connection, coping mechanism, stress reliever, avoidance, <insert thing here>.

Rachel, the head of said group, told me to pick one small thing to focus on and I retorted my penchant for very much being an “abstainer” and not a “moderator” and referred her to Gretchen Rubin’s moderator vs abstainer, with the caveat that I believe the thought line, but not to my core per se and that life should be grey and not black and white, but in this case for me this one thing is black and white.

Which is obviously ridiculous in hindsight. And in regular sight as well, which is what prompted a quick reevaluation and remedy.

I do stand by the fact that some people are good to live with moderation, while others just aren’t. But I believe too that we don’t have to be pigeonholed to these things by chains or live our lives in paralyzing fear. I didn’t have to stand still just because I work better with abstinence than moderation. I can be afraid and move at the same time. I can moderate where I abstain.

So, I gathered up all my fear and all my brave and decided that an eating window was my next safe step.

I wasn’t going to stop eating this or stop eating that. I wasn’t going to limit food in any way, except by time. And also, the first thing I eat will always be a meal.

The first week took some balancing. Sometimes I counted down the minutes til 9am and other times it was suddenly 11 and I was getting lightheaded from not having eaten, but I hadn’t obsessed the time away. Some days at 9am it felt like I needed to eat in order to navigate anxiety/depression/stress/overwhelm and I would choose to indulge it. Other days I was able to recognize the anxiety/depression/stress/overwhelm and say “I’m going to wait until it passes” and employ other ways to feel all the things.

A few times teacher parent conferences or driving my kids around delayed eating until after 7pm and I carefully chose in those moments to eat dinner and then be finished with food, and it was always before 8. Some days even tho I hadn’t eaten dinner, I decided to forego it altogether because I wasn’t even hungry.

Week 2 (Nov 18): Commit to drinking seven glasses of water a day.

Hydration always feels better and also, by default, helps offset (perceived) hunger. There have been a couple days here and there I’ve only hit five, but it’s only interesting to note because I went right back to my plan the next day. No issue, no shame.

Week 5 (Dec 9): Commit to an eating window from noon til 7pm.

The next natural step for food felt like increasing real me time and limiting destructive eating time. Seven hours is more than a reasonable duration to eat. I rarely get hungry for real before noon anyhow.

There was one morning I was so wrapped up in emotional hunger that I was counting down the minutes til noon and didn’t even realize until 11:30 that I hadn’t done any of my regular morning routine. I was on an emotionally-depleted autopilot.

It was an eye opening example of how much control food can have and that I, solely, am the one that gives it power. For now the seven hour window gives me the reminder and opportunity to focus the rest of my time on experiencing life.

In the weeks to come, now that I have a solid foundation with time windows, my goals in regard to food will really be in regard to practicing positive coping mechanisms. I acknowledge I am not yet using food how I wish to be. I’m okay with that–it’s just not where I am yet. I need new, safe things squarely in place before I can take old, destructive things away. That plan feels like the best navigating.

Up next: weeks 3 and 4. Stay tuned!

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The minor fall and the major lift.

What a difference a year (or six) can make.

The last two weeks have been one crazy thing after another. My insurance is no longer accepting my doctor and physical therapist, so I either have to change insurance or change doctors. The $673 radiologist bill I should have never gotten, that I had fixed and was taken care of in November, suddenly appeared again and hadn’t been resolved afterall. I spent an hour and a half on phone calls getting it resolved again. (Shout out to Tamika who was my own personal savior.)

I’ve been trying to get ahold of a doggie day care place so Harley can run around and play with other pups because ohmygoodness is she in anxiety overdrive/bordering aggressive because she just wants to play play play and has no outlet. (I finally heard back today! Woo!) I ran with her on Sunday (ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod!! I ran! Two laps around the house!!! Freakin’ AMAZING!!!) and then promptly fell on my right knee and palm (and elbow and shoulder). Bright side: I hurt myself, but didn’t injure anything. Less than bright side holy oww and recovery time. (Bonus bright side: I tried Chris’s ghost pepper sauce and I’m a fucking rockstar!)

At 1am today instead of seeing Chris’s paycheck in the account, there was a $900+ fraudulent charge, just in time for me to pay the $150 medical bills today. Kitten’s first vet visit…wait….she has worms?… Oh, our dog’s been eating her poop when we’re not looking?…oh….well…that’s..special…

Have I even mentioned yet we adopted a kitten?! Meet Hazel. R’s early Christmas present/our new family member.

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And I paid the $4.60 on my daughter’s dentist account….that they were going to send me to collections for. Ha. And I was allowed to pay on (instead of pay off) another bill. Thank god. Bright side to all of it: the deposited paycheck offset the $700 overdraft and we’re blessed to have family who can help out until the bank refunds the locked charges.

R has midterms next week and is underslept and overstressed and navigating big adult problems while still being in a teenager’s body with a teenager’s brain. (Given the option to ignore the warning signs of a close friend or make the hard call to betray confidence in order to keep him alive,¬† she chose life and I couldn’t be more proud.) And S is navigating the end of the semester and a week of unprecedented homework he just hasn’t been able to keep up with, especially when his parents have been a bit m.i.a. in the evenings when it’s time to work on homework because of appointments and meetings. (Given the option this morning of staying home today to work on everything or go to school and own up to the consequences, he chose to go and I’m so freaking proud of him.) And L is still recovering from being sick last week and a bleeding diaper rash to boot because he’s been eating butternut squash soup for days and apparently he’s allergic. (This morning he slept in his own bed til after 5am. Whether fluke or trend, I’m so proud of him.)

Have I worn you out yet? ‘Cause I haven’t run out of material. I could keep going. I won’t tho. Because the only point I wanted to make is that I’m still standing. I didn’t even have to stand back up from this shit show because it hasn’t even knocked me down.

What a difference a year makes.

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Damn sure better than rain.

I went to my first Al-Anon meeting.

I wasn’t nervous at all when I left for the meeting. When I got there and sat down I was suddenly doing all my nervous things. People were inviting and warm, but also people were inviting and warm. They were paying attention to me and fawning and supportive and caring and gosh, that is a lot.

But I went. And I stayed. And I plan to go back.

Really, I already knew I’d go back before the meeting. I’ve been to AA meetings and OA meetings and I know the program is good. I know the people are supportive.

Well, most of the people. OA was a completely different fish. I once had a man tell me I didn’t belong there because I was too skinny. As if my appearance precludes me from using food as a coping mechanism. As if anyone in food recovery has to forfeit community support once they find healthier tools to survive. But I digress.

Al-Anon isn’t like that. I can be there for any reason, for any timeline in my life, for any alcoholic who has touched my life. And I didn’t really understand until recently that I probably should have been going all along.

I should have gone six years ago when Chris and I started dating. In the days when a small argument could have compromised his short sobriety.¬† Or when he switched jobs for his dream job and then they insisted he throw away his integrity or quit. And he quit. At an immeasurable hit to his self worth, closing not only that dream in his mind, but a true hope for any dream at all. Or the moment we got pregnant and then miscarried and didn’t get to keep Caleb and he retreated from life for a bit. I could have used Al-Anon when his doctor and seizure medication fucked him over completely. Or when he started taking another medicine he put all his faith in and it backfired and, for all intents and purposes, took away his sobriety. For three years.

I could have used Al-Anon. I could have used the support and guidance of people. And I just…I didn’t know better. I didn’t know there was help for me for all of that or where to find it or, really, that I needed the help. That I deserved the help. I thought maybe that’s just how it was going to be from now on. I knew I needed help–wanted help–, but I didn’t know the help I needed was possible to receive. That it was out there.

And so now here I am. Going to meetings. Getting the community I have so desperately needed. Allowing myself the self-care of actual help. Of not going at it alone. Of being told I’m braver and stronger for showing up than I ever was of trying to hold it together by myself. And so I’m gonna keep doing this awhile.