A Change Gonna Come

I haven’t binged, purged, or done that weird thing where I chew my food and spit it out since August 27th. This is not to say that I haven’t over-eaten or made bad food choices, but I haven’t gone too far astray since before Labor Day. I feel this is something to celebrate.

I have also had several conversations with myself where I’ve acknowledged the fact that “conquering” my food and body issues may ultimately mean doing so only in an internal, spiritual way.  My physical body may never change (at least on the outside), and I need to be okay with that.

I was starting to believe I could be.

Then I see one photo of myself and am reminded how much work still lies ahead.

My family went to an awards banquet for my father last night. He was nominated for an Educator of the Year Award.  The nominees were judged 50% on their own speech and 50% on the essay their nominators wrote about them. With these as the voting guidelines, my dad should have easily crushed his competitors. His speech was powerful, fluid, and void of the million cliches all the other speakers used. I think his downfall was that he was too good, though. He doesn’t speak or think like a middle school teacher; he speaks and thinks like a college professor- and not one of the near-retirement, jaded and cynical variety either. Anyway, I think his words might have been a little too sophisticated for the judging panel (the man referenced the Gordian Knot, for christ sakes).  This is not to put down anyone in the room, or belittle what K-12 educators do. My dad has influenced countless lives as a middle school teacher and high school basketball coach. But sometimes it saddens me to see glaring examples of how much he really settled in life. I wonder how much of what he chose to do with his career was because of my sister and I. Without us, would he have felt less tied down to the goals he made in his twenties? Would he have gone off and done even greater things? Or would he have never gone back to school in the first place and still be working a blue-collar job at J.G. Boswell company? Either way, I spent the evening proud of him- proud of the respect he has rightfully earned from his peers and the community, proud of the values he has instilled in my sister and I, and proud that (whether or not this is the life he would have picked for himself) he has done so much with the path he has taken.

My grandparents were in attendance, cute as ever. My sister was there too, and I always feel like a truer version of myself in her presence. With the exception of some awkward dinner conversation with other people at the table and a few really bad speeches, it was a great night. At the end of the event, it was picture time. They were taking several of our family for the local newspaper and school records and things like that, which I dutifully lined up for. Then I asked someone to take a picture of me and my sister with our grandparents; I’ve been on a kick, trying to get as many pictures of my Granny and Poppa as possible while they’re still alive.

When I saw the photo on my iPhone screen, my heart sank. Staring back at me was a gigantic, ugly, insecure, unhappy football linebacker with round cheeks and an ill-fitting ensemble. I immediately began tearing into myself. My sister had to stop me. I’m ashamed to admit she had to stop me several times over the course of the next 12 hours, because even this morning I had to bring up how frustrating it is to have had a breast reduction and still feel like I have humongous, saggy tits that make me look 10 years older than I really am. She tried to help by reassuring me that I didn’t look any different in the picture than I did in real life. This (unintentionally, of course) made me feel worse. I made myself post the image on my Facebook, because I have been wanting a picture of me with my grandparents to use as my cover image. Although I uploaded the picture, I couldn’t go so far as to make it my cover photo. I have gone round and round about deleting the picture all-together for the last fourteen hours, horrified every time I see my face and figure in it, but subdued when I look at the kind and lovely faces of my family. Bottom line is, for whatever strides I have made in food management and talking to the mirror, I still have some major body dysmorphia concerns. I can acknowledge I’ve made enough progress to recognize this solely as dysmorphia and not any true reflection of reality. I know my eyes are playing tricks on me; but I have not quite got to the point where I can figure out how to see beyond that.

I say this not to complain, but to state a marker point for where I am in my recovery. Three months without binging or purging is a mile-stone and something I am very proud of- but I have more battles ahead.

And I am up to the fight.

I will try to leave the picture up. I will try to even promote it to my cover photo at some point; to remind myself not only how much I love my grandparents and sister, but that I am more than any one picture- that I am more than any or all of my physical characteristics.

Please, no comments about ‘You’re beautiful, Haley” or anything like that on this post. Though I appreciate the sentiment, that’s not what I am aiming at here, nor does approval from other people necessarily help with the issue. This post wasn’t to incite compliments; I just want to look back in a few months and gage where I was at.

And where I am at is: better than I was five months ago. And that’s great, by my estimations.

Late Thanksgiving

I have been meaning to start a gratitude journal ever since I first stopped drinking. That was nearly two and a half years ago.

Today, I finally took the step of opening up one of the many empty notebooks I have lying around the house and jotting down some of the things I am thankful to have going on in my life. I can’t promise I will keep it up, as I am terrible about adhering to any sort of regimen (when was the last time I posted on this blog, for instance?), but it’s always nice to remind yourself of the good, if only sporadically.

I had to go to an Urgent Care earlier today to deal with an ear infection. I was anxiety-ridden when the nurse quoted the estimated cost of the office visit to be between $85-120, but I was in a lot of pain so it was sort of non-negotionable.

While I was in the examination room, waiting to be seen by the doctor, I picked up a magazine and happened to flip to an article about positive energy. Two of the bullet points that stood out to me (and I’ve heard them a million times) were 1) Try to always focus on what goes right instead of what goes wrong, even at the most minor of levels. (Eg: If someone made your coffee weak, be grateful someone took the time to make you a cup of coffee in the first place.)  and 2) Implement the Five Year Rule. Meaning, if you aren’t going to remember what you’re upset about in five years, then don’t let it bother you now.

I liked the reminder so much, I took a picture of it with my camera phone.

After being examined, I headed back to the lobby and discovered the actual cost of my visit was going to be $210. (!)

Of course I proceeded to get disproportionally upset and passive-agressively whiny almost immediately.

I can only hope that five years from now I won’t still be stewing over the cost of one medical bill, so once I got in my car I told myself “you need to let this go”. What scared me, though, was remembering that, five years ago, I  was also uninsured and had a few near-identical experiences.

When I got hired at TCOE, I thought I finally was on the road to security and stability. I started paying off the credit card debt I had racked up in college, I stopped partying and started taking better care of myself, I began making car insurance payments and stopped asking to borrow money from family.

Then I got laid off. And I feel like I have since walked backwards through time.

In the months of unemployment, I have applied for all sorts of jobs, but I can count on both hands the ones that have actually been of any interest to me. And none of them have come close to the salary I was making before (which I thought at the time was too little). Even then, I’ve only been called in for one interview. I debate whether or not I even want to be in Fresno. Or California, for that matter. Or America.

Like always, I hope for signs or clues to point me where I want to be, but like always, there are only confusing nudges and mixed-messages.

I thought today, “take a break from searching for jobs in Fresno and start looking anywhere in the country.” But I had no idea what to search for.

I think about going back to school, and then wonder, “for what?”

I never imagined I would be in my thirties and STILL have absolutely no clue what my purpose is. Yet here I am. I wonder if I will ever be the sort of person who feels settled.

After several hours of letting these things nag at my brain, I decided to focus on what is going right instead of what is going wrong. I feel like this is a conversation I have so often with myself. Maybe even here on my blog, huh?  I really want to be a positive, grateful person. I really, really do. The reality is I spend a lot of time doing the exact opposite. I decided tonight I am going to work even harder to practice what I preach. There is still a lot of good in my life. And I am NOT in the same place I was five years ago; I am much better off. It might take me a while to know where I want to be or what I want to do- hell, it might take my whole life- but it’s my choice whether or not I am going to be miserable while I am figuring it out.

So, in an effort to tell the universe that I am open to possibilities:

I am thankful I had the $200 in my bank account to cover that office visit.
I am thankful my ears feel better.
I am thankful I am relatively healthy and rarely need to visit the doctor.
I am thankful I have a few marketable skills, even if I haven’t found the right job for them quite yet.
I am thankful I am not in a job where I feel stifled and judged by an unsupportive boss.
I am thankful I have too many interests, rather than none at all.
I am thankful I have a roof over my head.
I am thankful to spend most of my life feeling safe.
I am thankful to have people who love me, and know that they love me.
I am thankful I love myself decidedly more than I did only six months ago.
I am thankful to be getting a few freelancing gigs here and there.
I am thankful that when I get negative and catty, there is always that voice in the back of my head who tells me to knock it off. I hope that voice never gives up on me.
I am thankful for gentle reminders.
I am thankful for a wide open future, full of endless possibilities.
I am thankful for this moment, this day, this breath.

And much, much more.

Imagine pageant…

I originally came here to post this nice little meme I came across today. I’m thinking of typing it out and putting a copy of the quote on my actual scale:

Cute huh?

When I got to my wordpress dashboard, though, I saw on my site stats that someone had accidentally come across my page after googling “Did Hayley Rey conquer her eating disorder?” I decided to look up this Rey woman. I learned she is the wife of Dr. Robert Rey, a celebrity plastic surgeon from the E! network show, Dr. 90210. There are both fans and haters of the couple out there, as well as people who either love or hate Robert and Hayley as individuals. As with most reality shows, it appears their lives offer many different dramatic plots to follow, one of which is Hayley’s weight loss. At one point, she weighs herself on camera and it shows she is 88 pounds while wearing clothing and shoes. Ray and others wonder ‘how did she get so skinny?” Hayley replies, “Sometimes when I’m busy I just forget to eat.”

Dr. Robert Rey and wife, Hayley.

Whether or not she is anorexic, I do not know. I’ve never met the woman and know nothing of her other than the results a quick internet search yielded. What I find interesting (depressing) though, is how many blogs/sites there are out there either calling her a whore or an idiot for her possible eating disorder, or praising her because of it. I knew there were pro-anorexia sites out there; accidentally coming across one can be a bit nausea-inducing.

Part of me set out to write a big pro-positive body image rant; to declare that these pro-ana sites are disgusting and wrong. That may be true on some level, but the people who run them are probably not the ones to blame. Individuals who believe and indulge in the misconception that “starvation thin” is beautiful, are really no different from me fearing I can’t be beautiful if I weigh over a certain number on the scale. It’s two sides of the same coin; we’re all victims of the same lies and manipulation. Also, the websites and blogs that blame people with eating disorders, or think the fact that they struggle with them makes them stupid or worthless, are downright silly, too. We wouldn’t blame someone for having cancer. Why do we treat mental illness as through it is a lifestyle choice?

I wish I had a great point to make, or was bringing this up for any other reason than t0 just bring it up, but mostly I’m sad. I wish people had more compassion for others. I wish I was better about it myself, quite frankly.

I’ve been trying to keep up the positive body image talk in the mirror every day. It gets harder to stick with in the winter, especially while I’m currently unemployed. I spend most of my days wearing sweats, staring at my computer screen, never leaving my house. Most of my self-talk is along the lines of “You are smart and worthy. You deserve a good job,” rather than anything specifically body-related. As a result, I think I’ve definitely entered into a bit of my annual funk. I am 32 years old, and I still can not figure out what I want to do with my life or where I want to do it at; my saggy, flabby body is a secondary concern. This means I haven’t necessarily been eating as healthy as I normally would try to, but I still haven’t had any major binges since the summer. Still going without gluten, and as of yet, migraine-free.

At least since I’ve been home, I’ve had the opportunity to write a lot. Whether or not I actually enjoy it or am any good at it remains to be seen.

Anyway, I know this post was all over the place, but I felt like checking in. I’ll try not to post again until I have something productive and happy to offer. 🙂

Money, so they say…

I know it’s been some time since my last post. Truth is, I’ve been too preoccupied with my finances (or lack thereof) to worry about much of anything else.  I’ve been home from Los Angeles for about two and a half weeks. I’m still adjusting, both to no longer being in LA and no longer being in a show, but it is nice to be back. I always have one foot in a different world (no matter where I am), so there have been plenty of moments of me asking myself whether I am in the right place or not, but until I have a better, more concrete alternative, I think I’ll just stick with Fresno for now.

Still doing the no gluten thing. Still haven’t had any migraines. I have had some “touches” of headaches since I’ve been home in the Valley. I don’t know if that stems from being more sensitive to cross-contamination when I do come across some gluten, or if it’s just my allergies. Either way, I am feeling better than before going gluten-free, so that’s enough reason to keep on keepin’ on.  Weight loss has been a very insignificant benefit to this diet as of yet, but I do feel less bloated and achy in general. That’s gotta count for something.

I appreciate the season change; I am much more comfortable in fall & winter clothing, although I suppose it is a trade off with the more melancholy disposition I seem to wear during the colder months. I need to stay busy or I will hermitize myself until spring. It’s happened before.

In other news, I finally finished the first draft of the play I’ve been working on since early February. We’re doing a reading at my place on Monday. It definitely still needs work, but considering I have about 47 other unfinished scripts, it feels good to have finally made it to a marker point on one.

Nothing much else I feel compelled to write about at the moment; just wanted to check in.

As you were. 🙂

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 22 other followers