Monday, November 10, 2008

A New Day?

The phrase "A New Day" probably is already on the list of most over-used phrases. And yet, lately, it's made quite the comeback. "A New Day" is pretty much the slogan of the post-election period, and whether you agree with it or not, I think it is slightly infectious.

"A New Day" promises something different, a change in some way. And the change in leadership that is about to take place is either great or disheartening or exaggerated, depending on who you talk to. But, it does get me thinking. . . No matter what, things are going to change. For good or for bad, change will happen, a new leader is stepping in after eight years of the same.

How does this in any way relate to Edie and my own lofty goal of getting over her? Because, if I really look at myself, I realize that I've done more of the same for the past three years. Since deciding to get help and entering into a recovery program, I've let things slide. I stopped making big changes. I stopped challenging myself and trying something new. I just did more of the same.

I think it's about time I get out of my rut, and for better or for worse, I've got to try something new and make a change. I need to do something different and make my own "new day".

Just what exactly is that change? Hmm. . .that's the hard part.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


So, with my husband away this past weekend, I was able to aimlessly flip through the TV channels and land on any ridiculous and self-indulgent chick flick I felt absolutely necessary to watch. And while this included my first-ever viewing of Bridget Jones' Diary (This was the movie Renee Zwellweger supposedly gained a whole bunch of weight for??? Really?), it also included a cheeky movie entitled, "Queen-Sized".

Now, I started watching this movie a little more than half-way into it, but it immediately got my attention. It stars Nikki Blonsky - the Hairspray Star - as an overweight teen named Maggie trying to fit in with her classmates by becoming Homecoming Queen. Things I loved about this movie:

1.) Nikki's character, Maggie, is not Bridget Jones' version of fat. She is not slightly plump or the tabloid's version of curvy. She is overweight, plus-sized, fat. Finally a realistic portrayal of an overweight teen who is, in fact, overweight.

2.) In one part of the show, Maggie takes off her shirt and examines herself in the mirror. It reminds me of the movie "Real Women Have Curves" with America Ferrera. Brave, brave girls for showing off their bodies boldly and allowing the audience to really relate - instead of having to sigh along with Bridget and her non-existent weight woes.

3.) Maggie contends with her own version of Edie - a person she personifies as her mother. This character shows up when others are around, but it's clearly only in Maggie's head. Dressed glamorously, she waltzes around pretending to have sympathy for Maggie about those that just don't understand her struggles with weight. At other times, she is demeaning and rude. Mostly, she is as annoying as my own Edie.

4.) The movie shows how Maggie uses food to comfort herself. Her mother finds empty pizza boxes in Niki's room, and the embarrassment Maggie feels is akin to the embarrassment I feel when anyone even wonders about the amount of food I've eaten. During one scene, Maggie's character is being interviewed for a newspaper article, and as she talks, she eats from a plate of cookie. Niki stops talking and points out that the interviewer is probably thinking that she shouldn't be eating these cookies - that she doesn't deserve them. And the interviewer admits she's right.

5.) A pivotal point in the movie is when Niki is fighting with her own Edie, and smashes a mirror, leaving a part of the mirror that show only herself - metaphorically showing that Niki is the host to her own worst enemy and it's up to her to change it.

6.) Even though she still is Homecoming Queen at the end of the movie, she is not fully accepted by her peers and she is not fully accepting of herself. But she's working on it.

This movie is campy and cheeky and even a little cheesy. But it's the first movie I've seen in a long time that doesn't sugarcoat the story - that knowing why we eat the way we do, why we let others determine what we "deserve" to eat, how we view ourselves in a mirror compared to how others really look at us - these are all complex issues. . . and it's not something that can be changed by becoming Homecoming Queen.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Tweens

This past Halloween I had my first chance in over five years to pass out candy to the little kiddos. And what surprised me the most? That they aren't exactly kiddos anymore.

Sure, there were a good handful of four and five year-old princesses and superman's. There were a few nine and ten-year-old goblins. But, I also opened the door to find scantily clad 12 and 13-year-old's posing in costumes like they were auditioning for the next Maxim.

Okay, okay, maybe I sound like an uptight old hag, but it really did sadden me to see these young girls dressed in these itsy-bitsy costumes. One was Red Riding hood in platform heels and a red miniskirt that barely covered her butt. Another was a fairy in a tight white corset and a short, torn green skirt. Each girl's outfit dared you to not look at her.

And yes, I know the object of wearing a costume is to be someone completely unlike your day-to-day self. But I still wanted to take those girls and shake them by the shoulder and tell them that showing off more skin will not mean they get they guy they want, that the attention they are bringing to themselves is not admiration, and that trying to be older than you are is really not all that fun.

We all know that for some reason, Halloween has evolved to give girls a free pass to dress skimpily without the moniker of "slut" tagged on us. But, putting that blatant emphasis on our bodies - and have girls do it so young - is disheartening.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This Is Me Smiling

Today is a brighter day than yesterday. Yesterday, I found out my husband has to take a business trip to another country for about 4 days. . .which means I'm alone in our house for four long days. And when I'm alone, Edie is right there to entertain me with her oh-so-interesting thoughts. And yesterday, I felt overwhelmed on figuring out a game plan to handle her while I'm alone.

And then I came on my blog, and saw all the positive comments on my previous posts. It's easy for me (and I think anyone with an eating disorder) to think I'm alone in this battle - that I have the weight of it all on just my shoulders. Having all your kind support, and knowing there are others out there who struggle with their own Edie, makes me realize I'm not alone - not in the least. And I'm not about to give up.

Thank you for all your awesome comments - I promise to keep writing, if we all promise to keep trying!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sounds the Heart Makes

When I first decided to get help in my quest to get rid of Edie, I was sent to a doctor to take all sorts of tests - including an EKG. Pads hooked to wires were placed all over me, as the nurse tried to make sure she had everything set to obtain an accurate reading of my heart.

As I laid there, deeply breathing in and out as she instructed me to do, I wondered what my heart was telling them. My therapist was afraid my heart was telling them I was weakened, that by having Edie in my life for so long, my body was slowly breaking down - dysfunctional at best. My doctor was afraid my my heart would tell her that I had done irreparable damage, and that she would have yet another victim of an eating disorder.

What did I think my heart was saying? While everyone else feared for what my beats sounded out, I was wishing my heart was strong, was healthy despite what I had put it through. I was wishing that even though I had given up on myself long ago, there was still a chance my heart was strong enough to pull us both through - to give me a second chance to be rid of Edie.

So, what sounds did my heart make? It wasn't dysfunctional, like my doctor feared. It wasn't weak, like my therapist deemed.

It made the sound of a resilient heart - a resound and steady beat of hope.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Edie is Me

It's a common eating disorder therapy technique to refer to your bulimia, anorexia, binge-eating, etc., as Ed, as in Eating Disorder. When I finally went to get help, my therapist suggested the book Life With Ed for me to read, which chronicled Jenni Shaefer's "break- up" with her eating disorder, or Ed. I gravitated towards the idea that this eating disorder was not really me, but that it was something else inside of me that I longed to be free of.

And yet, I couldn't characterize my eating disorder as a man, because it's hard to separate the two of us. I become her in instances. When all I want to do is binge and purge, it's as though a door opens inside me, and I go in and she comes out. She looks like me, she has my voice, and my body that she so dreadfully disdains. But she is manipulative and mean, and she will say and do anything to let her get her way - which is to eat in secret, throw up alone, and then pretend that all is normal.

No, I can't say my eating disorder is a man, because, oddly enough, it hasn't really been the men that have made me second-guess myself. It's been women, or ads geared towards women, or subconscious society chitchat that streams like an annoying radio station through my head.

My eating disorder is frighteningly female - cunning and clever. At times she is a strong, seemingly confident woman, sure in what she wants and how to get it. Other times, she is pouty and upset, sulking until I let her come out and play again. But most of the time, she is observing -sinking her teeth into my daily activities, determining what people are really thinking about when they look at me, what people mean when they talk to me. She listens and she chimes in with what she deems worthy for me to hear. She is rude and ruthless, and yet, I still let her exist, I still let her tell me her twisted thoughts. . . and I let her stay near my side.

It might be easier for me to "break-up" with a man. Men know nothing of being a female in today's world, and I could never mistake myself for being male. But, I mistake myself for Edie sometimes, and Edie can easily cloak me so I seem to not even exist.

I would never let a man do that.

But, for some reason, I let her.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Meeting Edie

I'm a newlywed, married to a man who still gives me butterflies, who adores every bit of me, and who I know would do anything to make me happy. I have a job that many people envy, and most wouldn't consider work at all. I live in a house that is lovely that are home to two cats that I treat like children. I have a great family. My close friends are incredible. I have all this. . .but I'm still unhappy.

How is this possible? What is it that makes me unhappy? What is holding me back?

It's not a what, but a who. Her name is Edie. And I crave to be rid of her.

I want to find a way to stand up to her and learn to live a life free of her incessant, caustic remarks, but it's a daunting task in a society that judges everything a woman does - from her hair, to her skin, to her weight, to her choices. For example, the magazines that woman are suppose to be drawn to (because they talk about issues we, apparently, deem "important") bombard us with contradicting messages, so that even if we were trying to be really happy and healthy (as so many magazine claim to have just the secrets and tools on how to do this) they fill it with pages critiquing the weight of someone and the weight loss of someone else. Even magazines whose sole purpose is to show us how to treat our bodies better - like, Self, for instance - stuff their pages with diet pills and ads, giving us the option of either listening to their latest exercise regime, or finding the quick fix in a supplement pill.

I'm tired of it all, and most of all, I'm tired of the pressure I've placed on myself to meet those standards. I invited Edie into my life so I could get to that ideal - that perfect size so I could have the perfect life. She has been with me for 11 years, and instead she has given me misery.

I'm not sure when Edie and I first met. I remember my aunt, who I always noticed was incredibly self-critical of her own weight and looks, once looked at my nine-year old legs and declared dejectedly, "You have the family thighs, too." I knew she did not mean this as a compliment and began looking at my legs in a new way. I hadn't truly noticed the flaw in them before, but I always felt something was different about me - and not in a good way. And perhaps now I had an answer - it was my huge thighs!

Maybe it was then that Edie came into my life. She was almost transparent at first, I hardly acknowledged her, but my acquiesced with her judgments and resigned them as "help". She would tell me secrets on how to be more popular, for more people to like me, and let me in on the reasons why people did not like me: I was not pretty enough. And the only thing holding me back was my weight.

Edie continued to hover by my side through the rest of my life - popping in on nights of big occasions - like high school prom, for example - examining my stomach and showing me how to position my hands in pictures to cover the rounded area. She was there when bad things happened - like when I broke up with my first boyfriend. She knew the perfect way to get back at him was to show him he meant nothing, to look better than I ever did, and the only way to do that was to throw up any morsel I ate, so no fat would linger on my body.

She was there, constantly with her critiques, her thoughts, her non-stop chatter about my body and my weight and my looks - pushing me to be better, encouraging me to punish myself if I ate too much, and chastising me for thinking a boy thought I was cute. Impossible, she would whisper. You're too fat to be cute.

And then I met my husband, who Edie hates. I met him and he told me Edie was crazy - that I was, in fact, gorgeous, that I was smart and intelligent and funny, and that was all me - Edie didn't create that.

The more I listened to him, the more Edie screamed at me to listen to her. She fought with me bitterly to keep me all to herself, but she didn't win. I married that man, and learned to tune her out or at least quiet her dismay. I spent my whole wedding and honeymoon without her, and it was amazing.

But, it's as though now I'm back in the "real world", where true happiness can not last because I am not a size 2, I do not have a flat stomach, and my thighs are not sticks. Looking back at wedding pictures, her voice is still there, complimenting me on how I held my bouquet to disguise my stomach, and shaking her head disdainfully at the pictures of me eating cake.

Edie never really left, and Edie never will. I will live my whole life with an E.D., or eating disorder, and I've got to find a way to really learn to live without listening to her - without giving strength to her thoughts. I want to continue on my journey, to know that I am not alone with wanting to not only change myself, but change the world - especially for all the young girls that are about to find out from society that they just aren't good enough until they disappear.