Dark Days

Thursday June 22, 2017
Bucharest, Romania

If I ask you to make a list of things that you love…. how long would it take for you to put your name on it…

Nobody ever tells you that emptiness weighs the most.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be happy with myself.
I worry that since I cannot be happy with me then how in the world will anyone else ever be happy with me.

I cannot pass by a mirror without the reflection tainting the rest of my day… clouding my happiness more and more with each glimpse…

Summer is here.
Beach season.
……

Imagine if we obsessed with the things we loved about ourselves…

I have had people tell me:
Make peace with the mirror and watch your reflection change.
But how
How does one make peace with the mirror?

If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies… Imagine how different our ideas of beauty would be…

Ramblings of loneliness

Sunday, May 4, 2017
Bucharest, Romania

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”— Confucius

Every master was once a disaster.” — David T.S. Wolf

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. – John Wooden

Don’t overthink yourself out of something good! – Akosua Dardaine Edwards

Don’t overthink things. Sometimes you can convince your head not to listen to your heart. Those are the decisions you regret for the rest of your life. –Leah Braemel

The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.— J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

 

I’m in a bit of a funk lately.
Too many things are going on and it is a little overwhelming and hard to keep my head up.
I have been in Romania quite awhile off and on.
I still do not have a grasp on the language
People keep telling me that they know of others who learned it in one month.
That just makes me feel worse
Unable
Stupid
And we go to meet people
And they are courteous
polite
“Hello! Buna! How are you?”
And that is about the extend of the conversation most of the time
I say I can understand some of it.
I say I am trying to learn.
I say “No problem, go ahead and talk in Romanian, I can kinda follow along”
But I can’t
I do for awhile
I get the gist of the conversation
But then my mind focuses on one word or phrase
forgetting what it is
and my mind searches for what it means
and I lose track of the conversation
And I stare at the sky.
at the people walking by
Trying to not look bored
Trying not to look as alone as I feel
Left out
Isolated
I don’t want them to speak entirely in English
That would be an inconvenience for them
I am in their home country
They are speaking their mother tongue
I take lessons
I do the apps
Answer the questions right
And then when it comes to conversation in real life
My mind blanks.
What did they just say?
What am I supposed to say back?
And the visa
I finally turned in the visa this past week
And now I wait one month to see if they accept or reject it
If I have to leave or if I get to stay
If I get rejected should I to hire a lawyer and fight to stay?
After waiting in the lines for hours
With impatient, rude people
standing
forever
talking to the people behind the desk 9 times
My translator talked to the officer for what seemed like an eternity
And when we left the counter
I got a one sentence summary of the 20 minute conversation.
i need another document
another document
each time
waiting in traffic
stressing out my boss
Creating tension at work
i am scared I am too much work
Wishing she never hired me
due to all the headaches of this visa
leaving my classroom and coming back mentally vapid
not able to concentrate on what was going on
going home to cry
And am so exhausted I nearly pass out at 9
because I messed up
I didn’t know the new rules
Count backwards 180 days.
it doesn’t start over.
It was my fault
I could feel the heaviness
Disappointment from others
And I revert back to the days of pasT
When I was truly believed I was a burden
Unwanted, but invited out of obligation
It is my fault I am slow at learning
that’s just how I am
All the people I meet here
Must think I am so boring
i hope they don’t think I’m a bitch
Or stuck up
because I barely talk
I have so much I want to say.
I want to show them me
but they just turn to other friends and share stories
and laugh
in Romaninan
And I am left
Alone
Though sometimes they remember I am there
and translate a story
or respond in English to what someone asked in Romanian
and I jolt back to reality
they are talking to me
my heart soars with happy
I feel like I am pulling away
Regressing
Not putting as much effort as I should at work
the gym seems overwhelming
getting out of bed to go to meet people is difficult
No amount of sleep could cure the tiredness I feel
I love people
I hate inconveniencing people
I hate being a burden
And I noticed that I have been backsliding
Focusing on the negatives when I look in the mirror
As they talk and talk
I notice more and more wrong with me
My white thighs glowing in the sun
flattened out and huge as I sit in the chair
The scars on my arms from days long ago
The bags under my eyes that won’t go away
My hair, frizzy beyond belief
My silhouette makes me cringe
My stomach.
The liver transplant scar
a big indent in my belly
creating a soft roundness above and below
fat
no bikinis for me
I tried
I got down to 86 pounds long ago
I still had a soft round belly
I get more and more disgusted every time I look in the mirror
why did I decide to wear this tonight?
no wonder people don’t want to talk to me
I feel boring
all that time of listening to them talk
and sitting there
feeling awkward
not sure if I should intervene,
“Ce faci!”
“Nu înțeleg”
But I don’t
I don’t want to be a bother
I try to follow
then space out
lost in my head
all the thoughts
monsters don’t live under the bed
They scream inside your head
but not all the time
don’t worry too much
things still make me happy
the soft rain before the downpour
as it gently lands on my skin
a slight tickle from mother earth
laying in the grass with the sun shining on me
warming my body
Bubbles
and many other things
it is easy to spiral and forget
but there are many things that keep me here
But I have been longing more and more for going back
To Portland
To Santa Cruz
where I can understand people
Where I don’t feel detached
But would that be giving up?
Running away?
Should I power through and take 2 lessons a week?
Could I fit in here?
Your vibe attracts your tribe.
I feel part of a tribe sometimes
but then they slowly revert back to Romanian
laughing
talking
reminiscing
and I have no idea what they are talking anymore
because at one point I space out
too much in my own head
I need more things here
I need to change
I need motivation
But do I belong here?
Is this the life I want?
Do I want to go back to what’s comfortable?
Or do I want to step out of my comfort zone and zoom forth
I have always felt a little ostracized
all my life
On the fringes of groups
Along for the ride
A little odd
I’m used to being the me that they know
silly, bright and sunshiny
but I also come off as flighty
as dumb
and I am not
not many people know the real me
all the things I went through
The people I lost
the people that hurt me
the people I hurt
My stories that made me who I am
the good and the bad
No one asks anymore
and then there are some people I connect with on another level
and I adore them
and I feel wanted when I am with them
and I laugh
and feel warm inside
happy
But I can’t remember the last time I laughed
genuine laughter
where your eyes well up with happiness and silliness
I miss that
I need nature
I need a friend
I need the beach
I need to stop thinking that everyone is thinking negatively of me
I hate it
because that’s what teenagers do
I’m 31
I should be over that by now
Strong
Independant
Etc
But no
Because right now I feel deflated
discouraged
empty
lost
alone
But i still have the flame of hope
Deep inside
still burning
waiting for more fuel
for me to believe wholly
that I can do this
that things will get better
I just need to get out of my head
because life is beautiful
I’m living in Romania.
I am in charge of 17 of the most beautiful, sweet little 2-3 year olds
I have a good job that pays quite well
Someone who believes in me
and keeps me going
i have plans to travel in the summer
music festivals
summer is coming
i need to get back to that me
that me that said “yes” to everything
That had no problem talking to strangers
I have people that say I am beautiful
And check up on me
I’ve been here before
i know my mind is just messing with me
i’ve been here before
i can get out
get out of my head
and into my heart
And in these next week Is will start the process
of becoming a butterfly
starting by smiling from my heart
because I am strong
and I am worth it
I just need to work on believing it
mantras on the mirror
mantras by the bedside
little reminder that life is beautiful
of who I am
I will find my way

The key to happiness is letting each situation be what it is instead of what you think it should be.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” – Unknown

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. ― Abraham Lincoln

True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Doppelgängers

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The streets of Budapest are beautiful.  I walk the streets everyday, plugged into my headphones, the sounds of Simon and Garfunkel or Band of Horses flowing through my ears….

Every building here has its own character… its own style.. I could wander for hours..

And then I look back down at the street level.. and I keep seeing people from the past.
Old lovers. Old friends. Recent and long ago…
And I am hit full on with flashbacks of those times long ago.
Smells… feelings… sensations… full on..
And I wonder
What am I doing here?
In Budapest?
One year ago I was working at a day care playing with kids and babies at ski resort spending days off snowboarding and nights off roading to hot springs or babysitting.
Two years ago I was working at a Chinese restaurant in Alabama with someone I thought I would spend my life with only to have him confess his love for another and the feeling of betrayal and broken trust.
Four years ago I was working at a Preschool in Hendersonville, NC.. spending weekends going out with my Asheville friends and hula hooping and glittering dogs at bars and inter tubing down rivers..
Six years ago I was still stuck in a haze bad relationship of the worst kind where even sunny days rarely brought smiles for fear of doing something wrong.
And now… I am volunteering at a hostel here in beautiful Budapest… biding my time to go back to Romania… To my job… My babies.. My friends..
But the flashbacks are so intense… I sometimes have to stop right there in the street to catch my breath.

I get transferred back to that one time we were laying in bed listening to music and singing along with the smell of French Onion soup wafting form the kitchen and laughing as we switched turns playing songs that made us happy.
I am transferred back to when all four of us were all stuck in the car at Joshua Tree National Park because it was storming outside and we passed the whiskey around and played Never Have I Ever and how soon the laughter turned to tears because the questions stirred up emotions I had never faced before and we went to the tent while the rain poured and the lightning flashed all around us and you looked in my eyes and told me I was beautiful and would always be there for me. But as time passed and I came back to visit you shattered my heart. My world. How you couldn’t look me in the eyes. Couldn’t have a conversation. And everything was a lie.
I am transferred back to the beach that one night when the moon was full and the waves were crashing down and you were sitting on the rocks watching me play in the waves like a child and the breeze blew the hair in my face and the sneaker waves drenched me from the waist down but you still welcomed me with open arms and the smell of your shampoo filled my nose and I smiled quietly to myself.
I am transferred back to when we were in the pub in Portland after watching a movie at the dollar theater and we laughed most of the way through the movie… I don’t even remember which one.. but we were in the back row sipping bear and sharing a huge plate of nachos.. and we continued on to the pub where there was a machine that you could put money in and it would spit out your spirit animal. Mine was an orca. Yours was a feral cat. The pub smelled of fresh hops and the floor was sticky and we laughed because we had just played a tape of whale calls back at your apartment full of thrift store stuff thrown together to look just perfect.
I am transferred back to when we were little and you and I were stuck in the raft in the bay. Our parents were drunk up at the cabin and happily waving to us. Our oars floated away and we looked down and to our horror the whole bottom of the bay was covered in crabs and we half laughed half cried about how we were going to get back to shore. And I slowly dipped halfway in the water and cried as I kicked as hard as I could to get us to shore because I was a year older and supposed to be responsible and I was terrified the crabs would reach up and snap my toes.
I am transferred back to when I worked at the restaurant with you in Alabama and there was a tornado siren going on. Our manager had bought us a bottle of tequila in exchange for a night off. I was at the table trying to stop my anxiety attack from coming on as I was taking this tables order and the dad grabbed my wrist and said “Listen lady, you can have your anxiety attack later. I want my Sweet and Sour chicken NOW.” and the phones were ringing and the sirens were going and out the window the trees were sideways and I ran to the kitchen and you saw me and we took the bottle of tequila and locked ourselves in the girls bathroom to take a few swigs and a few breaths before we could go back to work and face it all.
I am transferred back to when you and I stayed after school in 9th grade to work backstage at a play and we both had a crush on the older guy working with us and that time we painted the coffee table with our feet and the rush of butterflies as he grabbed my waist before I slipped off.. my feet covered in slick pink paint.. and then we went off in the corner to giggle and play Rummy until our hearts slowed their pitter patter. And we would leave him letters in the newspaper box by our house because we learned he was the newspaper boy.
I am transferred back to when we were at that STS9 show and we were tripping and we lost each other… but it was New Years.. and I was dancing and I barely noticed you were gone.. flowing with the music.. moving with the lights.. and BOOM the confetti came from the sky and everyone was cheering with happy because it was finally the new year… and across the room I saw you and we ran to each other and held each other tight because we felt so close. so together. friends forever. and now you are married and living in your same small town with your husband and two kids.
I am transferred back to the time you picked me up from work late one night and we had to drive all the way to your place but the smell of the chicken wings we were bringing home for dinner was so overwhelming we stopped the car on the side of the road and climbed through the bushes in the moonlight and savagely ate all of them and laughed at how silly we looked with hot sauce all over our moths and hands.
I am transferred back to when I met you at your cabin in the woods in the mountains of North Carolina and your friends were over and we decided that instead of sleeping in the house we would sleep in the woods a bit away from the house… a little clearing… we set up my hammock over the soft grass and off to the side the river had pooled up and we climbed up the side of the cliff and jumped in with the fireflies dancing all around and we built the fire and threw in some corn and ate corn and whiskey and we talked for hours of the moon and the spirits in the woods and the magic of the night.
I am transferred back to when we climbed for nearly 5 hours up the mountains and finally reached the little cabin overlooking the alps. No electricity so you built the fire and we had fondue and wine and watched the sunset over the mountains and we laid out on the grassy knoll by the cabin and passed the whiskey bottle back and forth and watched the stars and you taught me Swiss German and told stories of all your adventures and my heart danced with joy at all the ideas you gave me for future endeavors and the air was so clear and pure.
I am transferred back to our motorcycle rides in the moonlight. Pretending we were riding through Arkham. The warm Alabama air felt amazing as I held you close so I wouldn’t fall and we took those turns like pros. I let go and held my arms out… feeling so free.. wishing I could feel that way forever..
I am transferred back to that time when we were young and a bunch of us were over at our friends house. It was “perfect”… 3 girls, 3 boys. The mom let us drink. I was too scared. Too goody goody, so I had root beer. You gave up a night of booze to drink root beer with me so I wouldn’t feel left out.
I am transferred back to the night we were laying in bed and you got a phone call at 3 am. You excused yourself from the bed and walked outside to take it, explaining you had a bad dream about someone and you needed to talk to her. I waited patiently and listened to music. A half hour later I wandered outside to look for you and as soon as you saw me you quickly said goodbye and gave me a weak smile. We went back inside and as we were laying together you kept getting texts. You had that smile on your face. And I knew everything I thought we had was broken. Over. Gone. And I laid with you as you cried over her. Over your past with her. You chose her over me. You told me even if she came to town and we were together you would still sleep with her. You told me you always had loved her. I wondered if you ever actually loved me or if you always wished I was her. And I moved far away.
I am transferred to that time I was turning over rocks at the Oregon coast to look for crabs and my headphones were blasting the Cure in my ears and I felt a tap on my shoulder and there you were, smiling and asking what I was doing… which lead to the fact that all the campsites were full and I let you set up your tent next to mine… and then the next night I found the perfect campsite.. but there were signs that bears were all over the area… but I was determined to stay there… so I called you, even though you were on a mission to bike down the Oregon coast and begged you to come camp at this beautiful campsite with me. And we melted chocolate on bananas for dinner and passed the whiskey and warmed by the fire and I had the idea to leave some food in the hole in the tree for the bear to come. You never said anything against the idea. I made you sleep in my tent. In your own sleeping bag… just in case the bear did come.. and in the middle of the night we were woken up with heavy, gangly steps and snorts and snarls and the knocking over of pots and pans and the bulky shadow of the bear outside our tent. I started hyperventilating with both excitement and fear. You gently edged closer and put your hand over my lips and softly whispered in my ear, ” don’t worry.. about a thing.. cuz every little thing is gonna be alright…” and the bear lumbered around and nearly sat on our tent… then shuffled back off into the night and we laid there silent and still for nearly ten minutes until we burst into relieved maniacal laughter and cautiously crawled out of the tent to see the damage…
I am transferred one of those first times we were all together for summer camp. Someone brought out a guitar and all the girls gathered around one of the guys and I was playing cards at another table. He paused for a second during his strumming. I suggested he play “Aeroplane Over the Sea” and he did. And I got so filled with emotions from his soft voice. The lyrics. The guitar. I had to walk outside. You followed me and we sat out on the benches and we both cried and talked for the rest of the night.
I am transferred back to the day I first met you and we hiked all throughout the desert and were so tired. You ate a burger. I was having a bad body image day and had an orange. You didn’t say anything. You accepted it. There was a meteor shower that night. We laid on the benches in the middle of the desert in Oregon. You brought out some Crunch and Munch… knowing it was one of my favorites in the world. We both dug in and told stories and laughed at pointed out different shooting stars. And then there was that one. The biggest, longest, slowest shooting star I had ever seen. And you saw it too. And we decided it was a sign that we would be friends forever. And we still talk. Now and then. But you are living your life with your man and your friends over in Oregon.I am transferred back to when you first messaged me. I was pretty much done with meeting people in Bucharest. I was ready to be done with the hostel and move on. But you were patient. You assured me. I met you. You tried to take me a cafe on a rooftop. They were all closed. You looked anxious. Nervous. We went to a different place. I got some random thing on the menu and you got the most delicious apple strudel pie thing and I ended up eating most of it. It started off slow… our talking… but there was something about you I couldn’t quite put my finger on that I needed. That intrigued me. You pursued. I got scared. I wasn’t supposed to fall in love. I didn’t want it. But slowly… ever so slowly I let it happen.. and before I knew it… everything fell into place just as it was meant to be…. and just when things were at their best I had to leave the country due to the visa and I thought I would lose you forever. I cried. You took me to your friends early on. I was surprised. I was happy. You let me stay at your place. I felt at home. I fed your cat. We gorged on Haribo and drank coffee to stay up all night. You were patient when I was hesitant. We bought christmas lights to sparkle up the apartment. You didn’t mind when I put up artwork around your place. You were gentle. You were just what I needed. You gave me hope. You broke down my wall. We went to Bran. You woke up before I did to help me get to work on time. You took me to your Christmas party. You promised you would wait for me… for the longest 3 months of my life.
I am transferred back to that night on prom when I got all dressed up. I spent a lot of money on the dress. I put on the make up. My mom gave me her pearls. and I waited. And I assured my parents you would show. But time went on. My parents eyes felt sorrow and fear. It was a half hour into the prom night and I asked my dad to drop me off anyway. You never showed. I danced with my dad for the father daughter dance and he looked so sad. I could barely look him in the eyes, but I tried to cheer him up saying that it was okay… I wanted to come anyway because there was free jelly beans. And there was. And I ate nearly the whole bowl, I went to the bowl handful after handful then retreat back to the corner, looking for you. One guy did come up to me to invite me to dance. I could see the pity and disgust in his eyes. My dad bought flowers and they were waiting for me on my bed when I got home. He said every girl deserves flowers on her prom night. I talked to you the next day. You laughed. “Did you really think I was serious?”
I am transferred back to that day at the treatment center when I met a new girl. I gave her a hug and all I could feel was bone. A hollow skeleton. And I saw her face. It looked like a skull. Sunken and hollow. It shook me up and I talked to my therapist and she tried to convince me that I, too, looked that way and I got so upset. Because what I saw in the mirror was a blob, disfigured monster.
I am transferred back to when I gave you the book I created for you. I had all your friends write memories and happy things for you. I collected them all and added pictures your friends sent. I laminated the pages. I created a book. I created a Facebook group. I gave it to you your last Christmas. As soon as you unwrapped it you threw it across the room in anger and said that I was just a stupid Ethiopian looking unlovable THING. You died a month later. I still see you here or there.

And everyone else in my life.

Everyone. Everything.

The good. The bad. I do not necessarily regret any of it. I thank those people that made my life hard. I have had my share of struggles. Of near deaths. Of being so depressed my options and future seemed slim to none. Of being so happy that my heart was flying… only to discover that I was being deceived.

Yes, I remember it all. I remember how you made me feel that day. Whether it good or bad. The feelings of uncertainty or love or hope or brokenness or fear or rejected…

But then I remember. I am here. Life has brought me here. I am here for a reason. I am waiting to get back to Romania. To my life there. To my babies. My co-workers. To my friends. To my love.  To new hope. To getting back to trusting people. To accepting love and people into my life again. To throwing myself into the Romanian lifestyle.  To a year of exploring Europe during the weeks off. To pursuing life and love and what comes next.
And I can’t help but smile and turn the music to my favorite channel…. the rockin’ 80’s and sing “I CAN SEEE CLEARLLLY NOW THE RAIN IS GONE!” and get out of bed and take back to the streets.

Untitled.

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—-> Note: This is a free write… sorry if it is jumbled.. not in order… a bit “messsy”… i just needed to let it out…. <——

Dear ED

I rarely use the word hate. I do not like that word. But in your case. I hate you from the depths of my soul. With everything inside of me. With vehemence beyond all things.
You stole my teenage years. You stole my college years. You kept me inside counting calories and crying in my bed while others my age tested their limits and did things teenagers do. You kept me running on that treadmill, watching the minutes turn to hours, as others passed time playing hackey sack and going on adventures and playing spin the bottle. I feared weed because it made you hungry and that was the last thing I wanted to be…. so I lost touch with those friends that went that direction. I feared alcohol for its calories… so I lost touch with those friends who delighted in the feeling of being intoxicated for the first time(or second or third or whatnot.) I feared going out with friends because it was inevitable that they would go out for food and I would have to make an excuse as to why I couldn’t eat.  I had already eaten… even though all I had that day was 10 grapes and half an orange. I wasn’t hungry…. even though my stomach was whirling about in anger and emptiness. And I would have to sit there sipping my water, gazing in wonder and awe at how my friends could eat so much and stay so fit while if I so much as ate a piece of bread I wold gain two pounds. I wanted so bad to fool around with my friends. To make memories. To be happy. To laugh over simple things. But I lived in a shroud of sadness, terror, suffocating depression… I never went to any keggers. I never went on any spring break adventures to get plastered with friends and laugh about it for years to come. I was vacant. I was an empty balloon. I have no happy memories of late high school. My prom date never showed up because he only asked me as a joke. I have no happy memories of parties or falling in love or late nights talking to friends or clubbing in college. I so desperately wanted to be part of it all… to have someone fall in love with me… but how in the world would that be ever possible? I was grotesque, fat, annoying, unlovable… or at least that’s what you, my ED, told me. I wanted so badly to have heads turn in my direction when I walked into the room.. “The only reason they would turn is because they saw the ugliest person they’ve ever seen walk into the room”, you, my ED said. I wanted so desperately to go out with my friends and laugh with them and not have a care… “Why would they WANT you along? You know the only reason they would ever invite you is because they felt OBLIGATED… you’re such a burden, a bore”, you, my ED said.

I used to be ok. I was always a good child. Perfect, as they said. “My rock”, my mom called me. My older brother was a bit of a sociopath. His friends adored him. They had nothing but good to say about him. But with the family. I was terrified of him. Many memories of running away from him horror with tears streaming down my face. Locking myself in the bathroom. Huddling in a ball, watching the wooden door strain as he pounded on it. Saying the most horrible things one could say.  I had perfect grades. I did no wrong. I strived to be the kid that my parents would be proud of.

I had the liver transplant at age 3. It saved my life. But left me with a giant scar across my belly. It is still there today. It is still a big indent. It poufs out below and above.  I hated it. I did sit up after sit up. Crunch after crunch. For hours. Days. I lived for the scale. For the reflection in the mirror. What I saw in that mirror was a grotesque monster. Forever growing monster. But looking back at the pictures from that time, I was skin and bones. It hurt to sit down. I could feel my heart beat, pumping my chest up and down as it strived to keep my body alive. My hair came out in chunks. My brother joked that I looked like I was an Auschwitz victim. That I belonged in Ethiopia. Which made me feel even more disgusting. I had people ask me, “Why don’t you just eat?” all those normal questions people ask someone who has an eating disorder. The answer is never simple. It is not about the food. I remember going to a church once with my grandma and someone in their was convinced I had the devil inside of me and tried to get my grandma to consent to let me be exorcized to let the devil out. It’s not about the food.  For me it was a combination of things. Always… these voices in my head… the things my brother shouted at me in spite… the sneers from the kids at school… the giant scar on my belly… insecurity.. fear of growing up… fear of being “normal”… fear of never finding anyone to like me…
So I hid away… restricted my food intake more and more.. became obsessed… It sounds so selfish and vain…

I got so crazy at times that I got this idea in my head that if I cut myself, maybe that would be better than the hurricane of terrible things that my mind was shouting at me. It was relief from the ever present, “You will never be loved..”  “You are such a disgusting creature…” “You don’t have a woman’s body, you have an alien’s body,.. just look at that scar…” “You will never look like all those people at the beach in their bikinis… NEVER”  “Why would any boy ever find you attractive…” “Face it… you’ll never be anyones ‘one’…”  And every time I passed up a meal.. a dessert… a snack.. Especially when the smell was so delicious and overpowering and my stomach did somersaults in anticipation… and I walked away..I felt powerful. So powerful. So light. So free. But… yet.. so empty…

I went to three different Eating Disorder Treatment centers for months at a time, only to be kicked out after the health insurance ran out.  I was hospitalized a few times. I wasn’t ready. I felt safe in those treatment centers. Even though some of them made me gain half a pound a day. If you didn’t make weight, you had to be wheeled around in a wheel chair the next day to conserve your energy. Or they made you drink Ensure Plus if you didn’t eat everything on your plate…. and if you refused that, they stuck the tube down your throat to force those calories in. They stood by the door to the bathrooms and flushed them for you so that you couldn’t vomit up the food they made you eat. They weighed you in the mornings and made you wear a hospital gown so that you couldn’t stuff any pockets with rocks to add the weight you hoped you didn’t gain. I remember some pretty crazy things going on in those places… But I also remember some gentle friends… and some people that were in there just to prove they could still lose weight even in a treatment center and went to get tips on how to take their ED to another level when they went out into the real world again. We were allowed to do gentle yoga. We had a movie night sometimes where we would order in.. usually a binge food… I remember there being pizza some nights, McFlurries some nights, Snickers bars some nights… You were allowed to eat as much as you wanted… it was there… but we could never focus on the movie because we knew the food was right there and we knew everyone was watching everyone else to see how much everyone else ate so that they could eat the least amount… if that makes any sense at all… The nutritionist was my worst enemy… always upping my food intake. To this day I still fear bagels. Bagels and peanut butter were what you ate if they felt you weren’t gaining enough. They took you to a restaurant and made you order a normal meal. Those were the worst days. In public. Forced to eat a whole meal, when all the years before I would eat a salad or lie about all the things I ate earlier in the day. But everyone was in it together. We all were terrified of gaining, but more terrified of going back out into the real world.

Recovering from an eating disorder… getting out of treatment from an eating disorder is the hardest thing I have ever had to do…  And I failed many times. I relapsed many times.
Food was everywhere. It was something that one had to deal with on a daily basis. One had to eat to survive. But how much to eat? How little could you get away with eating? In treatment you learned that if you ate too little it messed up your metabolism and it would mess with your body. If you ate too much, obviously you gained. You had to eat just enough. With alcohol and drugs, you could abstain.  With an eating disorder you still had to eat. Every day. In order to live. In fact, soon after I got out, I got into a relationship with a guy that treated me the same way my brother treated me… because in my own messed up mind, I knew my brother loved me… and thats one way he showed love… so I accepted the fact that to love someone was to use and abuse them… and continued on with mini eating disordered habits and a dependency on alcohol and a dabble in drugs… for 5 more years I lived a sheltered, naive, mini-life….

To this day my heart is still dealing with the effects of 8 years stuck in this mindset. I have heart arrhythmia. Sometimes I am laying in bed and my heart starts going crazy and I fear going to sleep that I will not wake up The years of not eating and nourishing my body weakened my heart and it will never be normal. My bones have suffered. I have low bone density and osteopenia due to the lack of calcium and other nutrients when my body needed it. Years of purging what little food I did eat wreaked havoc on my teeth as well.  And still… to this day… I fear food. I keep track of everything I eat.  Every exercise I do. I always take the long route. I always make work harder than it has to be just because it would burn that much more calories. I still want to cry inside when I go to a restaurant and have to order a real meal and eat it with others… most times I suck it up and do it.. Other times I give in.. just a little… order a simple soup.. or salad.. or appetizer and toss aside peoples suggestions saying, “Oh, I promise I am not that hungry..” and then go home and fill the rest of the emptiness of my belly with water or grapes or grapefruits..

And now. It is getting worse. And it is terrifying how strong the thoughts are these days. I have been sticking to a diet of coffee and a banana or grapefruit or low fat yogurt for breakfast and then one of those powdered chicken noodle soups for dinner (less than 100 calories) and sometimes rice cakes with a little triangle of that smearable cheese… And I look in the mirror. And I put on my clothes. And I feel no different. I feel bigger. I look at pictures and I look so much bigger than everyone else. I want to feel my hip bones jutting out when I lay down. I want to see my collar bones as I look in the mirror. I want to be able to wrap my hands around my upper thighs and have my fingers touch. Is that messed up thinking? Yes….

How does one like oneself?

It is very unfortunate that the death of my older brother was what shook my world to the point that I finally saw through my eating disorder. I never got to say I loved him. He finally started being nice to me the last year of his 4 year battle with cancer. I think he knew he was dying and was trying to make up for all the things he did.  It messed with my head. I wanted to live a life for both him and me. And from then on, my attitude changed. My life changed. Now people look at me… get to know me… as a happy, optimistic, charming, etc. etc. girl. And yes, I am. I truly am. But that doesn’t mean that I still don’t struggle with ED thoughts. Terrible words he said to me when I looked up to him most still echo through my head.

And now, I am happy to say that I LOVE life. I do not depend on alcohol. I relinquished myself from drugs. I love food (most of the time) and am in a very healthy relationship. I relish in the little things of life. I ADORE adventure. I greet people with the thought that everyone is good and great. I know that everyday is not good, but there is good in everyday. And I am happy to be alive.. and there have been times I have sucked it up and worn a bikini and proudly shown off my scar… because that is part of who I am…. and I am alive because of it…….. And I am not afraid to talk about it to anyone who needs help… has questions.. anything…
Because most of all… I do not wish that kind of life on anyone… going through life with an eating disorder is not living….

Hakuna Matata

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We all start off as strangers 


“Love all, trust few, do wrong to none”. ~William Shakespeare 

Friday August 20, 2016

Day 91

Rome, Italy 

I am exhausted. I am weary. I still am at a loss for what to do. 
The other morning, I woke up in Venice (BEAUTIFUL place by the way) and got an email saying that the hostel in Croatia I was supposed to start work at next week canceled and my place to stay that night canceled. 

I remember reading the messages, my heart sinking. A lump in my throat rose slowly. I was looking forward to being able to stay in one place for awhile again. And now I had no place tonight either. 

I was counting on having a solid place to stay so I didn’t have to keep moving so much. Hostel life again. I needed it. 

Now I had nothing. Nothing but a blank canvas. It was a both exciting and terrifying feeling. The feeling that I could go anywhere. 

I could go “home” whenever that is and try to find a real job… But how would I know where home was? What if I chose the wrong town to stay in. 

My head was spinning out of control. I tucked my legs in close to my chest and laid my forehead on my knees. 

Where do I go next? What do I do? 

I remember someone a couple days back was raving about Florence. Perfect. I’ll go there. Something is waiting for me there. 

I shot out a few couchsurf requests and booked a BlaBlaCar for 2pm and went to get a sketchbook and charcoal pens at a fancy little shop I saw in my wandering a the other day. The time has come. I need to distress. I need art. I need expression. 

I left Venice too quick, some would say. Yes. I think I did. But I was not in a good mindset to stay. When I get upset, I run. Simpleton thoughts though, because they always follow you. Your thoughts. Your worries. Your fears. 

But I left anyway. Needed a bright and beautiful new place to distract my mind.

And wow Florence won me over quickly. The vibes. The energy. The people. The food. The cobblestone streets and old buildings, reminiscent of medieval times. The unbelievable sunset. 

But I am feeling the weight of this trip today. My shoulders ache from lugging the way too heavy clunker everywhere I go. My heart and soul still spinning, trying to catch up with all the moments of this long 3 month trip. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the unexpected, the scary, the disappointing. 

I am a traveler. Not a tourist. I wander to different places to meet the people of the cities. I live for couchsurfing.  I want to know how it was growing up in Rome or London or Barcelona or Florence. It’s bonkers to me that all this stuff that is so magical and breathtaking to me is simply the backdrop of everyday live for them. 

I live for the nights I get to help in the kitchen with my CouchsurfEr, sipping wine. Sharing a meal. Talking about this and that and everything under the sun and more. Board games are brought out. Music is played. Laughter is shared. I find the moon for everyone. Sometimes we venture out of the house to explore their cities streets. 

I don’t travel to see the touristic things. Sure I’ll give them a go, but I want to know why locals love this city. The secret gardens. The gross dive bar where they go to every week and they are known by everyone inside. 

I want to know where to catch the best sunsets and find the most shooting stars. The beautifully broken down, abandoned buildings. The graveyards. 

I want to know how you celebrate Christmas or whatever holiday you do happen to celebrate in December. How do you ring in the new year? What’s your spirit animal? What is something you could do for hours and hours later you realize you forgot to eat because you were so into it? What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened? When was the last time you cried? When you drift off during boring work meetings where does your mind go?  What song makes you sad? What song gets you up in the morning? Where do you go to my lovely, when you’re alone in your bed.. I love that song… 

Or better yet, don’t tell me, show me. Show me your wild world. Let me in. Let’s adventure together. You can trust me. 

Those are the things I want on this trip. Connections. Friends. The oddly beautiful process if going from perfect strangers to good friends. Sometimes I challenge myself and find someone very unlike me and try to see what connections we can make. Sometimes I choose ones who seem to fit the mood I want to experience in that particular city. 

You see, I love people. All their quirks. Even the assholes can be quite intriguing. How did you get to be where you are? What kind of text can make you smile immediately? 

If I am enjoying ones company, I could care less about leaving the place we are at. I am just fine staying right there in their living room, on their terrace, on the hillside overlooking the alps, on the dock, our feet dangling in the water. In Warsaw, I never saw much of the town because I was having the time of my life meeting all the local polish people when my CouchsurfEr had a party. In Interlaken, I never set foot inside the city except the train station. I spent my time in farther out tiny villages and way up high in the alps. 

I chose to stay home tonight. My CouchsurfEr went out. I feel drained. Soulless. Boring. Broken Sad. Lost. No idea where to go next after Naples on Sunday. Should I run away to Cambodia? Go to my friend in London? Check out Croatia anyway? I need rejuvenation. I need a magical adventure or a beautiful stranger or a sweet lover. Or just sleep. And a hug would be nice too..

I want memories. I want connection. I want friends. Sure I’d love to have a lover, but I am not looking for it. This is my trip. This is what I want. 

And for a bit longer at least, I will wander aimlessly though gorgeous Italy, befriending beautiful strangers. Moving on to the next place that is suggested and calls to my heart. 

We all start off as strangers…