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23 Things I Learned in 23 Years

Posted Nov 11 2012 11:18am

Dearest friends, how I have missed you! I will admit however, that I have not completely cut myself off from all of you these past three ish weeks… aka I have been reading some blogs here and there :) I want to stay caught up to an extent, as the clearly the break I am taking is not a permanent one, just a needed (temporary) hiatus. (**Right now, there is honestly nothing too interesting to update you on regarding the on-goings of my life, but soon I will return for a more detailed check in)

On that note, I will be popping in from time to time when I feel inspired, compelled or simply in the mood too, like today regarding a very important (to me) occurrence that only takes place one time per year…. MY BIRTHDAY! My 23rd to be exact, which was on November 8th!

I wanted to do something interesting on the ole blog to acknowledge my birthday and eventually decided on writing a “lessons” post… 23 Things I’ve Learned in 23 years. There is a whole mix of knowledge going on in this post- profound wise words, humor, sarcasm, truths and honesty… basically whatever thoughts I feel you ought to hear, important personal triumphs and losses, and genuine words that should continue to be taken to heart.

1) Only you are the person who can change your life. It’s scary as hell to change a situation that seems so correct, the only way to be, yet I knew my existence with this suppressing illness was simply not okay. It came down to ME making the choice to do something about it. Easy to do so? Hell no. Worth it? Certainly.

2) I will never have a completely flat stomach, defined abs… there will be parts of my body that are not “perfect” whatever the hell that means. I need to accept this and if I base my life around achieving this, I will forever be trapped in an endless, downward spiral where I am never “okay” and satisfied with myself.

3) Everything is not about ME. When someone is angry, irritated, mean, unfriendly… it is not because of ME (well not necessarily ;) ). I am not the cause of people’s irritation or anger. I don’t always need to walk on egg shells around others, be overly nice or act like a doormat for acceptance.

4) It’s essential to find a balance between selflessness and selfishness. We all know it’s important to help others in need, offer your aid when you can, do favors, give gifts, volunteer your services for the benefit of people in your life. AT the same time though, do not bee too selfless, as validating and expressing your needs is fine too. Declining and saying “no” to a favor is okay, you do not always have to be available or kiss up to others depending on the situation.

But then there’s the other side of the spectrum, selfishness. For years now, the eating disorder has made me a very selfish person, most often spurred by the illness. I can’t do favors for other people because it messes up my “oh-so-perfect-I-can’t-get-away-from” routine. The request might interrupt my special eating time, or delay me getting to the gym, make it necessary that I consume something different that I had planned to. Or how dare someone asks me to go out to dinner with them to a restaurant that has no “safe” options?! Exactly, unacceptable right?! (Notice how this hyper focuses my attention on food?)

My selfishness exacerbates when I turn to the eating disorder because the tighter I held onto it, the smaller my world became and the more I thought about ME ME ME. People simply were in the way of my restrictive, rigid, unrealistic routine, so shaking off those relationships seemed to be the only plausible solution.

So again, have to find that balance between those too two ideals… selfless while maintaining selfishness (to an extent) for yourself.

5) Forgive yourself.  As many attempts as you make to turn yourself into a better person, you will make lots of little mistakes and some very big mistakes. Also, do not forget about your past and what you have been through. It was not my choice to get this horrid eating disorder and while I at times I do blame myself for not being able to completely shake it, I must remember to give myself respect, forgiveness….

6) Thriving (rather than enduring) my life is the only option I will accept.

7) Do your very best to live in the moment. It’s okay to remember the past, or consider the future, but it’s your present life that is the most important… the people that are part of your daily schedule, the work you have now, the memories that are currently being made, the goals that are aiding you at this very moment. Live in the present, focus on that…. wishing away where you currently are sets you up for constant disappointment and dissatisfaction.

8) Baking while listening to an audio book might be my most favorite way to relax and unwind. (Why yes, I am a 90 year old woman at heart).

9) I will never consider myself a “healthy living blogger.” Of course that depends on what your definition of healthy living is and for me, it comes down to those silly moderation and balance concepts. However, the main reason is because my eating habits have always had the underlying goal of “weight loss” rather than nourishment for my body. For a while, I thought of myself as orthorexic because I only ate highly nutritious foods and avoided “unhealthy” ones at all costs. This diet of mine was a perfect way of masking my true intentions of losing weight and I chose such healthy foods because of their low-calorie numbers. Healthy living? not so much.

What about at this point? Well I guarantee you I eat some kind of dessert every.single.night. Fake sugars make appearances throughout the day (Diet Coke, how I love you). I consume plenty of packaged, artificial crap (Lucky Charms, chocolate covered pretzels, I am looking at you!). Sometimes in a 24-hour period I don’t see see a vegetable let alone eat one…. alright you get the idea here. I like nutritious foods but I also really love gummy candy, ice cream and Reddiwhip straight out of a can. Parts of the HLB world shun such tendencies and this drives me batty.

10) The ability to take responsibility for your actions, own up to your mistakes and admit when you are wrong are powerful characteristics to have. Not everyone will achieve this, some people will forever be in denial, hiding from and afraid of the truth… fearful of mistakes they make.

11) Finding a book that allows you to get lost in the pages, to be unable to put it down, is a true treasure. How re-readable the book is= major points too! On that note, the Harry Potter series will forever hold a very special place in my heart, especially when I re-read all seven books each and every summer :)

12) Comparison is and will always be the thief of joy. All that comparing has done for is to (at times) make me an angry, jealous, frustrated person who always looks to herself for internal and external flaws. The ability to love my true self will continuously elude me if comparisons to others is an ever-present action.

13) Unless you have the ability to read minds, you will never know what people are truly thinking or what is going on behind closed doors. This actually goes along with why NOT comparing is essential… you don’t know the full details of other people’s lives. This is a particularly difficult aspect of an eating disorder that I still struggle with.

Yes I am at a healthy weight, no longer am I looking like a half-starving person.. I do not look sick. Yet those (ED) thoughts are still present, I would be lying if I said they weren’t. Plus sadness is an emotion that unfortunately rears its ugly head more often than not. From the outside looking in though, you would never know.

14) Hard times allow you to see the people that are genuine, that you ought to keep around. When I went to college and was the most depressed and homesick I had ever been, I realized how much I loved and needed my mom and the rest of my family. The friends that have stuck by me despite my craziness, flaky tendencies, impulsive decisions and mood swings, are the ones to be remembered.

15) For a time, exercising and running became my best and essential methods for burning calories and along the way, I forget the core values and benefits of such activities. Through injuries, severe over-training, and a process of re-learning, my love for exercising and staying fit is finally (mostly!) belong the drive to lose weight. It’s also been nice to understand that I do not have to go balls-to-the-walls intense during each and every workout I do in order to see results. In fact, I was hindering my body for years and years while maintaining this incorrect mentality.

16) For many of us, or natural instincts are to primarily focus on our weaknesses, the qualities that we are hindered and upset by. But what about the side of the spectrum, our strengths? What would it be like to embrace and internalize those? We all have them and realizing our strengths allows for progression and self-fulfillment.

17) I am not as care-free, spontaneous, wild and crazy and “fun” as I used to be. And you know what? That is just fine. I have been through and continue to experience something that has dramatically changed me. Yes I am now more low-key, serious, and mature, but going through hell and back will change anyone.

18) It truly is alright to ask for help and it’s most certainly not a sign of weakness. With this recovery business, although success ultimately comes down to YOU and your choices, love and support from others is necessary to. I would not have progressed as afar as I have without my family, friends, therapist, doctors and so on. Again, I am not weak.

19) Fakeness, ingenuity is something I can no longer tolerate and be around. I used to act like the person that now irks me so… a gossiper, someone who talks behind “friends” backs, who was too coll for some, but then acted all rainbows and butterflies to their faces.This is complete crap and personal experiences have changed me from this former person I was and being around toxicity like that is in no way helpful.

20) Looking beyond the present to the future and what I want it to look like, lights a fire under my butt to do everything and anything possible to reach these goals. What is it I hope to achieve? Where do I see myself in 5, 10, 15 years? Do I want to be alone forever, or having my main focus of life be about FOOD and my weight? Heck no, and thinking about the future both frightens and inspires me. (This is separate from living in the moment, it’s a different time and way of looking at my future, just to clarify :) )

21) My physical body knows what’s best for me and is pretty darn smart. Sure my mind is illogical, irrational, and just plain incorrect at times, which leads me to make decisions that are often not the healthiest. On the other hand, my body fights for survival, it understands what needs to be done, and it’s my body that has the ability to suppress the irrational mind,

During the moments I deemed as weakness, those that for example ended in a binge, an uncontrollable desire to eat sweets, chocolate and all of those “forbidden” items I had deprived myself of for oh so long…. I hated myself, hated my body for turning against when I was wanted was to be SKINNY. Now though, I can comprehend that these moments were basic survival. My body was well aware of the restriction, the slow starvation I was putting it through, and it did everything to keep me alive.

I craved and NEEDED the substance that is necessary for survival, food.

22) As much as I would love for this to be true, I am not invincible, I am not he exception and eventually bad habits catch up. Between not having a period for 4 years (initially) because of nutrient/calories deficiencies, the muscles in my legs becoming injured and over-used to a point of horrible exhaustion, hair falling out, bad skin, weak nails… Those not-so-nice habits have a way of leading to sometimes irreversible, dangerous and painful consequences.

23) Do what makes ME happy… not the eating disorder, the person I used to be. At this point, I am not entirely sure who I am, what tickles my fancy, what I truly love to do. But I am figuring it out and embracing the unique person that I am.

Phew, as always this took me a heck of a long time to write, but honestly, I had a genuinely good time sitting down and really thinking about what I have learned, what I now value, and what is a part of me.

-What is the wisdom you have gained at your age?

-What sort of items would you add to a list like this?

-Tell me about your lives, what’s been happening?! Anything of particular note?

Again, I will be back again for more updates on what’s been happening around these parts… hopefully sometime this week! :) Enjoy your Sunday!

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