Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Story of This Blog, Part Three

You all still hanging in there?  I realize that the previous two posts were very heavy and emotional reads.  But I promised that my story has a good ending, and it does.  Part Three was hands down the hardest part for me to put into words.  The first two parts were more straight forward.  I know a lot about obsessing over food, but I wish I knew more about getting out of such a cycle.

The recovery process was definitely that, a process.  I'm not exactly sure when the healing finally began or was complete.  I had so many relapses that everything kind of blurs together to be honest.  This may be part of the reason why this post may seem very long and choppy.  It was a combination of things that slowly mended me back into "me" and I want to share each of these things, so bear with me.  Did I mention this post was long?  Yeah, it's long.  Just a forewarning.

I wish so badly that I had some sort of great, one-size-fits-all advice as to how to overcome such situations but I don't.  I believe that different things work for different individuals.  For some it may be a health scare that wakes them up, for others it may be throwing out the scale, and yet for someone else it might be going to counseling.  I tried everything under the sun to overcome my eating issues.  I read memoirs on overcoming such hurdles, I signed up for e-newsletters on the subject, I stopped weighing myself in hopes that I would stop obsessing....the list could go on and on.

The first thing I did was take a picture of myself every day for 2 weeks on my phone and record my weight that day along with the photo.  I know that sounds like something a crazy person would do, but it worked for me.  At the end of 2 weeks I looked at the photos and realized that, even though my weight fluctuated by almost 5 pounds throughout those 14 days (I'm 5'9, so 5 pounds isn't so much at that height), I didn't really look that different each day.  This was so odd to me because I had been so unbelievably sure that those extra 2 pounds made me look like a whale.  At least that's why I was feeling at the time.  Nope, that was just something my brain had created when I looked at myself in the mirror.

I also began journaling.  While I had done that before, this time I began writing down my weight and how it made me feel each day.  Even if it wasn't positive I wrote it down.  I also wrote down other thoughts that were on my mind.  I combined this with my already present prayer life.  Slowly, I began to sort through all of the issues that caused me to spiral into this dark hole in the first place.  I began to realize that on those days when I binged I had been stressing over those emotional issues.  Once I made peace with my past, things began to slowly turn.

Another thing that assisted me in the healing process is the relationship that developed with my now fiance.  Trey met me when I was at my heaviest.  He met me when I had absolutely no self love to be found, and he made me feel absolutely beautiful.  I was truly and utterly dumbfounded that someone could find me attractive.  You mean a guy would find me beautiful and would actually want to tie himself down to me in a relationship?  For good?  I figured that surely if someone could love me at what I thought was my worst, then heck, he would hopefully be pleasantly surprised once I made it back down to my "best".  At this point I slowly began recognizing the good qualities (and I'm not just talking about outward qualities) that he saw in me.  Don't get me wrong, I fought it for a long time.  I had put up these walls and it took me a long time to let someone else in.  It was a long, slow, tedious progression.

Too, though, let me interrupt and state that I believe it's so crucial to make sure you don't base your self worth on what someone else thinks of you.  That's especially true when you're a girl and you're concerned about what guys think of you.  That's not what I'm trying to encourage in the previous paragraph.  This is true even when the other person's thoughts are incredibly positive.  Yes, it did help that Trey loved me at my heaviest, but I had to learn to love myself independently.  God forbid things hadn't worked out, then where would I be?  I would be back at square one.  Shoot, I'd probably be back behind where square one was in the first place.  

Along those same lines, I'd like to add that no matter how wonderful a person's friends or family are, those people alone cannot prevent or help someone overcome these types of issues.  I was raised in the most loving, Godly home you can possibly imagine where my parents consistently instilled in us our self worth.  Yes, I was told that I was beautiful by my family growing up.  But more importantly I was made to recognize that it was my inward qualities that made me beautiful and why I should value myself, and in turn expect others to value me as well.

Despite the best efforts of my loved ones and the Godly foundation my parents gave me, I still went through this awful period and had to learn to overcome it on my own.  The reason is that you're so detached from reality during such a period.  I'm not lying when I say it's a true body dysmorphic experience where you literally cannot comprehend someone else's compliments or concerns.  You also pull away from them because you're completely ashamed of how you look and feel.  You'll talk to them about a lot of stuff, but not about the issues that are eating you (no pun intended).

Ok, now that I've addressed the emotional part I'll touch back on my relationship with food.  Still, even when the emotional part was beginning to heal, my issues with food were still present.  An addiction to (or fear of) food is a very funny thing to try to overcome.  It's not like an addiction to drugs or alcohol. You can't complete a ten step program and banish this substance from your life.  You need it to survive.  You have to deal with the awful relationship you have with this substance multiple times every day for the rest of your life.  And thus, you have to learn how to find a balance.  You have to look at it in the face and make friends with it.  Unfortunately that is much easier said than done.

So I began to focus on being healthy instead of only the final calorie count.  I focused on the foods I should be eating, and not on what I shouldn't or couldn't eat.  Cooking was one way that I reintroduced food back into my life in a healthy way.  Taking the time to select a recipe that looks absolutely divine and then spending time in the kitchen mulling over each ingredient helped me view food as something that shouldn't be feared, but rather as something that should be appreciated and enjoyed.  This blog is a way for me to share those amazing recipes and the utter deliciousness that can come from them.

If you ever deal with any sort of disordered eating pattern at any point in your life, I believe that you will always struggle with it on some level (albeit hopefully a much, much smaller one) forever.  Once in a blue moon I will drive by Dairy Queen and wonder what it would be like to go grab a super sized blizzard and drive slowly home so that I can eat every bite before someone finds out.  Or on the flip side I might step on the scale after a week of sugary sweets and experience a flash of quick weight loss fixes that filter their way through my thoughts.

But at this point those moments have been just that: faint and fuzzy urges rather than actions that I have taken.  At this point I can know that yes, I would love to be 6 pounds lighter.  That's my perfect "happy" weight where every single item in my closet fits just right.  But I'm not there right now.  The holiday season just wrapped up after all :)

I'll wolf down an embarrassing amount of frosting while making a cake, or I'll decide to cut out sugar for a week because my pants are getting tight and I don't like the feeling.  But now, my mental state is completely different from what it was several years ago.  If I overeat it's just because I happen to like the way something tastes, or if I drop 8 pounds it's because I, myself don't feel great and not because I want to be thinner than someone else or thinner for someone else.

Also, I'm not sure if you noticed, but I never listed my "high" and "low" weights.  One reason I never did so is because I don't believe that my weight was necessarily the unhealthy part.  True, my BMI was "underweight" and "overweight" during those respective periods, but it was my emotional state that was the unhealthy part.  I believe that there can be individuals at both of those weights who are healthy for their body type, provided that they eat well and exercise.  It was my absolute fear of food and the fact that I used either the restriction or over-consumption of it to self medicate very deep rooted issues that I was dealing with that was unhealthy.

I know very well that reading this isn't going to up and fix someone else's issues that they might be dealing with.  That was never my purpose or goal in sharing.  Rather it was to let someone in the same boat know that they are not alone and that it is okay to talk about it.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  It might take you a long time to make it there like it did me, but it's possible.  You'll probably experience several relapses, but just be persistent and find the healing method that works for you.  You may feel that no one else could possibly understand, but I promise there's someone out there who can and who has been there.  There's probably a lot of those someone's.  If we were all more open with our struggles I believe we would find we have so much more in common with others than we ever imagined.

The other day I was cleaning out my closet and found the journal I mentioned earlier in this post.  The first post listed my highest weight and beside it I had written one lone word for the day: "worthless".  It's amazing to see how far I've come from that deep, dark place.  While I absolutely would never want to do it over, I am so grateful for what has come out of it.  God took a horrible situation that certainly didn't come from Him and used it to mold me into what I am today.

I'm not perfect.  I still have plenty of "fat" days when nothing in my closet fits right and I get frustrated.  I still have days when I complain about how large my thighs are and that I would love for all of my cellulite to disappear and I swear I won't eat any carbs for a week.  I'll still sometimes count calories when I'm wanting to lose a few pounds because I know that works for me.  I still get a dessert intending to have just two bites and end up downing the whole thing.  And I still have a very hard time accepting compliments because a lot of the time I truthfully don't see what the compliment giver does.  Trey might tell me I look great on a date night, but my response is to jokingly reply, "Did you get into the scotch before we went out?".

But now I know that even though I still have positive and negative thoughts about food and how I look, I'll never be back where I was.  I eat a ton of salads, but now it's because I genuinely just love eating them and not because I'm only focusing on the fact that lettuce has next to no calories.  I still love to go to the gym and pound on the treadmill for an hour, but now it's because I love how I feel afterward and I love the fact that doing so means that I can indulge a little extra that day :)

Again, thank you so much for taking this journey with me.  Maybe I have been a little too detailed and personal, but it's given me such an incredible peace to be able to share my past, good and bad.  To say it's been therapeutic would be the understatement of the year.  Everyone has their own demons that they battle and mine just happened to be food and weight at that point.  This is going to sound so cliche, but you never know what someone else is going through, so always be compassionate and pass along a kind word of encouragement.  You never know how what you say or do will impact someone else's life.

As for me, I'll still be here on this blog sharing my confections.  I'm not sure if I'll ever touch on this subject again, but at least now I've shared what's on my heart.  And at least now you know the history behind this blog, and maybe the posts might carry a different meaning.

I'll be posting plenty of yummy recipes in the future, so stay tuned!

10 comments:

  1. Morgan,
    Loved reading every sweet and honest post! Thank you for allowing yourself to be so vulnerable!!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it sweet girl! Everyone goes through tough situations at some point, and this is just my journey.

      I hope you are doing great! Miss seeing you :)

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  2. All I can say is wow! An amazing testimony!

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    1. Thank you so very much for following each post Stephen! I truly hope that everyone who read parts one and two read this part three as well. I think it's the best part because it shows the whole journey.

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  3. morgan... thank you so much for sharing. your honesty and transparency is so refreshing. it's so true that you never know how your words might touch someone else until you actually share them. you have no idea how God will use your honest words to encourage someone else and remind them that they aren't alone. i'm sure it took great courage to be so open and vulnerable... but i am so thankful you shared. love you... julia

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    1. Hey Julia,

      Thank you so very much for your kind and encouraging feedback. During some of this I was in the small group at your house, and you will never know how grateful I was and am for all of you girls. It was you all who helped me come full circle, and I don't think I could thank you enough for your love and support.

      Miss you and love you!

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  4. i just commented on the second part but i needed to say more. this writing is so beautiful and so raw. i so appreciate it. it definitely isn't something you "cure" but you cope and it's something i've had to bring into my prayer life for you! thank you so so much for this!

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    1. same here, just replied to your other comment :) These issues are things that never really go way completely (and unfortunately), but rather you just learn how to navigate your way around them the best you can. Even when you think you're over the hump they sometimes come back to rear their ugly head. It's journey, that's for sure.

      Thanks so much again for reading!!

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  5. Hi Morgan, I found a recipe of your's on pinterest, not knowing you were from Clarkesville. I don't know your family, just "know of" y'all, but I have always thought you and your sister were such beautiful girls. Your story is an amazing testimony, and a good reminder that you never know what is going on in someone's world. Both of my sisters have had eating issues, so hearing your story hit home. I will be following your blog now as I love to bake and maybe I'll see you in Habersham sometime!
    :)
    Sarah Higgins

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    1. Sarah,

      Thank you so so much for your kind comment. It's amazing how many people have dealt with eating/body image issues at some point in their lives and it's something that I don't feel is talked about enough. It's definitely a process and it helped me so much to be able to read about others' experiences at the time.
      I live in Gainesville now and am back in Habersham quite often, so hopefully I'll see you!

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I LOVE hearing from those who stop by to take a gander at the blog! Feedback and comments of all kinds are always greatly appreciated :)

Love,
Morgan