Sunday, February 28, 2016

We Wear Purple

 Last year in March, we marched through the Phoenix Zoo to support the National Eating Disorder Association.

It was important to me. I wanted to share this memory with my children and teach them an age appropriate amount about eating disorders and how they can affect anyone.

This year, I wasn't sure I wanted to speak up about NEDA week because it's been an incredibly messy year but then I remembered...I don't do this just for me. I do this for my kids and for others who may be suffering or who don't know a whole lot about eating disorders.

And so we woke up on Wednesday and put our purple on.
 And throughout the day, I felt this surge of bravery for this recovery thing I've been trying to do for years.

It still wasn't an easy day. There are so many things that are different than this same time last year. There has been a lot of behind-the-scenes trauma.

But I'm just as worthy as the rest of the people in this world. I am brave enough to speak up and find JOY amidst really hard things.

So because of that, we still acknowledged NEDA week...

...some of us a little bit more permanently than others. {I'm seriously obsessed with my purple hair...THANK YOU, Jenny Brown!} 

Eating disorder awareness is important. 

My body image is something I've struggled with my entire life, even as a young child. I often wish I could go back in time and give that beautiful little Suzanne a hug and tell her how worthy she is.

Although this year has been really messy, I feel like this week, today, this very second, I am so much closer to healing and recovery than ever before.

I used to think that being skinny was the only thing that could make me happy. I thought that once I was 'x' amount of weight, I'd be good enough and worthy enough to date and possibly get remarried.
Sometimes, I still believe those things. 
But they are lies. And lately, I've been working hard to think positively about myself when I look in the mirror.

My children will notice. And because I love them so dearly and want them to love themselves, I'm fighting for myself.

No matter what storms try to rage, I will still be fighting.

Always and forever, I will fight to love myself.

Because warriors don't give up. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

730 Days

 February 18th, 2014, I became officially single after 7 years of not being single.

I haven't really told my story of divorce on this blog because this blog is still pretty new and I don't talk about divorce as often as I used to when my divorce was fresher and more painful. Although, who am I kidding, it'll always be somewhat painful.

Because now divorce is just a part of me. It always will be. Nothing is going to change that.
And that's really ok with me.

I still get angry sometimes. I still get so damn angry about what could've been or how much this affects the kids or how much I hate the aspect of dating all over again---this time with two kids.
It's still really hard sometimes. Really hard.

But I've realized that isn't going to change. It's going to be hard sometimes. It's going to be messy and confusing and really crappy.

Divorce is crappy, you guys. The only word more useful in describing how I feel about divorce starts with an "sh" and I'm not sure my mother would appreciate reading that here.

It was two years ago that I received a big manila envelope in the mail signed by an Arizona judge and realized that my divorce was final. It had only been six months since he'd left our home and I had been blindsided.
I had been waiting for that paperwork and I was anxious for it to be signed and done with because the process had been a bit confusing and extremely painful.

And when it came, it was overwhelmingly bittersweet. I remember laying in my bed in disbelief that this had all really happened. I was pretty sure I would wake up and we'd be a happy family again.

I had nightmares for a long time. Every. Single. Night. I had extreme anxiety. Every. Single. Day.

I had fears that everyone secretly thought this was all my fault, that I wasn't good enough or worthy enough for marriage.

It was so hard for the kids. There were tears most nights and they would go weeks without being able to sleep in their own beds.
His side of the bed was quickly taken over by them. It was now theirs. Because not only did they need me, I needed them. Our healing was and is a team effort.

Two years. 

It's weird because it actually feels like it's been longer than two years. I have a hard time remembering what it was like to be married and not doing all of this on my own. I have a hard time remembering so many things from my marriage but they still pop up sometimes and depending on the memory, I'm either hit with a wave of anxiety or a smile comes across my face.
On the 18th of this month, I was reminiscing back to two years ago and then three years ago, etc., and I was struggling to find a good memory of 'back then'.
I was close to tears because for some reason, I really just wanted to remember something good and not feel so hurt by the anniversary.
As I was driving and becoming more frustrated, a song came on the radio that hit me with an extremely vivid memory from a year before our divorce where we were driving to Tucson and I was singing AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS like a crazy person and all 4 of us were laughing so hard.
I could feel my lips start to curve upward and I started to laugh and sing with the radio.
When the song ended, I thanked God for sending me that memory.

Marriage was hard but it wasn't impossible.
I still strongly believe in marriage.

But as I look back on who I was then and who I am now, I am thankful for what divorce has taught me. I am thankful that I've been able to grow from this experience. And mostly, I'm thankful that God has been with me every step of the way throughout this journey.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

NEDA 2016

 Seven year olds shouldn't think they're fat.
But I did. 

Seven year olds shouldn't pray to God, begging him to make them skinny.
But I did. 


I've always had an unhealthy relationship with food, from wanting to eat all of the time to hating to even look at food.

Somewhere around the time when I turned 14, I started to minimize my struggle with my body and would get frustrated with myself for not doing anything about it!

I cracked down. I made daily plans and rigid routines. No one could deter me from my control.

I thought it was a good control. I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought this was what strength looked like.

I was finally going to be worthy, good enough, beautiful, etc.

My name is Suzanne and I have an eating disorder. 

Sometimes when I say that out loud, it sounds foreign. It sounds shameful. I mean, I'm overweight so I must be overreacting, right?

When you're overweight, eating disorders are ok, right?

The truth is that this is wrong but I don't always believe this fact.
The truth is that eating disorders are dangerous no matter how much you weigh or what your BMI is.

And the real truth? The real truth is that my struggle is still completely real right now, today, this very minute.
I don't feel out of control. In fact, I feel very much in control. But there's this part of my brain, the part that is healthy, that tells me this isn't real control. It tells me I'm being deceived by my eating disorder.

A few years ago, as I was going through a divorce, I decided to stop fighting for my recovery. What was the point? I felt worthless anyway. No man was going to look at me and my body and my two children and say, "That! I want all of that!". I couldn't stand the thought of being alone forever. I literally couldn't stand it.

And so I tried to make myself more worthy. I gave in to my eating disorder. I was obsessive and secretive. I was creating a new monster, a monster that included more than just Bulimia and obsessive exercising. I had created something much worse---some regimen of eating disorder hell that I could not control.

In fact, the very thing that I thought was giving me control had completely taken my control away. 

It has taken me much of the past year and a half to somewhat recover from that hell. And it has been the exact opposite of easy. In fact, it hasn't completely happened. There have been highs and lows, days where I'm strong and days where I believe everything my eating disorder tells me.

It has been extremely painful to try and recover, only to realize I'm more overweight than I've been in years. Sometimes I question what recovery really is because if it's just weight gain, I want no part of it. 

Sometimes, ED feels like my biggest supporter, my number one fan. Sometimes I believe my eating disorder. Sometimes I am so ashamed of what I look like that I think about never leaving my house again. Sometimes it is completely unbearable.

My eating disorder is a living nightmare. I'm not kidding. It is an all-consuming struggle that can take over in a split second and throw me into a downward spiral of shame and despair.

This isn't something that's cute or trendy. It isn't something that I've done for attention. It isn't something I chose.
The actions I chose, the disorder I did not. 

Friends, I was seven the first time I realized I was fat.


I want that to sink in for you.

It surely sinks in for me.

I have a seven year old daughter. I have a seven year old who looks to me for guidance and I'll be damned if I'm going to ignore the issue of teaching her about healthy body image.

Somehow, someway, I believe I've managed to teach her while also dealing with my personal hell but it isn't easy. It isn't easy to preach about healthy body image when there is a voice inside of my head that tells me healthy body image is a load of crap.

I know it isn't.
I know I can teach her.

But I also need to teach me. 

Sometimes I feel so scared, wondering how I'm ever going to conquer this giant monster. I know I've done it before. I know I've had some really strong moments in the past year.

But if we're being truthful, and I do want to be truthful with you, right now isn't one of those strong times.
It isn't.
And the best thing you can do for someone in a situation like this is love them because there is literally nothing you can do.

I have to fight this. have to change it.

And I can.
I can do it.

I've gone through so much hard stuff in the past few years---I know I can conquer anything.

But knowing that doesn't make the fight seem easier. Knowing that doesn't make the next few weeks, months, or years look super bright and hopeful.

I know there are still going to be some pretty dark days---days where I curl up in a ball and hate myself and cry because all I want is to be skinny and beautiful.
I literally did all of that last night.

But the biggest thing for me, the best hope I have in beating this, is reaching out to my people. Because addiction thrives in secrecy. And my eating disorder is absolutely, positively an addiction.

And I'm sorry if this is uncomfortable for you to read---it sure as hell isn't a walk in the park for me either---but I do it, I open up about my struggle because there are people who are struggling silently. They are your friends, your family members, you.

I plan on winning my fight. Somehow. Some way.
Right now, I take it one day at a time and I fall short every single day. But I get back up and try again the next day. That's just how life works. Failure, to me, doesn't mean I throw in the towel. Failure means I'm still living and breathing and trying. Surely I can't fail if I don't try so that has to mean something.

And I'll get there. I. Will. Get. There. 

A few days ago, I posted an extremely brave video on Facebook with pieces of my story in it. If you'd like to watch it, here it is. Toward the end, it shares some information on eating disorders and how you can help yourself or your loved ones.

I have so much hope for our world. I really, really do.

This month is National Eating Disorder Awareness month. 

This awareness is important to me. I spend a lot of the month of February talking about it because I am passionate about helping others going through similar things as I've gone through and am going through.

So if you'd like to support me, you can wear purple and tag me in your photos on Facebook or send me the pictures throughout the month. Or please contact me to join our team as we walk through the Phoenix Zoo to support NEDA on March 6th, 2016 at SIX AM! It'll surely be worth it and everyone is welcome to join our NEDA team and walk with us. And you're even welcome to come over the weekend before for a t-shirt making party.

I fight because my children need me. 
I fight because I am a child of God. 
And I fight because I have worth.