But seriously guys – who shuffled the cards?

I really dislike my writing lately. If anything, it’s a less than profound literary reflection of myself: repetitive and lacking any sense of growth. Maybe it’s because I’ve been slacking off for the past few months, but when I think about, well, things, I spend most of my time staring at my notebook trying to remember the letters of the alphabet.

Everyone in their twenties feels lost, regardless of having a mental illness. Isn’t being twenty-something a mental illness in itself? But when I really think about it, I don’t feel lost. I’m very aware of where I am. I feel stagnant, which is not a bad place to be for me, to be honest. But it’s not great either. I feel like I made a very important phone call, but I’ve been put on hold for months and am now stuck listening to the same annoying, easy listening hold music while I wait.

I’m still waiting for that post-college adventurous gene to kick in. Is that how it worked for all great explorers? I don’t remember reading anything about that in our class’s skewed teachings of Christopher Columbus. But everyone all seems to be setting sail for the Great Perhaps, while I’m still trying to blow up a life raft. I feel trapped. Chained to a place that is littered with anchors. All I see is someone else’s perfectly filtered future on instagram. If only I could pin all my insecurities on my 16th century phone for not having an app to validate the happenings of my existence.

I want to eat up all the stars and recharge every nerve in my body. There’s a brighter future out there. I know it. I can feel it burning my skin. But I stumble – arms outstretched like a baby taking their first steps, needing to caught by their mother – blinded by the sun.

In just a few months, 2014 has already tested my commitment to recovery. In a lot of ways I feel very strong and tough and stable. It’s rewarding to actually see that I can take the punches life throws at me with grace. But when I ice the swelling, I have to decide whether to let everyone see the bruises or cake on make-up. Lately, it’s easier to apply a smile with lipstick. But the way I see it, in recovery, there is no quick fix so I might as well rock the red lips.

Even though I’ve been questioning a lot lately and I can’t truthfully say that I haven’t had my lapse days, in the end I always come back to the same painful truth: Addiction is a rigged game. Starving, drugs, drinking – it’s all the same. The entire time you think you’re winning. But when you finally lay your cards on the table, you have a losing hand. You might as well forfeit before the stakes get too high, skip the inevitable repercussions of relapsing, and stick with recovery even when it seems like you have nothing to lose.

As I told my best friend recently, you can kiss your demons good morning when you wake up or you can roll out of bed and wash them off in the shower. That choice is presented to me every day. Some days it doesn’t even cross my mind. And then other days it rings louder than my alarm and long after I’ve hit the snooze button. I know it’s hard to let go of something that once was your best friend. You loved them. Maybe you still do. Maybe you always will. But if you have to kiss ’em, kiss ’em goodbye.

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Trading in “sick” clothes and wearing vulnerability

Today, for the first time in three years, I bought a new pair of jeans.

I am devastated.

I woke up this morning at an ungodly hour for a day off.  My first inclination was to stay in bed all day and, in all honesty, not eat.  But instead, I decided I wanted some retail therapy and to blow my grocery money (a mere $20) on something to help me feel good about myself.  My wardrobe is made up entirely of “sick” clothes.  Clothes that by all rights I should not be able to fit into.  I am not 100 lbs anymore and haven’t been for a long time now.  But I still haven’t let go of what that number stands for.

I went to T.J. Maxx, the site where I had my first realization that I had an eating disorder my freshmen year of college.  Now, a 24 year old woman, I knew as I walked in the store that this would probably ruin my day off.  Sure enough, I left the fitting room with the familiar chokehold on my throat that had seized me 6 years ago.  But instead of running out and crying to my mother on the phone, I bought some soup and Christmas chocolate and walked home.  I cried all the way.  I cried when I got home.  I ate the soup, I ate chocolate, and I went to sleep for 6 hours.  I woke up, and now I’m crying some more.

Anorexia is a disease.  It is an addiction, and when you choose recovery, you have to deal with symptoms of withdrawal.  Addiction tames you before it hurts you.  As awful as it makes you feel, it also makes you feel high and invincible.  Nothing can touch you.  I miss that.  I miss feeling like I had skin made of steel.  Now I just feel ripped open and vulnerable with mangled guts for anyone to sink their hands into.

So yes, I am devastated.  I know that is a strong word to use in regards to the simple act of buying new clothes.  But to someone with an eating disorder, it’s not just a pair of jeans.  It is a scarlet letter burning, “I’m not good enough.”  Now they’re sitting untouched in a bag at the end of my bed waiting to see if I’ll be strong enough not to return them and exchange them for bad habits.