Thursday, May 17, 2012

Attitude Makeover - HFC Day 17

Think about what you feel pessimistic about, frustrated about or are struggling with, either now or at some point in the past. What were/are those issues? What stops/stopped you from making changes? What do you need/ did you need to confront those issues? Can you make plans to take steps to change? If you have done this, were you able to make changes? What challenges can you set yourself for the future? (Remember to make them realistic and achievable!)

Okay so this is kind of interesting.  I spend so many of my days and moments trying not to be pessimistic and to put a hopeful spin on every one of my experiences.  Truth is that I can throw the meanest pity party on the block.  My default is self pity and it leads me into depressive episodes and sideways anger.  My self pity used to keep me from even trying to recover from ED.  I was so stuck to my pity pot that I really believed that no one even cared if I got healthy.  I can see the faulty thinking there and the disease twisting my truths, so today I stay on the lookout for that voice in me.  I’m not perfect at it though and my entire recovery has been filled with frustration and pessimism over a severe neck injury I suffered in my third month of sober abstinence. 

I herniated a disc in my neck while I was showing off diving for some young kiddos at a community pool.  My husband was with me and we had been dating for only about a week.  Six months later the doctors decided surgery was necessary and performed a spinal fusion.  A year later, I was closing in on my wedding day and my pain remained so severe that I feared I wouldn’t be able to enjoy our celebration.  Three years since the injury and I am still in pain.  I did get some good news just last week that the fusion is complete but received the bad news that arthritis is developing at the injury site. 

Now, this whole thing has really sucked in so many ways.  I have lost a lot of my strength and muscle since my injury and building it back up now is super slow going.  I don’t have the same body shape at all anymore.  I have always been pretty ‘gymnast shaped’.  I never had hips or big boobs.  That’s changed.  I do have hips and I have bigger boobs.  I have had to accept a whole new body.  Man, it was hard enough accepting it the first time!!!   I’ve been angry at myself and at people that just don’t understand.  I’ve been jealous of people that get to workout as hard as they want to and feel that good ache in their muscles from a job well done.  I have yelled at my husband for being attracted to me when I’m in super exhausted from fighting the constant hurting.  I have cursed God for giving me recovery just to give me a serious injury. 

All this is self pity.  What is more is that it is self pity that to me seems justified.  It seems logical and normal to feel down about something like this.  It feels like I should have permission to feel sorry for myself, and the truth is I don’t have much control over what thoughts and emotions hit me at what time but I do need to look for positive outlets for them.  I know from my history that I can’t afford to get sucked into the morose thinking and a defeatist attitude for too long.  So, I have made a commitment to share my frustrations with other people and to find a positive in everything.  Sometimes this can be challenging but for the most part it isn’t so difficult.  Without my injury I would not have had to look so deep within; I would not have had to ask for so much help; I would not have had to pray so often; I would not have had to sit still and just be.  In these ways my injury has given me the quality of recovery I have today.  I have to remember that I don’t know what the big plan is for me and that even the seemingly terrible can bring beautiful gifts.    

Fat is NOT a feeling! - HFC Day 16

Eating disorders are not about weight. But so often people express that they feel ‘fat’. What feelings have you really been experiencing when you have said you feel fat? Or what do you think lie beneath the surface of others who express this. You can write directly in response to this blog prompt or why not alter it and look at your emotional experience of eating disorders – what did you feel? How did you know which emotion you felt? Why is it important to be aware of your emotions?

It is perfect that this was yesterday’s challenge, because yesterday I decided I was willing to weigh myself.  I very rarely weigh myself and sometimes I have to force myself to get on the scale just to ensure I’m not letting ED get away with anything ‘under the hood’ so to speak.  So I checked in with the scale yesterday, did not like what I saw and actually laid on the floor for a few moments before I could collect myself enough to carry on with my day.  It’s incredibly strange, even to a bulimic like me, how just a number can take hold of my emotions and feel so threatening and damning.  Two minutes before I weighed, I talked to my husband about needing to do it.  I gave myself a whole bunch of affirmations, felt great about my fitness level and body overall, and BAM! the number shot it all away.  The cool part is that I did NOT have to have a horrible day yesterday.  In fact, I was able to feel pretty darn confident and even like my reflection in the mirror.  What!!!!????  Nothing short of a miracle. 

For as long as I can remember, ‘that number’ directed my mood and my ability to walk through a day.  If the number wasn’t lower, I felt fat.  If I felt fat, that meant a whole bunch of bad.  It meant I wasn’t pretty, likeable, friend worthy, capable, intelligent, talented, lovable, forgivable, ugh - all goodness gone.  Feeling fat was my blanket holding and covering all my fears, insecurities, brokenness and anger.  I think I was challenged by every single one of my treatment providers with “Fat is not a feeling.  What are you feeling?  What’s inside?”  This was always frustrating to me.  I’m not sure what triggered me to decide that the feelings I had were not okay, but I decided it.  I couldn’t find a neat spot for the mess of emotions I had before ED, and they were too embarrassing to tell those I trusted the most.  I needed a hiding place for my feelings and that place became my eating disorder.  Once I hid my feelings there and found it to be an extremely effective safe zone, I became comfortable with it.  Saying “I feel fat” was completely okay with me.  I didn’t have to go any deeper and find unwanted truths or share hidden secrets from my past.  “I feel fat” was enough to keep the topic right there on the surface.  Of course, the time came when this was crippling to me, and it began to kill me.  I didn’t know how to go deeper.  I was so alone and I couldn’t find any number on the scale that would take away the fat feeling.   I know the reason I couldn’t shake it was because it wasn’t about fat at all.  It was about what was going on in my head, heart and soul. 

So yesterday, I freaked for a minute, regrouped and got my program on.  I told myself a mantra (borrowed from a friend and program) just for times like this ‘Take care of the spiritual and the mind and body will follow.’  I went over this as I got ready for work and as I drove in.  I also gave my sister a ring to commiserate about our God given ‘heavy genes’.  Upon walking from my car to the office, I connected with gratitude.  I thought about how blessed I am in my life today, how much I love my husband and family and friends, how I have a wonderful ability to show up for life today and how my body allows me to do that.  By the time I sat down at my desk, I had a smile on my face and I felt beautiful.  

I know!  Recovery is cool. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Letter to Little Me - HFC Day 15

Write a letter to yourself as a child – you can choose which ever age you feel is most relevant to you. What do you want to tell that child? What wisdom can you share with him/her? What encouragement can you give to that child? Tell that child what good qualities you see in him/her. After writing reflect on what you have written and recognize that those qualities still lie within you, as does that child.

Dear Francie,

Hello beautiful!!! So you are only six and I am thirty two but believe me when I say, I get you.  I know you love making lists so here’s a checklist for you to complete every day.  Feel free to rewrite it as many times as you like, and to cross out your completions with bold marker or circular scribbles, whichever you like. 
  • Giggle.
  • Tell your sister and brother you love them.
  • Raise your hand in class and ask a question.
  • Ask your parents to tell you a story about them when they were your age, they have some doosies!!
  • Do a dance – freestyle.
  • Get good and dirty.
  • Mess up your hair.
  • Sing a prayer or say it aloud.
  • Cuddle with mom or dad or brother or sister.
  • Give yourself permission to cry, even if you don’t cry, just remind yourself that it’s okay if you do.
  • Find some water and get yourself soaking wet (bath, shower, hose, pool).
  • Keep dreaming BIG.
  • Remember you’re a kid and your parents will take care of you and your bro and sis no matter what, no matter what.
  • See you body in the mirror and love it.  God gave it to you and it can do so much already!  You’re so fabulous exactly as you are.

This should be a good start.  Everything is going to be okay.  You are okay!  Have fun and be bold.  Be grateful for what you have and embrace it all with joy and laughter. You’re six!!!  Woohoo!

Crimes against Clients - HFC Day 14

Share your experiences about a professional or professionals (doctor, therapist, nurse etc.) that had a negative impact on your recovery. How did they make you feel? Did you speak with them about this? How did they respond? How did they impact you? How did you recover from that experience? How did you learn to seek help and trust professionals again?

This is a shaky one for me.  In my letter to medical professionals (Day 6) I expressed my frustration with my treatment over the years but also my gratitude for all the men and women who have treated me.  I believe that all my experiences, good and bad, have made me the recovery woman I am today.  I know that everyone I come in contact with is a teacher – some of what to do, some of what NOT to do.  Either way, I can learn from everyone.  Back in the throws of bulimia, I didn’t see it that way.  When a professional (aka role model) showed disease behavior, I took away bad habits and negative massages and fit them right onto me.  A lot of times I knew I was self-sabotaging and wanted to bring the pain.  Other times I was competitive or seeking attention.   Occasionally, that “I’ll show you how sick I am” mentality drove me.  In the most dangerous times, I just had no fight left and I was giving up. 

So, you may be wondering what made some folks such bad examples.  My perception may be off and my disease certainly filtered things said and done differently back then, but the number one reason I decided a professional was not worth my effort to recover was inconsistency.  If the message of the professional was inconsistent with their behavior, I was done.  The most obvious example I have is one therapist who owned a day treatment center and was my primary therapist.  This was an eight hour a day, five day a week deal, and I was a patient there for over two years.  I saw so much of this therapist that I could tell you what she would say next, if she was in a good or bad mood, and how she was doing with her food.  She was a recovery anorexic, or maybe just an anorexic.  Here was the inconsistency.  She spent all day, every day, telling us to embrace our bodies, sharing professional opinions, encouraging us to eat balanced and nourish ourselves while she did none of it herself. 

If I could go back now, I would ask her why she only ate 150 calories for lunch every day and how that made any sense to eat during our sessions.  I would show her that my meal of 500 calories, made no sense next to hers.  I would ask her why she got plastic surgery and showed off her cleavage at work while telling us we were perfect just as we were.  I would challenge her to explain her significant weight loss after her husband left against her claim that we did not have to use food to cope with any and all circumstances.  I would call to her attention that we were all competing with HER!  I would share my anger and confusion towards her and her behavior.  I would explain my pain in all its depth and tell her I wanted to be free.  I would walk away from two years of a dead end pursuit and look for help and hope in someone who had recovery.

I spent years being angry at this therapist.  I felt that I had lost so much time being sick because of her.  I don’t feel that way anymore.  I learned a lot from that experience.  Today, I interview my doctors and therapists.  They are working for me after all.  If I don’t find hope in their story, sense in their methods, or most important to me consistency in their words and actions, I find a new professional.  This has served me well and I am my own mental health advocate.  I tell a doctor or therapist when something doesn’t seem right or when I’m just not feeling comfortable with my progress.  I have learned what I don’t want in my treatment, so now I’m finding what I do.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Choose between 1 and 10 people, alive or dead, who you feel are or were positive role models. What are their names? Tell us a bit about them. What do you admire them for? How do they inspire you?

1.  Grandma Frances - My grandma and my namesake.  Classy and quirky all in one.  She was athletic and smart and easy to laugh and delighted in victory.  She played a mean game of horse rummy and took no mercy, even on eight year olds.  She played basketball when she was seventy some years old.  She was deaf and never apologized for raising her voice to an accidental yell in public.  She could be quiet too.  She could sit in the sun and nap and read for hours.  She made the most delicious peanut butter cookies and had a way of making root beer floats the most exciting grandma treat EVER.

2.  Mr. Nish - My high school cross-country coach.  This is going to sound strange but the most overwhelmingly amazing gift that Mr. Nish gave was listening.  He was the greatest listener I have ever come across and it's no surprise he was the most popular and beloved teacher at my high school.  From what I hear, he still is.  All of us want to be heard and when we are, we don't forget it.

3.  Father Roberto - A priest I very recently met who has the most contagious smile I've ever caught.  He can share and lend joy to anyone within moments.  His eyes are clear and his gaze is free of doubt.  He is joy, embodied.

4.  My sister and brother - My best friends and the greatest siblings anyone could ever have.  My brother and sister taught me how to stick by the ones you love, no matter what.  They taught me how to forgive in the purest sense.  No love is lost, the harm is left behind and the bond gets stronger with time.  I don't know where they learned this stuff, but I know I learned it from them.  

5.  Mom and dad - They never ever gave up on me and will never ever stop teaching me how to live.  My most natural desire is to be with others, to socialize and enjoy the company of others.  I love people and I love the relationships I've formed today.  I have learned to communicate and to add to a relationship because my parents have always sought to give more than take to one another and to the people around them.  They are my examples of married life and the finest I know. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hungry For Change May Challenge - Days 10,11, 12

I’m way behind!!!  It’s been quite a week so these will be short but I hope you still enjoy….

Today is bloggers choice! You can write on anything you wish with regards to eating disorders, relate mental health or social problems. Maybe you have read an article or seen a photograph or advertisement recently you wish to respond to. Perhaps you want to reflect on the challenge so far? It’s entirely up to you. If you’re stuck for ideas post on the HFC Facebook page for inspiration.

I’m a bit relieved that the free style day was day 12.  I’m going to take this day as a day off.  Something extremely valuable and a lesson I’m still learning in recovery is recognizing my own need for unstructured hours.  Me time.  I am a busy body all the way, and I really do love staying productive and creating memories with other people, especially with my family.  But quiet and rest and stillness is just as important as all the activity.  So today, I’m going to take my free style day at home by keeping this entry short, not making too many plans, and maybe a getting in a couple of naps.  It’s been a loooong week!! 


Today direct your writing at someone in particular, some people in particular or society in general. What do people misunderstand about you? What do you need them to know? If you could explain your eating disorders and how you experience them without consequences – what would you say? How could the person/people reading your writing support you or others battling or in recovery from eating disorders?

Dear mom of the teenaged girl,

BE CAREFUL! Your daughter is more than you see.  She’s talented, strong, beautiful, spirited, and sensitive.  You see these things - but remember too that your daughter is simple.  She’s a young girl and she needs permission to make mistakes.  She wants you to admit she’s not responsible for everything.  Not because you are putting too much pressure on her but because she is.  Telling her she’s putting too much pressure on herself is not going to cut it.  Be aware of the way you talk to other people.  She is listening.  Try not to predict her future.  Try to talk about who she is with your family and friends and not always what she’s earning on paper or in medals or up against her peers.  Remember to tell her silly side and her mistakes too with love and laughter.  Maybe she walked into a wall or couldn’t stop giggling or was afraid of a trip or ride.  Share these times.  She will know that ALL of her is to be celebrated and not just the things with the ‘good’ tag. 
Another thing, your daughter is going to be okay no matter what happens to her or what mistakes you make.  She may get mad at you or blame you for things but don’t take it on.  Don’t blame yourself for her hardships.  It takes away from her ability to fully experience and own the blame and pain.  Teenagers love drama and getting through trauma and tough times of their own allows them a sense of pride and strength.  Allow it and don’t steal it.

Remember that you are a wonderful mom.  You care and she knows it.  Try not to take yourself too seriously.  She will learn that from you too.  Be joyful and celebrate being a woman!  Embrace yourself and your daughter will too.

Good luck!  Love, Fran


Choose ten words; five of which relate to your experience of eating disorders and five of which relate to your recovery. What does each of these words mean to you? Why are they important to you? What part have they played in your illness and recovery?

  1. Grace
  2. Action
  3. Love
  4. Resilient
  5. Freedom

  1. Shame
  2. Guilt
  3. Broken
  4. Lies
  5. Lonely

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Viva La Difference - HFC Day 9

Today is about celebrating what makes people different. What makes humanity interesting is that we are all unique. What does it mean to be different? Write about yourself or someone you admire or people generally in terms of celebrating the differences that so often people are mocked for. 

What does it mean to be different?  To me that can mean a whole lot of things both good and bad.  The thing about people’s differences is that everyone carries them with a different level of confidence.  You see folks displaying that quirky confidence, the loud confidence, the silent but strong confidence, the silly shy confidence, the not-so-confident and shaky, the not-so-confident and showy, the not-so-confident and pained.  So I guess what I’m saying is even differences are different, depending on who’s wearing them.  Of course I wish I could shout from the rooftops or, better yet, tell each and every person in this whole world individually that they are God’s kid and that they are just the way they are supposed to be in every way. 

I’ve talked about how much I love being an Aunt, and how my niece and nephew amaze me every day with their love and innocence.  My nephew is what the world would call different.  My nephew was born with no thumbs.  He had four fingers but no thumbs.  Shortly after he came home, doctors made him thumbs by taking his pointer fingers and turning them to the outside of his hands.  They also moved a bone in each hand over towards his new thumbs to give his hands more support and strength.  Now my nephew has three fingers and one thumb on each hand.  He also has a lot of scars and not much strength in his hands in general.  He’s three and a half and has a three year old sister who is much more physically advanced than her brother.  I’ve been so amazed as I watch the two of them grow together.  At first, my niece had a hard time sharing, helping, and waiting.  My nephew lost patience with himself in the blink of an eye and went into frequent tantrums.  My sister and brother-in-law were consistent, supportive and open-minded.  Talk about celebrating differences!  They like to cheer and sing and dance for their children.  It’s beautiful and I believe their celebrations and consistent messages of love and tolerance have allowed for the picture that is today:

My nephew uses his thumbs!  He doesn’t have a lot of strength and is coming up on a muscular surgery to try to help with that, but he makes no arguments when he is reminded to use his thumbs.  His sister cracks me up when she says in her mama-mimic singsong voice, “Use your thumbs”.   He takes part in all kinds of games and can ask for help in a strong voice, no whining.  It’s not perfect but he knows he’s capable, and he is happy.  He loves loves loves his sister, and she loves loves loves her brother.  They spend hours giggling with one another, changing clothes or ‘costumes’, reading books, planning tricks or silly presentations for mom and dad.  My nephew is a total ham and a jokester.  He has this big beautiful personality and engages so well with people.  He gives the greatest hugs and will make faces at you until you laugh with him.  He knows he’s different and he certainly has a lot of frustrations because of his handicap, but I see the growth and the blessing he is.  I think he knows he’s great and special and loved too.  One unexpected gift that my nephew in all his uniqueness has given me is a very different meaning to my cutting scars.  He does not know how I got them, but he likes to compare our scars.  He puts his arms up to mine and points out that we are the same.  The first time he did this it brought tears to my eyes.  I have experienced the transformation from a painful and shameful memory to a loving purpose-filled gift.  This kid is so rad, I could go on for days!

My nephew is different.  Different is awesome!!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words - Day 8

Choose a picture (non-triggering) that speaks to you with regards to the experience of an eating disorder and/or recovery. Write in any way you choose about what it means to you and why and what lessons can be learned from that. You don’t have to write a thousand words, but if you would like to – feel free!

This was taken on my wedding day one year ago…

I don’t know what I weighed that day.  I did my own makeup, light and simple.  My hair turned out pretty cute.  My mom finished the happy yellow ribbon for the dress that morning.  Nothing was exactly in place but everything was absolutely as it was meant to be.  All day I embraced my own beauty inside and out, and I was totally present.  The abundance of laughter, hugs, kisses, dancing, and family that celebrated life with faith and love that day filled me completely. 


Forgotten Brothers - Day 7

Today think about men who suffer from eating disorders. Either write from your experiences as a male ED suffer, from the point of view of a friend of a man suffering an ED or else imagine how the experience of an eating disorder and of recovery is different for men.

This topic is very difficult for me being that I try to write from my own experience and avoid projecting too much on others.  Not that I don’t have a ton of ideas and opinions about other people’s experiences but I’m guessing most, if not all of them, are inaccurate and sell others short.   The experience I do have is through relationships with men and it’s strange to reflect and see that after all these years in rehab and day treatments and group recovery, I don’t know very men who have admitted an eating disorder.  On top of that, I can only remember one man I knew when I was eighteen who admitted he was bulimic and I don’t recall ever having an anorexic male friend.  I participated in a sport where I know the bulimia and anorexia among males is much more common than in other arenas, so I am absolutely certain that I just didn’t notice.  It is sad to think that even from someone who watched and compared every little thing and every little habit of every girl, I didn’t see the men. 

I remember the man I knew with bulimia.  I remember we shared a lot of our pain and heartache with each other about the disease.  He was a lifeguard at the pool that summer and a wrestler all throughout high school.  He told me how his weight struggles has begun as a young kid but that his bulimia kicked in when he had to do weigh ins before wrestling matches.  At eighteen, without a sport to pursue any longer, he couldn’t stop binge purging.  He had lost the ability to control his intake and his absolute need to vomit afterwards.  I totally understood his disease and related to his behavior, but I could not console him at all.  I remember that the loneliness he talked about sounded slightly different than mine.  He called himself a freak and told me he wasn’t much of a man and that he was weak.  I believe these were feelings that came from being a man with a disease hidden from the world as an ‘acceptable ailment’.  It was heart wrenching to listen to his stories but I’ve never forgotten.  I have coached kids since that show all the signs, most were wrestlers at some point and divers with me.  The approach I have taken is simple education, nothing personal.  I might need to think about whether or not that’s even supportive.  If they’re suffering, they may feel like lonely week ½ man freaks. 

I admit I have been part of the forgetting crowd.  Today, I strive to join the support reaching out to my forgotten brothers and to meet any hand asking for help in the future.  You are not alone.  We have the same illness and recovery is possible for all of us.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dear Doctor - HFC Day 6

Write a letter to a medical professional (general or mental health) or write an advert for a medical professional. What do you need from them? What don’t you need from them? What matters to you? Use your own experiences if you feel able to do so.

Wow, I wish I had a few days to look at this one.  What a great topic.  I have seen so many professionals, and I believe all of them did the best they could to help me find health.  I am sad to say that I believe the majority, with few exceptions, did me more harm than good.  That sounds harsh and I admit that it is harsh, but it is my truth.  I also know in my gut that I would not be where I am today without each and every professional affecting my life in exactly the way they did at the time that they did.  Just thought I’d get that out of the way before I began.  Here we go….

Dear MP,
First, I would like to say thank you.  Thank you to all of you who took my case, who fought for me when I could not fight for myself, who pushed me to look within, who told me I was good enough, who encouraged me to continue living, who locked me up when I was not safe, who welcomed me back after I strayed, who wanted me to live more than I willed to live myself.   Without you there would be no me.  Thank you.

Secondly, I have some feedback to offer you after all these years.  I know as professionals you know that this is only my experience but perhaps you see cases like me more often than once a lifetime.  I’m willing to bet you see cases like me quite a bit actually.  So maybe, just maybe, you’ll find some use in my feedback.  I had such a loud head when I came to you for help.  It seemed like most of your exercises made those noises louder.  I guess I don’t really understand why you looked so hard and dug so deep to find the reasons.  I mean I was in pain and instead of finding something to help me out of that pain, you encouraged me to find more so that I could find where all that pain started.  I must say it was wonderful to think that I could find a fall guy or thing or whatever.  I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear this elusive fault entity was never found.  What you might not guess is that a lot of people and a lot of me was hurt trying to find it.  We, you and me MP, pointed fingers trying to catch targets.  Well, I have news for you-  My parents didn’t abuse me.  My siblings didn’t leave me out.  I was not bullied.  My coaches were tough and I appreciated that.  My talents were treated as gifts, and I was no dog and pony show.  People didn’t call me stupid nor did/do I feel stupid.  I was and always will be loved.  I AM NOT A VICTIM!!!  I get it.  I get that these things could have been big deals for a girl showing my symptoms, but they just weren’t for me.  So, at some point I implore you to stop digging!  I mean sure, I had some skeletons in the closet and I had to look at some of those.  Great.  So what?  I had uncovered all of them within probably the first couple months of therapy and over a decade later nothing new had surfaced, nothing from my past anyway.  Plenty of new demoralizing, painful, tragic moments had come from my behavior and my obsession with disease, addiction and death.   I was also now a bona fide Axis II Borderline Personality Disorder.  One diagnosis I can absolutely see as accurate.  I had learned it all in the groups, the institutions and the rehabs that were supposed to help me.  I knew how to stay sick, to play sick, to welcome sick, to love sick.  Why in the world did you keep digging into my first 10 years of life at this point?  I mean where was the hope?  Where was the celebration of the life I was living in the moment you were sharing it with me?  Where was the direction for some contrary action?  Pity was what I felt from you in my last five years of ED.  Pity.  Does that ever help anyone break free of emotional, physical and spiritual bondage?  Really?  I mean you’re not even joining me in the conversation at that point.  You’re just nodding, writing prescriptions, agreeing with the crap hole that was my life, and the impossibility of me finding recovery.  This was supposed to move me towards health?!!!  I’m sorry, I just don’t see it.  

Thirdly, I will admit that I was never fair to you.  I never told you the whole truth.  I wanted to be taken care of and becoming healthy meant independence and independence was utterly terrifying to me because it meant you wouldn’t take care of me.  I was so afraid to live my life that I didn’t allow you to help me begin to re-enter it.  I allowed you to help me stay sick.  I purposefully served you plate-fulls of misery so you would lock me in psych wards and care for me 24 hours a day.  I shattered myself into tiny pieces so that I would remain forever broken, and so you would forever attempt to repair me.  Thank you for being my support for so long.  Without you, I would have had to use more desperate, louder methods to attract help, and I probably would have died in the process.

Finally, I will tell you what I hope you will do with the next ‘me’ that comes your way.  Challenge me.  Tell me to stop thinking about myself and my problems so much and to go and help other women the way I keep telling you I’m called to do.  Contradict me.  Tell me I am wrong when I call myself ugly.  Tell me you see me differently than I see me and that you believe someday I will agree with you too.  Tell me to stop the pity party and start using my gifts, my voice, my light.  Cry with me please.  Cry with me because crying heals and when you cry with me you allow me to go out from you refreshed, energized and understood.  Celebrate my family and my talents.  Tell me to spend time with them and to help them at those family parties.  To show up for life by giving some life to those I love.  Tell me to dance and sing and craft and laugh with my family.  Tell me to celebrate me and to allow my family to do the same.  Teach me to give compliments and to accept them with honesty and grace.  Oh, and one more thing, hug me when I leave your office (That’s for Rita and Lou Ann – thank you).

Again, thank you all who saw me to this place I am today.  Make no mistake, without you there would be no me.  Keep therapising, doctoring, and dieticianing.  You do save lives!!

Love from, Fran

Top Five of Me - HFC Day 5

Whether you have body image issues or not, eating disorders attack the body. Write today, whether poetry, list, stream of consciousness or whatever way you choose about what you appreciate your body for, what parts of your body you treasure most and why.

My top five body appreciation parts:
(Hahahaha! Who would have ever thought I’d be writing something like this?!!!!  I remember all the times they asked me for just one good thing about myself and even with suggestions I couldn’t do it!  Now, I whittled my list to five in order to save my wrists and hands on the typing because I have three entries to write - I take the weekend off from writing.  Anyway, when I wrote the title with a giggle, it just  struck me as such a miracle/gift/oddity.  I’m looking forward to this.  What?!!  J)
  1. My feet – I’ve always liked my feet.  This one stands at number one because I can’t really remember a time that I HATED my feet.  I don’t know if I can say this about any other part of my body.  My feet have been true companions if you will.  I did break my big toe a couple months ago and it was extremely ugly but it’s almost back to normal.  Still a little on the swollen side but I’d say all in all… my feet are still pretty cute.  Also, my feet are pretty amazing, functionally speaking.  I have excellent balance, strong toes and pretty decent flexibility in my toes.  How cool that I can dive the way I can much thanks to my feet!
  2. My hair – Now this was in top competition for the number one spot because my hair has provided hours upon hours upon hours of pure entertainment.  I love playing with my hair and creating funky do’s and trying on different colors.  My sister encouraged me to be a hair dresser for a long time because I have so much fun with it.  She and I used to have races to see who could French braid our own hair the fastest, then backwards, then inside out.  I once made an affirmation art therapy scrapbook for an assignment and title it ‘Crazy Hair’.  I still have it.  My hair has spoken to my personality, my mood, my acceptance or rebellion, my self-worth and altogether me over the years.  My hair is an expression and I love expressing me.
  3. My hips – Yeah and it’s number 3!!!  I never, ever thought I’d appreciate my hips.  I fought against my hips.  I put my hands over them as if cutting off that section of my body when I looked in the mirror praying they would disappear one day.  You know the drill.  I just wanted them cut off.  Well today that’s not the case.  One thing I’ve learned in recovery is to love other women.  In turn, I’ve learned to love myself as a woman.  This did not happen overnight nor did I consciously work on, getting rid of the fear of having a woman’s figure.  The hatred of my hips kinda just slowly but surely faded into the background.  Then, after a time, I started to see beauty in them.  Amazing.
  4. My tummy – My tummy is my signal.  It signals when I’m straying from my course.  Warning, warning, warning!  Any mind games or food games I play, I will recognize the consequences of them in my tummy.  Whether that’s in the form of feeling bloated, seeing new weight added, having cramps, having gastrointestinal problems or feeling empty and flat, it will reveal where I’m at with my body image and my abstinence.  It’s a gift really.  I don’t have to wonder what’s up with me for too long before my tummy tells all. Heehee.
  5. My shoulders – I’m strong.  My shoulders are broad, yet feminine.  I love my strength and athleticism and find a quiet comfort in that.  I love that my shoulders allow me to carry a posture of confidence and openness.  I pull my shoulders back, open my eyes and welcome the world in.  And it’s so, so beautiful.  
Enjoy Your Body - it's the only one you've got!!!  YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hungry for Change - Days 4, 2, 1

My ED…


This has been a powerful exercise for me.  It felt difficult, if not impossible, to depict what my disease and recovery really are to me in just a few words.  I wrote a bunch of random thoughts and feelings and arranged and rearranged words.  As I did, I found that I was really digging into the core messages of my disease and recovery.  My eating disorder started as a thing in which to find refuge, but quickly became nothing short of a living and very lonely hell.  The details are of no importance, that’s the core and ugly truth of the disease for me.  I was hoodwinked and then I was trapped.  I became resigned to my disease.  I knew sickness was all there was for me and I would die alone.  Heavy stuff.  Recovery is light.  My friend likes to say “wear recovery like a loose garment”.  I get it.  There is so much freedom in recovery and in being able to move in whatever direction I please.  I can do this because I’m secure in the beauty of my recovery, and in the amazing examples and support I have all around me. I don’t fear it all falling apart because what sense would that make?  I couldn’t figure out how to add a very well used mantra of mine to my slogan without making it too long, but it really does represent my hope and faith in recovery.  

In the voice of something bigger I hear, “I didn’t bring you this far just to drop you on your ass!”

When I’m in fear, when I think I need fixing, when I want a fix, when I’m too tired, when I can’t see the solution, I remember that I am never alone.

Weighing in briefly on my missed days…

  1. I have faith and hope today. 
  2. The freedom to dance. 
  3. Being Auntie Frannie Fran Fran.
  4. I LOVE my family.  I LOVE people.  I get to experience life with others.
  5. I have my giggles back.
  6. Women are special and priceless and I get to learn from other women today.
  7. I trust in change today.  I pray for growth.
  8. I ENJOY parties and banquets and holidays!
  9. I have a purpose today.
  10. I am alive and life is good.

One reason – I want everyone to hear and know

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Mascot - Hungry for Change - Day 3

Woo!  This brings me back to all those art therapy sessions.  I loved art therapy even though I’m a terrible artist.  It was one time I felt like there was no right answer and I didn’t have to try to be the best at it because it was all from our own experiences that our creative pieces came.  I thought they were all beautiful.  After looking at the other mascots chosen for the third day of the Hungry for Change May challenge, I have to say I haven’t changed a bit.  I find them all so beautiful!

My eating disorder recovery mascot is now, from today, A DIVER.  

In some sense it has been my mascot for years but I certainly didn’t call it that.  This picture is a perfect representation of my diving mascot for a couple reasons.  One is that she’s diving from a springboard.  I have developed a springboard diving metaphor for life.  It goes a little something like this…
In diving just about 90% of the dive’s success depends on the work that is done on the board.  You take careful steps, maintain strong and balanced posture, drive all your weight and power into the board to push it down and you up just so, and carefully time your arms and second push so that the board will seamlessly fling you up into the air and safely away from the board.  The success of the rest of your dive, however simple or complicated, will absolutely be affected by how well you’ve executed your board work.  The best part is in the freedom that comes after you’ve essentially catapulted yourself into the air.  If you’ve done it right, there’s not a whole lot you can do to mess it up.  If you’ve done it wrong, you might be saying some prayers as you come closer to hitting the water!  Either way you basically get to enjoy the ride and probably get a lot of laughs if it turns out to be more of a painful go.  Life is this way for me today in recovery.  I do the footwork and keep the ‘plug in the plate’ (as a good friend of mine likes to say), and I get to experience a freedom that welcomes all kinds of unexpected pains and pleasures.  What a thrill!
Before recovery, I knew what the day would bring – misery.  Today I have no idea what the future holds, so I continue to put one foot in front of the other and watch the results as they are revealed around me.   

The second reason I like this picture for my mascot is that she is doing my favorite type of dive, a twister.  This is my favorite because it’s both extremely complicated and fairly impossible to ‘think’ about.  You have to just do it and trust that your body knows how to take care of the dynamics in the air.  In diving this is called muscle memory and it takes some time to build up but once you’ve got it you learn to absolutely rely upon it.  In eating disorder recovery, this is compared to intuitive eating, turning away from the magnificent magnifying mind in the mirror, and the human instinct to survive no matter what.  The body know best and I have come to enjoy the freedom I get when I trust that. 

I’m built strong and healthy.  My body is able and capable.  My recovery allows me to take some pleasure, joy and comfort in that.  No more fighting.  I’m doing the work; I think I’ll enjoy the ride. J


I just love this picture.  I wish we still wore suits like this!!!