Addiction is Addiction is Addiction
My Name is TC and I Have an Eating Disorder
I remember texting my friend from the hospital “do you think you can come pick me up?” My husband, Jon, knew where I was, he was the one who took me to the ER earlier that day, but I didn’t want him to have to come get me, I was too ashamed. On the short car ride home I don’t remember talking to my friend, maybe I did, but by that point my brain felt like it had been contaminated by thick fog, my body felt weak and sloppy. I do remember one thought I had…
HOW DID I GET HERE?
And then a second immediate thought…
I’m fine. This isn’t that big of a deal.
I’ve learned that this is a pretty typical thought or justification for an addict or for anyone who has lost complete control of his or her life… which is what had happened to me.
My name is TC and I have an eating disorder.
I was nervous to walk in my front door. I was full of shame and guilt. My family didn’t deserve this. My 3 beautiful children, my loving husband, they didn’t deserve the pain I was causing them by my choices. I was scared to face them.When I finally walked in the front door I was surprised by who was there to greet me… my husband and… my parents.
At this moment it occurred to me that THIS is serious.My parents should have been lying under the beautifully warm sun on the radiant beach in San Diego, not at my home in Arizona. They had been planning and looking forward to this California vacation for a while, but as soon as they arrived they were interrupted by a phone call from Jon… “TC is in the ER… I’m really worried”. My parents were aware that I had been struggling with eating so when they heard from Jon they immediately jumped in their rental car and, from California, headed straight to Arizona.
The next day was a mixture of agony and relief. This was inevitable. I needed help. I was sick. I was slowly dying and I needed to be saved. The people that were in my life that loved me knew this. They understood that I could not pull myself through this place that I had put myself in. Inpatient treatment was immediately decided.
Less than 2 days after my parents arrived in Arizona they were leaving again. Only, this time they were leaving with something that belonged to me. They were taking a priceless treasure of mine.
They were leaving with my 13 month-old daughter.
They were going to care for Bella while I was away, in treatment. It was the best thing for our family but no matter how I tried to rationalize this, it didn’t comfort me as I watched my loving parents drive away with my beautiful baby girl.I was devastated. Everything felt like it was in slow motion. I was heartbroken. I judged myself harshly. I hated myself. Why couldn’t I just eat? I loved my family, I wanted to be with them and all I had to do was start eating… but I couldn’t. When did this thing get bigger than me? When did I lose control of my very own life?
My name is TC and I had to leave my family to save myself.
The next day I said heartfelt goodbyes to my boys, Brayden (5) and Jack (3). What could I say to them? How could I explain the situation to them? I didn’t know how long I would be away. I didn’t know when I would see them again. So I just held them as long and as tight as I could.
I was terrified as Jon and I arrived at Remuda Ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona. It was time to say goodbye to my husband. I begged him to take me back home… I told him I would eat, I promised him that I could fix this on my own, but he knew better. Words never really escaped my mouth as I was overcome with emotion watching him walk away, leaving me all by myself.
Going to Remuda Ranch was necessary but it was HARD. I had to do hard things. I had to eat. For 2 weeks I ate nothing but liquids (the “soft” diet”) for breakfast, lunch and dinner and my body hated me for it. My body struggled remembering how to digest and absorb food. I was in physical pain and emotional turmoil.
I was gone for 75 days.
I had to weigh in every morning wearing nothing but a hospital gown. I had to eat everything off my plate or be supplemented in calories by drinking Ensures. If I walked too fast or walked too much (in an attempt to burn calories) I had to drink MORE Ensure. I was threatened with the option of putting a feeding tube through my nose. I was told some harsh truths and I had to own up to some very painful realities. I had to learn to live in the uncomfortable and deal with hard things in healthy ways.
I missed Halloween. I missed Jack’s 4th birthday. I called him on his birthday and had all the girls from my house sing “happy birthday”. When they were done I heard Jack laugh on the other end of the phone call, then he said, “Mom, it’s my birthday, why aren’t you here?” Right then I hung up the phone, I had to. I couldn’t even find my voice as my regret and emotion took over once again.
My name is TC and I believe lies.
Eating disorders are no joke. They are all different and they are all uniquely complex. I spent a lot of time listening and learning about how so many dynamic, smart, happy, lovely, fun, beautiful women ended up with eating disorders that were drastically affecting their lives. In my experience, the universal problem was that we all trusted lies. Every single one of us, on some level, believed lies.
The lies I trusted had a lot to do with being worthy. I absolutely believed that I was unworthy… of everything. I was unworthy of God, of love, my family, my friends, my children, my marriage… everything! I believed that I could and would never be worthy, that nothing and no one could possibly EVER love me, simply because I was unlovable, I was unworthy of love. And I believed this with all of my heart. To me, this was reality.
My name is TC and I am learning to believe truth.
I have been home from Remuda Ranch for over 5 years now and I still have to proactively put forth effort to stay healthy. I constantly have to catch my first thought (which is usually a lie), challenge it, and change it (to a truth). I have to have a plan in place for the times when I start feeling the pull to engage in eating disorder behaviors. Some days, weeks, months seem to come and go with little effort but some days, weeks, months come and I feel as though I am back on the front lines fighting for my life. The difference in my fight now, is that I finally believe that I am valuable and that I am worthy! I am not only valuable and worthy enough to fight these battles, but I am actually worthy enough to win them!
I believe that eating disorders are REAL. MY eating disorder is real. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness. I believe that eating disorders are serious. I can finally acknowledge that MY eating disorder is serious.I believe that starving myself or binging after eating was my desperate attempt at controlling my life. It was my lame attempt at making myself feel worthy. It was a lousy coping mechanism and a very false form of self-soothing.
I believe that all the pains and fears and insecurities that I hide myself from by turning to my eating disorder will ALWAYS inevitably and eventually catch up to me. I have learned that the best way to move through my painful mess is by simply (or not so simply) sitting in it and feeling it and validating it. Pushing it away by running to an addiction or a false form of self-soothing is only delaying and magnifying what will eventually come.
My name is TC and I have learned some very hard things.
I have learned that my eating disorder will never go away, much like an addiction it will always be “there” inside of me. I will always have to be proactive to keep myself in a healthy place, even after all these years I have to consciously “fight” against my eating disorder and the lies it wants me to believe.
I have learned that if I work, if I use the things I have been taught and the tools I have been given, then my eating disorder will only take up a tiny little space somewhere in the back of my brain, rather than consume it like it has in the past.
I have learned was that I CAN’T trust my eyes to tell me the truth about myself. This lesson wasn’t one I easily accepted and for the longest time I couldn’t understand this concept. I was told that my very own eyes were incapable of accurately seeing my reflection in a mirror. How could I agree that my very eyes that lovingly watch as my children play, my very own eyes that can recognize when someone needs a friend, the same eyes that can recognize God’s love by watching a colorful sunset in the Arizona desert… those eyes that see so many realities are capable of seeing accurately ACCEPT when I am looking atMYSELF? The tests I took while working at Remuda Ranch proved that I saw myself, my very own eyes saw my reflection, as 52 pounds distorted. This news was so unbelievably painful and confusing to me, and in some ways it still is, but I am learning to trust and accept (with great sadness) that my eyes possibly don’t “see” me.
I have learned to be patient with myself. I have messed up… and I have messed up big time and I have messed up a lot. But I have realized that, for me, recovery isn’t pretty and it isn’t clean and it isn’t a one-time fix. I have learned that my recovery is very ugly and very messy and I have learned that I will fail sometimes. But I have also learned how to see the bigger picture. I have learned how to hold on to hope and how to give myself grace while I heal.
I haven’t quite learned how to entirely love the physical part of my body, but I haven’t given up on the possibility. However, I have been able to learn to love my body for all the things it can do for me. I have learned to appreciate what my healthy body is capable of and I have learned to be grateful for it.
My eating disorder will probably be a part of me for the rest of my life but I believe that the harder I fight the easier my battle will be. I have hope that I can heal. I have hope that the people who love me truly love me for who I am, not what I am. And I have hope that one day I will sincerely and completely love and embrace my whole body with all my wonderful flaws.My name is TC and I have hope that I can and will love myself completely.