Friday, December 2, 2016

For my ride or die

I don't even know how many times I've put my laptop on my lap (whoa...the name makes way too much sense now), wrote a few paragraphs, and then promptly deleted everything on the screen. All I know is that the number would be in the double digits. I'm not sure why its been so hard for me to write lately. I think its a mixture of being worried that people will hate what I produce, being a newly wed and having my life as I once knew it abruptly and beautifully uprooted, and trying to finish the Harry Potter series (for the first time ever!) before the year is over. But my husband says those are all poor excuses for giving the cold shoulder to one of my greatest passions.

Speaking of my husband. I'm writing this post today because its his birthday!!! He's turning 29, but I prefer to tell him that he's almost 30. He hates that. Anyway, if there is one thing that I can do to make him happy, it would be to finally get back to doing what makes ME happy, and that's writing. Luckily for me, I get to ease back into this whole writing thing by writing about the most straightforward and uncomplicated topic in my life: how wonderful my husband is (because its his birthday!!). After this I have promised him I would get back to writing about the more messy, perplexing, and tangled part of my life—recovery (and all the things that come wrapped up in it).

Okay before I go any further, let me introduce you to my husband so I can stop calling him husband and call him by his name (because using the word husband still freaks me out). His name is Craig. For the rest of this post, that is what I will be calling him.

The majority of the people reading this post are probably my friends and family so I don't need to point out that I got married four months and five days ago, but I just pointed it out anyway because a few weeks ago we were asked how long we've been married and, because I'm not sentimental and cutesy, I had no clue. I felt kind of bad, so this is me redeeming myself.


I was going to do one of those "29 reasons you're amazing" lists but I did that last year with "28" and I really don't think I can come up with another reason ;)
Instead, I want to let you know what a great teacher you are. No, I'm not talking about your job as a professor at Dixie State. I'm talking about your job as my husband. Little did you know that when you married me, you were signing up to be a lifelong teacher to little old me. And I'm seriously the luckiest women alive because I get to learn from the best.

Here are five lessons I have learned or are currently learning from you:

You're teaching me to think for myself
One of the most incredible moments I've had with you happened in a conversation we were having about my eating disorder (E.D) and my struggle to recover. I remember it very well. I was lamenting about how hard it was for me to let go of E.D. This was the conversation:

Craig: What's the worst thing that will happen if you give up your eating disorder and recover?
Me: I'll gain weight
Craig: So...?
Me: I'll be fat.
Craig: And...?

It was then I realized how shallow and trifling my whole ideology was (and still sometimes is). 
This is just one of the many times that you have prodded me to stop and question societal dogma and it's amazing how many things I've assumed to be truths that are actually complete bull crap—like this notion that if you're not skinny then your somehow not good enough. 

You're teaching me that it's okay to fail 
I recently let you in on one of my deepest insecurities: not getting into the BYU nursing program. TWICE. I didn't realize how much that rejection was ruining my life until you pointed out that I was assuming being rejected meant I was a reject. The lack of acceptance was keeping me from taking anymore risks. However, since our conversation, I have begun to consider different paths that will require effort, hard work, and ultimately, the dreaded application process. I just want you to know that I wouldn't have had the courage to even think about putting myself out there again if it wasn't for you.

You're teaching me how to be financially literate
I know you're going to be shocked to hear this, but you know those weekly money meetings you make us have? The ones where you talk about our current finances and I usually tune out and get on instagram because money has always stressed me out? Yeah, well believe it or not, I love that you set those up and I'm lucky to have married someone so smart and organized with their money. I knew next to nothing about finances when we met (I didn't even keep my money in a bank, I kept it in my underwear drawer), and I know I still have a lot to learn, but I've already come a long way because of you and I'm so grateful.  

You're providing the space and patience for me to learn how to cook
**Yes, you heard it right. Craig is the cook in our household. No, I don't force him to do it. He actually just enjoys it and he's incredible at it. I, on the other hand, do not enjoy anything that goes on in a kitchen except the actual eating a meal. To be honest, I think I'm just a perfectionist and I don't like trying things that I'm not already good at (e.g. cooking). For this reason, I was stressing out about becoming a wife. But we have an agreement that I will cook twice a week, and I'm actually starting to look forward to my days now. Also, can I just say how grateful I am to be married to someone who doesn't buy into gender roles??

You're teaching me how to love myself
I'm not sure if you remember this, but a few months ago you had a conversation with me that changed my life. It was a few weeks into our engagement and I was having an especially hard time feeling good about myself. I had been making some pretty hateful comments about myself and I was on verge of a relapse when you said you needed to talk to me about something important that night. When we finally sat down to talk, it was one of the more sobering moments we've ever had together. You wanted me to know that when I'm not kind to myself and when I say hurtful things about my looks, my worth, or my abilities, it hurts you too. I'll never forget that night because that was when I learned that loving myself wasn't just something I needed to do for my own good, but I was also something I needed to do for the people whom I love and who love me in return. 

Well, those are just a few of the many wonderful things I've learned by having you as my...ride or die (notice I didn't use the word husband). I can't wait to see what this list will look like when I'm 80. Anyway, I want to go spend some time with you now so I'm going to be done writing. But thank you for picking me to be your wife! Happy Birthday!! 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Good News Bears!

I have the most amazing news! I've been wanting to share it for some time now, but I can't seem to string my words together in a way that I find does it justice. Each time I try to write about it, the combination of words I come up with completely miscarry the magnitude of it all. But after several weeks of keeping this all in, the excitement has become tainted with guilt from a sin of omission. I have—as we all do—unique experiences that position me to help others. There are many ways we can each use our experiences to support, lift, and inspire others and I believe that writing is one of my ways. So at the risk of devaluing my greatest accomplishment with inadequate words, I'm going to share it with the world in hopes that someone can find inspiration.

First, a little background:

I've been a prisoner of bulimia for the past 6 years.

I checked into a rehab center for 4 months in 2013 in hopes of obtaining sovereignty from the prison I call ED (eating disorder).

After I was discharged from rehab I thought I was healed, but to my disappointment (and the disappointment of all those who love me) I relapsed immediately. You see, rehab was a forced recovery. I was under 24 hour supervision and didn't have the option of indulging in bulimia. I had to eat every morsel of food given to me during the 3 meals and 3 snacks. If I failed to consume all the food I was given, I was "Boost"-ed (this is rehab slang for: forced to drink a meal replacement shake that contained the same amount of calories I refused to eat). After every meal, I was not allowed to use the restroom for at least 30 minutes, and anytime I did use the restroom I had to leave the door cracked open while one of the Care Technicians stood just outside. But wait, it gets worse. After I was done using the restroom, I wasn't allowed to flush my own toilet, so the lady standing outside of the door had to come in and flush it for me. Talk about embarrassment. I even had restrictions on burning calories. I wasn't allowed to exercise any more or any less than they permitted. Oh, and if I was ever caught shaking my foot back and forth while I was sitting, I was asked to stop because they knew exactly what my motive was: I was trying to burn extra calories. I also couldn't get away with exercising in my room at night because they checked on me every 15 minutes. Even through the absurdities, I was able to realize that this unconventional way of life was—at that time—for my best interest. But once I was released to go home, stripped of the rigid rules and returned the freedom to make my own decisions, I reverted back to my old harmful behaviors.

I spent the next two and a half years trying to get a grip on my life and rip it from the locked jaw of my eating disorder. Every time I gave into ED, I promised myself it was the last time. However, my resolve always seemed to disintegrate within just a few hours and I would end up face to face with the toilet bowl pledging to the same promise: Taylor, this is the last time. But as time went by, my fight grew weak. I began to imagine what living the rest my life in the clutches of my addiction would be like and, in all honesty, it seemed more bearable than living under the cloak of shame that came with trying to recover and failing. every. damn. time. The shame I put on myself when I lost the fight to ED—on a daily, sometimes hourly basis—was harrowing. Wanting something so badly and then giving it all my energy and effort only to watch it fall and shatter even worse than it did last time is painful. So I stopped. I stopped fighting. I gave up. I surrendered. And as the wave of acquiescence crashed on top of me, I packed recovery away in a box just like I did my stuffed animals from childhood. A box kept for sentimental purposes but a box that I never really intended to open again.

So there I was, fully capitulated to my addiction. I guess you could say we were in a monogamist relationship; I had no time or desire for anything or anyone else. I was living in a one-dimensional world that revolved around satisfying my eating disorder. I gave into every urge without hesitation. My eating disorder took on the normalcy and priority of taking shower—it's just something I had to make time for in my day. What I couldn't seem to find time for was my family, my friends, my hobbies, self-care, my education or anything else that brought joy and meaning to my life. And even when I was with my family or friends, I was never present. My mind was always fixated on the food that was in the room and whether or not I was going to completely refrain from eating anything, or stealthily binge on all of it. And if I chose to binge, then my next preoccupation was how am I going to get away from everyone so that I could throw it all up. ED stole all of my time, energy, and thoughts.

After several months of willingly traveling through life shackled to the ball and chain of my eating disorder, I started to panic. Sure, I thought life was currently going just fine for me. I had a job that supplied me with money to support myself (and ED, that has costed me more than I'm willing to admit). I had top-of-the-line family and friends (none of which I saw much because ED was so demanding of my time). And I was healthy (though my doctor said it was only a matter of time before ED started taking an permanent toll on my life). Okay so maybe life wasn't going that well... and do you want to know what really had me worried? My future family. What kind of wife would I be with ED as my constant companion? My husband wouldn't just be marrying me, he would be marrying me and ED—a love triangle that no one should have to be a part of. What about my children? What kind mother would I be with a disorder that requires more attention than a newborn? If I had already become content with missing family gatherings and other important events just so I could appease ED, I can only imagine how easy it would be to miss my daughters' science fair or my son's piano performance. Or worst of all...what if I couldn't even keep my body healthy enough to create any children of my own?

So...remember that box? You know, the one that I stuffed my hopes of recovery in? Along with my grit, fortitude and self-respect? Yes, that one. Well, I decided to go find and unpack the box. So with the unconditional love and help from family, friends, my boyfriend, doctors, therapists, God, and myself, I was able to revive my recovery. Not only has the box been opened, but its contents have been ever-present in my life for the past 144 days.

I'm going to say it again.


Just to give you perspective—prior to this, the longest I was ever able to go without giving into my disorder was 12 days. And it happened only twice in the 6 years I struggled. So I never thought I would live to see recovery day 13 let alone recovery day 144!

It feels SO good. For the past 6 years I've merely been existing just for the purpose of existing, and now I'm relearning what it feels like to actually live. With ED at bay, I have found time to do things that give me back a feeling of purpose and pride. Instead of spending lonely, dark nights with ED, I've become acquainted with John Steinbeck and Maya Angelou. I've deepened my relationship with the people I care about most. I have reframed my life and have taken risks ED formerly robbed me of the confidence and time to take.  I've never been so proud of myself. And yes, I'm bragging. But part of why I wanted to share this with all of you is because I want to offer my story as a source of hope to those who may be struggling with an addiction or problem of their own. If that's you, I'm here to say DON'T GIVE UP THE FIGHT. I know it's exhausting. I know how many times you've said "this is the last time." I know you've failed more times than you can count. I know you're enveloped in shame and defeat. I know the deafening loneliness that comes from silent struggle. And I know you may want to (or already have) raise the white flag and surrender to whatever is trying to drag you down. But do you want to know what else I know? I know you have more strength within you than you can ever imagine. It may be buried deep under the shame and frustration, but it is there. It doesn't matter how "screwed up" you are or how long you've been struggling. The strength and resilience we inherit as humans beings is vast and powerful. It's just a matter of finding it.

In my next few posts, I am going to expound the tools and concepts that helped me and continue to guide me through recovery. And if you know someone struggling through an addiction please share this with them!

fight the good fight,