Dear Ed…Closing a Chapter and Beginning a New Book

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“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.”

The last several weeks have been a whirlwind. From graduating college, to saying goodbyes to friends,  to starting new adventures, to friends getting married, if feels as if life is going at full speed and it is during those times that I feel the need to take a big deep breath and soak in all I have the potential to miss. I have never felt more loved or more celebrated than I have in the last several weeks, from a graduation party thrown by “The Moms”, to a precious family party, to time with my best friends, to many cards and presents, to sweet texts and phone messages, as I have said (many many times if you know me 🙂 ) before I really am one beyond blessed girl. It wasn’t until I was going through a memento box from the last four years that reality finally struck me. A chapter in my life was closing in so many ways. I ran across a letter I wrote in the early fall, shortly before I started this blog. It was a letter I wrote in the midst of recovery to Ed and when I wrote it I felt like I still had to struggle extremely hard be free. As I read the words in the letter the other day though, tears filled my eyes, because I realized  by the grace of God I was no longer the girl in the letter. I realized I had grown leaps and bounds in the last nine months and that Ed is no longer a part of my daily or even weekly life. Sure I have bad days and struggles like anyone else but I have reached a point in my recovery that there is so much freedom that is unbelievable. So even though I am so proud of myself for my college graduation in my book this is an even bigger deal. So as you read this letter I hope you know if you have been a part of my journey thank you, this is for you and for those of you out there struggling this is for you too. Nine months ago I didn’t think I would be where I am now and yet here I am, beginning a new part of my life after college. For the first time, I feel as if I am closing a chapter of an old book and starting a brand new one…

Dear Ed,

You have been a part of my life for too long now. I hate you. In fact, I despise you. I know that for the last twelve years we have been friends, we’ve been best friends but that is ending now. I don’t want you in my life. I don’t want to be your friend. I don’t want to hear your lies.

I know we have been close for a very long time now and leaving you behind is not going to be easy but it is going to be worth it. Everyday that I listen to you one less time, every time I take one more bite, every tiny step I take towards being free of you is a small battle won. I will celebrate these victories and I will be proud of myself for them. You have kept me in chains for too long and I AM going to break free.

I am making a commitment to not listen to you, to not obey you, to fight you and to win. I may make mistakes, I may fall, I may not win immediately but eventually I will. I will not let you use my mistakes and my slip ups against me. I will not let you get me down. I will give myself grace, I will remind myself of what my life will be with without you, I will step up instead of backing down.

I know I have said this before and I know that a year ago I made a commitment to beating you but I have been scared, no, I’ve been terrified. You made me believe that I couldn’t live life without you, that I wasn’t strong enough, that I would never beat you but for the first time in my life I believe I CAN and I WILL!

I will not let myself believe the constant lies you tell me, or all the doubt you fill my head with. I know as I recover your voice will be there, pretending to love me (when in reality you hate me). I WILL not count calories, eat or not eat for the sake of comfort, I WILL not skip meals, I WILL not use ANY KIND of supplements, meal replacements, or laxatives or medicines (to avoid eating or to get rid of food), I WILL not engage in behaviors that make your voice loud, I WILL not continue in behaviors that harm me and continue to bring me self-hatred and disappointment.

I will avoid and be aware of my triggers (talking about diet and exercise plans, looking at models or unhealthy people, obsessing and comparing myself to others, constant stress of perfection in school, and thinking I have to impress everyone I meet). I will instead remind myself that I am loved by a God who, “fearfully and wonderfully made me” just the way that He wanted me and that He believes I am beautiful no matter my looks. I will remind myself that Mary and the Kendall family, value my friendship and love and treasure me in their lives. I will remind myself that Mommy and Daddy, Sam, Anne, Davis, Nick, and Carter are grateful I am a part of their families. I will remind myself that I have countless, family, friends and wonderful best friends who believe I am worth fighting for and beating this. I will remind myself that my Anorexia does not define me and never will. I will remind myself that God has incredible plans for my life, which include loving and serving others, and bringing glory to His name, and none of them I can complete if I am not here.

ED, this is goodbye for good, you will no longer master my thoughts, my actions, my life. I am taking back the control and will keep it for the rest of my life. I am ending this friendship for the last time and will not be returning. I just wanted you to know in case you were in doubt that I DON’T love you and I DON’T want you to be a part of my life anymore. I will KEEP fighting EVEN when it gets hard, EVEN when I want to give up, EVEN when I feel like no more of me can fight, I will fight until I BEAT you and you are NO longer a part of my daily life!

Goodbye ED, we won’t be speaking anymore,

Martha Kate

To those of you who read that letter and walked this journey with me, thank you is an understatement. It is your hand-holding, prayers, love, and support and grace, that brought me through. I love you and always will. I could not have made it without you. To those of you reading this who are struggling with Ed or something else, there is freedom, there is hope, you CAN be set free. I want you to know that there was a point that I never thought it was possible but IT IS!! And to MK way to go girlfriend, you never backed down and you still don’t. I want you to know, I am proud of YOU!

Friends, you can make it through recovery, you can beat this. There is hope, there is grace and when you do find freedom, I want you to be so thankful for those who have helped you through, I want you to give back and help those struggling but I also want you to be sooo proud of yourself because no one can do this for you but YOU.  I don’t know about you but this girl is slamming the book closed on that chapter (never to be reread!) in her life and she is starting a brand new beautiful book full of grace, messiness, imperfection and beauty because that is what life is all about! My friend, I am thinking of you this week and hoping  that you may find the strength to fight whatever battle it is in your life and that you may find the hope to overcome it and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

❤ MK

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Recovery and Crawfish

Eating with a full heart at RUF Crawfish Boil 2013

Eating with a full heart at RUF Crawfish Boil 2013

“…sometimes the happiest ending isn’t the one you keep longing for, but something you absolutely cannot see from where you are.”

I cannot help but smile from ear to ear when I look at the picture above. That girl is so joyful and not the kind of joyful that masks pain but one that knows pain, has felt it and still finds joy in the morning. That girl didn’t exist last year and she certainly didn’t exist at that very same crawfish boil, because she was terrified. MK last year might have made a commitment to recovery but she still found certain things so hard to do. Let’s just say eating with her hands, off a table, with other people, surrounded by mounds of food wasn’t the ideal situation, but this year…it was perfect… because that is the beauty of recovery…

When Ed and I were still best friends there were certain things that I was “not allowed to do” as mandated by Ed. I had certain eating habits, which meant I ate with my hands extremely rarely. I used utensils for everything. I DID NOT get my face or hands messy. I didn’t eat from family style meals. I certainly didn’t eat off a table.  I didn’t eat with anyone but my closest friends. And I didn’t eat anything that was not on my list of certain foods “I was allowed”. Those were just a few of the Ed rules. ( I want to be clear and say I only tell you these “rules” because I want you to know how absurd they were and how filled with lies each was!!) When I started recovery many of the rules went out the window. However, these were still some of the ones I clung to in order to maintain stability and control. I had bizarre food behaviors that were slowly being eradicated but it was a process. Needless to say, I was still working on these as I went to my RUF Crawfish Boil last year and I was pretty terrified. I remembering managing to eat a few of the critters which were definitely not on my okay to eat list but the whole time worried at who was watching me eat. Had I eaten too much. Could I eat the desserts and the crawfish? Where did these things fit in on my meal plan? How could I calculate? It was rough to say the least, in fact I am pretty sure I left early mostly due to how overwhelmed I felt.

Fast forward a year… I helped plan the Crawfish Boil and wait for it… I was in charge of coordinating and even picking up some of the food. My how a year changes things. I was literally ecstatic to spend this time with my best friends. I had fun from the set up to the clean up. I ate until I had a full tummy and my lips burned with spiciness. I tried multiple desserts and loved them. I played with the cutest babies, caught up with dear friends, laughed and never thought once about what I was eating. All the things that scared me last year were not even on my radar this year. Nobody cared what I ate or didn’t eat. No one was watching me eat like I previously thought. I even taught some new friends how to eat crawfish. And lets be real, eating off a table with your hands is pretty fun! 🙂  It was a spectacular time…because that is the beauty of recovery.

Friends that is recovery, enjoying eating critters. 😉 Recovery is eating with my community and not worrying about what I am eating because I am having way too much fun enjoying the people I am with. Recovery is being able to eat fast food and not care. It is about eating a candy bar mid day because it sounds good. It is about choosing fruit or a salad because it genuinely sounds good and not because it’s the lowest calorie option. It is eating family style and aking for seconds. It is eating with your hands off a table. It is trying two desserts. It is about going to get a diet coke and deciding an ice cream cone sounds good. It is about not checking the menu before you go to a restuarant and even more not caring what restuarant you end up at. It is about ordering or buying food that is not light or low fat because you like the taste or vice versa.  It is about not wearing make up just to cover up a pimple. It is about not wearing clothes two sizes too big just to cover your body but wearing clothes you like. It is about enjoying shopping and not caring about sizes. It is not caring what other people think about the way you look and even more it is about realizing that people truly are not focused on the way you look.

Most days the things above are part of my normal rountine I don’t have to think twice about any of them. And then there are other days, days that are few and far between, when recovery is a little more difficult. Those are the days I am concious of fighting hard because Ed wants to creep in and have a say so. On those days it is easy to become mad, frustrated, and let down. Ed and I don’t really talk anymore but when I am worn down and upset he thinks it’s okay to slip in his two cents. It is on those days that food is just a little more difficult, that looking in the mirror doesn’t come as naturally and that I have to remind myself where I am in my journey. Those days although few and far between are tough, they take a lot of energy and they remind me why I fight. It is on those days that I am grateful that I can fight back because once I didn’t know how and I wasn’t strong enough, today I am. I can slam the door in Ed’s face and tell him to leave me alone. It is on those days that I remind myself for over a decade that this is how I dealt with life and that it is a process and that one day I won’t hear him ever. It is even on those really tough days that I am so grateful for where I am and the fact that more than 90% of my days I don’t hear from him or think about his place in my life… and even more when he tries to speak up I know why and can tell him to go away and it happens… and that is AMAZING! It is about understanding that everyone has a bad day. It is about truly knowing that I don’t strive for perfection any more because I am living and walking in grace.

Friend, I hope you are encouraged and that you know that this is possible for you too. I want you to eat crawfish family style. I want you to order the ice cream cone. I want you to pick the salad because it sounds delicious. I want you to look in the mirror and smile. I don’t know where you are in your path to recovery but know that it is possible. Life without Ed is soo possible and don’t let ANYONE tell you it isn’t! There is freedom and I am living in that freedom and that is what I want for you too. Recovery is truly a journey and I want you to know that your are not aiming for perfection but you are learning to walk in the freedom of grace. May your week be filled with the idea of living and walking in freedom and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!!

❤ MK