Dear Ed,

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Today, May 5, 2017, is my one year in recovery. One year ago I walked through the doors of Carolina House and was admitted to their residential program. You can read a blog post about that here (and you can find all my blog posts tagged treatment here too if you’re interested). Reaching the one year mark is weird and hard, but oh so joyful. So today, to celebrate my one year of starting to kick Ed (my eating disorder) to the curb, I’m writing him a letter. If you have never experienced an eating disorder, it may seem weird to you that I personify my eating disorder and call him Ed.  Just roll with it, friends. When there’s something in your head screaming at you, you want to be able to somehow separate it from who you are. So my eating disorder is Ed. And here’s what I have to say to him.


Dear Ed,

I remember when we met. I was 13, and my friend introduced me to the wonderful “comfort” that you bring. First I let you into my life because I wanted to lose weight. Not that I needed to, but I thought it would prove me worthy enough to be friends with the girls at school. Simple enough, right? No. You already had your foot in the door, so you soon began to demand your way. You quickly became my best coping skill, because even though you were slowly beginning to suck the life out of me, you numbed the pain of depression and took the place of self-harm when I had to cope in a “socially acceptable” way, aka not eating. Because dieting is normal and okay for a 13 year old, right? Wrong.

It’s been a long haul with you, Ed. Five years. You saw me throughout half of middle school and all of high school. When I think of my high school years, I don’t remember hanging out with friends during class or on the weekends. Instead, I remember skipping every off campus lunch so that I could sit in the hallway alone – I mean, sit in the hallway with you – and not eat. I remember not going to a single school dance (well, I went to my senior prom for 15 minutes – that counts, right?) because I had isolated myself so much that I had no friends to hang out with. I remember sitting in class, not paying attention to the lesson at all, but instead tallying up calories in my planner and planning my “meals” for the week.

To you, those things might sounds fun. Those are the things that you thrive off of. But to me, those are horrible memories. You took everything from me. Everything. Every good memory that I have since the age of 13 is tainted by you. My first cruise? Tainted. My first prom? Tainted. Every birthday? Tainted. Every event in my life that should have been completely happy and free? Tainted. You took everything from me, and even still, you wanted to take my life. And I’m over it.

I’m over it because I still have the 13 year old girl inside of me who still thinks she’s fat. Who cries when she looks in the mirror. Who wants to crawl out of her body when she feels food settle in her stomach. I’m over it because 13 year old me should have been a happy seventh grader, but instead she was taught to hate herself. That 13 year old girl grew up to be the same 19 year old girl that I am today. And this 19 year old still feels the 13 year old inside of me. And the 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 year olds. I feel all the brokenness. All the jagged pieces that don’t know where to fit. Some days I handle it really well. Some days I can kick you in the balls and go on with my day in freedom. But some days I’m crippled. Because 13 year old me is crippled. Or maybe it’s 17 year old me that’s crippled. But regardless, you broke me for so many years and I’m still trying to fix that.

I want to be able to love myself. Shocking, I know. You told for some long that it’s not possible. But I’m learning that it is possible. It’s more possible to live a successful life of loving myself than it is to live a successful life with you, because guess what. No one can live a successful life but also be tangled up in their eating disorder. But living a life of freedom and happiness while pursuing self-love is so completely possible, so that is what I’m after! I’ve made a lot of progress in the past year. I’ve eaten fear foods and made them my b**** (curse word sorry BUT SO TRUE). I’ve exercised because it makes my body feel good, but I’ve also stopped myself from exercising when I realized I was obsessing over the calories being burned. I’ve bought clothes to fit my new, beautiful recovery body. I’ve let myself cry and be mad at you/my body/my treatment team/food/the world. I’ve screamed. But that’s all part of this thing called living. It’s a new phenomenon to me, because you didn’t let me experience real life. But let me tell you, this life thing is pretty cool.

I know, I know, it hurts to die a slow and painful death. I know because that’s what you were doing to me. While I was malnourished and dying, you were thriving. The closer I got to death the more alive you became. But guess what. My recovery kills you. And it’s a long process. Some days I’m suffocating you, but other days I seem to have you on life support. The life support days are becoming few and far between, thank goodness. Each day I’m able to suffocate you a little more, and this is the control that I need – the control that you claimed to give me, but never did. Even though I claimed to love you for five years of my life, I know that I don’t love you. You love you. I hate you. I want you dead and gone. I want to live, so that means you have to die.

I don’t like you. I know that sometimes I say I’m going to rekindle our relationship, but we never get past the first date. Because it. ain’t. worth. it. You have this thing about making me seem like I’m the bad person, but let me just tell you, YOU are the bad one. You’re the murderer, the thief, the stalker, the crazy ex boyfriend who just won’t let go. And I am done.

I wrote you a letter very similar to this while I was still in treatment. In it I told you, “I’m fighting you now. I won’t stay victim anymore. I won’t give in to your every demand. I’m fighting for life and health, not thinness. So you have to move out of my mind, my values, my meals, my life. I’m changing my life to a life without you.” And WOW past SB was killing it. A life without you is the best life that I’ve ever lived.

I’m glad that I started kicking you out of my life a year ago. I’m glad that the only thing left of you is the occasional overnight bag. I’m excited for when you’re completely gone, but I know that recovery is a process and that healing is not linear. But just let me tell you, just because you have an overnight bag packed and ready to go does not mean that you still have power and ownership over me. YOU ARE GONE, SIR. You are powerless over me because now I have power over you.

So, just to remind you, you suck. It’s not me, it’s 1000% you. Five years with you was not fun, but this past year without you has been amazing. So don’t bother coming back. You’re still not welcome here and never will be again. I still hate you, and you’re still a scum-bag. You’re a bully, you’re controlling, and you deserve to die. I don’t need your fake love anymore.

Goodbye, Ed.

Sincerely,

Sarah Beth

PS. Did I mention that I hate you?

Approaching One Year

Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

Ahhhhhhhhhh.

That’s how I feel.

I can’t believe it’s already almost a year since I started recovery (330 days to be exact, but who’s counting?).

All year I’ve dreamed about getting close to the one year mark. I imagined it as a celebration – eating ice cream, living free, being so joyful. And I think it will be like that. Reaching the one year mark is really exciting and I’m so glad that I’ve made it this far.

But I’m also getting really anxious.

I’m an anxious person, so it’s nothing new to me that I’ve been experiencing anxiety, but I was surprised when I started having full blown panic attacks when I realized how close we were to all the important events that happened in my life last spring.

This time last year was when my treatment team decided that I had to either go to residential right then or go inpatient after my graduation. It was when everything went downhill as I was put on medical leave from my senior year and awaited my admittance date to Carolina House. It was when I was living in the worst days of my eating disorder.

It took me a while to name where my anxiety was coming from. At first I thought it was just because I was getting “close” to the hell of last year, and while I think that is still true, I don’t think that is the complete story.

My therapist explained to me that my anxiety and panic is coming from grief. Not only am I grieving all the life that I lost during my eating disorder, but I am grieving the loss of my eating disorder itself.

Don’t get me wrong, I love recovery. I would never go back to my eating disorder. But sometimes it’s hard to accept this as my new normal.

Grief is weird. It kinda hits you like a train and leaves you a little dazed. Grief makes you feel like you’re reliving the events that you’re grieving, but it also feels like you’re watching them happen from the outside. Grief. Is. Confusing. Especially when you’re grieving something that you shouldn’t (like your eating disorder).

In my wise mind, I don’t miss my eating disorder. I know the hell that it put me through and how it almost took my life. I know that it wasn’t glamorous or pretty or fun. I know that I know that I know that. But my eating disorder was my life for five years. It was my most used coping skill. It was how I lived. It became who I was. So recovering from my eating disorder was like losing myself.

But recovery is finding myself, my new self, my best self. And sometimes it hurts a lot.

There are days I miss my eating disorder so much. When I’m having a hard day, sometimes I miss being able to cope by keeping my stomach as empty and hollow as possible. When people post bikini pictures with their flat stomachs and thigh gaps, I miss the body that my eating disorder gave me. But I know that that was not my best life and that I don’t need (or want) to live like that anymore.

So getting close to my one year feels like getting close to freedom, but it also feels like getting close to my eating disorder. And I don’t want to be close to it. I want to run as fast as I can in the opposite direction.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s real. Like, that was my life? I starved myself until I was nothing? I spent my summer in a treatment center? Someone had to check the toilet every time I used the bathroom? It’s weird. Sometimes I feel like I watched that happen; that it didn’t happen to me. But it did. So getting close to my one year mark makes it seem so real and so in my face.

I don’t want to relive my past. I sure as heck don’t want to relive my eating disorder, but I also don’t want to relive treatment. I am so so thankful for Carolina House and everything that happened there because I know I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for treatment, but I also never want to go back to that time of my life.

So I’m stuck in this weird place. I’m grieving as my one year of recovery approaches. But I’m also celebrating like crazy.

Like, I made it this far. I’m living a life without an eating disorder. So crazy and surreal.

But I’m also having to face and reflect on what life was like this time last year.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay and natural to grieve during recovery. The one year anniversary of entering treatment is like the one year anniversary of a loved one passing away. It’s hard and there’s a lot of emotions. But I’m not letting the emotions overtake me.

I can feel sad and angry. I can be mad for the five years of life that I lost to my eating disorder. I can feel upset that I had to enter treatment and that I missed my graduation. I can hurt because being forced to live in a new body that although it’s great and healthy, it’s foreign and confusing and not what I asked for.

I can feel these emotions and still celebrate one year of new life.

I can exist in both places at once.

So I’m going to grieve. But I’m also going to celebrate. I’m going to eat ice cream and thank Jesus and live my best life because recovery brings me so much joy that I never thought was possible.

I’m grieving and I’m celebrating as my one year of recovery approaches. The different emotions will eb and flow. And that’s okay.

I’m celebrating where I am because even though it may still be confusing and hard at times, I am so much further than I was a year ago.

And that (no matter the grief) is worth celebrating.

An Open Letter to My Treatment Friends

Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

Dear Mandy, Meredith, Kristin, and Sarah,

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness. My love for y’all explodes unlike any other people that I have ever met. I guess that makes sense because y’all truly are unlike any other person that has ever walked into my life. Who knew that when I walked through the door of that little yellow house in the woods that I would meet four of the best girls ever and would hold onto them for dear life in the coming months.

Our two months in treatment were the worst ever. They were the best ever. They were the most gut wrenching. They were the most heart filling. They were every single emotion and adjective that you could use to describe them because we were becoming pros at feeling our feels and we definitely made them vocal enough for the entire house to hear (cue my multiple meltdowns after phone time). Those two months in treatment were the hardest months of my life, but I truly laughed. I truly loved. I truly cried. I truly felt. I truly danced. I truly sang. I truly yelled. I truly hit things (bat therapy, anyone?). I truly did all of these things because of y’all.

We caused a lot of chaos in that house, but only in the best way possible. We often felt like we were being annoying (we probably were), but I know that the staff appreciated it. That place could get so so dark, but we always brought the light. It took a while for us to find that light in ourselves, but as Meredith’s dad reminded us with his flashlight (actual tears still), there was always a light to find. And y’all, we found that light. We are shining so bright.

Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

We watched a heck of a lot of Annie, endured the same 30 minutes of Mamma Mia until Meredith got distracted, crocheted, hula hooped for only five minutes, crocheted while hula hooping, sang a lot, constantly asked to be let into the art closet, sang hymns after lights out (still don’t understand that one honestly), had nightly pow wows, wore gloves while doing dishes (“the disgusting vat of nastiness”), got in trouble for laughing too much, absolutely lost it in the best way possible every Monday night snack, talked in pig latin, and so much more.

We made faces at each other over not to our taste preference meals (tofu we’re looking at you), played table games when one of us was struggling over dinner, cheered each other on when we had to supplement, supported each other through behavior chains (and laughed at Meredith’s very passive aggressive behavior chains), held each other’s hands when emotions became too strong, celebrated when we had bowel movements (if you’ve never had an eating disorder, don’t judge us), reminded each other to use our coping skills, cried with each other after hard therapy sessions (@ family therapy), and validated the heck out of each other’s feelings.

As much as therapy and groups changed my life, y’all changed it more. Without y’all at CH, I would not have been able to do it. I would’ve AMAed my butt out of that place real freaking quick. Even though we were all going through our own crap, but we brought out the joy in each other. No matter how hard a meal was or how vulnerable we felt after a group, we still laughed and sang and felt all the feels. We had each other’s backs when it felt like the world (or the team) was against us. We were all that each other had (except from 7:30-8:45 when we had contact with the outside world). We stuck together like glue because I don’t think we would have been able to survive without each other.

Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

I’ll never forget Meredith writing me a note during a hard dinner that said, “You can do it, buddy. Remember, recovery is worth more.” Or when Kristin wrote us all letters for us to read out loud at each other’s goodbye snacks since she couldn’t be there. Or when Mandy helped me draw x’s over all the times I wrote “fat” on my body. Or when Sarah hugged me for the longest time and reminded me of my worth after a really crappy phone time. I’ll never forget the times that y’all fought with me, even when I didn’t want to fight.

Sometimes we had to force each other to fight, but we always fought.

We all said goodbye at different times (RIP the one night I was left alone at CH), but we never left each other. We started the Hermacita Fan Club group message, and we’ve talked almost everyday since then. There is not a single day that passes without me thinking of y’all and thanking Jesus for y’all.

We’ve done a lot since we’ve discharged. We’ve texted, road tripped, ate sketchy free froyo in a Mexican restaurant, NEDA walked, flown on airplanes, explored random cities, did a scavenger hunt all over downtown Atlanta (excessive body movement??), watched Annie, gone to the beach, gone to a pumpkin patch, crocheted, NEDA walked again, driven past Carolina House, FaceTimed, struggled through a corn maze, gotten tattoos, and so much more. Some of that we did just two or three of us, but some of it all five of us were there. Whether together or apart, we have lived so much life in the past months.

Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

I’m so proud of y’all. I’m so proud of us. To think of how far we have come since May. We are absolutely killing it, y’all. We’ve done amazing things and we’re going to continue to do amazing things. We’re going to change the world. We’re going to live happy and healthy. We’re going to make it.

I love y’all so much, I can’t even put it into words. Thanks for being the 8 ounces of milk to my 2 cups of cereal because #perfectratio. Y’all rock.

With all the love that we never gave to Hermacita,

BASA

37da1644-7e57-4f52-aeb4-5caeaf3c9fb4
Because throwback to when we had to photoshop pictures together bc HIPAA.

 

My Jesus Never Works in the Same Way Twice

fullsizerender

If you know me, you know that I fully believe that God is a miracle working God. I have no doubt in my mind because I have seen him show up and show out time and time again.

The picture on the left was July 2014. I had attended Student Life beach camp with my youth group, and let me tell ya, Jesus rocked my world that week. During my seventh grade year, I began an intense battle with self-harm. I was so depressed that the only way I knew how to manage it was through hurting myself. This carried on for nearly four years. I didn’t think there would ever be an end. But Jesus. 

I went to the Student Life conference with absolutely zero expectations. I was too far gone; Jesus couldn’t make a difference in my life. I was completely blown away during our first session when Jesus showed me that he could do the impossible. He could soften my heart of stone that was so turned away from him. During worship, we were singing Let It Be Jesus by Christy Nockels. Jesus completely shook me to my core. He told me, and when I say he told me, I mean I heard it from deep within me, “Sarah Beth, I cannot do a single thing in your life if you don’t lay it all down. I want you, but you have to want me. You will always be a prisoner to yourself if you don’t come to me.” 

That week I laid everything down to Jesus. My life took a complete 180 and I’ve never been the same person since. The life that I’ve found with Jesus makes me wonder why I ever thought I could do it without him. I haven’t self-harmed since July 13, 2014. Jesus did a complete miracle in my life that week that I never thought would happen. But it did. He came for me in the Daytona Beach convention center two years ago and I could never praise him enough for that week.

I thought that that week would be my life-changing moment and I’d be good to go. But let me tell you, Satan is real and he is vicious. The Bible isn’t lying when it says that he is like a prowling lion waiting to attack (1 Peter 5:8).

My eating disorder started in seventh grade before my self-harm did. Though my struggle with self harm went away, my eating disorder only grew louder. The enemy is strong, y’all. So strong. He knows our weaknesses and he knows just what to say to pull us down. He was so afraid of my new freedom that I found in Christ that he pulled me to the deepest depths of my eating disorder that I had ever seen.

Satan leading me to my eating disorder was never about my eating disorder at all. It was all about trying to pull me away from Jesus. It was about making me believe that I wasn’t worthy of the cross, that I was doing something wrong. Satan knew that the struggle would leave me feeling like a horrible Christian because I was struggling and was not able to give it all away.

He was right. I was so frustrated with myself. I kept trying to lay down my eating disorder, but I couldn’t. I prayed and prayed and prayed, but I could not shake my eating disorder no matter how much I tried. I thought I wasn’t being a good Christian. Jesus healed me from self-harm in an instantaneous moment, so why was that not happening again? I began to doubt my faith. I thought there was something wrong with me. I was hopeless because healing was not coming the way that I was expecting it to.

My eating disorder became so severe that I had to enter residential treatment a month before my graduation. I felt defeated as if I wasn’t trusting God enough to heal me.

But Jesus, y’all.

The treatment facility that I was in was not a Christian treatment center. But I can tell you for fact that I felt Jesus more present in that yellow house during the two months that I was there than my entire senior year. It wasn’t an instantaneous healing. But there still was healing. It took a lot of therapy and a lot of meals and a lot of tears, but Jesus was working in my heart.

Jesus came for me so mightily in that place. I didn’t think treatment was going to work for me. I was so sick that I didn’t think it was possible to go back. I felt hopeless because my prayers were not offering me the same kind of healing I had experienced before.

But Jesus never works in the same way twice. 

He wasn’t healing me in the same away again because that’s not how he works.

Jesus likes surprises. Jesus likes showing up and showing out in ways that we’d least expect. If we try to put limitations around him, he gets sassy and is like, “nuh-uh, no way.” Jesus has his own plans because his plans are always better.

So of course Jesus wasn’t going to take away my eating disorder in the same way that he took away my self-harm. That’s just not who he is.

Jesus allowed me to go to treatment so that I would trust fully in him. The entire time I was there, I was told to “trust the process.” That may have been my therapist’s words to me, but I fully believe that those were also Jesus’ words into my weary heart. I needed to trust him and what he was doing.

Jesus showed me that my eating disorder was never about me. That my struggle was never because I was a bad Christian. But because Satan is real. Satan is powerful. But Jesus is stronger. 

The process is hard, but the process was specifically ordained and planned by Jesus. The process is meant to point to who Jesus is, not to show how “unfaithful” I am.

My flaws point to Jesus because he is the one who makes me flawless.

So no, I am not completely healed of my eating disorder. It’s a long process. It’s a hard process. But I am in recovery. And I’m loving it. Some days are hard, but I know that that doesn’t speak to who I am as a Christian. My struggles show that the enemy is real, but my recovery shows that Jesus is always victorious.

I’m no longer ashamed of my eating disorder story. I don’t feel like I have to prove myself as a Christian anymore. I don’t feel like I have to try to convince everyone that the work Jesus did in my life two years is still happening. I know now that Jesus never works in the same way twice. He came for me in Daytona Beach, Florida, and he came for me again in Durham, North Carolina. He came in very different ways, but he still came.

My life is forever changed because of the healing that he has brought to me. I haven’t self-harmed in two years and I’ve been in recovery for five months. All because a man with nail scarred hands came for me.

He might always in come in different ways, but I have full faith that my Jesus is always going to come for me. 

The Yellow Bubble: a class essay

img_7331

I originally wrote this story for my “Learning to Tell Your Stories” class at college. Since it is part of my treatment story, I thought that I would share it with y’all.


After a six-hour long car ride, we pulled into the gravel parking lot as the rain started to beat against the car window. I remember in that moment thinking that the dreary weather outside mirrored the emotions that I felt behind my tear-stained face—fear, sadness, hopelessness. My dad heaved my heavy suitcase out of the car as I turned to face what would be my home for the next two months. We walked up to the yellow house, in a weird, awkward silence that only exists when what you are facing is too weighty to handle. We rang the doorbell. After a few moments, a face that I did not recognize but would soon become one that I saw everyday answered the door. “Welcome to Carolina House! You must be Sarah, right?” she asked. I nodded. This was it. I was at Carolina House, a residential treatment center for eating disorders in Durham, North Carolina.

My first week at Carolina House was one of the worst weeks of my life. All of my freedom was stripped from me—I could no longer go to the bathroom alone, stand without being told to sit down, or choose what or how much I ate. I cried before, during, and after almost every meal and snack. I had been extremely restricting my food intake for the last five years, and now I was being expected to eat six times a day. Instead of enjoying all of the end of senior year festivities at home, every night during phone time I called my family, begging them to come get me. I told them I did not have a problem. That I did not need to be there. That I was not “sick enough”. I felt as if my family had betrayed me by dropping me off at literal hell on earth.

Three weeks after being admitted into Carolina House, I woke up on the morning of my high school graduation. Instead of putting on my graduation robe that morning, I changed into my weigh-in gown for morning check-ins, and instead of having my graduation party that night, I had lights out at 10:30. My graduation day went nothing like what I had been dreaming it would be. I spent the majority of the day crying, even though the staff and residents tried to make my day special. We put on temporary tattoos, went bowling, and had a fake graduation ceremony complete with a diploma made during art therapy group.  Even though treatment was saving my life, I felt like everything was ruined and worthless because the one thing I had been living for—my high school graduation—was taken from me.

The worst part of treatment was gaining weight. When I went into Carolina House, I knew that I was extremely underweight, but my eating disorder made me believe that my treatment team would only make me gain 10 pounds at most. My body was in such distress that my dietitian had to continually increase my meal plan because my body was burning all the food so quickly that I was not gaining weight. It was absolute torture. It took over two months for me to reach my maintenance weight. Even though I hated it, I began to appreciate the things that the weight gain did for my body. I could stand without getting dizzy; I could walk without blacking out. My calcium levels began improving, which made my team hopeful that my osteopenia was beginning to reverse. My weight gain took away the possibility of organ failure. Even though I hated it, gaining back my lost weight literally saved my life.

I turned 19 three days before my discharge from Carolina House, but I was not just celebrating another year older. I was celebrating that I received another year of life—a year that would not be dictated by my eating disorder, a year that would be healthy, a year that my life would not be at risk. I was celebrating all that Carolina House and recovery had given me—friends that I still talk to everyday, countless hilarious memories that I will never forget, and a life that I love. That little yellow house in the woods—more lovingly known as “the yellow bubble”—saved my life. Every hard day was worth it because of the life I live now.

While at Carolina House, I ate approximately 336 meals. Since my discharge, I have eaten 576 meals. Not every one of those meals have been easy. I have cried through a lot of them and have even denied some—but only to change my mind 30 minutes later because I have learned that recovery is a choice and even when I do not want recovery, I have to choose it anyways. Recovery is hard and eating is still not my favorite thing to do, but I know that those things are worth more than anything my eating disorder ever offered me.

Weight Gain.

13754331_1228235653856068_8571107943647407086_n

FAVORITE THING EVER, RIGHT?!?!?!

Lol. You don’t even have to be an eating disorder sufferer to hate weight gain. Our society has created such a negative stigma around it, acting as if it something only to be lost as quickly as possible. Why on earth are we celebrating weight loss, no matter someone’s size, but never weight gain? Why is one change in the body celebrated, but the other detested? WHY ARE WE EVEN LABELING CHANGES IN OUR BODIES AS GOOD OR BAD?!

But I digress.

When I went to Carolina House, I knew that weight gain was going to be apart of the process. But I highly underestimated how much of the process it would be.

It was a long two months as I painfully endured each meal plan increase, each dessert snack, and each [blind] weigh in. I was terrified of gaining weight. Everything in my head screamed no. I thought that weight gain meant zero self-control. I believed that I deserved my own version of My 600 Pound Life. 

But eventually, I got over it. Or so I thought.

When I left Carolina House, I didn’t know my weight. I knew I had gained weight, but I had no idea how much. I was fine with not knowing my weight. I had just gone two months without seeing the number and I was loving recovery, so why did my gravitational pull to the earth matter?

Fast forward to the first day of college classes.

I was sick. It was horrible. I felt like I was dying and all I wanted to do was run home to my parents and lay on the couch forever and ever, but I was at college and had to go to classes and be a grownup. Being the very adult person that I am, I went to the nurse on campus. She took me to the back, and like any normal doctors office, she had to weigh me.

*panic sets in*

Me: Can I weigh backwards so that I don’t see the number?

Nurse: Sure, of course!

Nurse after weighing me: Great, you weigh ___!

In that moment it literally felt like I had just been punched in the stomach by a sumo wrestler. My ears started ringing because I did not expect to hear that. Everything after that was kind of a blur. All I could think about was the number that the nurse told me.

After my appointment, I began to become obsessed with my weight. I followed my meal plan and ate all my exchanges, but I begged my dietitian to give me a decrease. I was obsessed with not gaining any more weight. I didn’t care about losing weight, I just didn’t want to gain any more. I wanted to maintain.

It took me a while to realize how disordered that thought process was. I thought I was being reasonable. I thought I was being “healthy” (let’s just laugh at this for a second, ok). I was telling everyone around me that I was perfectly okay with my weight, I just wanted to be sure that I didn’t gain more.

But my mind was being so controlled by my eating disorder.

WHY did it matter if I gained more weight? Why did I care so much?

Because Ed cared.

I shouldn’t care what the number is. There’s no part of me, Sarah Beth, that sees my worth as synonymous with a number. That’s only Ed who sees it that way.

So who freaking cares if I gain a pound or two over my weight restored weight? I’m going to eat my meal plan how I want to eat my meal plan. And sometimes that means having a spoonful of peanut butter as a protein instead of 16 almonds. I’ll eat a cookie for a starch instead of 8 saltines if I want to. I’ll eat what I want to.

And let’s just be honest here. Eating does not mean weight gain.

Let’s say it again.

EATING DOES NOT MEAN WEIGHT GAIN.

I have to continually remind myself of this one. I feel like if I eat all of my exchanges, that I’m destined to gain weight. But it doesn’t work like that. If I eat all of my exchanges, I maintain my weight. I don’t magically gain five pounds overnight.

That’s something my eating disorder always liked to tell me. If I ate one meal, I’d regain in one night all the weight that I had lost over the past year. Eating disorder logic, y’all. 

You can eat cookies and not gain weight. But if you did, what does it matter?

It doesn’t matter.

It never has, and it never will.

That dang little number on a screen does not matter at all.

So if you’re like me, and you’re afraid of gaining weight past your maintenance weight, don’t be.

It doesn’t matter.

You are worth more than anything a three digit number could ever tell you.