Seen + Known, and Still Loved

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This picture makes me feel seen + known because these are the trees outside of Carolina House. These trees saw ALL my emotions two summers ago. These trees heal me.

Do you ever just wake up on a Monday morning, crying because you desperately want to be seen + known, and still loved? Because that’s me right now.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I spent a good chunk of last week in my favorite place ever, Durham, North Carolina. My home away from home, my happy place. The city that holds my entire heart.

I know Durham is a super random, probably not exciting city for most people, but that place is where I can breathe the easiest. It’s where I can exhale a breath that I’ve been holding in for months. It’s where I am free and the best version of me possible (if you don’t like who I am, maybe go to Durm with me. I’m 1000x better there). It’s where I went to treatment and where I got my life back. I’m convinced that healing is in their oxygen there. Quote me on that. I’m so convinced that I’d probably even argue a scientist on it.

What makes Durham the healing and life-giving place that it is, is the people there. My people there. My people there are my TRIBE, the ones that I am so completely authentic and vulnerable with that it hurts but feels so so free and so clean. I can’t talk about my treatment friends without crying. I’m lowkey sobbing now as I write this because I LOVE my people there. I don’t have to wear a mask when I’m in Durham. I can feel all my feels so deeply, but also feel the joy that springs from so deep inside. I don’t have to hide. I can wear my heart on my sleeve there, which is tbh my favorite place to wear it because I’m all about vulnerability. 

With my treatment friends, it’s acceptable to struggle out loud. To feel all your feels to the deepest extent. Really, it’s expected. Because to us, being emotional means healing. And the shutting down, hiding, and avoiding means that you aren’t changing, you’re hurting, you’re struggling. It’s what we were taught, and it’s how we learned to get our lives back. It’s how we live our best lives. Because the emotions and the crazy brought us freedom in that lil yellow house in the woods, and it does the same out here in the real world too.

And y’all, I wanna live that way everyday, everywhere, with everyone.

But I can’t.

That isn’t how our world operates.

Our world teaches us that emotions are bad, that they are not to be seen, that we need to hide them and stuff them.

I lived like that for the first 18 years of my life, and it was hell. It landed me with an eating disorder, self-harm, and suicidality. It taught me to use my body to convey how I felt, instead of my words. Because that was prettier and a lot more acceptable. But oh my goodness, couldn’t have being open and honest about how I was feeling saved me from all of that? If I was taught to tell my truth with my voice instead of my body?

Glennon gets me (always). In her book Love Warrior, she says, “We started out as ultra sensitive truth tellers. We saw everyone around us smiling and repeating, ‘I’m fine! I’m fine! I’m fine!’ and we found ourselves unable to join them in all the pretending. We had to tell the truth, which was: ‘Actually, I’m not fine.’ But no one knew how to handle hearing that truth, so we found other ways to tell it. We used whatever else we could find–drugs, booze, food, money, our arms, other bodies. We acted out our truth instead of speaking it and everything became a godforsaken mess. But we were just trying to be honest.YES.

I am so sick of hiding. I have been for the past two years, so I’ve decided to be hella honest about where I’m at all the time. And that is so healthy for me. If I can just vocalize my thoughts, outwardly process them whether it be to my journal or to another person, it gets them out of my head. If they stay in my head, they take root and that’s when things get dark and messy. But if I can get those thoughts out into the light, they hold less power. So I’m honest. I’m vulnerable. I’m all about living open with my close group of people (and sometimes the internet when the time calls for it–#livingoutthatGlennonlifestyle amiright).

I REFUSE TO HIDE ANYMORE.

But oh man, refusing to hide has been one of the most painful things because wow, some people just don’t want to see and know you for all that you are. And maybe it’s not that they don’t want to, but that they just simply can’t. Which is okay, and so valid. But that doesn’t make the sting of “oh my goodness, I was seen and known, but not loved” hurt any less.

I’m not always a hot mess. I’m a deeply happy person that happens to feel every other emotion just as deeply, so ya girl has lots of thoughts and lots of feels. I’m sensitive, but that’s not a bad thing. My sensitivity allows me to see the world in a different light and is going to make me a kick butt social worker in a couple years. I just have a lot to process a lot of the time. No emotion or situation is black and white for me. It’s all gray, all the time. There’s a lot going on in my head, and I’m really not ashamed of that. 

I just desperately want to be seen + known. And even more so, I want to be loved for all that is seen and known about me. 

Durham with my treatment friends is my small slice of heaven. I am so seen and so known, and yet I am still so deeply loved. I want that kind of community everywhere. I don’t want to have to hop on a plane to experience that.

If you’re wishing to be seen, known, and loved also, let me know. Write a comment, shoot me an email. I know we’re all out there. We’re all fighting to find our place in this world, wondering what’s the perfect equation of being real with the world enough to be appreciated and applauded but not too real that it makes people uncomfortable.

Personally, I’m tired of that equation. I just want to be real. And I know that a lot of y’all are feeling that way too.

Let’s make this a goal. A community goal. To be real, to be authentic, to be vulnerable. And to encourage one another in that, lift each other up, and love each other so so big. Let’s form the community that we’re all desperately wishing for.

I’ll see you and I’ll know you, and I promise that I’ll love you.

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Remembering Two Years Ago

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April 15, 2016the day I was told that I had to enter inpatient treatment.

April 18, 2016the day I received my Carolina House admit date.

April 22, 2016the day that I was pulled out of school.

April 25, 2016the day that I was supposed to admit to Carolina House for residential eating disorder treatment (that they then kept pushing back due to current patients not discharging).

May 4, 2016the day I did a phone intake with Eating Recovery Center + was in the middle of booking a flight to Denver when I got a call from Carolina House saying they could finally admit me the next day. 

May 5, 2016finally admitted to Carolina House and my life changed forever.


This time of year is the weirdest/hardest/best. I wrote about it last year, and honestly I thought the feels of reliving the past would be gone by year two, but wow, they are just as strong.

Each day this month it seems like I tell my friends, “oh this day two years ago I was doing _____!” because I can remember everything about the month leading up to Carolina House. Everything that happened was necessary, but oh man, it was brutal.


I remember being told that I had to go to treatment. I remember going to the doctor for a weight check, and they removed my mom from the room as my doctor and nurse both confronted me, saying that even though I was 18, they were going to push extremely hard for me to go to treatment. I remember walking back out to the waiting room and telling my mom and boyfriend what they said. I remember my mom telling me that she was going to call Carolina House once we got home.

I remember going to the play at school the next day to watch my two friends make their musical theater debut. I remember sitting in the plastic chair and my boyfriend having to go get a sweatshirt from the car for me to sit on because I was so bony it hurt to sit against the hard chair. I remember going to my favorite restaurant for dinner afterwards and actually trying to eat (an attempt to prove that I wasn’t sick), but my stomach being so shrunken that I could only manage a few bites before I had intense stomach pain and nausea.

I remember texting my mom while I was at school the following Monday, continually asking if she had heard back from Carolina House yet. When she finally told me that she did, I remember immediately checking myself out from school and going home and laying in my bed, refusing to talk to anyone.

I remember freaking out that night, screaming at everyone who tried to talk to me or comfort me. I remember trying to break up with my boyfriend as a “punishment” for making me go to treatment, and I remember screaming and crying and begging my parents to let me stay home because I promised that I would eat. I remember never feeling any panic like that before and feeling like everyone hated me and just wanted to ship me off.

I remember going to school on my last day. I remember my guidance counselor calling me to her office and showing me that I had approval from all of my teachers to leave my coursework as is and not require me to do any make-up work while I was gone. I remember being pulled out of class to go take pictures in my cap and gown since I was going to miss the class picture day. I remember the looks of all my teachers, unsure of what to say, but aware that it was going to be the last time they saw me. I remember emptying my locker, and getting weird looks from classmates who didn’t know I was leaving. I remember hugging my friends goodbye in the parking lot, crying and not knowing if I’d be back for graduation.

I remember the week and a half that I was out of school before I admitted to treatment. I remember the frustration and anguish I felt each day when Carolina House called saying they had to push back my admit date another day. I remember thinking I wasn’t sick enough to go, so that’s why they kept pushing my date back. I remember laying on the couch all day every day, watching Lifetime movies while my parents were at work and all my friends were at school. I remember taking at least two naps a day because my body was so exhausted. I remember my dad coming home from work early everyday so that he could spend time with me because we had no idea how long I would be gone.

I remember doing an intake with Eating Recovery Center. I remember them telling me that they could admit me in just a few days, so I was about to book my one-way flight to Denver, Colorado. I remember my dad running upstairs to tell me that Carolina House called–they were admitting me tomorrow. I remember throwing a few last-minute things in my already packed suitcase. I remember saying bye to my dog and friends and leaving within an hour of getting the call and driving halfway to Durham.

I remember waking up in the hotel room in Greensboro the next morning. I remember trying to pick out what the best “first day of treatment” outfit was. I remember wanting to make sure that I looked thin, but not sick (lol). I remember the quiet drive to Durham. I remember not knowing what to say to my family, and thinking that the downpour outside was a good representation of my mood inside.

I remember pulling up to Carolina House. I remember heaving my heavy suitcase out onto the pebble parking lot. I remember walking up to the house, taking notice of the rocks that said “hope” and “where miracles happen” on them. I remember feeling hesitant to ring the doorbell. I remember the RPA answering the door and saying, “you must be Sarah Beth, right?”

I remember sitting on the couch, playing with a fidget toy while we waited for all the patients to go to nap time so we could get a tour of the house and fill out paperwork. I remember saying goodbye to my crying parents and boyfriend, trying to not cry with them because how dare they know I had emotions. I remember being led to the kitchen after I said goodbye, watching my family through the window as they walked back to the car and realizing that there was no longer a way out. I was in treatment.


These memories haunt me. Each day it feels like I’m almost reliving these things.

Today? Today is two years since my original admit date.

These little mini anniversaries are the weirdest thing. So much hope and despair all at the same time. But I’m holding and honoring both feelings. 

What happened two years ago was hard as hell, but it saved my life. I’m no longer in that place anymore, so I can rejoice over the mountains I’ve climbed and valleys I’ve walked through since then. But I can also mourn the girl that I was, the sickness and frailty that I made my life for so many years. I can exist in both emotions surrounding these dates.

Hope, because I am no longer there.

Despair, because I once was there.

These anniversaries are hard. I don’t know if April 25 will ever be just another day to me. But I do know that I have space between now and April of 2016. And so much beauty has happened in that space.

It’s hard to sit in memories of April. All I feel is hopelessness and pain when I think about who I was then. But I do know that May 5 is coming. May 5 is a day I can celebrate and feel good about. May 5 is a day where I know how to mask the ugly and pain with the beauty of surrender and recovery. It makes sense like that.

But it is also hard to look forward to the joy that is May 5 when I have to recognize all the hardships that led up to it. May 5, 2016 wasn’t a pretty day–I cried a lot, refused fajitas at dinner, and didn’t understand what was happening or why someone had to watch me pee or how to make friends with all the other patients. May 5 itself wasn’t glorious, but the surrender and life that came out of it make that day glorious. 

Nothing pretty came out of the days leading up to treatment. They’re just a lot of crappy feelings and memories and experiences I’d rather forget. I’d rather forget all the talks and looks and tears of my loved ones. I’d rather forget the turmoil my eating disorder was putting me through mentally. I’d rather forget the tired body that could barely do anything anymore. I’d rather forget all the doctors appointments and blood draws and weigh-ins. I’d rather forget it all.

But today I’m choosing to be thankful for those moments. They shaped me, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. They were hell, but they led to some really beautiful things.

So today I’m choosing to exist in the in-between. The memories are hard, but they are also strangely beautiful. Because I know that life is coming. True joy is coming. Hope is coming. 

What’s coming next is awesome. I’ll exist in April because I know May 5 is coming!!


Two years of recovery completely astounds me. I don’t know how we got here, but I am #BLESSED. So many ups and downs. Victories and relapses. I am thankful for the beauty and pain and glory that these past two years have been!! I’ve truly lived life for the first time ever and just WOAH how did I miss out on this for 18+ years!!!!! So much joy. Hardest journey I’ll probably ever be on, but the most worth it for sure. I wouldn’t trade a second of it. I have passion and joy and life inside of me that I never knew existed. Thankful. And strong. And so, so worthy. 

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Missing the Vulnerability that Was Our Oxygen

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetI miss treatment.

I get it, that’s probably a weird thing to hear if you’ve never experienced any sort of treatment.

But oh man, I miss it.

I miss waking up everyday to my very best friends.

I miss grumbling on gown mornings and everyone waiting in line to pee because heaven forbid you get weighed with a full bladder.

I miss gathering in a circle with everyone and praying before we started our day.

I miss being first table at breakfast so that I was for sure to able to get vanilla yogurt instead of nasty plain.

I miss the structure of my entire day being planned for me and knowing what to expect.

I miss a nurse giving me my medicine in a little paper cup.

I miss sitting in group four times a day curled up in my Disney blanket.

I miss making art in every free second that I got.

I miss nap time. Literally. 18 years old and I got to take a nap everyday. #blessed

I miss sitting in the rocking chairs on the porch and just dreaming of life post treatment.

I miss complaining of how disgusting Hermacita was but secretly loving it when she showed us attention.

I miss therapy sessions in the nap house (still no one knows why it’s called the nap house).

I miss looking for totem teddies at afternoon snack (I never got one till post discharge).

I miss watching the first 30 minutes of Mamma Mia every afternoon.

I miss the feeling of not being picked to do culinary group (HECK YEA, two free art hours!).

I miss playing Contact at dinner.

I miss doing Food & Feelings in pig latin.

I miss the excitement seeing the RPA walk back to the nurse’s office and knowing that she was going to get the box of our phones for phone time.

Heck, I miss my phone being locked up in a box all day and having only an hour each night to talk to friends and family (no social media though!). What a break from the real world.

I miss Phreddy updates at Community (or ommunity-cay as we liked to announce it as).

I miss finally being able to take night showers.

I miss everyone cuddling up on mine and Mandy’s beds in Dragon and having our nightly pow-wows before we were yelled at to go to bed.

I miss turning on the sound machine before we went to sleep.

I just miss it.

I miss the comfort of being there.

I miss the comfort of being able to fully feel my emotions, and having no shame if I randomly burst out into tears in group or at dinner or during phone time or even just sitting on the couch.

I miss being with people who get it.

Those girls were my people. Are my people. Most people aren’t lucky enough to have a good group of girls surrounding them in treatment. But man, I was blessed to have met so many beautiful souls, most of whom I still talk to and am close with today. They’re still my favorite people I have ever encountered in this life. No exaggeration. They are my people.

But I miss the comfort of our yellow bubble. I miss knowing that I always had 15 other people that I could talk to when things got tough. I miss the community.

Glennon [always] says it best. “I tell them that the first time I peeked out of my cage was in the mental hospital. Since it was a smaller world with gentler rules, I felt safe being vulnerable. People wore their scars on the outside, so you knew where they stood. There were no representatives there. It was such a relief to stop acting. There were rules about how to listen well and speak kindly. We learned how to dance and paint and write our feelings instead of eat and drink them. We held hands when we were afraid. I cried when I had to leave.”

Yes.

I miss living without a representative.

I miss simply being me,

emotions

and

all.

I miss being in a place where crying was okay.

I miss being in a place where no one thought twice if you were having a hard day.

I miss being in place where I was not expected to be happy.

I miss being in a place where I was not guilted or shamed if my day was cloaked in depression.

I miss being in a place where I didn’t feel like I had to apologize for being in a bad mood.

I miss being in a place where I was surrounded by people who were in the mess of it all with me.

I miss the vulnerability that was oxygen to us.

We lived with our hearts on our sleeves and we loved each other so big.

Because we saw each other for ALL that we are. Every single part.

They loved me when I low-key looked like an alien.

They loved me when I was depressed.

They loved me when I cried each week after family therapy.

They loved me when I was sassy in Food & Feelings.

They loved me when I refused a meal.

They loved me when I started smiling again.

They loved me when my refeeding belly was oh so big and beautiful.

They loved me when I sang Annie non-stop.

They loved me when I spent my birthday in treatment.

They loved me when they finally saw the real Sarah Beth for the first time ever.

And they loved the real me too, just as much.

I just miss being in a place where there was no faking it. No mask-wearing. No stuffing emotions down. Emotions continually poured out of each 16 of us, and though it could be overwhelming sometimes, it was so, so beautiful.

Nothing is more beautiful that living completely open.

And we did that.

And I miss that.

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Dear Ed,

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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?

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