I slowly undress, making sure to take off every piece of jewelry to not alter the weigh in. It has to, like most things in my life, be perfect. I walk to the large scale, carefully being watched by the nurse assigned to observe my weigh in. I pull in all my breath, step right foot first, and then left, onto the scale, eyes glued to the numbers facing me. I needed a perfect number to get weekend pass, I needed to leave this place, and it was my mothers birthday. I needed perfection. The number reached its stopping point, one pound short of my goal for that day. One pound. Ms. Perfect on my one shoulder leapt forward, screaming failure, while Ed on my other shoulder jumped for joy at still having control. The internal struggle and constant running debate I was used too, but this feeling of disappointment was something new, I mean I was always disappointed with myself, but this time was different. I was defeated. When I lived in a constant state of starvation I did not feel anything other than nagging emptiness and a base line of anxiety. But with two months of treatment and refeeding, and with a slight weight gain, I was starting to feel again, and right now it was all negative. I had failed. I had failed my nutritionist, who just looked back from me to the number to me, shaking her head. My therapist would sit me down several hours later and tell me that I was heading back onto meal support, and my pass was taken away. No weekend at home for my mom’s birthday, which brought a whole level of guilt on its own, another family event I was ruining with my selfishness. I was a treatment failure, and I was devastated. I cried through the entire meal, it did not help that it was friday, which meant dessert. Sobbing while the rest of the treatment facility looked on, I was the only one on meal support, and I think they all just couldn’t understand why I didn’t just pull it together. Just eat more! Just gain the weight! Always take extra! They didn’t understand that those things were as frightening as swimming with sharks to me. Not to mention that with my natural people pleasing and perfectionist mindset, it was so frustrating for me to not gain the weight, to not be able to force myself to take that extra plate, and to still feel panic at the thought of dessert on fridays. I was suicidal to say the least, it wasn’t that I wanted to die, or feel pain, I just couldn’t imagine having to live with this torture the rest of my life, the insanity was overwhelming, and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I buckled down the last several weeks of treatment, but never had the weight gain that was deemed “ normal” for a re-feeding program, and I was still nearly 20 pounds under my lowest healthy weight when I left treatment. Within a week of leaving the facility, I had lost all the weight gained while in treatment, and was again close to hospitalization. And then something changed. It was like the world had given up on me, it seemed like I didn’t care, I wasn’t putting in the effort they all wanted, the weight wasn’t coming fast enough, it just wasn’t enough. And sometimes when you feel completely alone, you go to a really dark place, and in that dark place you realize you don’t need the whole world, you just need yourself. I woke up and realized that I was enough. I was enough! And I started to eat. I ate my three meals, and my three snacks, as prescribed by my nutritionist, I attended my therapy sessions, and did the homework religiously. I started doing it all for me, I stopped sneaking in the staircases, pushups in the bathroom and parking in the farthest spot at the mall. I didn’t care if you didn’t think my weight gain was enough, I didn’t care when you thought my weight loss was too much, so why change now. I was not perfect, and I am not perfect, I will never be perfect. I will never do it perfectly, and it will never be absolutely complete. I stopped chugging water before my weekly weigh ins and stopped asking what the number was, it just didn’t matter anymore. I had to push ed out of my mind, and out of my life. I read every recovery book I could find, and stayed connected to healthy influences. I told myself repeatedly that I was happy with however my body ended up, until I started to believe it. I stopped comparing myself to the women in magazines, and accepted that yes, they were photoshopped to an inch of their lives. I read and reread a letter I had written to myself in treatment, I had it in my car, and would read it every time I stepped in. It was a reminder, of the way it had been. It talked about the fear, the self loathing, the hatred, the depression, the restlessness, the insanity, the hospital visits, the self harming, the loss of friends, relationships, the guilt, shame and remorse. It was the truth, and I needed to read it every day. Anorexia, as I’m sure all eating disorders, breeds a selective memory. To survive I had to remember the truth. I stepped on the scale several months after leaving treatment, and saw my goal weight staring back at me, and I started to cry tears of pure joy. I ran screaming to the parking lot into the arms of my boyfriend, now husband, and he knew that I had reached my goal. I was officially healthy. My facebook status that day was that I could not believe that I danced around a parking lot with Patrick, celebrating being 146 pounds. a number I had months before dreaded like the plauge. Am I cured? Of course not. Eating disorders are lifelong journeys. I used to refer to it as a battle, but ever since I stopped fighting, Ed has had a difficult time making noise in my head. I guess it takes two to tango right?
Everything in life comes with a negative and positive. You can choose to view each and every situation which ever way you choose. Isn’t it amazing that we have that power? But so frequently we choose to not use it, we slip into societies tide of negative tear down. We hate winter because it is cold, not love it because it is fresh. We hate rain because it is wet, not love it because it replenishes our gardens and cleans our streets. I could go on forever, but in reality, with the holiday season fast approaching, and for some already past, how do you view your holidays, your world, your family? For me, I know that I could pick and choose the negatives about going home for the holidays, but in reality, family has always been most important to me. Even though now I have my own family here in Trenton, I still love my family, and I am so excited to spend some quality time with them. How do you view your life? Glass half full, or glass half empty? If you can pick how you feel about things…why not half full? If you have to choose…choose happy.
“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
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Each one may look different and each is wonderfully unique, But this is what they have in common:
Lots of moving…
Moving far from home…
Moving two cars, three kids and one dog…
all riding with HER of course.
Moving sofas to basements because they won’t go in THIS house;
Moving curtains that won’t fit;
Moving away from friends;
Moving toward new friends;
Moving her most important luggage: her trunk full of memories.
Waiting for housing.
Waiting for orders.
Waiting for deployments.
Waiting for phone calls.
Waiting for reunions.
Waiting for the new curtains to arrive.
Waiting for him to come home, For dinner…AGAIN!
They call her ‘Military Dependent’, but she knows better:
She is fiercely In-Dependent.
She can balance a check book;
Handle the yard work;
Fix a noisy toilet;
Bury the family pet…
She is intimately familiar with drywall anchors and toggle bolts.
She can file the taxes;
Sell a house;
Buy a car;
Or set up a move…
….all with ONE Power of Attorney.
She welcomes neighbors that don’t welcome her.
She reinvents her career with every move; Locates a house in the east, west or out of country.
And learns to call them all ‘home’.
She MAKES them all home.
Military Wives are somewhat hasty…
They leap into:
They don’t have 15 years to get to know people.
Their roots are short but flexible.
They plant annuals for themselves
and perennials for those who come after them.
Military Wives quickly learn to value each other:
They connect over coffee,
Rely on the spouse network,
Accept offers of friendship and favors.
Record addresses in pencil…
Military Wives have a common bond:
The Military Wife has a husband unlike other husbands; his commitment is unique.
He doesn’t have a ‘JOB’
He has a ‘MISSION’ that he can’t just decide to quit…
He’s on-call for his country 24/7.
But for her, he’s the most unreliable guy in town!
His language is foreign
NOK, PCS, OPR, SOS, ACC, BDU, ACU, BAR, CIB, BDF And so, a Military Wife is
a translator for her family and his.
She is the long- distance link to keep them informed; the glue that holds them together.
A Military Wife has her moments:
She wants to wring his neck;
Dye his uniform pink;
Refuse to move to Siberia;
But she pulls herself together.
Give her a few days,
A travel brochure,
A long hot bath,
A wedding picture,
And she goes.
You may think it is because she has lost her mind.
But actually it is because she has lost her heart .
It was stolen from her by a man,
Who puts duty first,
Who longs to deploy,
Who salutes the flag,
And whose boots in the doorway remind her that as long as he is her Military Husband, she will remain his military wife.
And would have it no other way.