addict? alcoholic? both.

I’m home this weekend for a change. This time it’s different though, I’m not trying to figure out what I want out of treatment and I’m not neck deep in an eating disorder. I am home because I am doing well, I am recovering. And it’s strange, I feel heavy yet light. I feel like my hopes have been lifted, that my dreams are no longer muted.

I’ve been reading the Steps in hopes that I will begin working towards something more. I haven’t been able to say it in a meeting yet. I can’t even fathom saying it to my therapist but I can put it here. Something to look back on in a few years.

Back when I came home in November, my mother had gone through my room and searched for all the things that I had hidden. And when I came home, I found the items that she had not found; the blades and laxatives. So this time, she came to my room and I took it all out, I handed it all over. I surrendered to recovery, whole-heartedly. It was hard. So hard that I wanted to cry or scream a few times. It was when I found the last cigarette that her trust in me really crumbled. She was disappointed and worried; I understood. I had been smoking on and off since grade nine, I was relying on alcohol to get through some days since grade eleven, and I was using marijuana just to cope with the underlying chaos. All of this took a toll on me, all the missing memories, empty wallets. If you thought just having an eating disorder was bad, imagine restricting so hard and then getting high just to eat before coming down and purging just to light another cigarette to ease the empty feeling and drinking to forget it all again. This was my life for a while; on and off for years.

The worst is the justification: “I’m a responsible addict. I’m a responsible alcoholic.”

There is no way to be both responsible and an addict. There is no way to be responsible and an alcoholic. It’s not a lifestyle worth living. It’s fucking hell. It’s planning out your day just to use without being caught or needing to go home. It’s missing social outings because you’re too weak or hungover to move. It’s having to do more and more each time just to numb any feelings. It’s the pain you feel when you come down.

I was warned for years of the dangers behind addictions. I was first addicted to the pain, and then to the numbness. I was never able to believe that I was worthy of anything else but the pain. I still struggle to see that I am worth it on a day to day basis. I was told it was hereditary, and I replied that it “wouldn’t happen to me”. I was the good kid. I was the responsible kid.

Addiction and mental health walk hand in hand. Both are deadly. Both can be silent killers. But they are best friends. At some point, I forgot what it was like to actually feel anything. I’ve missed so much because I was just working to numb the pain; a full time job. Something I couldn’t quit, EVER.

Somedays I am ashamed of what I have done and the fact that I can never pick up a drink without falling down a rabbit hole. I’ve dug myself out as best I can by myself and now I surrender everything to a higher power and begin a journey to feeling. I know I can’t do it alone any longer, too many slips and relapses to point it out. I can only be me; unapologetically. I can’t reminisce for who I was in the past and I can’t worry about who I am going to be tomorrow but just for today, I can be myself.

I was 4 months sober last week. It’s going to a long and hard journey but here I am, doing it.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” – 1 John 1:9

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” – James 4:10

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reasons.

I have struggled with finding the reasons for my recovery recently. It might have been due to the conclusion that being a touring photographer might not be the healthiest & recovery-centred career right now. It might have been the realization that late nights spend on buses instead of sleeping or driving for 7 hours, sleeping in the morning and working late into the evening, isn’t ideal. Maybe in the future but not in the Spring or the Summer or next Fall for that matter. A few years down the road when things are changing fully for the better and I’m no longer holding onto my demons in a way that “protects” my soul.

As I ponder these things, I create a list of Reasons To Recover. Something I should have made so long ago and sure I did, here and there. But this is concrete. This is real. This is why I need to continue to fight for my freedom.

  1. To return to school.

I was in a program that was detrimental to my mental health before this treatment visit. But I had also been accepted to a program to further my craft in digital media – something I so badly wanted to persue. For treatment, I had to withdraw from the program and have to reapply for next Fall. This time has given me the time to ponder on whether or not that is exactly what I want for my life.

2.  Be able to travel.

Something that has been a trigger for so long. Going on vacation has never felt like a vacation with constant thoughts of how to be productive, how to lose weight, how to restrict meals, how to hide my body. All of this energy put into “protecting” myself instead of enjoying what life has to offer. My dreams to travel to the UK and other countries have been put on the back burner for life because of this eating disorder. I know that not eating means I won’t have the energy to exist outside of my hotel room. So I leave this fear behind, and jump into wholesome recovery.

3. Regain interests I have left in the dust.

Yeah, that’s right, I had interests and hobbies once upon a time. Sometimes I forget that someone existed before my eating disorder but it’s true. There was once a girl who twirled in skirts and who smiled to light up a room and doubled over in laughter. And that girl, was me. I used to play guitar and sing all of the time; the radio was just really intense karaoke…I used to play soccer and basketball. I enjoyed snowboarding on days off and walking the dog with my parents. All of these things that I lost interest in because my eating disorder decided what was okay and to what intensity. I want that girl who laughs so hard her stomach muscles ache and twirls in skirts back. I want me back. And I’ll leave my eating disorder in the dust this time.

4. Experience and describe real emotions.

One of the biggest losses of this relapse is that I forgot what it felt like to feel real emotions. I hid behind my hair and sarcastic remarks. I listened to my thoughts when they told me to arrange my place setting properly and eating in alphabetical order and make sure my liquids were at matching amounts. It was exhausting and heart breaking and I saw it as a safety net. Nothing could go wrong if I did these things. I didn’t feel immense sadness or shame or guilt because everything I tried to control could be justified by any thought. I was using my wise mind against itself. Feelings aren’t meant to be buried and forgotten, they are meant to be felt and shown. So why did I try to suppress so much, for so long?

I write these reasons out as I dive back into the worksheets I need to complete. As I take time to think about all I have accomplished even while my demons have tried to silence my thoughts. I am no longer just a diagnosis or walking, talking zombie. I am a human. Almost 20 and still piecing myself back together. It might take some time but at least I’m starting to move forward. Again and again and again.

I will fight for this. 

‘And David danced before the Lord with all his might.’ (2 Samuel 6:14)

unknown.

I keep searching for somewhere to go or someone else to become because I’m not happy in my current situation. Sounds big headed or close minded when I think about it in depth. But I am truly unhappy with my current standings in this universe. It could be from many factors though:

  1. I just took a 9-5 summer job working in an office deleting data.
  2. I’m 19, living at home and I still have to ask for permission before I go anywhere.
  3. I am in school.

No matter how grateful I am for all of these opportunities, there is so much of the universe I have yet to find and I feel trapped because of those factors. I want to travel across Canada and visit the West Coast. I have dreams to visit multiple National and Provincial Parks. I want to tour with bands and sell merch. I want to get my photography published. I want to take photographs for magazines and websites and companies. I want to live a life worth fulfilling.

But I am not there yet. And I know that I should look at everything happening right now as a stepping stone in the river of my life. God is sending me in this direction because something good will come from it. However, sometimes it feels like I’m being tossed off the side of a mountain. With every fight my father and I have over a concert or travelling to a new place. With every night that I don’t sleep and every class I am too tired to attend. The world feels like it’s ending and I so badly want to escape.

So where is the escape hatch? Where is my little pod to eject off the side of this planet? How do I get away?

The answer is: I don’t. 

Is it even possible to be somewhere you didn’t choose to be? I guess that’s the thing with making choices. Until you are an adult and you have cut ties from your parents in financial ways ????

I guess I have to trust Him for this path. Someone once told me that if God didn’t want me to go in one direction, it would be difficult to get there. I wish I could trust in that thought but there is so much left for me to do and being held back due to career or family isn’t something I can dig. I am grateful for all that my family has provided me with yet I so dearly want to discover the universe on my own terms.

I want to visit multiple parts of Southern Canada this summer and I’ve got plans to do it. I have two weeks between my last exam and my first day of work. I have about sixteen weekends to explore the universe before I enter a new part of my life. School.

I’ve been thinking about how I want to fill my time these days. As I write this, I am sitting in my teenage bedroom surrounded by walls; half torn down, on my bed. I recently had some friends over who commented on the fact that I still sleep in a single bed. As if it mattered? As if I should sleep in a bigger bed now? Where do these ideas come from? If I purchased a larger bed, I wouldn’t have as much room for my desk and record player and book shelves and guitar. All these things that seem so small and unimportant but they mean something to me. Crazy…I know.

So I took this summer job and I changed my availability to be able to explore the universe but I did it to create some relationship with my parents again. A relationship that I have been tearing apart since grade nine. And it’s not like it was very strong before that anyway. Sad. A lot has happened since I found God and a home within His universe. Sometimes I’m not sure I am wanted by Him either but I know I have a place somewhere. I guess it will just take some time to find that place.


Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:34

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change. And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea. – Psalm 46:2

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change.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a list called ‘A List of Change‘ and it feels more relevant now then it did before. I wrote this a couple months after leaving treatment for the second time and not knowing what I was going to do. The universe is huge and this is my way of making my place known.


Change your surroundings, move away, change of scenery is always good.

This could be moving away or moving things around. This could be going on a road trip or plane ride. This could be changing schools. A breath of fresh air and time and life. Take charge. Let go. Find some piece of universe for yourself.

Cut your hair short, so short that you cut away all the bad and only leave the good.

I so badly want to cut the negativity out of my life. Leave it in the dust. Behind. Goodbye. It’s not that easy, I know. But I can make it easier than I have been. Hair holds this weight that you don’t need anymore. Leave it on the floor and grow out of what you are leaving behind. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO LEAVE THINGS BEHIND.

Give away the clutter. Give away the trinkets from all the bad years.

I’m not going to lie, I am somewhat of a hoarder. I keep everything. Movie tickets, tests from high school, pens that long ago ran out of ink. It’s all in my bed room. Why? Because I might need it some day? In reality, I’ll probably never need that math test I flunked in grade 8 or the dirty bandana I wore tied around my arm when I visited Nicaragua in grade 10. It’s all just material items that I am so tied to that I don’t want to get rid of. But materialistic items aren’t what I need to keep, it’s the memories I am refreshed with every time I come across something from years ago.

Contrary to whatever you may believe, getting rid of these items won’t get rid of the memories. So make some room, you’ve got adventures to take and memories to make!

Strip the walls of all the memories and posters you’ve held onto for so long.

My walls were plastered with posters and memories throughout high school. In grade 10/11, I had a mild obsession with Demi Lovato and covered an entire wall with photos of her and her lyrics. In grade 12, I ripped that down and started over with bands that meant a lot too me and art work that either I loved or I had created. It was a masterpiece within itself. By first year, I decided to change that again and ripped it down. My walls are bare now, except for the dried tack on the walls that wouldn’t come off easily.

I wanted those memories gone. The ‘Stay Strong’ taped above my bed for the multiple rough nights, the pyramid of positive quotes, the photos with people I was no longer in contact with. It felt amazing to get rid of those things. It’s not that I didn’t admire those memories, it was that I didn’t want to be pulled backwards any longer. Those memories are a reminder of where I once was. Not where I am headed.

Buy some plants and grow with them. Grow your roots into the ground and nourish together.

Don’t forget where you came from but also don’t let that hold you back. Grow. Find what you want to do and follow that. Buy some plants and make your life a bit more earthly. Find who you want to be and follow them down your own path.

Start wearing your glasses with pride because they made your eyes look like oceans.

This one’s a bit more centred towards my own life but honestly, wear what you have to wear with pride. Don’t hang your head and smile with your mouth closed. Braces and glasses and headgear and retainers aren’t there for anyone except you. Live your life and keep your chin up!

Wear whatever the fuck you want.

Wear the clothes that make you feel comfortable. If you want to wear makeup, wear it and if you don’t, then don’t wear it. You don’t have to dress to impress. Who are you trying to impress? No one’s comfort is more important than your own.

Don’t change the way you act for anybody, they won’t be worth it.

I can’t stress this one enough. Don’t change yourself for others. Please. Be who you want to be because there isn’t anyone else to be. Don’t let someone else’s ideas of who you should be effect you. Make your own decisions. If a boy doesn’t like the clothing you wear or how you don’t wear makeup, tell him to f*ck off. You don’t have to shave your legs. You don’t have to stop speaking your mind. Please, just be yourself.

When your friends make you feel invalid, speak your mind. Tell them. Make it known. They aren’t worth the relationship if they can’t accept you.

I get it. Telling your friends how they make you feel is really difficult. But it’s not okay for you to feel stuck being their friend. You are allowed to have opinions and be yourself. Tell them your likes/dislikes. Tell them your hobbies. Tell them about your dreams and fears. Tell them your secrets and your jokes. Tell them this and if they can’t accept you for those, then they aren’t worth your time. Please don’t waste your time with someone who doesn’t care about you.

Tell your loved ones what’s going on because sometimes they know more than they’ve led you to believe.

It seems to be that those surrounding you tend to pick up on emotions and events more than you may think.

There’s definitely this unspoken rule of letting your loved ones come to you instead of bombarding them with questions. It’s totally okay to ask if someone is okay but don’t follow them around or make them uncomfortable. When they are ready, they will tell you and you can take the chance to tell them what you’ve noticed. Please let someone help you. You don’t have to suffer in silence.


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intentions.

I just received an email from my school regarding courses for next Fall. I laughed. I don’t think I’ll be needing those. My school calls them “Course Intentions”, like what we intend to take in the coming semester if we don’t flunk out or fail something. I think it’s hilarious right now. My intentions are forever changing. Daily.

I’m making a change next year, therefore I do not need to choose my courses. If it was up to me, I would drop out of university and take some time to focus on myself. I would enter a treatment facility and get a job and take my mental health more seriously. Unfortunately, I don’t have the power to do that right now. I’m a second year Child and Youth Care student (not the same as ECE – I swear). I am a second year student who’s giving up all that hard work to attend art school. Imagine my parents (who are both lawyers) opinion on this ??!

Art school. Somewhere to learn to express myself while also creating a business out of it. This decision has to do with my end goal. My life plan of starting my own music venue that doubles as an outreach centre for youth. Sounds so far away but with everyday that I learn something about the music industry or how to work with youth, I am getting a step closer to that goal.

I’m still waiting to hear back from the University I applied to. It seems annoying and silly because I’ve already been accepted to my top choice. A digital communications program at the college just an hour away. But my parents (again, lawyers – ugh) want their daughter to attend a University and receive a degree. Fun Fact: My college program is four years in which I’ll receive a degree at the end. So maybe it’s not about where you get your education. Or where you work. Or who hires you. Maybe it’s about more than that. Maybe it’s about being happy on your path through life.

Life is this journey. And I think we all just pretend that we know what’s really going on. But the truth is? Life is different for everyone. It’s constantly changing and morphing into something else. There’s no world where we don’t face difference and pain and truth. This is the universe that we were given. It’s all that we have. So why fight what the universe has planned for us? I chose art school over community services. I want to produce art whether it be on a screen or a stage. I want to make people happy. I want to find those who don’t like they fit and make sure that they know there’s a place here for them.

It took me years to realize that I could do something with the art I made. I wanted a way to connect my love for live music and my passion for photography. But I didn’t know how to get involved. No one teaches you that. It’s all about the lock and key of the universe. In a rapidly moving industry, it’s about the people you know, and I didn’t know anyone. That’s a different that I’ll tell eventually.

Intentions. We all have them. We all want to do something with them. Sometimes it just takes a bit longer than we want it to. Setbacks happen. It’s okay. We move on. Forward. Leave the past where it belongs, behind us. I’m still facing setbacks. It’s true. And I’m not quite sure when they’re going to stop. But I know that I can’t stop fighting them. I’m going to break through and when I do, I’m going to know what my intentions were. 

direction.

I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching recently. In a rather abrupt turn of events, I realized my draw towards life and love is lacking. I am disconnected from the universe. I want more. I want love and wisdom and strength and courage. I want to give myself to the Lord, a saviour, to move forward. It’s hard to be stuck here. I reached out a Rev yesterday in search of some direction.

When I was seven or eight, I attended a Baptist overnight camp. The place I was at during the summer was a religious area and each camp was run by a different denomination however there were no United camps so I was sent with my cousins to that one. I was given a Bible on the first day of the week and we did a bible study every morning and evening before bed. Everything was tied back to the message of the Lord. I only attended for two summers before going to a camp with no religious ties. Sometimes I wish I had stayed there and worked with my journey but I realize this was a stepping stone in my story that I needed to follow.

Yesterday, I messaged my old youth pastor who lives in another city nowadays and asked for some direction as to what kind of bible may be good in terms of searching for some direction while making my way through recovery from an eating disorder. He told me that I had made his day because of this. Because I was reaching out and asking for guidance from someone who has devoted his life to serving God in one of the highest ways. I want to believe that the Lord wants me in His life the way that I want Him in mine. The Rev directed me towards a ‘message’ Bible or ‘study’ Bible. I’m sure to him it doesn’t mean much more than someone wanting to follow in the word of God. But for me, it’s direction. I am so lost right now. I’m not quite sure what I am going to be doing next week or next year but I know that God can be a part of my life and that means so much.

I wasn’t baptized until grade 11. My parents decided to let my siblings and I decide if we wanted to be a part of a faithful community and I am happy that they did. I don’t believe I would have found God if I had been forced into his word from the beginning. I am happy that I was fortunate to make that decision on my own. My decision to get baptized didn’t come hastily. It took a lot of careful thought and discussion. It wasn’t until after all of my friends continued through their journey with Christ through Confirmation that I realized I wanted that life, however I didn’t have the time in my schedule. I still have a chance to be Confirmed and I want to be. I want this life. I want to give my life to the Lord and follow him in life.

It’s hard to explain what’s been going on recently. A lot of time spent wondering where I am going on this path I am walking. I want to be free and happy and strong. I want so much for the universe, I’m just not sure how to do it yet.

are you there God, it’s me.

I started my journey for Christ in grade nine. I was originally looking for some friends as my mental health had kind of ruined that aspect in school so I turned to my families church as a crutch. Walking into the youth room one Sunday morning was a huge step for me and wasn’t really sure what I was going to find there. As it turns out, I found a community of people who didn’t judge me for being who I was then and that was a blessing. I needed that comfort. For a short while, that room was my little piece of the universe. I spent each week leading up to that day, knowing that I would be back in it’s safety eventually.

When I look back on my high school years, I wonder why my patience with Him and His grace dwindled. I wonder why I stopped believing in that place as a safe space. I am no longer friends  with those people I met there all those years ago. So much has changed since that time. Drifting from the church was one thing that I wish I could go back and stop myself from doing. As I find myself without a path to follow and a message to share with the world, I am lost again. Stuck in a dark tunnel with no light to bear witness to who I’d like to be.

My first youth leader was really cool. He helped me realize that God only put us through what he knew we could handle. We learned about his message through wisdom and grace. We read, shared, loved, smiled, laughed, and cried; all within the comfort of that room in the basement. Eventually he moved on and became a pastor somewhere else. My second youth leader wasn’t as cool and I probably stopped attending Sundays as a result of that. It wasn’t the same and no one from the previous year was coming anymore so I decided I shouldn’t either; a mistake I wish I hadn’t made. My final youth leader was cool. I went back in grade 12 when I was searching for something of substance to get me through the weeks of uncertainty I was facing at the time. On Thursdays, I went after dinner and played board games and laughed. On Sundays, I learned about the path I could be on. It was helping and I felt like I had somewhere to belong.

When one door closes, another door opens. A motto I try to live by. Recently though, a lot of doors have started to close and I feel very stuck. The people who I surrounded myself with throughout high school are no longer apart of my life (for good reason) and I am trying to find out where I am supposed to be going. I long to share my story,  my journey with the world. The ups and downs that taught me what I know now. I didn’t give up when the light went out and the world turned upside down. I persevered. Over and over again.

I want God in my life for good this time. But I’m not quite sure where to find Him. That church is no longer a place of comfort and care, like it once was. My journey into His grace will continue as I find a new space in the universe where I am comfortable as myself, once again.