Saturday, June 27, 2015
15 year anniversary
15 years seems like a different lifetime but can feel like yesterday. 15 years ago I was being checked into the Renfrew Center of Florida (an Earing Disorder Treatment Center). I lived in Nashville TN at the time and my parents and little brother came from Nebraska picked me up and we drove down to Coconut Creek Florida. We spent the weekend at the beach and on Monday they left and I stayed for the next 32 days.
A misconception with inpatient treatment is that after a month or two... For the more wealthy could be 6+ months... one should be cured... No more problems should exist. The problem with that misconception is it makes recovery that much harder for the person... Coming back into life trying to be what they have learned in a world that can only see them as someone they are not.
I did not come out of a 32 day stay cured... I probably came out worse off than when I went in. Even though it was hard it was the breeding ground to the life I live today.
32 days with a group of women can be the most nurturing and secure place... Probably one of the most home like places I have ever been. I met women who were patients who were friends for a few years. I met women who worked there who are friends and empowerment for a lifetime.
While inpatient I lost everyone I knew on the outside. I didn't hear from friends and people in my life who were supportive of the idea of me being inpatient. Not one post card, letter, or phone call. I did however receive a post card from a family I knew from church... I sang with them in choir a handful of times but didn't know them all that well... But yet, they took the time to write. It meant the world to me.
During family therapy my parents disowned me and left me without a way home. They told me if I wasn't going to listen to them... Pretty much do what they wanted me to do... They wouldn't be in my life. Being an adult at 22 with the ability to make my own decisions I did just that. I hadn't worked in 32 days so I had no money and my roommate, inpatient, bought my plane ticket back to Nashville.
This would be the start of a spiral that could of completely taken me out. I came back to Nashville to next to nothing. I called everyone I knew to pick me up from the airport and no one wanted to come. Finally, a family I knew from church picked me up and stayed with me for a couple of hours... Was sure I had some food and was settled in.
The weeks after I realized one by one I had no one. People who I was close to disappeared... Told me we couldn't be friends. Families who I worked with their children for years would avoid me or hide their children from me like I was a monster. After a couple months I got a call from the associate pastor at church and was told I didn't belong there anymore. I guess I was such a horrible person God didn't want me.
I was in the ER every month or two for fluids because of all the things I was doing to myself. A lot of days I couldn't make it to work. Life was all about my Eating Disorder. Exercising, purging, how not to eat, self injury. Nothing else mattered... Well, I had nothing else.
A year of this took it's toll. It got to the point I would have chest pains walking to the mail box. I didn't recognize myself in the mirror. I would spend days in a dark room. I would crawl from the bathroom to my bed.
14 years ago on my birthday... 2 days from now... I saw myself in the mirror. I was two big black circles for eyes and a bag of bones. I realized if I didn't change I was going to die. The spark was ignited. My roommate inpatient told me about a group she went to in Miami Florida at the Outpatient Renfrew Center there. I decided I was moving to Miami. I found a job after a few months of looking and moved to Florida. Of course, against my parents, who decided to come back into my life... At an arms distance where I keep them.
I went to the group which lead to a therapist I spent almost 9 years with and a nutritionist I spent close to the same amount of time with. Somehow this also lead to me singing songs about my recovery in Eating Disorder Awareness events to conferences for professionals.
It didn't take 32 days for recovery... It took years of therapy twice a week, nutrition once a week and a group once a week. Not to mention the thousands of dollars a year that I didn't have. It took years for me to have the courage to do what I wanted with my life. It took years to be happy, to eat when I was hungry and to not care what others thought about my body. It took years to begin to love myself and years to be able to trust and bring people into my life again.
When you have been completely alone and now live a life where I seem to matter... Where people want to be a part of my adventure... It truly means the world to me. When people use to tell me I was never alone I would roll my eyes... Today, I am truly never alone.
I like to share my story in some way every year on this anniversary so I don't forget how I became who I am and most important the people who encouraged me to do so.