Exercise anorexia

**WARNING: Some of the content/images in this post may be triggering for individuals in recovery from an eating disorder! **

It was time to get back on a diet.

My eating disorder makes it difficult to lose weight without going extreme…

Even when I’m making every effort to not be obsessive, I find myself subconsciously testing the boundaries.

In 2015, I found a new way to “cheat the system” and have an eating disorder without “having an eating disorder”.

It started as a semi-innocent attempt to lose a little bit of weight and quickly spiraled into a full fledged eating disorder- but not the type of eating disorder that people talk about.

Although I wasn’t quite “clinically” overweight…yet, I was the heaviest that I had ever been and I felt like I needed to take control of my health.

November 2015

Losing weight freaking sucks.

I swear that you are never more “hangry” than when on a diet.

In 2009, I was hospitalized for anorexia and bulimia. (Read for more on that experience in Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself.)

Whenever I think “lose weight” my brain goes immediately to starvation.

Starve yourself = get skinny.

When I’m serious about something I want results and I want them quick.

With the help of my Fitbit activity tracker, some low calorie/ high protein drink mix, and a food logging app, I had everything I needed to go full on eating disorder for almost a year.

I struggle with severe anxiety.

Many days it about controls my everyday life.

At the start of this new “diet”, I experienced the relief from my anxiety with an endorphin high achieved by high intensity exercise.

It also just so happened to fit right in with my new “healthy lifestyle”.

The statistics on my Fitbit were THRILLING- driving me to push myself beyond my limits.

The next piece to my master plan was the PERFECT protein powder.

Researching like crazy to find the best low calorie, high protein, powder.

Eventually choosing a brand that offered an 130 calorie serving while packing a whopping 30 grams of protein.

The original plan?

Substitute a couple meals with the protein shake.

The actual plan?

Protein shake with water for breakfast- 130 Cal

Protein shake with water for lunch- 130 Cal

Regular dinner with the family- max 300 Cal (typically consisting of a bite or two that I would chew very slowly to trick myself that I was eating more.)

Days that I didn’t have to cook I’d drink a third shake for dinner and skid through the day with 390 calories.

This new “diet” allowed myself a measly maximum of 560 calories a day.

Before I knew it my eating disorder was out of hand.

The initial adjustment was insanely hard.

I would think about food every second of every day.

It was miserable.

The only way to distract myself from the hunger was by exercising… all. day. long.

It wasn’t abnormal to have 600+ “active minutes” every single day.

There wasn’t time for anything else anymore.

My days literally revolved around trying to exercise the hunger out of me.

This was explained to loved ones as, “the more I burn, the more I can eat!”

Though the calorie allowance never actually adjusted.

Exercise became the most important thing in the world to me.

I withdrew from friends because I knew they wouldn’t be “up” for what I did all day- and I had to do it.

There were no exceptions, there were no “breaks”.

I clearly remember dropping out of anxiety therapy because I didn’t want to sit down for a full hour and not be burning calories.

But oh no, “I didn’t have an eating disorder”.

I was just “being healthy”- which also happens to be much more socially accepted.

Don’t get me wrong.

Exercise is indeed very healthy and an extremely important aspect of health.

This wasn’t just exercise though, this was an eating disorder.

February 2016

Exercise wasn’t healthy when it began taking priority over every other thing in my life.

390-560 calories a day is totally unacceptable- certainly not adequate fuel for 15+ miles of exercise a day.

Exercise anorexia is still not clearly recognized as an eating disorder, though some developments are being made in that direction.

I’m writing this because I know loud and clear that these behaviors were just as deadly as my anorexia/bulimia hospitalization in 2009.

Even though I weighed 100 pounds more this time around and was practicing what our society views as “normal healthy behavior”, it was equally valid as an eating disorder.

Eventually I plateaued and the extreme behaviors weren’t making me any skinnier.

By then, I needed to be skinnier… a lot skinnier.

If you have an eating disorder you can understand the feeling of never being skinny enough.

You could die as a pile of bones and still believe that you left this world “fat”.

And that’s what fuels this sick addiction.

I continued trying to amp up my workouts.

‘5 more pounds!’

One day, literally waking up from the kitchen floor.

Instead of feeling scared and ready to throw in the towel, I felt an overwhelming rush of pride.

I had starved and overexerted myself to the point of literally collapsing and this was something I accepted like a trophy.

My “out” came when I became pregnant in June 2016.

No way was I going to harm my baby trying to achieve the perfect physique.

My body quickly packed on the pounds after months of starvation.

I had zero energy, was hungry all day long, and embraced this change in protection of my pregnancy.

February 2017

Thankfully, I have been able to maintain regular eating habits after a short relapse postpartum.

I still haven’t lost all of my baby weight… and that’s something I’m learning to be okay with.

I’m blessed to have a husband who loves me just as much at a size 10 as he did at size 0.

You guys, these superficial standards that we all feel the need to chase after are so ridiculous.

God didn’t create food so it would give us panic attacks.

You are beautiful exactly the way you are. ❣️

Freedom from my eating disorder has been incredible.

I’m not confined to superficial desires anymore or the disappointment that comes with them.

Instead I’m choosing happiness, self love, and confidence.

You are all you have.

Be kind to yourself.

Self love looks beautiful on you! ❤️

January 2019

Check out my blog, Project Identity for more inspirational stuff! 💕

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, check out the links below!

Meet Nikki, my eating disorder. talks about who is really in control when you have an eating disorder.

Understanding Bulimia for more info on Bulimia.

Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself. my hospitalization for Anorexia/Bulimia.

Through the ears of my eating disorder for loved ones of someone struggling!

Drop a comment or send me message for additional help! ❣️💕❣️

❤️

To the friend that isn’t a friend anymore

I’ve had enough.

While I work on bettering myself, you continue choosing to make all of the wrong choices.

The easy thing and the right thing are hardly ever the same.

You’ve been stringing me along like it’s part of your game.

You were once a friend… that is true.

Not anymore.

Looking back at the childhood memories when we were both on the same page…

The laughter, the love, friends for life without a doubt.

We had our whole lives ahead of us then.

Sadly only one of us would make that life count.

I hate that you just don’t care enough to make a change- I’m tired of rooting for a team that isn’t even playing.

What I want for you is very different than what you want for yourself.

You were once a friend… that is true.

Not anymore.

We are grown now.

Though only one of us has truly grown up.

Sorting out my past mistakes as you refuse to let yours go.

Left standing alone trying to plant a garden with your pile of dirt.

I can’t make you be a garden.

You were once one… that is true.

Not anymore.

So here I stand alive and I’ve decided it’s been overdue.

Friends are the family we choose.

And I’m no longer choosing you.

When you change your mind again and want friends instead of drugs

Remember that I’m praying for you, in the place of hugs.

I won’t be there to wipe your tears.

I won’t be there to share your cheers.

This is the end to the childhood friendship that we could no longer sustain.

Whether you choose to get better or not, gone is where I’ll stay.

I’m living in my garden.

Where you wouldn’t come to play.

The gates have closed, the sunshine glows, I finally can see.

That after all we’ve grown apart, I’m better off just me.

We were once friends… that is true.

Not anymore.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more inspiration! 💕

When toxic relationships turn violent

“They give you heaven and they give you hell.”

After graduating high school I moved to Florida to experience life away from home.

A couple months into this experience I crossed paths with a guy I went to middle school with in Colorado.

Jumping into a relationship, the passion grew like fire.

Dysfunctional was an understatement.

It started as little battles with control.

We fell hard and we fell fast.

I drank myself stupid every single day.

I had a history of picking guys that became obsessive- The red flags disguised in familiarity.

His burning desire to sustain this dysfunctional relationship resulted in a tightened grip on me.

I worked at a kiosk in the mall and he would creep around upstairs, watching me.

Everyone else could see the madness, but I was blind.

The first time he got arrested was because I wanted to go tan.

He hated when I tanned because they wouldn’t let him go in the room with me.

He couldn’t watch me for 15 minutes of the day and it killed him inside.

“YOU ARE MEETING A GUY IN THERE AND CHEATING ON ME!!!”

He roared.

As the grip tightened, I repelled.

This first incident started with my attempt to to sneak out the door and tan.

He came racing after me, jumping in his car, without shoes or a shirt on.

At the stoplight he put his car in park and started banging on my car window screaming.

A bystander called it in.

“SHOOT ME! JUST SHOOT ME!!!”

He yelled at the police officers as they took him into custody.

After being released from jail he moved right back into my apartment.

Looking back I know I should have recognized the signs.

But lust blinds us…

The next time the cops were called came after a dispute on rent money.

He couldn’t hold a job with his full schedule of stalking me and once again I was left to come up with all of it.

I was almost an entire bottle of Burnette’s in, but no amount of alcohol could erase what happened next from my mind.

Enraged and heated, substances amiss, he snapped.

He grabbed my throat and slammed me against the wall.

Using his grip as leverage he began to lift me up.

I went numb.

The next thing I remember is the way the carpet felt on my face.

He was gone, I was shaken and impulsively called the police.

In the minutes it took for the police to arrive though, I had changed my mind.

I wanted to erase the phone call for help and resubmit to this hell.

So I crawled underneath my bed trying to hide.

BOOM BOOM

“POLICE! OPEN UP!!”

It took close to 30 minutes and threats to break down my door before I surrendered.

I was hiding to protect someone who tried to kill me… like how twisted is that?!?!

I’m writing this because I know that someone reading it will resonate with domestic violence.

You guys, toxic relationships DON’T GIVE YOU HEAVEN!!!

It’s the devil distorting every ounce of sense from your mind.

If just days later my roommates wouldn’t have robbed every last thing I had, I possibly would have remained in the relationship.

I know for sure that at times when things got lonely, times before I fell in love again, that I would have gone back for sure.

That is so ridiculously messed up that it’s not even funny.

Thankfully, I made it out of the relationship before it was literally the death of me.

Don’t settle for toxicity in relationships!

Don’t be blind to red flags!

GET OUT BEFORE IT GETS BAD!

You may be in a toxic relationship if your partner is:

  • Overbearing
  • Abnormally controlling
  • Obsessive
  • Stalking
  • Manipulative
  • Verbally abusive
  • Physically abusive

You deserve someone who treats you like the worthy, incredible, person that you are.

And they ARE out there!!!

Not until you escape your prison, lock the door, and throw away the key… will you find them.

If you or somebody you know is in an abusive relationship, feel free to send me an email!

If love to assist you in getting through this! 💕❤️👇

Alexisvw.projectidentity@gmail.com

Or DM me on Instagram at:

alexisvw.projectidentity

Or drop me a comment below! ❤️👇

Check out my blog, Project Identity for more articles on overcoming adversity! 🌤

Through the ears of my eating disorder

My relationship with food will honestly never be normal.

A lifetime without relapse wouldn’t be enough to change the way I hear the words,

“Wow! What a healthy meal you are eating! Good job!!”

Because instead of hearing you compliment me on my discipline I hear,

‘You are fat so you should be eating healthy.’

And from there it spirals into countless unhealthy thoughts.

I knew that many challenges would come with recovery from an eating disorder but I never thought the way that I hear things would be one of them.

Last week I was talking with my best friend who is also in recovery from an eating disorder when this realization hit me like a ton of bricks.

‘I’m not the only one!’

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if every person who has ever had an eating disorder experiences this to some extent.

Having an eating disorder is like playing a constant game of telephone with yourself.

Your mind is so good at feeding you crap by now that it enjoys manipulating the game.

When living with a brain that is constantly obsessing about food and weight, it can feel like everything is a trigger.

Food is a necessity for survival so you can’t “avoid it” as you can with recovery from most other things.

Multiple times a day EVERY SINGLE DAY you are being tested.

Eating in general can become an anxiety provoking situation entirely.

You are at war with yourself.

And like a sick and twisted death sentence… you must eat to live.

If you have a loved one who has an eating disorder, I’m writing this for you.

Life requires learning other people so that we can all better coexist.

An eating disorder is just another one of those REAL LIFE things to navigate.

Below are some examples of life through the ears of an eating disorder.

Take a moment to intercept this as your loved one.

“Gross! She obviously eats cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!”

‘My worth is determined by a number on a scale…’

“You were too skinny before I’m glad to see you’ve gained some weight.”

‘You are fat now.’

“Exercise is really good for you!”

‘You should be exercising because you’re fat.’

“I’m doing the #%* diet!”

‘You should be on a diet!’

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for doing your part to better coexist!

Check out my blog Project Identity for more! ❤️

What I didn’t know about addiction

When I got sober it was a fairly unique situation.

The day I quit drinking was also the very first day I wanted to quit drinking.

A couple days of seizures on the bathroom floor was enough to start anew.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned how much my personal experience has clouded my opinion on addicts.

To me, alcohol was an escape from myself.

I hated myself.

I hated my life.

Numb was the only way that I could continue functioning.

Alcohol was that door to checking out from reality and entering a world where I just didn’t care.

With booze, life always seemed less real.

I didn’t annoy myself as much when I was drunk.

The bottle was my ticket to escaping the life I couldn’t bare anymore.

My brother had his own struggles with addiction.

It would be years after my new leaf of living that nightmare with him before things turned around.

The only thing more difficult than addiction itself is watching a loved one throw away their life for it.

Your life becomes a living hell while they are escaping this reality with substance.

“I promise you that life in sobriety is fun T!!! PLEASE just give it a try and find out!!!”

I pleaded, for years on end.

The best word to describe myself in this plea would be naive.

Naive to feeling that every addict is running from reality.

Naive to think that my brother just liked being drunk too much to quit.

A couple weekends ago we were visiting my now 20 MONTH SOBER brother for fall festivities!

It’s MY FAVORITE family tradition we’ve created!

Our life is so normal now.

We get together and do things as siblings and I swear those are some of the best memories of our lives.

Day one we went to the most badass park I’ve ever seen! 👇

Day two we went to a corn maze and pumpkin patch!👇

And day three, during family breakfast, we talked about where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.

“Man T… I can’t believe you made it! I’m so proud of you!!!”

I professed.

“I had to stop or I was going to die. I’d wake up with ridiculous anxiety and start having panic attacks. It would feel like I was having a heart attack and the only way to make it stop was the booze. It was like a 24/7 never ending hangover.”

Tears started streaming down my face as I realized how much I hadn’t understood about his addiction.

Here I am, preaching to my brother about how cool life is when you aren’t confused all the time, and he wasn’t even confused…. he was sick.

He confessed the fine line of “sipping and driving”.

In other words he wasn’t drinking just to drink.

At just 29 years old, his body was beginning to show signs of long term alcohol abuse.

His body was reliant on alcohol and was literally shutting down without it.

Longer drives required greater focus and when he was “under-medicated” the withdrawal symptoms were so intense that he would end up pulling over for hours at a time in attempt to stop his heart from bursting out of his chest.

He wasn’t drinking to be drunk- he was drinking to stay alive.

He had punched the ticket but he no longer wanted to ride the ride.

“I was embarrassed with myself for how bad it had gotten. I would have died trying to detox on my own. There was a lot of shame in what it had become and the reality of those choices. It was like drowning and waiting for somebody to save you.”

The day his second niece was born was the day my brother amounted the courage to chase his lion.

“I need this to stop and I don’t know how.”

He admitted to a buddy of trust.

Thank you for hearing him, Carl.

It took ten days in detox before being medically cleared for inpatient rehab.

Detox from alcohol is a serious thing!

My brother put in some insanely hard work as he fought for his life.

**Did you know- detoxing from heroin isn’t deadly (though it feels like it), but detoxing from alcohol can be?!**

20 months later my brother is still prioritizing his recovery as an AA sponsor.

God gave me my brother back and I am beyond grateful for this.

I’m thankful that I have a sibling to enjoy life with.

I’m thankful I’m not living in a nightmare anymore.

I’m thankful for his journey, and the new understanding it has given me about addicts.

We are all different so it makes sense that no addiction is the same.

Every addict is running- our differences lie in what is chasing us.

Thank you for using your story to help others T.

I love you.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more. ❤️

The “devalued” child

“When I was a kid I remember crying in the mirror and feeling so badly that my parents had to have the ugliest kid in the entire world.”

I expressed to my anxiety therapist.

“What happened to trigger that? At the age of 4 or 5 a child doesn’t just come up with these feelings from nowhere… something must have happened.”

She questioned.

“Nothing happened. I’m just ugly.”

It would be YEARS of therapy before unlocking this can of worms.

Years of wondering if I was raped or abused as a child and just blacked out the entire thing.

Years of silencing that fear with my proclamation of ugliness.

‘At least if you understand that you are ugly you aren’t ugly and in denial…’

Confidence has never been my strong suit.

It wasn’t until my anxiety therapist gave me a list of books to look into that my life started making sense for once.

While she never said it directly, all of the books had a common theme.

Borderline personality disorder.

The second I looked up the definition, I felt my mom’s picture should have been pasted right next to it.

It was her exactly.

My mom has borderline personality disorder.

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by the following behaviors:

  • Intense, highly changeable moods
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones- often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors (spending sprees, substance abuse, binge eating)
  • Extreme emotional swings
  • Hostility
  • Lack of restraint

In my case, “a pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones- often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)”, my brother is the idealized and I am the devalued.

With this newfound knowledge about my mom, it has been an emotional rollercoaster the past few months.

Growing up in a home with a parent who has borderline personality disorder is an extremely traumatic thing to go through.

The fact that I never even understood this piece of myself for the first 26 years of my life completely blows my mind.

There is no denying that all of it makes sense.

Anger, sadness, frustration.

Every emotion showing its colors in myself at this new revelation.

‘Is therapy making me crazier?’

Instead of my mom just removing herself from my life all together, I grew up in an “I love you, go away” environment.

There was a constant push and pull.

Actions that were justified by clothing me in shame and guilt.

Our father, whom I got along with best, was away from home making the money.

The way I internalized my moms behavior as a child was processing it as a personal flaw.

The almost comical “obsession” (idealization) she had for my brother was a stark contrast to the way she treated me.

“Maybe if I was prettier my mom would love me too…”

The constant push and pull from a person in trust is enough to destroy someone entirely.

My feelings were never heard or validated.

I was always wrong, she was always right.

My attempts at having a voice were converted into backlash.

Growing up in the care of a parent who had borderline personality disorder distorted my self worth at a very young age.

The devalued child feels unworthy of love- even from themselves.

You get used to always being the one at fault.

To this day I overuse the word “sorry”.

I am sorry.

Sorry for any way that I may be bothering you with my presence.

It’s been hammered into my head that I’m a nuisance.

My mom loves me and I know that.

I don’t believe that she ever intended to hurt me.

Yet there is still a part of me that hates her.

A part that wants to give a voice to the child who didn’t have one.

A part that wants to say, “F you” and never talk to her again to pay her back for that broken little girl looking in the mirror.

Except I’m not going to go out like that.

Yes, this understanding has been quite the rollercoaster… but it’s one that I’m glad to be riding.

Without understanding myself I would never have the means to fix anything.

I can’t change my mom.

And I will probably never get an apology from her.

But that’s okay.

THERAPY TAKES WORK!

It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

But it’s the only way to obtain justice for myself, for the little girl in the mirror.

I know that someday all of this hard work will pay off.

I will love my mom forever and while I can’t guarantee it’s the end of the outbursts, I can agree to forgive her.

Holding firm in my boundaries while staying true to my values.

I’m choosing to live my life in love instead of hate.

I’m choosing to accept the things I cannot change and changing the things that I can.

Dear little girl in the mirror,

You are beautiful.

Have empathy for your mother even in the times that it’s hard.

You don’t HAVE to do so, but CHOOSE to do so.

Forgive your mom.

Live your life in love.

Learn to love yourself the way God loves you.

Your moms behavior has everything to do with her and nothing to do with you.

Remember that her outbursts are professions of her pain rather than expressions of her feelings towards you.

Don’t forget to be there for yourself.

You are worthy.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more. ❤️

Revisiting the memories I would rather have forgotten

“Maybe you should just stop doing the blog if you aren’t able to make any income from it. It’s just so negative….ha. You are always talking about about weird stuff. People must think that you’re nuts!”

This blog has been an absolute rollercoaster.

Some days I ride the high of feeling like I’m helping people while in turn freeing myself of my “baggage”.

Other days I feel like an idiot and wonder why I’m wasting all this time for nothing, until it spirals so far out of control that I about quit.

“Should I really post that?”

“How are people going to react to this?”

Will anyone react to this…?”

The truth is that it would be SO much easier to just go about my life and pretend like all the years of chaos never even happened.

Easier to pretend that I’ve been this “normal” person my whole life…

Easier to bury my skeletons than to go searching for them in attempt to resolve the trauma that they’ve branded me with.

My blog is called Project Identity because I hope to uncover what I feel are “missing pieces” of my identity through the process of this project.

In terms of adversity, I’ve had a very wide range of it.

Mental health, eating disorders, sexual abuse, dysfunctional families…. YOU NAME IT!

By revisiting these traumas, my goal is to sort through my life and figure out who I really am.

This is NOT in any way an attempt to glorify or normalize the things that I’ve done.

Im not sharing my deepest, darkest secrets with YOU to win sympathy or to place blame on others for things that have happened in my life.

My intention IS to help others by saying,

“this is where I was and look where I am now.”

An attempt to find the answers for survival after adversity– answers that I don’t necessarily believe that I have, yet somehow…. I made it.

And the story isn’t over.

People don’t just overcome something and live happily ever after.

With time, the book you just closed will start revealing itself in your next book.

Growing up in a home with a parent who has Borderline Personality Disorder left me runningself medicating with drugs and alcohol.

The consequences that I received for such behavior opened the door for a newfound battle of control with food (read Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself).

All of the above rooting me in distorted self worth and eventually leading to rape and suicide attempts.

Recovery from both addictions simultaneously greeted me with crippling anxiety and PTSD- symptoms I now have to face head on, without a crutch.

I don’t believe that God dealt me these cards by mistake though.

Why?

Because I shouldn’t even be here right now.

The moment my life turned around was also the lowest, darkest place I’ve ever been.

My desire to live was gone, but God had other plans.

Just weeks after multiple failed suicide attempts and hospitalizations, my polar opposite walked into my life and we ended up pregnant.

I wasn’t living for me anymore.

A tiny human who would love me forever was too good of an offer to pass up.

God took the life I couldn’t handle anymore and replaced it with one that I could.

He wanted me here because He knows my heart.

My adversity is God’s opportunity.

His opportunity to change more lives.

This is why I do what I do.

I write about my rawest moments because frankly, life is raw.

The world needs more raw people, too.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more!

Rain rain go away

Rain rain go away

The rain just won’t stop pouring

Rain rain go away

You’re so freaking annoying

Rain rain what did you say

I really must be going

Rain rain go away

The forecast calls for storming

Rain rain go away

I need some help please save me

Rain rain go away

I haven’t been behaving

Rain rain go away

God are you there I’m sorry

Rain rain go away

Is this really my story

Rain rain go away

Your light is there it’s glowing

Rain rain go away

By praying, You can show it

Rain rain go away

I need you Lord I know it

Rain rain go away

Together we can beat this

Rain rain go away

You’re all I ever needed

Rain rain go away

The voice of Jesus humming

Rain rain go away

The changes they are coming

Rain rain go away

My God, He’s so forgiving

Rain rain go away

My life is so worth living

Rain rain go away

My God, He’s always near

Rain rain go away

With Him I’ll conquer fear

Rain rain gone away

The sun is finally here

Check out my blog Project Identity ❤️ for more!

The moment that made me SO distraught I ALMOST put my hands on a child… 💔

*This blog does not condone violence against children or violence period. The following is the raw emotional story being told as a reminder that we are all susceptible to reaching our breaking point.*

The playground- a child’s wonderland.

Of course my five year old was thrilled when our campsite backed up to one this year.

Less than 50 feet away without an obstructed view.

At last, I could relax while simultaneously keeping my child entertained! 😍

Or so I thought…

Karissa is the tiny, little, perfect human who changed my entire world.

Read My untraditional fairy tale for more on my introduction to motherhood.

💕👶🏻👧🏼👱🏽‍♀️🧔🏽💕

My baby will be SIX years old in just over a month!!! 😳

Where has the time gone?!?!

I feel like with my first child I was trying so desperately hard to just keep her ALIVE that I was unable to really ENJOY every minute of it.

When I found out I was pregnant for the first time I was a 20 year old alcoholic.

After eight years of recklessness, my sobriety didn’t come without a price tag.

I’d been branded by the trauma of my past…. now without anything to numb it.

But this baby was ‘the one thing that would never leave me’

She was SO worthy of my sobriety.

I’ll never forget that confusing moment when we closed our car doors to leave the hospital with our firstborn.

We shared the, “Are they really just giving us a human and saying, “Here you go! Good luck!‘?!” face…. ha.

When my Sassy little one year old, Havynn (pronounced Hay-ven) was born, it was the same insanely beautiful moment but one that I was definitely more prepared for.

This time, I’d have the tools…

The experience… to not lock us up in an apartment for almost a year- attempting to ensure that nothing would ever happen to her.

My anxiety and depression became redundant after the delivery of my first.

Not only was I a new Mom, I was also in my first year of sobriety.

My image of the world was that of the life I submitted myself to at my worst.

Sunlight…fresh air…both were contributors to deafening panic attacks.

Some days even opening the blinds would seem like “reckless behavior” to my crazy mind.

If we never went outside then nothing bad could happen…

Hiding so that “the evil in the world” wouldn’t break in and hurt us…as it once had.

Havynn has had a much different upbringing.

I learned a lot in the process of doing it once.

Through trial and error, “navigating the ropes” of motherhood.

It’s a process of constant learning.

Learning which rules are worth the battle and which ones are just plain stupid.

Using that knowledge as you start again with your second.

You trust yourself more…

You know that you’ve done this before and that YOU CAN do it again.

It’s a comforting feeling of success that helped me in seeing life more realistically the second time around.

Proceeding with confidence now.. my kids are experiencing a lot of things for the first time together.

I can make plans, but only God can make them happen.

Back to the camping trip. ⛺️

Havynn didn’t go camping with us this year.

Karissa was playing her heart out at the playground as I began chopping veggies for foil packets on night two.

It was Friday so kids to play with were finally arriving!

Peeking over my shoulder every couple of seconds to check in on her when I overheard the boys at the playground yelling,

“YOU ARE DIRTY!”

Said one of the boys, as he threw a handful of dirt and rocks in another child’s face.

The boys, who appeared to be around ages 5 and 7, were playing distastefully rough for my liking….

I didn’t have a good feeling about them and didn’t really want my child over there.

Taking measure to avoid overreacting, I ran it by my husband.

“Babe I don’t think those boys are playing very nicely….”

And contrary to my assumption he brushed it off… 😳

‘Okay I must be overreacting.’

…right?

As the sun began to set we welcomed our friends who had just arrived.

I excused myself of “security keeping” for a minute to greet them when my mom’s frantic voice struck down on me like lightning.

HEY STOP IT!! THEY ARE HITTING HER!!!”

My baby is in danger

The world went red as reality washed away around me.

My heart shattering like never before as I chased my daughters cries…

How was this happening?!?!!

I peeled my screaming daughter off the ground….

It’s a feeling that no one prepares you for

The pain in her eyes igniting an uncontainable RAGE in me💔

The boys were attempting to flee as I forced them into a halt.

“DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT RUNNING!!!!”

I demanded, in a tone capable of setting off car alarms.

They paused and gazed up at me with sheer terror painted across their faces.

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?!?!?!”

I was sweating… screaming….shaking.

There was nothing I wanted more in that moment than to make those boys experience the same pain that they had put my child through.

It was a foreign, overbearing outburst of pain that could have ended completely catastrophically.

I thank God for giving me control that I didn’t have in me at that moment.

Control to not KILL two children- something I never dreamed of ever needing control for.

“Take me to your parents, NOW!”

I hissed.

My husband caught up with us as I hysterically caught him up to pace with what was going on.

We were headed for parents who were nowhere in sight, even with all of the commotion going on.

Were these parents even going to care…?!

Their physical lack of presence and the fact that their children are beating other children up didn’t give me a favorable first impression.

Everything about this situation made me angry.

Fifteen seconds into our mission we were intervened upon by a bystander who defended that they were “probably just playing”.

Karissa was too shaken up to verify what I had not seen with my own eyes.

Taking a deep breath as I whispered a prayer.

“I didn’t see what happened so I’m not going to waste any more time on this…

Violence is absolutely unacceptable and it will not be tolerated.

Remember that someone is always watching.”

I declared, as we turned to go back to camp.

Advice I needed to hear myself as well.

Per Karissa’s request, we would wait to discuss the incident until we got home.

If the boys were at the playground, we would go to the river or animal farm instead.

When the time came to have that heart to heart, she confirmed that the boys had punched her multiple timesnot playing but in an effort to hurt her.

That admittance made me break into a million pieces all over again.

Tears poured down my cheeks as I held her tightly, apologizing repeatedly for failing to keep her safe.

Karissa is thankfully doing just fine.❤️

She remains the little “angel in my ear”,

Lord…what do you want me to learn from this?

This was an experience that required some self reflection after.

Inflicting the same pain on those boys would have accomplished nothing aside from creating an even bigger monster inside of them.

I saw a side of myself that I didn’t know was in there.

A side angry enough to almost put my hands on someone’s child.

Please remember that it’s not fair to judge how someone reacts in a situation until you’ve been in that situation yourself.

I’m telling you this because THIS COULD BE ANYONE!

I’ve never really imagined how I would react if this type of thing happened but even if I had, my prediction wouldn’t have been accurate.

Planning lacks emotion.

There is literally no pain worse than when your child is in pain.

When I agreed to bring a life into this world I also agreed to do absolutely everything in my power to keep them safe.

I’ve learned that no matter how hard we try to keep our kids safe, their safety is never guaranteed.

We can make plans, but only God can make those plans happen.

It’s not worth wasting your life trying to avoid all risk…

Your story has already been written and your future is inevitable.

Instead of hiding from your fears, pray about them.

Exercise caution as appropriate but live life FEARLESSLY.

That is something that you ARE in control of.

Amen🙏

Check out my blog Project Identity for more❤️

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Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself.

It was my senior year of high school and I was in rehab.

My mom had finally reached her limit of sleepless nights trying to find me.

Give me a curfew? I wouldn’t come home at all.

Ground me? I’d leave anyway.

Age 17 was a rough year to say the least.

I was an absolute mess.

“No you are NOT putting her in a foster home!”

My brother shouted as he barged into my room, hanging up the phone, telling me to hurry and pack my stuff.

I didn’t know what was in store for me but I sure as heck didn’t imagine it would be almost five months until I returned home.

I spent a week at my brothers house while we waited for the news on my fate.

He was instructed to deliver and watch me swallow my Antabuse- as my mom typically did.

Antabuse is a prescription medication for alcoholics.

If you consume any alcohol while taking Antabuse you will get violently ill.

Neither of them knew that I’d swapped the real pills with a lookalike I had found in my Mom’s closet when she forgot to lock her door one day.

Inpatient rehab would eventually be the verdict.

Before I knew it I was stripped of my belongings and sitting in a treatment center.

Everything was out of my control.

Something inside me was burning to act out and the options in doing so were limited.

At mealtimes I would sit at the table in a daze with only a glass of water.

Some days I would feel guilty for drinking the water and purge it back up.

Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself.

I was 13 years old when I first purged.

My best friend left me… my boyfriend broke up with me.

Life got hard and something in my head told me to go to the bathroom and throw up my food.

The rush it gave me became a staple stress reliever.

Prior to checking into rehab I was already underweight.

In my head writing it off as “not being hungry” or “forgetting to eat”.

Whenever I did consume food, the stressful situation at home would almost always result in purging.

It didn’t really get out of control until everything got out of control.

Subconsciously I was becoming addicted to this relationship with food.

The feeling of my skin tightening around my bones was like a high.

(*actual photo of myself three months after treatment*)

I was alone in rehab while my peers were working on their senior projects and letting out for Christmas break.

That Christmas was hard.

I’ve always loved Christmas but I just felt so unwanted, abandoned, and alone.

I was the only kid in the center that was there without a court order.

“What is going on???” filling the pages of my daily journal.

Life felt like a never ending nightmare.

At the time my brain could never understand that it was my actions that landed me here.

Instead, I spent over a month saturating myself in feelings of worthless shame.

It was a dark time….

Five weeks into rehab and I’d lost a significant amount of weight.

Every day looking more like a skeleton and less like a human.

Tightly fastening my size 0 jeans with a belt so they wouldn’t slide right off of me.

On New Years Eve we were offered a slice of pizza.

This was a real treat and I wanted to participate so badly.

Eventually accepting a piece and racing off to the bathroom immediately after.

This time one of the counselors had followed me.

I’d been caught.

There I sat in the office as the counselor called my mom.

Thankfully it appeared I’d be discharged early and finally able to go home.

Or so I thought…

Instead of my driveway we parked at an office building in the heart of Denver.

“Where are we?!?!”

I asked perplexed.

“You need to talk to someone about this food thing.”

The Eating Recovery Center would be my new home.

At intake the feelings of abandonment began to drown me.

“I don’t have an eating disorder!!!”

I pleaded.

“My mom just doesn’t want me so she’s trying to put me places!! Please!!”

It was time for my “moment of truth” on the scale.

My 5’11” frame weighed in at a whopping 102 pounds.

Considering how tall I am this put me at a BMI (body mass index) of 14.2.

If you are unfamiliar with BMI, 18.4 or lower is considered underweight.

In diagnosing anorexia nervosa they follow this chart:

Mild: A BMI of >17

Moderate: A BMI of 16-16.99

Severe: A BMI of 15-15.99

Extreme: A BMI >15

Nothing I could say or do could get me out of this situation with a BMI of 14.2.

Extreme like everything in my life seemed to be by that point.

At my height, I’d have to weigh in at a minimum of 133 pounds to make the lowest possible “healthy weight”.

That meant I’d have to gain at least 31 pounds before going home.

Suddenly out of every sense of control.

Mealtimes were spent with hands above the table.

The food was fairly good but there was A LOT of it.

Three massive meals AND three snacks a day.

If you didn’t finish every piece of your meal (including butter) in the time allotted then you had to drink a Boost nutritional drink.

Bathrooms remained locked and you needed to be accompanied by a staff member to use them.

On the bright side though, this center was a huge upgrade from the last.

We were able to keep the majority of our belongings.

Meals were prepared by chefs and served on silver platters.

We got to go outside for fresh air multiple times a day.

We could even turn off the lights at night.

I knew that if I didn’t cooperate, I was never going home.

The gig was up (at least for the time being).

Three and a half months later I completed treatment.

Today marks just over nine years since checking out of recovery.

In this time I’ve had more slip ups than I could possibly count, including an excessive exercise phase that deceived me for months.

(Exercise anorexia post coming soon❤️).

BUT I’ve had way more successes than failures and that is something that I’m extremely proud of.

CONTROL played a major role in my eating disorder.

Which is actually sort of crazy to think about because when I’m active in my eating disorder I am not in controlmy eating disorder is.

It’s so easy to forget this.

Recovery from an eating disorder is a lifelong process that requires daily maintenance.

It’s a process that I’m willing to work at!

My life is worth so much more than a number on a scale.❤️

If you are battling an eating disorder I encourage you to read this post ➡️ Meet Nikki, my eating disorder ❤️

Understanding Bulimia sheds a unique light on the complicated illness.

For more on addiction read Running 😊

Check out my blog for much, much more!❤️

⬇️😊⬇️

Project Identity

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Plagued with panic attacks

It was like any other day until it wasn’t.

At work, mid-sentence with a customer when in the snap of a finger my entire world flipped upside down.

I didn’t know where I was or what was going on.

This “wave” slammed into me, clothing me in a dreamlike fog.

It was the most foreign, alarming, out of control feeling I’d ever experienced and I completely panicked.

The customer left abandoned in confusion as I took off running.

Holding my chest to try and keep my heart from exploding out of it.

I was so disoriented, sweaty, and confused.

How would you react if suddenly you just were not in your body and you couldn’t get back in?

“Am I dead?!”

I kept wondering as I raced away like a penguin being preyed.

The black and white checkered floor felt like it was coming out from beneath me.

Finally stumbling outside where unfortunately, “a breath of fresh air” wasn’t enough to bring me back to reality.

I remember literally slapping myself in the face repeatedly attempting to “wake up” from this horrifying experience.

It would be more than three hours and an entire pack of cigarettes before I finally felt like I was back in my body again.

What in the world just happened?!?!

Life from that moment on consisted of constant obsessive worrying that this was going to happen again.

The complete terror of that experience had me in chaos mode.

Life felt like trying to walk around land mines.

Later that evening as I sat down to take my shoes off…

“WHOOSH”

there I was again… back in the “fog”.

I transitioned in and out of this mental state at least once a day after that.

“I’M DYING!!!!!!”😭

I confessed to my psychiatrist at our next appointment.

“The ground keeps coming out from beneath me and I’m all the sudden out of my body and I can’t get back in and it’s terrifying!”

😭😭😭

Her expression lacked the frantic concern that I was anticipating…

“It sounds like you are having panic attacks.”

My rap sheet of mental illnesses just grew.

(Read Life sentenced to medication)

Eight years later and anxiety remains at the forefront of my mental health complications.

I’m convinced that once you experience a panic attack you are “sentenced” to having them forever.

Panic attacks are so unbelievably traumatizing that you will never be the same person after walking away from one.

Consumed with the fact that your world could get turned upside down at any moment, completely unannounced.

You start having panic attacks in fear of having panic attacks.

People with panic disorder live in a heightened state of awareness at all times.

There is a constant excruciating fear that you’ll be ambushed by YOURSELF and unable to take back control.

It’s a terrible feeling.

How can you be of help to a loved one who is having a panic attack?

  • Never tell someone who is having a panic attack to “just calm down”.

If they could calm down, they would. Trust me. Understand that they are completely out of control in this moment and don’t need additional reminders of it.👍

  • LISTEN!

It is challenging to be compassionate about something you don’t understand. Don’t minimize something you have never experienced. Someone who is having a panic attack may ramble and be all over the place. Just listen and offer empathy. Questions and concerns may be addressed once the situation has resolved.

  • Respect boundaries!

Everyone has their own way of handling things. When my panic attacks get really bad I need to be alone. There is enough going on in that moment to handle the presence of another person. Some people might need you to stay. Listen to how you can be of help and be respectful in those wishes.

  • Try to remain calm.

This one might be hard as witnessing someone having a panic attack is not an easy thing to go through. Be the strength that they are so desperately needing in this moment. ❤️

  • Come up with a game plan.

If someone close to you experiences panic attacks have a conversation. Coming up with a game plan is SO IMPORTANT as it will allow these “moments of crisis” to pass less catastrophically.

  • Pray for them with them.

Nothing is more calming during a panic attack than that moment of redirection to God’s voice! Pray a strengthening prayer for them with them. Be genuine. This prayer will make them feel understood in a moment when nothing makes sense. God will help you through this.❤️

If you have panic attacks:

THIS IS A MUST READ!!! The treatment discussed in this article has been absolutely life changing for me! 😬❤️

  • SHARE THIS to your inner circle! 🙌

Awareness is key. Everyone needs to be on the same page! Start the conversation with your loved ones by sharing this article.💌

  • Let’s be friends!! Follow my blog

Project Identity- An inspirational blog❤️ for more tools! 😊 Hang in there!!

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Freedom from trauma

After experiencing trauma certain aspects of life will never be the same.

For someone who was assaulted in a yellow room that smelled like pine needles… the color yellow, the smell of pine needles, both could potentially be enormous triggers.

Trauma can be anything.

While rape and assault are the most commonly talked about the possibilities are literally endless.

If you’ve had a severely disturbing experience you may be carrying around the burden of trauma.

How do we move forward after experiencing trauma?

Read on to find out ⬇️❤️⬇️

Sometimes the most unlikely memories are the ones that mess us up the most.

The first significant trauma that I can remember was when my childhood “best friend” woke up one day and decided she didn’t want anything to do with me anymore.

I never even knew how badly that experience affected me until just recently…

My brain had literally convinced itself over time that we just grew apart.

Until last summer when my family made a trip back to my childhood vacation spot- Grand Lake, Colorado.

Our previous visit there was over fourteen years before.

The “best friend” I just mentioned came along with us on that last year.

Casually talking to my mom about memories from this beautiful place as we grabbed an ice cream cone at a familiar shop.

“I remember when we got back and Tori wouldn’t talk to you at all. She was completely ignoring you.”

No…I didn’t remember that actually…

As ice cream dropped on my shirt I responded,

“What are you talking about?!?!”

With the transition into middle school we just grew apart.

Or so I thought…

“I came up to her after volleyball practice and her dad ran up and yelled at me to stay away from her.”

Suddenly this memory, which my brain would have clearly rather forgotten, was piecing itself together.

The sounds…the smells….all of it came crashing down on me.

The distant memory suddenly felt like it was yesterday.

One minute I was just a kid without a thing to worry about… the next I’m left with only questions about people… questions about the world.

How could I have possibly forgotten that?!?!

I’d like to introduce you to the human brain.

Capable of so many things… including shielding us from trauma.

It’s not uncommon to completely blackout a traumatic experience in fact.

That is our brains way of “protecting” us.

I don’t remember what happened in the following days or weeks but I do remember that life got really hard after being abandoned.

Moving forward I had a difficult time making friends.

People were so mean.

From there it was what seemed like an everlasting downward spiral.

I guess it’s easier telling people that you “grew apart” from someone than saying “my best friend didn’t want me anymore and she never told me why”…

While this memory was immediately available to me it changed over time like a game of telephone.

Regardless, the awareness of my trauma would be a major step in my healing.

Life after trauma 💔➡️❤️

A twelve year old is blindsided by her best friend, abandoned without an explanation.

If you were the twelve year old, what beliefs do you think you would form about yourself and others as a result of that situation?

  1. People will leave me without reason.
  2. People I trust are going to hurt me.
  3. I am not in control.
  4. I am unwanted.
  5. There is something wrong with me.

Trauma almost always comes tied with a negative core belief(s).

You are no longer physically reaping the pain of the traumatic event… instead the pain you carry is the baggage of the negative belief this trauma gave you.

Trauma is the event.

Negative belief is the result.

My “best friend” left me when I was 12.

I’m almost 27 now.

“Learning” this new information about my childhood filled in a lot of the puzzle pieces that I thought had been lost forever.

In the years following the abandonment, I’d turn to alcohol and drugs to try and fill the void that my friend left in me.

Like dominos, I would face trauma.

Eventually leading to “textbook traumas”, assault and rape.

As ridiculous as this sounds, sometimes I feel like the abandonment was the worst trauma of them all.

Maybe if it had happened a couple years later….after I’d already successfully finished transitioning into a young woman…. maybe it wouldn’t have been so catastrophic.

But the way it all ended up playing out was the perfect combination to completely damage me.

It is so important to deal with our traumas.

Until you deal with them they will ruin you.

There is a sense of peace in the clarity I have now of why I am the way I am.

My marriage has grown in this knowledge as well since my husband is aware and involved in this reconditioning process.

While it will be a long road of re-training my brain and my beliefs about myself, at least I’m on the right road.

Below are the steps I’ve taken to experience freedom from trauma⬇️❤️⬇️

1) Identify the trauma.

This is the experience that negatively affected you. The “what”.

2) Identify the negative belief(s).

WRITE THEM DOWN- they are much easier to correct that way!

3) Correct the negative belief(s).

FACT CHECK YOURSELF!

Trauma leaves us with unrealistic beliefs about ourselves.

Often times our negative beliefs are exaggerated.

See below how I corrected mine from the example above.

⬇️❤️⬇️

Negative beliefs

  1. People will leave me without reason.
  2. People I trust are going to hurt me.
  3. I am not in control.
  4. I am unwanted.
  5. There is something wrong with me.

Corrected statements

  1. SOME People willmay leave me without reason.
  2. People I trust are going tocould hurt me.
  3. I am not in control OF OTHER PEOPLE.
  4. I am not wanted by ONE person.
  5. There is something wrong with me. I am uniquely me.

It’s literally crazy how changing a couple of words can completely alter the quality of your life.

I totally get that sometimes you feel too broken to accept the fact that it’s not your fault that this happened to you.

This is a process and as any process it will have ups and downs.

I’m definitely more sensitive than the average person when it comes to feeling like people may abandon me.

That sensitivity is a whole lot better than the years I spent convinced that everyone would leave me though.

Invest in yourself and your well being.

Be courageous and tackle your traumas.

I promise that there can be freedom after trauma.❤️

Check out my blog for more inspirational goodness⬇️❤️⬇️

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