As part of my recovery from an insidious eating disorder, I was told to write it a letter. I thought it would be a kind of “Screw you” note, but instead it ended up as more of a thank you. I realized that my relationship with my ED wasn’t abusive as much as co-dependent. This letter represents one of the ways I broke free from it’s clutches and started to get my life back.
Thank you. Thank you for showing up when my brother Billy was dying. When the pain was so deep and so strong I thought I might die too. Thank you for giving me something else to focus on besides his empty room and my empty heart. Thank you staying with me for years afterwards when life seemed so cruel and unfair and facing it was just too hard…you gave me somewhere to hide.
Thank you for tricking me into thinking you were gone so I could get married and for hiding when I was pregnant, so I could enjoy my children, and so my mom could die with a sense of peace, knowing that I would be okay.
And thanks for coming back when life got tough again; when the traumas hit fast and hard and I needed to escape…thanks for taking the blame when I lost myself and did things I will forever regret at your urging.
But now…you need to go.
I know it’s hard to take me seriously since I’ve tried to break up with you before, only to reach out to you each and every time things got tough…and I don’t blame you for wanting to stay; life was never boring when we were together, but you saw how much pain you were causing me and refused to leave. If you loved me, you’d have let me go years ago.
It’s taken me 20 years to see that with all that you’ve given me, you’ve taken so much more. I can’t begin to imagine how many people you’ve pushed out of my life and how many experiences I missed out on just because you wanted me all to yourself. You systematically knocked down my dreams like bowling pins, leaving me feeling scared and alone. No matter how many people told me they loved me, yours was the only voice I heard, telling me I wasn’t thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough; that I wasn’t a good enough person to merit a place in the world, especially after mom and Billy died. I didn’t deserve to be here taking up a spot that should have belonged to one of them.
I thought we were done in Vancouver when I was so sick and not expected to pull through. When the doctors thought I’d never get to hold Dylan again or watch him grow up and the son in my belly had been taken away without ever meeting his mommy. I swore I’d never waste another second of my time on you..but at the first sign of weakness you were back.
Well, I’m not weak anymore. I am strong and getting stronger by the minute. I don’t need you anymore…I’m ready to face my life and begin healing. I have the tools I need to block you out forever. I thought you took my pain away but you were just burying down deep where it could cause the most damage. I’m ready now to live my life without you. I am hoping that you will let me go without too much of a fight. You served your purpose and now it’s time to let me fly on my own.
This time, it really is goodbye.
My guest blog for Wise Women Canada
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Self-worth should not be measured in pounds.
I say it all the time; we are no more or less worthy of love and respect from ourselves or other people regardless of what the scale says. However, so many of us judge ourselves on how much we weigh, as if our weight dictates the kind of people that we are and as the number rises, our value lowers.
Well, that’s bullshit.
Our weight is just our weight and has nothing to do with who we are as human beings and for many people, weight can fluctuate quite regularly.
Here’s the thing:
In my opinion, it is never okay to make assumptions about a person’s life based on how heavy or thin they may appear to you. Oftentimes, a change in weight can indicate a transitional time in a person’s life when they are going through changes that are affecting them emotionally as well as physically. I’m learning that the human body is pretty complex in that in can sometimes react to emotional life events or stressful situations in ways that seem to make no sense at all.
The point is, pointing out someone’s weight change is never a good idea. It’s an especially bad idea when the person you are talking to has/ had an eating disorder. I usually talk about the way we judge people who have gained weight, but I need to change that for a second. While people are hesitant to say a word when a friend or colleague has gained a few pounds, they seem to have no problem mentioning weight loss. I’m not sure why that is.
BUT…IF you know someone who has battled issues with their weight and you see a change in them, either way, understand a few things:
- If you noticed it, they’ve noticed it to and don’t need it to be brought to their attention or made a focal point of discussion.
- Making somebody feel insecure because they’ve lost weight can be just as dangerous as making them feel uncomfortable about gaining it.
- You’re setting them up for disaster. What happens if they start to regain some weight and you see them and say, “Hey, you’ve gained weight. You look great!”?
What they’ll hear is, “Hey, you’ve gained weight!” and that is just not productive.
- If you’re a close friend and you are genuinely concerned, you get a pass. It’s okay to check in and make sure they are taking care themselves. If you’re not a good friend then saying, “You need to eat a sandwich! or You look like a bone rack”, will just get them to do what they have battled their whole lives NOT to do, which is worry about how they look. If you’re worried about them, ask how they’re feeling, not how much weight they’ve lost.
- Our lives change, our moods change and our bodies change. I’m learning this every day. Everybody’s process is different, everybody’s experience is different, everybody’s coping skills are different. The one thing we all have in common is the idea that we want to be respected and accepted for who we are and not judged for who others think we should be.
Don’t be a weight watcher.
Nobody asked me if it was ok
Before they took my big brother away
Nobody asked me if I’d be alright
without any parents to kiss me goodnight
I’m angry as hell that they left me alone
But where will it get me to bitch and to moan
Will God bring them back if I say Pretty Please,
Beg for his mercy from down on my knees?
I lay in a hospital, unable to speak
Machines did my breathing, my body so weak
I fought hard for my baby, prayed he’d hold on
But my body betrayed me, my child was gone
No chance to hold him, How soft he’d have been
I touched his ashes, but never his skin
Nobody promised that life would be fair
But how many losses can one person bear?
What will it take to prove that I’m tough,
that all that I’ve been through is more than enough?
I’ve gotten quite good at hiding my pain
But sometimes I feel like I’m going insane
The strong fearless woman that others still see
Is slowly becoming a stranger to me
Food is my weapon, impeccable aim
Won’t ease off the trigger til I’m writing in pain
Suddenly my skin feels 10 sizes too small
Can’t fit in my clothing, I’ve outgrown them all.
I nibble for pleasure, then binge into pain
Can’t stop the cycle, am I going insane?
My heart is in pieces, where it used to be strong
Try to fix it by eating, though I know that it’s wrong.
It’s like food is my savior, and sugar’s the cure
How much more of this madness, can my body endure?
The scale in my bathroom continues to rise
My spirit is dying, can’t muffle the cries.
The strong fearless woman that I used to be
Is quickly becoming a stranger to me.
“Not thin enough, not thick enough, not sick enough” they say
Yet I cry myself to sleep at night praying, “God, take me away”.
In a world where being STRONG earns respect and revere
It’s hard to feel weak and want to be here
Alone I live inside my head, never wanting to leave my bed
On the outside so strong and tough, But inside never good enough
I spend each moment wrapped in fear, afraid of looking in the mirror
What power it has over me, it’s reflection is my enemy.
My bones are not distinct enough, my stomach still too round
I weigh my worth in numbers, hating every pound.
My body aches from hunger, and I relish in the pain
This war I fight within myself, is driving me insane.
I’ve finally hit my bottom, like none I’ve hit before
I can’t stand to live a life so painful anymore.
“Please somebody help me!”
I’m shouting every word
But my prayers go unanswered, my pleas are never heard.
Waiting lists go on for years, fees are just too high
My future looking grimmer, my life is slipping by.
But way out in the distance, though my eyes must strain to see
The light of hope is flickering, and calling out to me.
I’m about to turn 45 years old, which is weird because there are times when I feel like I’m still 16 (of course, there are also times when I feel like I’m 145). I don’t dread birthdays. I don’t see getting older as a curse. I think it’s a privilege that too many people never get. But, at the risk of sounding like an “old” person, I will say that the time has gone by REALLY quickly and has been jam packed with LIFE. Some of it good, some of it weird and some of it pretty friggin’ bad, but it’s been my life and all I can do is embrace it.
Some people like to say that age is just a number, but I strongly disagree. It’s so much more than just a number. Age is an accumulation of experiences and relationships that impact everything I do and everything I am.
So today on my 45th birthday, I’m sharing 45 facts about ME!
Some are things you might know, some you’d never guess. WHY am I doing this? To be honest, while you don’t want to live in the past, visiting it once in awhile can help you appreciate how far you’ve come. I realize this is completely self-indulgent, but hey, it’s my birthday!
Here we go:
1. My (ex) stepfather was the Satchel Bandit. He spent 2 years robbing banks between Montreal and Toronto. (He told us he was a caterer) He was caught in the act and convicted on 47 counts.
2. I was a contestant in the 1990 Golden Girl International Talent Competition where Jackie Stallone (Sly’s mom) was one of the judges and I WON! (Just kidding, I lost miserably. May have even come in last place)
3. When I was in my late teens I was followed around the Cavendish mall for an hour by two girls who thought I was British pop sensation Kylie Minogue.
4. For an entire year, I decided to change my name to Jordan and drove my mother crazy by refusing to answer to anything else.
5. I failed home economics in High school (cooking and sewing) which should really be of no surprise to anyone. (I still can’t cook… or sew)
6. I have the absolute worst sense of direction and once got lost jogging in my own neighbourhood.
7. I am a HUGE UFC fan! The only way I can fall asleep is by alphabetically listing UFC fighters in my head. Some people count sheep, I count Silvas, Guidas and Fabers.
8. I got fired from Club Med for being bossy. (There’s an interesting story there..)
9. I flew to Mexico with 2 pieces of luggage. On the way there, the airline lost one of my bags. On the way back, they lost the other one.
10. I was the ONLY injured passenger in a via rail train crash in 1994. (I broke my nose) Canadian actor Saul Rubinek carried my bag off the train for me.
11. In 2000, I spent 2 months in the hospital (17 days in the I.C.U.) with kidney and respiratory failure. I was a medical mystery until 2 major surgeries confirmed that I had an unusual case of C-Diff, complicated by MRSA and pneumonia. I was given a 25% chance of surviving and was 5.5 months pregnant with our son Jackson. I couldn’t talk, eat or breathe on my own. After several weeks, I started to heal, but we lost Jackson. (His initials are tattooed on my ankle)
12. 3 years later, for reasons completely unrelated, I needed to have part of my liver removed. I now have quite a collection of Kickass Scars.
13. My scars are finally outnumbered by my tattoos. Scars:7 Tattoos:10
14. I worked at Pizza Hut for 1 day, but couldn’t handle the uniform.
15. I worked at a shoe store for a week, but couldn’t handle the feet.
16. The best insult I ever got was about 20 years ago when I was crossing the street with my headphones on and wasn’t watching where I was going. A guy in a car yelled out, “PAY ATTENTION, YA DOUGH-HEAD!”
I laughed so hard.
17. Rob and I were contestants on Love Handles, the Canadian version of The Newlywed game hosted by Stu Jeffries and we won! Our prize was a train ride from Vancouver to Banff.
18. My first non-fitness related job was at the Second Cup cafe on Church street in downtown Toronto. I was their only heterosexual employee and met the most amazing people and learned a lot.
19. I became a vegetarian at 17, not for moral or ethical reasons, but because a friend of mine dared me to go a WEEK without eating meat which turned into 28 years simply because I can be UBER competitive.
20. I met actor Jerry O’Connell when I was a “special skilled” extra on his teen show “My Secret Identity”. He teased me about how I wiggled when I walked. (FYI..he played a 14 year old with superpowers).
21. I moved from Montreal to Toronto on my own when I was 19 years old and had a CRAZY roommate who lied about EVERYTHING and stole whatever I didn’t hide. Last I heard, he was collecting money for a fake charity he created.
22. It’s been 28 years but I still can’t shake the resentment I feel for the asshole doctor who told me when I was a healthy, fit 17 year old girl, that while I wasn’t overweight “medically”, Society was thin and if I wanted to fit into society I had to lose 10 Lbs. Plus, I shouldn’t be seen in a bathing suit until did! (FYI: I lost the 10 Lbs, plus another 20)
23. On my 18th birthday, my mother got me a cake that said,”Happy Birthday Bitch”. She was extremely embarressed to order it, but it was an inside joke between the two of us and I thought it was a hoot! She also came with me and some of my friends to Club 281 (the only male strip club in Montreal at the time). She thought it was funny that I wanted her to join me and my friends at our first time at a strip club…she had no idea it wasn’t our first time at this strip club.
24. I once got up to sing a Rihanna song at a PACKED Karaoke bar and completely forgot how to sing it. Instead of singing, I ended up repeating, “Holy shit, how does it go again??” over and over until the song ended.
25. Before I was 30, I had lost my mother, my brother, my father and my baby, Jackson. Every year on their birthdays (and mine) as well as on the anniversaries of the days I lost them, I do Random Acts of Kindness around the city so I can celebrate their lives instead of mourn their deaths. (confession: I don’t do it for my father, because while I don’t hold a single grudge against him, I also didn’t have any relationship with him growing up)
26. Whenever I walk through the cologne department of a department store, I find the Polo Cologne (green bottle) and smell it. It was what my brother Billy wore and it reminds me of him.
27. I worry all the time that I’m not nearly as good a mother as my mother was.
28. I used to have a crush on Pink and now I want to be her.
29. In Grade 2, I wrote a petition about my French teacher because he was mean to the girls and violent with the boys and while I didn’t want him to be fired, I did want things to change. All but one kid in my class signed it. After an intimidating conversation with the principal where I spoke my mind, the principal and the teacher called my home and apologized to me and to my parents. The teacher was much friendlier after that and I learned that I had a voice and the right to use it.
30. Before getting into recovery for my eating disorder, I once walked to the gym, alone, at midnight on a Sunday (1 hour away), worked out for 2 hours and then walked back at 3am because I felt I had eaten too much that day. My fear of gaining weight was stronger than my fear of the danger I was potentially putting myself in that night. Another day, I took a fat burner and thought I was having a heart attack at the gym, but finished my workout before driving myself to the hospital. A week later I did the same thing.
31. The only reason I went into recovery was because I felt that my sons deserved a mom who was at least half as amazing as mine was. Even though I had given up on myself, I could never give up on them. I gave them life. They saved mine.
32. #31 came out sounding much more dramatic than I had planned.
33. At my Sweet 16 party, while I was dancing with my friends, somebody stole ALL of my gifts. I heard he pawned them for drugs.
34. I don’t follow people on Social media who constantly post “uplifting”, “Inspirational” quotes because I think they’re full of shit and I relate much better to people who have fucked up and fallen down a bunch of times before finding a way to get back up.
35. I swear. A lot.
36. When I was a teenager, I was an extra in a Uma Thurman movie and had to stand outside in the freezing cold while garbage was being thrown at me. (Not worth the crappy pay)
37. I made a promise to myself many years ago, that I would someday, somehow meet Prince and tell him about my brother who was a major fan. He constantly listened to his music when he was in the hospital and when he died, we put Prince casettes (it was 1987) in his casket with him.
38. Several years ago, I did a print ad for MILK where I played a “Plain Jane Mom” who was hiding in their kid’s school locker. It was not comfortable.
39. I honestly believe my cat is plotting my death.
40. I published a book.I wrote it for parents who are trying to raise healthy, happy, self-confident kids in a society that keeps telling them they’re just not good enough. I wrote it because I spent most of my life feeling like I wasn’t good enough and robbed me of relationships, dreams and goals. It took me until I was in my 30s to find recovery and I’ve made it my mission to save other kids from going through the trauma I couldn’t avoid.
41. Last October I was a guest on Geraldo Rivera’s TV show on Fox where I debated the Fit Mom debacle with fit mom, Maria Kang, herself. It was an interesting experience.
42. I don’t hate Nickelback.
43. Last summer, I almost literally bumped into my sister at a charity event I got invited to at the last minute. We hadn’t spoken to each other in many, MANY years because whenever we did speak, it never went well. This time it was different. WE’RE different and for the first time in our lives, we enjoy spending time together and wish we lived closer. xo
44. I think Scarlett Johansson should play me in a movie.
45. One day, if I’m ever brave enough, I will add to this list the things that would truly shock and amaze most of my friends and family, but I’m not ready yet…and either are they. Trust me.
What would your list look like?
The “Satchel Bandit” A.K.A. Eddie
How much pain does a person have to suffer before they’re allowed to admit that they feel it?
Our society has a lot of obsessions, one of which is the need to be STRONG. How often do we hear, “Keep a stiff upper lip, get over it, God doesn’t give us more than we can handle?”
Why is it that when we break a bone we’re allowed to cry and it’s perfectly acceptable to take the necessary time off to let it heal, but when the wound is emotional we’re encouraged to move on right away? Just as a broken leg won’t heal if you keep running on it, a broken heart won’t heal if not given enough time to grieve.
Where are we all rushing to that we don’t have enough time to work things out at our own pace?
And why should your pace be the same as mine?
Why does my sadness make you so uncomfortable and why does your discomfort make me feel like a failure?
You want to fix me but you can’t and I don’t want you to because I’m not broken
It would be so much easier for you if you could bandage me up and make me good as new and I’m sorry that that’s just not the case
You need to realize that the pain or fear or anger I may be feeling will not disappear overnight
The feelings I have won’t follow your time frame, they travel a path of their own
Why is there this need to speed up the process? Why can’t I just take my time?
So don’t try to mend me, it’s out of your hands
But you can show me love with acceptance and patience and let me know that you’ll be at my side
I may have a lot of questions
But that doesn’t mean that I expect you to have all the answers
The best gift you could give my ailing heart, is the warmth of your own
We live in an image obsessed, fat phobic, one size fits all kind of world where we spend our whole lives trying to live up to an unrealistic expectations of beauty that is impossible to attain and it’s killing us. Body image issues and eating disorders are destroying the lives of boys and girls, men and women and it’s time to take a stand!
I get this question a lot.
Weight is a tough issue for all of us, and when it comes to kids we need to be extremely careful with how we handle it. When a parent asks me what they can say to their child to help them lose weight, my answer is, “NOTHING. Say Nothing.” Research tells us that talking about and focusing on weight with our kids will not have the desired effect we’re looking for and can actually make the situation worse.
While there’s nothing we should be saying to help our kids get healthy, there IS a whole lot we could be doing.
First and foremost, KEEP THINGS POSITIVE and keep the focus on HEALTH instead of WEIGHT. Our goal as parents should be to have healthy kids, not necessarily skinny ones. It’s so important that your child understand that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that they need to be proud of who they are.
Time magazine recently published an article saying,” Losing weight does not help obese girls love themselves.” It explained how overweight children can feel stigmatized by the media and society and how that stigmatization leads to low self-esteem. Being overweight becomes a part of WHO they are. Even if these kids lose the extra weight, the feelings of shame are still there and can last a very long time. That’s why it’s crucial that we teach our kids to tune out negative messages and help them appreciate and respect themselves, as they are. The fact is: You can’t lose weight in order to like yourself; you need to like yourself in order to lose weight. It’s when we like ourselves that we believe we deserve to feel strong and healthy and that will motivate us to eat well and exercise.
1) Make it a family affair:
The last thing you want to do is single out one kid with “special” food or portion sizes at meals. Instead, why not change the way the entire family eats? The goal is to be eating healthier foods in healthier portions and everyone can benefit from that! Remember, you’re not putting your child on a diet, just making some changes as to how and what you all eat.
2) Keep food talk POSITIVE, it’s not about the foods you take out and all about the foods you bring in:
We all get into a sort of comfort zone, where we seem to pick up the same types of food week after week, so try some different! Try out a new exotic looking fruit you’ve always seen at the store but never thought of actually buying, or maybe buy those Kale chips your friends have been raving about. (That happened to me and they were actually quite tasty!)
3) Menu plan and shop TOGETHER:
Look for new, healthy recipes that you can shop for and cook together. Cooking food from scratch can give your child a new kind of respect for it and pride around it. Feel free to get creative, by coming up with theme nights! How about” Japanese night” or even “Breakfast for dinner”? PJs at the dinner table are a must, for that one. The idea is that eating healthy isn’t a punishment, just one important part of honouring our bodies.
4) Get active; TOGETHER!
When it comes to weight, we tend to put a lot of focus on the food we’re taking in and not enough on the energy we’re putting out. Exercise has an incredible amount of benefits and will definitely help to keep weight down while building strong bones and muscles. If your child is interested in group activities and sports, SIGN THEM UP! Joining a team, will increase their self-esteem and will make it easier for them to stick with it, since being part of a team means that other people depend on you.
If team sports or sports in general is not your kid’s thing, there are tons of other ways to be active. I personally love to go to the park in my neighbourhood and make up obstacle courses for my kids to do. I’ll say something like,” Run up the slide, do 5 jumping jacks, slide down the other side, run to the bench , step on and off it 5 times, do a crazy dance then run to the basketball net and back!”
Feel free to make comments about how your body FEELS. Instead of saying things like,” Our jeans are going to be so much looser!” Try saying,” Doesn’t it feel great to be using our bodies this way? We’re going to be able to run faster and play longer if we keep this up!”
The key is that they’ll be having too much fun to even realize they’re exercising! An added perk: By coming up with the courses and demonstrating them, you’ll be getting a workout in too!
Another simple idea is to go for a walk after dinner. Instead of turning on the TV and chilling on the couch for the night, go for a walk through your neighbourhood or even drive to a new neighbourhood, and then walk around and explore; the couch will be there when you get back.
5) Support their hobbies:
Is your child an aspiring artist, musician or actor? Take an interest in whatever interests them and be as supportive as you can. When they’re doing something they love and feel a sense of accomplishment from it, there will be less pressure put on what they look like. It’s a great opportunity to build confidence and self-esteem.
6) Don’t let them see you worry.
If YOU make their weight a big deal, they’ll make their weight a big deal and that won’t help anyone.
7) Just do what you do best: LOVE YOUR CHILD.
Feeling loved, respected and appreciated by you, will help them learn how to love, respect and appreciate themselves.
*Self-worth should not be measured in pounds!