Saturday, January 31, 2009

The sun shining through the east facing window, the sounds of my roommates soft breathing, the lingering snow outside my window, and the steaming cup of tea in front of me created the perfect setting to just think.

 I wonder why I am so fixated on a number. I wonder why I am so surprised when people remember me. I wonder how my parents could have been different. I wonder if my childhood was an improvement on theirs. I wonder how God knew to bring these amazing women into my life recently. I wonder how God is back in my life. I wonder if I was led to take the Nuero-theology class. I wonder if people know how broken I am. I wonder what glue is holding me together. Then I wonder how I am here to wonder at all. 
With all I have done to my poor body (don't equate pity to love: we still aren't really friends) how I can sit here healthy as a horse and type this. Between the eating disorder, the self harm, the diet pills... I shouldn't still have a body to live in. I still don't take the best care of my body... but I am grateful to still have it. I may hate its shape and build, but it is strong. I may want it to be smaller, but God knows it has put up with a lot. 
So today, I am thankful I have a body that allows me to live. Even when I am miserable, even when I call it names, even when I want it to die; my body is there for me. 
That is pretty amazing. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Between Letting Go and Holding On

The hardest part about recovery is being in the middle. The hardest part isn't gaining weight or eating meals. The hardest part isn't admitting you need help. No, iIt is the fact that some days you wake up with such a energy and love for life; but some days, you wake up just wanting to be dead. It is the fact that you feel guilty for using behaviors AND you feel guilty when you don't. It is that there is a constant fight it your head. It is hating yourself for slipping up while loving that you lost weight. It is the constant deciding between health and disorder. It is hating yourself while still taking care of yourself. It is the search for true passion, true self worth, and true hope.

That is recovery for me.... never having to fight these voices in my head again. Every bite I take makes them quieter. Every time I don't purge they lose a little. I can do this. it can be done. I just have to remember that.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


There is such a loneliness in my heart: something that throbs and begs for attention. There are beautiful people in my life; but all the support and love in this world doesn’t seem to dull the ache of nothingness. The ache of what is lost. The ache of what has been taken away.
I sit, curled up in a blanket, shivering from the penace I just paid. “I am just lonely” I say to the empty room. Yet as I wonder into the world of giggling girls, I feel inadequate, fat, weird. I have so many amazing friends. But, all but one live somewhere else. If I could fill my immediate with them, I would be safe. However, There are nights I must spend alone with my art or my books. There are times I will eat dinner alone and go to bed alone and wake-up alone. These, these are the times I am filled with the ache,
I often wonder why it is still there: I have done such work. I have tried so hard to fill the hole with real things. In my disorder, I have stuffed it with food, I have starved it, I have tried to cut it away; yet it persisted. In recovery, I have nurtured it, grieved for it, cried with it, accepted, poured God into it; yet it has persisted.
I want to know what I am doing wrong. I want to know how I can at least succeed at this. It is so vital. I hate myself because that aching hole causes me feel unworthy of love Am I missing something? Was I made incomplete? Am I truly unworthy of love?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I want to be able to meditate.
I want to be calm, secure and peaceful.
I want to be able to be still, quiet and “anxious for nothing”.
I want to sit still, do nothing, and still feel contented.

Instead, I rush through my days.
I never notice the brilliant, but subtle parts of life.
I feel like a waste when I do not employ multi-tasking.
I fly through my days and thrash through my nights.

“Be still and know that I am God.”
What is still?
Can I know God without it?
Do I have hope of achieving it?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


"Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don't need to be helped any longer. You've
always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn't you tell her before?
Glinda: Because she wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself. "
~The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


My biggest fear? 

Being utterly alone

It all, in simplicity, breaks down to that.
Why do I think I am unloveable? 
Why do I always feel I have something to prove?
Why do I fight to hide my pain, my past, my heart? 

Because I am afraid people will label me damaged goods, a burden, or just a mess. I am afraid they will shake their heads, turn and walk away. God forbid they hear the depths of my disorder: the blood, vomit, and starvation; because then they would turn on heels and run. 

Yet, they don't. There are people that won't. With every breath, however, I am afraid they will finally have had enough: I am too much. 

One person, one breath at a time; I am going to trust. One friend at a time, I am going to build a family that will stay with me. One step at a time. 

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Like a roughly hacked together montage of images, memories fly through my head in spurts and streaks. They are flashes of my worst moments. Some are seen as I saw them; however, some are seen with the uncanny view that comes only in retrospect: as if you could watch yourself.
The first flash is a fourteen year old me desperately trying to type a school essay as my father and mother rush franticly in and out of the house. The door slam, the sigh, the words: “Alanna must have kicked the bag out of the car.” A rush of fear, of guilt, of anger, of confusion. Knowing it wasn’t my fault but believing it anyway. Then a sudden tightness.
Me, placing the cold phone receiver back on its rest. Crying on Courtney’s shoulder in the guidance office. Watching tears come to Aunt Beth’s eyes. Realizing life will never be the same: my Daddy is an addict. A cloud of darkness slowly covering my world; and then a tightness in my chest that will never release.
My hands running over the rough texture of the bricks on the fireplace. A pan of the nervous room: an intervention on Thanksgiving. The view from above, my voice squeaking out a sentence followed by my father’s huff and angry march out of the room. A tightening of my body that will never release.
Forward flash to the blood streaked floor and shattered glass of the back door. Staring out the front window waiting for the police to come. Shaking my head, “no” when asked if I want my name included in the restraining order. Cleaning the floor. Crying because it was my Daddy’s blood. Trudging up the stairs. Making myself bleed to try and free the tightness that just won’t release.
Just audio now. Hours of undeserved lecture in harsh, raised tones. Screaming fights between my parents when my father took me home. (What are they yelling about? When will it stop?) Trapped in my father’s car, being reprimanded for calling my mom from the restaurant bathroom. A flash of a slice of cheesecake I will never eat. Was I too busy crying? Or had I stopped eating to restrict what fueled that tightness that never would released.
For a few moments the flashes fall out of order, but what does order matter: it is all the past. His deep voice echoing through the phone, “Do you want me to drop off the planet? To just die?” The voice ringing in my ears saying it was all my fault. The “talk” he took me out of art class for. In reality it was a resounding, angry public lecture on how I fail at most things in life. Sobbing on the floor of the school bathroom. Making myself throw up: I had to get ride of the pressure that just would not release.
Then suddenly, the lighting of the internal video changes. I am in the back of a car, bleary eyed and holding my boyfriend’s hand. I run into the house, swooping in to baby-sit. Hours of waiting. Then a shattered voice echoing though the phone line… “Jimmy is dead.”.” Then, “Becky is dying…” …..Becky is dying?
Walking in to an intensive care unit. My broken, big sister, chest heaving artificially, lying before me. My baby nephew asleep and so fragile. A plea to God to trade me: I wanted to die. Jimmy is dead. The room is cold. Sudden beeping. CODE BLUE. Death. Becky dying. It is over. No tightness now, just numbness. A numbness worse than any pain.
The yelling in the hall. I don’t understand what they are arguing about. Dad yelling. Brent’s fist smacking into the window sill. I run because I can’t stay. The dark corner of the bereavement room. Counting the seconds: it is all I can do. Walking purposefully into the bathroom. Running cold, cold water. Submerging my face in the shallow sink. Thinking about drowning, then not thinking at all. Brushing my hair. Still numb, so very numb.
The casket. Wood. My sister looking nothing like who she was. Hands closing the lid, opening the doors to visitors; and then, my family standing beside the casket: my Dad on one end, the rest of us on the other.(Why couldn’t he stand with us? For Becky at least.) A voice: “I’d like to look at her one last time.” A inaudible scream “NO! That was just for us”. A broken me running out of the room and collapsing in tears on the pavement of the parking lot. The tightness returns; but now, it is all I can feel.
A family dressed in black walking into to the church I grew up in. Me in the front pew. All day people tell a brown-haired girl how much she looks like her sister.. She swallows screams. She drinks her own tears. She is numb and bound up tightly: will it ever release?
Standing alone in a house that used to be full of life, sixteen year old me crying after her big brother moves. The view flashes to the upstairs bathroom. The girl (is that me?) wrapping masking tape around her stomach so tight she can barely breathe. She has to keep it: the pain the tightness it has to get smaller.
Flash to bloody, vomit covered hands in the school bathroom. Zoom in on the girl asleep in front of the stereo in her room: she was just trying to feel something, just trying to release the tightness.
The movie could go on. It could expand. More events could be added. Times with aggressive and overly physical boys and times of loneliness. Time of abandonment. Flashes of fights. Flashes of loss. But really, it is all the same.

Make it stop. Make it stop haunting me.
Help me believe:

“I have a new life now.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

All my life I have felt that no one truly know me; therefore, no one really loves me. It sounds like an angst-y teenage outlook on life but it has been true at times. Part of it has always been me. I wear the mask of a perfect young lady: put together, stylish, good grades, pleasant manors, always smiles. Most of the time that mask was a horrible lie. It is my fault some people couldn't get in, I kept them out. However, there were also people in my life that projected a mask onto me. They wanted me to be that perfect daughter, that precious thing, that bragging right and were not interested in WHO I was. 

Somewhere along the way I decide the part I was hiding was too dark, too dirty, too black, too ugly, too fat, too worthless to be loved. I decided that no one would love me if they saw and it became vital to protect that. I would get furious when my parents tried to say they knew me. I would sob when I broke up with boyfriends after they said, "I love you." because I knew they only loved the idea of me. For years I truly believed no one thought of me when I wasn't in their presence. I thought the people who did things for me, did it out of charity and because it was the right thing. I never had friends. I mean, I did, but I alway thought, "If they knew, they would hate me." 
So I hid and I hid and I hid until I found people I didn't have to hide around. People that saw my black ugliness and still said "I love you" at the end of the day. People who saw me evolve into my inner monster and then place my mask over it and would still hug me. It was foreign. It was scary. It was wonderful. 
Being worth something. Knowing you are worth something. It makes the mountains smaller. It makes it easier to look in the mirror without intense hate. It makes it easier to try to find something to love about yourself. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Snakes to Recovery

“When you are really ill, you don't even know a snake when you see one. Once recovery begins, you see a snake and you know it's a snake, but you still play with it. Once you've landed in true recovery zone, you see a snake you know it's a snake, and you cross to the other side of the road."
Marianne Williamson

All due respect to Ms. Williamson, but I believe there is a step missing in her analogy.
For me, at least, there is a step between not knowing the snake and knowing the snake but playing with it anyway. There is a time when you see the snake, know it is snake, but you have to pick it up. You know what a horrible thing it is, but you have no control, no choice. Your mind understands it is a snake and that the snake is dangerous; however, your heart cannot grasp that there is evil in the snake.
You heart NEEDS that snake to be something good because it has seen so many things fall to hopelessness. One more loss will cause you to lose all hope in life. So while your mind is screaming, “NO!!! It is a snake!!” your heart, which has more power, causes you to reach for the snake and embrace. You know that you heart is cracked so deeply that one more hit will break it apart. You need something, even if it is a snake, to save you. You need something to wrap you up and hold you together.
Not until you know in your heart of hearts: the core of your being, that in order to heal and become whole again, you must have enough faith to fall apart completely. You have to watch everything you have built fall to ruins at your feet before you can rebuild. You have to shatter in order to heal. Once you grasp this, you can choose to play with the snake or to walk away. Until you reach that point, however, your heart still believes the snake can save you.

Fork in the Road

roughly transcribed 
Me: "I just don't know. I really don't know."

Heidi: "But Alanna, you DO know. You have seen both paths, you know where they lead: you DO know.
This is less about you having decided to go down the Eating Disorder path again than the fact that you can't leave your fork in the road. You are not taking a step toward recovery and you won't let yourself say "Screw it I am just gonna starve to death." You are stuck in your own little circle, going nowhere.
For awhile you probably just stood there, staring at the two paths. You weren't going to take a step in either direction untill you knew for sure the safest way. Then you got tired and brought a chair to sit on. Then you decided you always wanted to be able to come back to the chair: it was safe. So, you decided to cement it there. Then you were afraid of falling out of the chair and rolling down the hill. So, you handcuffed yourself to the chair. Now people are coming up to you and offering to set your free. They are asking you how you got here. You say you don't know or don't remeber; but really, you handcuffed yourself to that chair at the fork in the road."

Do you?

I wonder if you comprehend

the way my world closes in

when the air gets to thick to breathe,

when the colors dull

and the room spins.

I wonder if you understand

the way my muscles clinch

when I feel too large for the world,

when the voice speaks

and I believe.

I wonder if you see

the way my nails dig through my flesh

when my thoughts are fogged

when panic fills my chest,

and my body shakes.

I wonder if you know

the way I dream of never being

when I look into the mirror,

when I see my thighs

or my swollen cheaks.


There is a photo that used to sit in my mother's office. An image of me, a freshly bathed and night-gowned toddler, currled up on my mother's lap as she read me a story. I always found it sweet, a testament to the love and nuturance I seldom felt; but now I wonder why I don't have memories of these times.

I remember the occasional tucking in: I would ask to have her litterally tuck me in so that I was in a cocoon of blankets. I remeber reading Mrs Frisbie and the Rats of NIMH with her. I remember a trip to the beach when I was 10, but the line doesn't go on long. By the middle of elementary school, my mother had become someone who was only a part-time guest in my life. She had a way of comming home just in time to stop my Dad from entering his second hour of lecturn and rant about some miniscule thing I had done: a split bottle of Windex stands out in my mind. Other than that, I remember her comming home from work late, and colapsing in her recliner. Most of all, I remeber feeling wierd that it was my father who took care of me all the time.

I remember wondering, what it was like to come home from school to a mother that met you on the bus stop and fixed you a snack. I was used to walking over the hill from the bus stop to our house, trudging up the steps. I would drop my backpack, sweater, left shoe, right shoe, left sock, right sock behind me as if I needed a trail to get back down. I remember peaking into the master bedroom, whispering I was home just to pretend someone knew. Or sometimes, declaring loudly that I am here and then being reprimanded for startling my father out of his drugged stupor- called a nap. I would then follow my trail back down the steps. I remember, switching on the T.V. (It seems not so strange that all I ever wanted to watch was Full House now), climbing onto the counter to search for a snack ( and hanging upside down from a chair to eat and watch.

Is this not what childhood was suppose to be. Was I suppose to have supervision? Was someone suppose to ask me what I learned in school and if I had a good day?


Your choice to step in is the only decision to make. Once you enter the Labyrinth, your path, the curves, the bends, the twist are all laid out for you. The journey to the center will be unpredictable. At times, you may feel you are walking away from your goal, that you are losing ground. Do not despair; every step you take on this spiritual journey is progress of the sincerest sort. You do not need to know how far you are from the center, instead search for the gifts in the place you stand now.

Your passage through the Labyrinth can feel lonely. However, resist the urge to tightly grasp those you pass along the way. If you cling to them, all your energy will be focused on the time you will be forced to let go. Instead, while they are close, share your journey, share your insight, share your love, and share your very being. When the time comes, allow them to pass –and be willing to pass them: for their souls will ever be intertwined with yours. You do not lose them by letting them go: our sprits do not need to be close in space to be connected.

The center is not a place to fear. You may argue that your sins, your shame, your despair, your fundamental brokenness blocks the light that should be there; but child, God is brighter than the worst darkness. At your center there is a piece of God that outshines anything of this world. There is more wisdom than you could ever ask for. There is a peace greater than you could imagine. And there is an acceptance and love that dispels all fear.

As marvelous as the center truly is, you cannot remain there forever. You must begin your outward journey. The path you walk will be the same as before, but you will see it with renewed eyes. You have been to the center and now you carry that center inside. You recognize that the twist and turns are necessary and you can cherish the lessons they provide. You can let go of your shame, your doubt, your fear: you have seen the truth; and you know, beyond a doubt, that you can always return to the safety of your center. The center which is now within your heart.

Life Changing Events

Life is full of inexplicable and meaningful events. Some things change us on such a deep level, that although it is impossible to describe the difference, we are forever elementally changed. My older sister, Becky, died in a tragic car accident in August of 2005. I will never be able to describe the change, but I can describe the event: 

The cold air penetrated every cell in my body. I was almost surprised that the liquid in the IV bags was not frozen solid. The cold didn’t matter, though, because Becky’s hand was still warm in mine. I wanted nothing to do with the warm drinks or trips to get some fresh air. All I wanted to do was hold on.
The nurse came in to check the life support machines. Her eyes had seen tragedy like this before and were perceptive of the needs of everyone in the room. After seeing the bluish tint to my lips and my shivering figure, she brought me a warm blanket. I wrapped the white blanket (which was oddly familiar) around my shoulders and continued holding on to my big sis. Memories and regrets flew spasmodically through my head as all sense of time drowned in shock and grief. At some point, I compromised to sit in the big chair at the foot of the bed and pile more blankets on my freezing body. As my body temperature rose, my exhaustion finally registered with my brain. It was, after-all, almost 7:30a.m. and I had not slept – let alone let my thoughts stop racing. My eye lids took on a life or their own; closing against my will. I slipped into a dreamless unconsciousness, lulled by the unnatural rhythm of Becky’s assisted breath.
I was reaching for the snooze button before I realized that the loud beeping was not my alarm clock. My eyes rocketed open just in time to see a pair of pastel scrubs run past me. I stood up and started to walk toward the bed, but a calm, practiced voice said, “Sweetheart, we need to ask ya’ll to leave the room for a minute,” For some strange reason—such as breakfast—only my grandfather and I were in the room. We walked out the door before I thought to protest. My feet hit the hard shinning tile floor as an echoing and unnaturally calm voice come over the intercom: “Code Blue. Code BLUE.” The world started to spin wildly around, my mom and brother-in-law dashed down the hall as if the voice had called their names. Not yet comprehending exactly what was going on, I said: “You can’t go in there; they ask us to leave.” Realization slapped me with a harsh hand as my mother’s voice filled my ears, “They aren’t coding her? They are not!”
My memory turns into spurts of voices, faces, and uneven rhythms of space and time. My mind filled with the same repeating thoughts, “She crashed. She’s really gone. Gone…gone.” All words were lost on me: I could not think. Tears: pain overflowing the bounds of shocked eyes, voices too calm for the situation, and a small waiting room. Tissue boxes, hands begging for companions, sudden anger, fighting, empty echoing bathroom, cold, cold water.

The Joy Translation

Translated from Matthew 6: 25 and following to words applicable to my E.D. recovery

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you weigh. Is not health more important than appearance, and life more important than fat? Look at the birds of the air, they do not binge or purge or starve themselves, and yet they are loved and accepted. Don’t you have more to offer the world than they? Who of you by trying so hard can make life any better?
And why do you worry about being perfect? See how the lilies of the field grow. They are not perfect. Yet I tell you than not even the celebrities you admire were not as wonderful as one of these. If that is how God made the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow mowed down, will God not make you more naturally wonderful? So do not worry saying, “What should I eat?” or “How should I exercise?” or “How will I make the grade?”. For the unhappy run after all of these things, but seek first a trusting relationship with God, and the answers will be given to you in time.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will handle itself. Today has enough battles to fight on its own.”

To all the "Wise Women" that have crossed my path

In a life filled with hardship, I have been blessed by the presence of a few amazing women. They are women of grace, of God, of hope, of strength. Women that prove tears have never been a sign of weakness. Women who have spun their disasters, dysfunctions, and sufferings into a cloth of healing.. They have been women that cared and helped while always allowing me to grow and change at my own pace. Not one of these women meets the idealized standard of perfection. Not one is without flaw. Each, however, is made that much more fabulous by their scars.. They are real. They are true. They are inspiration They amaze me.

The Inspiration for the name of this blog is the song "Little Black Sandals" by Sia. It encompasses how I feel about my recovery right now. 

"Little Black Sandals"

I'm being dragged down, down by the hand
The hand of a golden giant man
He's crushing my knuckles
Splitting my skin, he says he'll let go
If only I'd ask it of him

He says
Girl, it's your call
You wanna fly
You wanna fall
So I shout
I wanna get away from you
As fast as I can
I tell my feet to move it
I hope they have a plan

These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Are heading the right way

These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Saved my life today

So now I'm free
From the big bad giant
Who was stalking me
Thank you feet, for guiding me
I'm glad somehow I got brains down there, at least

These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Are heading the right way

These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Saved my life today

Sometimes I'm tempted
Sometimes I am
I would be lying if I said I didn't miss that giant man
He was the line between pleasure and pain
But me and the feet have some years to reclaim

These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Are heading the right way

These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Saved my life today