Scratches on Paper

My first year of college is officially done! As glad as I am to be back with my family, I already miss the home that my friends and I created.

I feel like a stranger as I walk around my room and see not two beds, but one. I see stacked papers from months ago left untouched--like a display of who I once was.

A pile of yellow lined paper lay on my dusty desk with hasty scratches of recorded thoughts and emotions frozen in time. The more I read, the more I realize how I have changed.

Here's an except of what I found:

Scratches on Paper

As someone once said, 
"I'm not fat, but free."
Free from the the shackles I slapped on my wrists
When I decided that I wanted to be the world 
Rather than who God knew me to be. 

I realized too late that along with the pounds
I was losing the weight of my soul. 
My stomach wasn't starving alone. 

Twisted truths became my religion
And justified lies seemed to have no end. 

As friends came 
And left, 
Out of the frying pan and into the fire
I went. 

I blamed everyone, but me. 

Food became my prescription, my addiction. 
My "diet" had become my disease. 
As the pounds returned old scars ripped open
Red, condemning, and unforgiving. 

Now I realize they are the marks of a battle not lost, 
But won. 

For months I cried into pillows, 
In bathroom stalls,
And cars.
Sometimes, I would purge after binges
And let food, once sweet, 
Burn like acid on my tongue.

I knew I was a genetic mistake,
And death had never seemed so inviting. 

"Comparison is the thief of joy". 

A car crash or sit wrists seemed able to do the job nicely.
What if I survived?
I would be more damaged than before. 
I knew I would hate myself more.

I was told to be smart, 
"Eat like us", they said. 
Threats don't solve problems, 
Instead, like gasoline thrown on fire
they perpetuate. 

All of my work had gone to waste. 
I ended up in a more painful Hell, 
Fallen from grace. 

I felt worthless because I had been filled with hate. 

I was yelled at, 
swept under the rug, 
And at times, mounted on the wall. 

I felt like a charity case that no one wanted to have. 

I think one of the reasons why I feel like a stranger here at home is because I came back as a different individual when compared to the "me" of last June. Walking into my room was like walking into a museum with relics strewn across the tables and walls. I found myself learning about the life of an acquaintance long lost from memory. 

After writing all of this out, I realize that I'm like a Phoenix that has risen from the ashes of my past self, a regeneration. Like clay, my trials have formed me into someone better than I was before. Through pain comes eventual perfection.

 "When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change."
 (Bonus "nerd" points will be given to anyone who knows where this quote came from)
I know that  new challenges will always follow success; however, after overcoming myself I know I can overcome anything.

Long story short:
I'm definitely going to be cleaning my room over the next few days so that I can make space for the new "me" and feel at home again. 


"What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
-T.S. Elliot, Four Quartets-Little Gidding

Happy Easter Sunday! 

As I look back on this past year--including the trials I've overcome and acquired, I realize now just how great a role Jesus Christ has played in my life. Through the atonement, I know that I will be the champion of any challenge I face in life. I know that overcoming our weaknesses often brings about our greatest strengths. Prior to this year, I had always thought of myself as insignificant in the grand schemes of Heaven, but I've come to realize that no trial is too small or goes unnoticed by God. At times it felt like I was trapped in a pit with no escape; however, I saw my Savior many times through the eyes of friends, family, and medical professionals who raised me from my personal prison. Christ knew how to succor my spirit and gave me the love I so desperately needed because He suffered all things. 

I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that He lives. His death on Calvary was not an end, but a marvelous beginning.

I believe in Christ. 
I owe Him my life and all that I am. 

I love my Savior. 

"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things..." -Alma 26:12

Of Monsters and Men

I heard recently that in order to understand a monster, you must become one yourself.
I realize now that I'm the perfect archetype of this.

After 90+ blog posts, I can't exactly remember how much I have talked about my first eating disorder, but I wanted to write this down as a reminder to myself that numbers don't determine happiness.

I wish I could start this story at a specific point in my life, but as I've mentioned before, my eating disorder didn't just appear one morning. Rather, I believe that it had been festering inside of me for years.

In sixth grade, a boy named Noah told me that I looked like Fionna the Ogre.
Middle school brought self-awareness and the desire to fit in.
By high school, I was done.

My 10th grade health class was where I first learned about "calorie deficits" from my teacher, Mr. Lambourne. This concept of eating less to lose weight quickly seemed like an answer to my prayers. I did as he said, and kept a food journal online that would track my weight, my calories and my feelings throughout the process.

The first week was hard, but manageable. I wrote every day, and although I saw no change in weight, I was optimistic about the future.By the end of the second week, I had lost 5 pounds and fell into the rabbit hole. From that moment on, the scale became my best friend in what I thought to be a battle against myself.
The rules of my diet were simple: (looking back, I realize now how restrictive I had become) measure everything out into serving sizes, only eat 1,500 calories a day, eat celery and ice between meals (no calories),apples/rice cakes/bananas for snacks, and I couldn't eat sugar. My mom had told me that my lifestyle wasn't sustainable, and I was determined to prove her wrong.

The longer I did this, the easier it became. It was life. In the beginning, my mom complimented me on my self-control and I took pride in my "strength".  My A1c and blood sugar levels dropped dramatically and  I used them as an excuse for my actions. I thought my doctors were impressed with me, but as I look back now, I realize that their eyes were filled with worry, rather than awe.

Within 3 months, I had lost close to 35 pounds. I remember going to a parade with some guy friends during this time to see my best friend perform a cheer routine. As we were walking back to one of their cars, they admitted to have been checking me out. I laughed it off, flattered. They told me that I never needed to go on a diet, but they liked my new body more. Comments like these perpetuated my ever-growing ego. (However, I feel the need to state that not all of my guy friends were like this. One of them, Zach, would always tell me that he was worried I wasn't eating enough. When I finally started to turn my life around, he stated one day, "Alyson, I am so glad to see you eating again!") It seemed to be that the more weight I lost, the more compliments I received. My hunger for food was satisfied by my cravings for attention.

My restrictive eating caused a lot of tension between my me and my mother. The most prominent memory of this is when my family went to Oahu that same summer as the parade. I made my parents buy specific food just for me...low calorie, of course. I had temper tantrums over snacks and meal plans (I cried over not being able to have sugar-free syrup at Denny's to go with my whole wheat waffles and egg whites...). Needless to say, I definitely took away from the happy mood of the trip.

My thoughts were continually shaped around calorie amounts, my current weight, and my current clothing size. My mom told me that I wasn't enjoying life, I told her that I hated her. I constantly criticized everyone's eating habits around me. I thought of myself as an example for others to follow, so that they too could partake of my "happiness". I would tell my story whenever, and wherever I could. I wanted to become a nutritionist and write to inspire girls to do as I did--starve themselves to death in order to feel beautiful; I was clueless.

Although I thought that losing weight would make me feel more confident, it caused my insecurities to become even more exaggerated. Dress shopping for dances was ridiculous. I was constantly defensive, on edge and easy to anger. I didn't care about any of that though, I was too focused on the image I saw in the mirror. I remember being in the shower one day and looking down to see my feet, without my stomach obstructing the view--I was so happy I cried.

The more I write about this, the more I realize that I'll never be able to adequately record my thoughts, feelings, or experiences during this time of my life or about eating disorders in general. I said earlier that in order to understand a monster, you have to become one yourself. Well, I became a monster and lived to tell the tale; I'm able to better understand and help those around me because of it.

I can proudly say that I've been in your shoes, I get it.

Who I Am

I seriously haven't binged since September of 2013.
For as far as I've come with my eating disorder, I still have hundreds of miles to go.
I think one of the biggest trials I have yet to overcome in this life is my cripplingly low self-esteem.

Tonight my roommate and I were watching "Les Miserables" and commenting on the actors. I mentioned that I thought Amanda Seyfried was beautiful and that I would give anything to look like her. After a moment, my roommate--still looking at the television screen, said, "I would much rather be myself than her."

Her words, although not surprising (trust me, this girl has the most confidence I have ever seen in an individual), silenced me. Being someone who has never felt beautiful or comfortable in my own skin, I could never imagine myself saying what she did so assuredly. My mind started to wander as I tried to imagine how an individual could gain that much love for her appearance. Was her simple statement the result of childhood experiences, parental guidance, or an innate feature within herself? How could I grow to say the same thing one day also?

As the movie continued, I again found myself commenting on the features of the actors and actresses--particularly their noses. (Okay, so let me step back a second here. I have this strange obsession with noses. They are seriously the first thing I look at when I'm examining a that weird?) My roommate said that she thought it was funny that I focus so much on such a seemingly insignificant feature. After thinking for a moment, I stated that I had always hated mine and because of that I always was jealous of people who had my version the "ideal" nose. She replied, "I'm just grateful that mine works."

Once again, her words silenced me.

I looked out the window of our apartment to see couples holding hands and walking home from dates. I became jealous and mad that I wasn't in their position because of, well what I believed to be, my body. I turned back to the movie and we (my roommate and I) talked about how romantic it would be to fall in love at first site. However, as we spoke, I realized that no one would ever feel that way about me. I'm average in every single way, I'm chubby, I have small boobs, my nose is huge, my teeth are yellow, I have acne, and I'm shy.

As I continued with my self-defeating mental commentary, my roommate's words returned to my thoughts. Shouldn't I just be grateful that I have a healthy, working body? Why can't I appreciate the progress that my body has made since three years ago? I may be chubby, but my battle with my body has been uphill and it has taken every ounce of my strength to end up where I am now--all 160 lbs. of me.

I'll never naturally be 5'7" and 120 lbs, so why do I constantly hate myself for not being the impossible?

I said once before that I need to learn to love and accept myself in the present, as well as eternally. Well, I know now that things are always easier said than done.

I've been thinking about my roommate's words all night, and I've decided that although I wish I could look differently, I would never give up the person I have become in order to fit society's standards.

Although I may not like how I look, I do like who I am.