Making Peace With The Mirror

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It’s oh so cliched but I need to start measuring myself in strength and not pounds. But why does something so simple feel so incredibly hard?

People see my smile on a daily basis. They hear my laugh at least once an hour and that’s what I’m best known for. The girl who’s always smiling. That’s why they all notice when the smile isn’t there.

I’m doing well and visiting my cousins this weekend was so amazing. I had incredible fun but there was so much food.

So.
Much.
Food.

And drink. There was a lot to eat and more to drink and as hard as I tried I couldn’t get that Demon’s voice out of my head. I was filled with panic whenever food was brought to me. I spent hours fearing just when they’d expect me to eat or drink next.

Simply in fear of the calories.

Just say no. I hear you say.

Just say no. I kept hearing myself say.

But how do you say no to breakfast, lunch and dinner?

How do you say no to a glass of wine at a party your family is hosting?

Should you say no to three normal meals?

You might not, but I always tell myself that I have to say no. That I’ve still got fat to lose.

My perspective has always been a touch twisted. According to others, I always see myself bigger than what I am. I never seem to care about any part of my body other than my stomach. Always looking at it. Hoping it doesn’t look big. Hoping, desperate to not see a fat girl staring back at me.

Sadly, most days I still do.

I never feel good enough because I was never allowed to feel good enough.

It truly was an amazing weekend and I needed it. I loved seeing my older cousin and messing around with my younger ones in the middle of the most gorgeous countryside. A world away from the tall glass buildings I’ve gotten accustomed to in London.

There’s more to life than avoiding my reflection.

There’s more to life than letting the scales define my day.

There’s more to me than I believe.

There’s more to me.

Perhaps I still need a little bit of help truly realising that.

It sounds silly, but if I get drunk I get a little bit cocky. What I mean is, I know I’m perfect the way I am, I know I’m really quite something, that I’ve achieved things many people dream of, that my friends love me for me, that my smile can infect the whole room, that I am just fine. Drunken words are a sober man’s thoughts after all.

But when it comes to a normal day I do get riddled with self-doubt. I think that being thinner means being perfect but surely not. Surely there’s more? I get the whole, you’ve got to love yourself first and I do but I can’t help but occasionally think of the friends and boys who have used me. Taken advantage. Assaulted me. It all makes me feel that I might not be worth it.

But I know I am. We all are. Sometimes it takes a heartbreak to shake us awake and help us see we are worth so much more than we are settling for. We’re all worth so much more than we think we are.

It’s just that mirror, those scales and the Demon in my head.

At the end of the day, there is no scale that can measure just how incredibly precious we are. Long gone are the days where every single day was dependent on mirrors and scales. Just got to push through and keep going. Head up and push through these last couple of tough days.

I’ve made it through a mentally challenging weekend and I can’t ask for more than that. There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upwards: an easier day, an unexpected laugh…a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.

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Whole-Hearted

 

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I have never seen pretty much everyone at work look so disheartened all week so thank God it’s finally the weekend. Finally time for me to get out of London for a couple of days and just get away from it all. Away from everything. I can’t even put my finger on exactly what I am desperate to get away from but I just have this dull ache inside me that needs to be fixed.

Maybe I was just on a come-down after a packed weekend, maybe I was still in pain from that ruptured cyst, maybe it was that text message, maybe it was this week’s workload, maybe it was nothing but maybe it was everything.

I couldn’t work out why I was feeling a bit meh…but sitting here now on the train has given me plenty of space to think. I feel like I can finally breathe so maybe things were a bit stressful. I haven’t really stopped since I went to Newcastle 5 weeks ago and the past month has admittedly been a bit of a whirlwind.

Something slipped out last night. I said I can’t wait to look after me. Wouldn’t it be nice to look after myself rather than everyone else? 

I don’t know why I said it but I must’ve been thinking it.

A someone I didn’t want to hear from sent a text I didn’t want to receive this week. Basically because they’re feeling lonely right now. No. Just no. You can’t do what you did to me and text me months later. Thinking I will be over the moon for you to text. No. Just no. I’m not quite as whole-hearted as I used to be meaning I won’t feel sorry for you and, therefore, reply. You made sure I’m not that girl anymore. I’m no longer that broken girl and you can’t use me the way you did. Not anymore. Never again.

I don’t want you to text me ever again.

And that was that. But it really knocked me a bit because I’m sick and tired of people trying to pick me up where they left me…where they literally dropped me. No. Just no. I’m tired of people getting in touch when they want something, never just to see how I am. I’m fed up of being used and taken for granted and although I point blank refused to let that person back in my life it still left me feeling rough.

There was a lot of good this week too, definitely ended on a high rather than the low I started on but even then, my brain is still spinning. I keep telling myself to stop falling. I’m trying to hold on so tight to these walls and although they’ve come down I’m still ever so scared. I’m perfectly happy with whatever is happening right now. That’s not the issue. I’m genuinely happy with whatever ‘this’ is but I think my hearts beginning to beat faster.

I’m scared and yet simultaneously feel so very calm about it all. There’s things he says or does that make me think he really likes me but then I’m also not too sure. I’m still a little bit scared of getting hurt again…I thought I wasn’t scared anymore but writing makes me realise I must be.

I’m scared of getting used again. Being taken advantage of. Taken for granted. Made to feel worthless

But I do like him and don’t want to shy away from this one in order to protect myself. I’ve happily taken each day as it comes and I’m going to keep doing that but I still feel vulnerable. I know that I don’t want whatever ‘this’ is to end right now. That doesn’t mean I want things to jump to any other level but I don’t want this feeling to end. That means the ball is in his court so to speak. I know I want to see him again and I think that’s what makes me feel vulnerable, almost like I’m not in control of the situation.

Sigh

A problem of mine is that I’m whole-hearted. I go full heart or nothing at all. That goes for family, friends, work, everyone. If I care about you, you know and equally if I don’t like you, you know. I will bend over backwards for those I care about and people have taken advantage of that in the past. They’ve abused the fact I care with the whole of my heart and they’ve crushed it without thinking twice.

But I can’t let my past define my future.

I’m very happy with my life right now. I am so incredibly scared at the same time but a little bit of fear keeps you on your toes. I’ve shown this week I am prepared to cut out the deadwood in my life and ultimately, those who want to stay in my life will make the effort and I’ve learnt who deserves my effort in return.

I’ve learnt the hard way which people deserve this whole heart of mine but that simply means I love all those people twice as hard.

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Having a bestest visit this week was genuinely needed ❤

Twitter: @elenip92

Instagram: @elenipapa92

Ruptured Weekends Can Always Be Fixed

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Well this wasn’t exactly how I expected my weekend to start…actually last week was nothing if not full of unexpected events.

I remember waking up in the middle of the night with this niggling pain in my lower abdomen. I tried to get comfortable but the pain refused to subside. I looked at my phone and it was something like 5am so I tried to sleep but then all of a sudden I felt as though a knife had cut right through my right hand side.

The pain was incredible, I couldn’t move and could barely breathe. I managed to pull myself up, head spinning and somehow made it to the bathroom to throw up before passing out on the bathroom floor. I only know I passed out because I woke up there completely disoriented. The pain was getting worse so I crawled to my phone and saw it was now 6am. I hate going to the hospital, hate something else going wrong but I knew I had to go.

When I got there, they rushed me right through, tests being done immediately as I tried to get comfortable lying down. God knows what painkillers they gave me but god, did I need them. I was genuinely scared. I was on my own, genuinely in too much pain to pick up my phone to ring anyone. I was shaking and freezing, stomach twisting, passing in and out and then the bleeding started.

I don’t remember much else except waking up to this drip in my arm curled up on the bed. They ran so many tests on me and concluded I’d probably had a cyst on my ovary that had ruptured. Very normal to have and, luckily, everything was going to be fine.

That panic though. That fear that was coursing through my body at 5 am hasn’t quite left me yet though. I’m still quite tight, bit tender around that area but after spending the whole day in bed on Saturday I felt absolutely fine. Just tired and drugged up but absolutely fine. Couple nasty bruises from passing out but nothing major. It’s incredible how something relatively normal, and not too serious, caused me so much pain.

I don’t think I’ve ever been that scared.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone.

The evening was fun though, I’d arranged plans and was in two minds about heading out. To be honest, if I wasn’t okay, I genuinely would not have gone. But the scans showed there were no more cysts and the vast amount of tests they did confirmed nothing else was going wrong inside me.

I do wish I wasn’t always that girl with something going wrong with her. I feel as though it makes me unattractive, in the sense that, people might think I’m hard work because things seem to go wrong with me. Problem is…its not even my fault, I’m just a bit unlucky. It’s funny though, how I didn’t really want people to find out I had spent the early hours until the afternoon in hospital because I genuinely didn’t want to come across as attention-seeking or melodramatic.

Just once, wouldn’t it be nice, to go for a little stretch of time where something doesn’t go wrong. Where something doesn’t happen to me. Well, not gonna lie, it’s been somewhat of a while since I was injured or ill. I just need to work on the timing! As always, its how we deal with hurdles thrown our way that defines us rather than what we’ve had to deal with.

As always, by the evening I was happy and having fun.

As always, I was smiling.

Not quite as always…I ate a curry…and I enjoyed it…I let myself enjoy it…for once there was no fear. I also had a Sunday dinner yesterday. I can’t even remember the last time I ate one of those.

So, I might be the girl who has things go wrong. More frequently than others, it seems. But I’m also the girl who ate two trigger meals this weekend but didn’t get triggered.

The girl who’s always smiling.

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Twitter: @elenip92

Instagram: @elenipapa92

The World Looks Brighter From Behind a Smile

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You’re never fully dressed without a smile

3 years into my recovery. 6 years since the Demon appeared. There’s days I have that negative niggle in the back of my mind, the one that whispers things like I’m not good enough, I need to lose weight, everything will be better once I’m lighter. But those days are becoming more and more spread out and sometimes all it takes is for me to sit down, relax and just think of how far I have come.

To try focus on the positives rather than the negatives.

Someone told me the other week that they find it refreshing that I’m really nice and optimistic or something along those lines. I can’t quite remember their words but I remember thinking, don’t be silly. However, when I got home I remember sitting and just thinking about what they said, how I genuinely thought they were being honest and how, throughout everything, I’ve always stayed so optimistic.

So much has happened over the years but yet…I’m still this crazily happy, loveable, optimistic girl. I’m well aware I’m not everyone’s cup of tea but after all this time I’m still smiling.

Always happy. Always smiling.

I’ve been beaten down and broken time and time again. Every time I start to trust someone not to hurt me they go and crush me even harder and yet, I still get back up. I still have this heart full of love for my friends and family and all those in between.

I’ve actually told him. I don’t know how it came up but it did. I think he was asking about my rings and my tattoo and I think he knew there was something I wasn’t telling him. Something I was scared to tell him. I was scared because I didn’t want him to look at me differently, I didn’t want him to see some ‘broken mess’. I wanted him to still like me or, better yet, like me in the first place, and I had this fear that if he found out, he wouldn’t.

Sometimes I don’t mind being wrong.

It was very brief, I just mentioned how in sport, they pressured me to lose weight and so I did…just not healthily. I stopped eating and then developed bulimia to cope with trying to eat again. I didn’t think I was going to tell him. Not so soon. Not until I was sure he liked me. Who am I kidding? I had no idea when I was going to tell him. But I did. I remember apologising for telling him and he said I had nothing to be sorry for and to never apologise.

And I smiled. Always smiling.

After all this time, I do still panic about how people will look at me or treat me. I don’t want to be perceived as ‘damaged’ or ‘mental’ but I know that I won’t be perceived that way simply because I’m not.

I’m not a broken mess because I genuinely am one of the happiest people I know. I’m always smiling and looking for the positives. I see the best in people rather than the worst. Always giving people a chance and trying to be kind to others. Always putting my friends first and making other people happy because that’s what makes me happy. I can’t be perceived as damaged goods, not when I try to be a beautiful person. Not when I actually am a beautiful person. We’ve all got baggage, we’ve all got history and I shouldn’t worry how people perceive me because once they find out, they simply see the happy smiling girl who just so happens to have coped with shit.

Who just so happens to have gotten through it.

But still smiling. Always smiling.

Twitter: @elenip92
Instagram: @elenipapa92

Easier Said Than Done

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Okay, so the other day in an attempt to get out of the most horrific torrential rain I darted into the first coffee shop I could find. I had an hour to kill and I most certainly wasn’t going to keep window shopping with my current non-existent-bank-balance.

I grabbed my coffee and sat down just pondering many weird and wonderful things that occupy my mind at the best of times and I looked at the cup I was drinking from. So, this cafe is called ‘Eat’ and there are simply loads of them around London, very well known, very popular and, indeed, the coffee’s not too bad, if you’re in a rain storm and simply anything will do.

When I looked at the name of this coffee shop emblazoned on the side of the cup in huge, unavoidable letters it sort of made me laugh a little. That type of laugh where you ‘scoff’ at something. I was like huh, that’s ironic.

I appreciate that it is hard for others to truly understand the complexities of eating disorders but if I seriously had a pound for every time someone said to me, just eat something, or, just don’t be sick…it’s so simple.…well, let’s just say my bank account wouldn’t be so non-existent anymore.

It’s funny how the simple things are always the hardest to do. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Eat three meals a day. Keep the portions correct and don’t purge.

Just do this and don’t do that.

A practical aspect of my recovery is to plan my meals in advance but there are days where even that feels like an impossible challenge. I wake up every morning convinced I’m going to eat the three meals I’ve thought long and hard about, the three meals that everyone eats on a daily basis and yet, just still, there’s something holding me back from reaching that grand total of three. I definitely eat two meals a day, that’s for sure but I also know that, although I am in a far better place than previous years, there’s still room for improvement.

There’s still room for that third meal.

I appreciate everyone’s kind words to me, I really do. It’s just hard to explain to them that telling me to eat or even seeing me eat doesn’t mean I’m okay. I still get nervous around certain foods and in situations where eating out is just sprung on me spontaneously. However, I know just how much better I’m coping with those type of situations. Putting my happiness before the fear and I’m so pleased to say that happiness is definitely overcoming the fear lately.

Just the other day, eating at a pizzeria was sprung on me at last minute when we were out and although that food has been such a bad trigger for me in the past, something I would be scared of eating, I wasn’t. So much happier not just in that moment but in myself generally that the fear was only there for a few seconds.

I gotta admit, things are definitely becoming easier done than said.

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Twitter: @elenip92

Hello Old Friend

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Guess what I did last night? For the first time in 18-months?

I went swimming.

And I still can’t quite believe it myself.

I don’t know why or when I decided to I just knew I wanted to go swimming and so I did. I dug out my old costume, hat, goggles, grabbed a towel and off I went. It was mentally challenging though. I’ve genuinely had this fear of going swimming since I retired a year and a half ago.

There’s so many negative memories associated with being in a tiny little bitty swimming costume at the pool with eyes everywhere. Eyes that feel as though they’re focusing on every inch of my body that I’m uncomfortable with. When I retired from elite sport a lot of people did ask would I ever swim again and I would forcefully say no. I thought I couldn’t. The pain there, the hurt associated with so many memories was too much for me to contemplate ever entering the pool again.

It was hard though. I pulled out my swimming costume and shuddered at the thought of putting it on. I was scared about how it would fit, how I would feel, would people look at me? But I did it anyway. I put that fear to one side, I fought back the painful memories that were digging their claws in and I put it on. I walked out to poolside and I jumped in the deep end (pardon the pun).

I. Felt. Amazing.

I was back in that water, the water I fell in love with when I was less than a year old. And I’ll tell you something…I still got it! I still got that feel for the water and the technique that makes gliding through the pool feel like the easiest thing in the world and I damn well loved it.

I am so unbelievably proud of myself. Not being able to go swimming, something that I love, has been such a hurdle in my recovery and the fact I simply woke up one day and decided I wanted to go for a swim says huge things about where I am right now. To be able to put those feelings of dread to one side, all those things I fear to the back of my mind and go for a simple swim. I felt so free in that water, I felt like nothing could weigh me down and that smile I had on my face once I left the pool? That smile was there all night long. (Evidenced by a quick snapchat to all those who know just how major this is, of course).

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Bonfires and Fireworks

Remember, remember the 5th of November. Gunpowder, treason and plot. We see no reason, why gunpowder treason, should ever be forgot!

When I was younger I really didn’t like fireworks. I used to be quite scared of loud noises and knowing there was going to be a bang used to make me jump twice as hard. I suppose when you anticipate something, it’s always going to be worse. It’s always best to just sit back, relax and let things unfold the way they should.

I’m not just talking about fireworks anymore.

My whole life was spent trying to anticipate things, maybe in an attempt to control the outcomes. In some situations, I knew what the outcome was going to be but the wait in anticipation of that outcome was ever so draining. For example, I might have had a bad race, look up at my final time and think shit he’s going to kill me. The walk from the swimming pool to my coach was exhausting, knowing just knowing I was about to get ripped into…knowing they were going to comment on my weight…probably monitor my weight even closer.

That was, unfortunately, something I couldn’t control but I used to think I could. I believed if I kept my weight as low as possible they couldn’t use it against me. That if I had a bad race but I weighed 52kg, they couldn’t imply I was fat. Just one of the many lies my ED told me in order to keep me from being healthy.

When I look back on my journey, I really did think being skinny would solve everything. I thought people would like me more, coaches would stop pressuring me, boys would be attracted to me, that I would be happier. I genuinely thought skinny equated to value.

That as long as I was skinny, nothing else mattered.

I can’t quite remember when the need to control the chaos started but it started fast and it started hard. Coaches drilled into me that I was in control of every single choice, from going to bed 5 minutes late, to not being able to complete an essay on time, to eating one spoonful too much and that every choice was going to affect the final outcome. I understand what they were trying to get at but what they forgot was so very key. They forgot that control needs moderation. It needs to be flexible.

I really wasn’t back then, the control, the restriction, the purging, it all kept coming full circle dragging me down and down. I tried to anticipate what the scales would say, anticipate what time I would do if I was a certain weight, anticipate what they could and couldn’t say about me if I weighed so little.

I only really considered this yesterday, about how trying to anticipate things made me seek this intense control that I, ironically, could not control. It’s funny how considering the anticipation of the bang from a firework brought this to my attention but then again, my writings always been a bit poetic, very metaphorical.

Bringing my thoughts to the present day, bonfire night was a lot of fun. For a couple of reasons I’m still keeping to myself, but third weekend in a row I have had an incredible time. Just so much laughter and feeling at ease and just being me. I’m not going to anticipate what is about to happen here, I’m not going to think. I know where I may like it to go but I’m very happy not overthinking, not trying to convince myself either way, just letting things be.

Enjoying the bonfire and the sparkles in the sky. Enjoying those arms around me. Who knows what is going to happen, but I won’t forget.

Twitter: @elenip92

Instagram: @elenipapa92