Lent 2011: Going on Week 4

Lent…

Not easy.

Not (really) working.

Tonight Brian and I were having one of those discussions that are supposed to be fairly casual but always end up hitting you where it hurts most…we were talking about things we love about each other and things we, well, don’t love so much about each other. And one of the things he said totally blind-sided me. That being said, however, I tried to tell him that even though I was crying, he really is helping me become a better person. And it’s true. He is.

Because he told me one of the things he doesn’t really appreciate about me that sometimes I am unable or unwilling (or something like that) to overcome personal challenges. I felt really confused at first, thinking that he meant major giants and obstacles in my life, such as overcoming bulimia, overcoming abandonment and the rejection of my father, overcoming borderline-obesity. But he meant my lack of commitment where Lent is concerned, and also running.

I do need to defend myself on the whole running thing though, because although I could wake up at 6am and go for a run, I just haven’t had the time for it these past 2 weeks. Plus I am SO not a morning person. I am not going to make excuses, but I WILL say that I was running like crazy with those 36 campers of mine for 2 weeks straight, so I know full well that I was getting beyond my share of physical activity. But he’s right: I need to get back into my routine and take up my training again for the Sun Run. Those 2 weeks without my program are gonna hurt, but I’m gonna be so much stronger as a result.

And Lent? Yeah, I’m busted. Have I failed completely? NO. Maybe in Brian’s eyes I have, because he is so black and white and I am fairly grey, but to me I have been learning a lot about myself through this and to me that’s a pretty good outcome.

Have I drank pop? Yes, although there have been countless times where I have turned it down because of my commitment. One time in particular that I am NOT sorry for drinking it was last night, when I had Raspberry Ginger-ale for Eden’s 4th birthday dinner.

Have I gone to McDonalds? Not on the way to work or school or for any other quick-meal-fix. Mission Accomplished? So far, so good.

As for Facebook, while I have not really stuck with that “checking it once a day” thing, I can definitely say that I have cut down big time. Again, don’t want to make excuses, but as far as communication goes I didn’t realize how reliant I was on it to convey simple messages to people that are somewhat necessary in my life. But I can definitely say that I have not been wasting time on it. I haven’t been checking it in the morning or before bed, and I have not spent more than an hour on it on any day so far. And the truth is, I don’t really care anymore about people’s status updates. It’s kinda nice.

There are 3 or 4 weeks left, and I figure they are weeks where I can continue to improve. Brian is one of the strongest, most dedicated, most motivated people I have ever met, and in some ways that is really intimidating. I mean, I love him for it, but it also feels in some ways like it sets me up for failure. I know that if he had decided to cut out pop, there is no reason in this world he would drink it. But that’s not who I am. I am so much more emotionally ruled than he is (um, along with pretty much every other woman who is reading this right now), and I need to be gentle with myself. But I am so thankful that Brian isn’t afraid to be honest with me, and I am thankful he reminded me in his own way of my commitment to Lent. Here’s to the last half.

Anyways, hope you’ve been enjoying reading about Katharine’s journey. I know she’s got many more tales up her sleeve for you…isn’t it amazing when a complete stranger lets you into their world?

~C

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Installment #2: Katharine’s Story Continues…

Everyone has something they miss from their childhood, something they wish they could have back. For some it is missing the days when they didn’t have to do their own laundry, for others it is a time when they didn’t have to worry about budgeting or having enough money to pay bills. For me, the thing I miss most about my childhood is eating. Don’t get me wrong, I eat now, but it is not the same. Gone are the days when I could sit down to a meal and enjoy it, to eat my dinner and not give a thought to what might be going on in my body during or after. For me now, whether or not I am ” In Recovery” or struggling with another bout of eating disorders, I cannot sit down to a meal without keeping a mental tally of every calorie that I swallow. Even if I tell myself I don’t care, I still struggle with feelings of anger and resentment towards myself for consuming something that perhaps was not quite necessary for my survival.

After my “Introduction” last week I wondered what I should write about this week. As much as I wanted to let everyone know about my present day struggles and successes, I know they wont mean much unless you know my past. And so I will attempt, in a paragraph or two, to explain what happened to start my battle with eating disorders, that 11 years later I am finally trying to end.

I was never skinny, but then again, I don’t think I ever cared. At 15 years old I weighed around 200 pounds. Now that might seem like a lot, and it probably was, but I was also 5’11” so I carried it pretty well. I was in Grade 10, got good grades and had great friends. I had my fair share of “1 week” boyfriends (you know, the kind that ask you out by getting your friends to do it, and then dump you the same way). Honestly, I was happy. I was also embarking on a great adventure to Quebec. I had signed up to participate in an exchange program that had had a french girl living with me for 3 months, and would see me move across the country to live with her for the same amount of time. I remember how excited I was to be “moving out” at 15 ( ok so I know I wasn’t actually moving out but I always referred to my trip as that because it made me feel mature, which apparently at 15 is a very important thing to feel ). I wont go in to great detail about my first 2 months in Quebec because as far as exchanges go I am sure they were pretty normal. I made new friends, still got good grades and I liked the family I was staying with. Everyone was pretty nice there, even my exchange partners much older boyfriend went out of his way to introduce me to people and include me. Looking back now I could pick him out as the biggest creep in a room full of creeps, but unfortunately 15 year old girls usually haven’t perfected that talent yet. To make a long story short, with only 4 weeks left on my exchange, I had to go through a hell I wouldn’t wish on anyone. That night, as he left me crying half naked on the floor of my room, he made sure to tell me it was my fault. He said I had flirted with him, that I had led him on and that if anyone found out they would blame me. I know now that it is quite common for victims of rape to feel guilt and to feel at fault, but let me tell you, I didn’t just feel those things, they consumed me. My once perfect and happy life was gone. It was more than gone: it was out of control. So I did the only thing I could to try and calm the chaos…I tried to grab what control I could over my life and hang on to it with all that I had. My control came in the form of Anorexia. Anorexia offered me a perfect solution, a way to control myself, and at the same time punish myself for what I felt was my fault. I didn’t plan to have an eating disorder. In fact, I don’t think I even really knew what an eating disorder was, and unfortunately by the time I fully understood what it was it made no difference. I was “hooked”. It would take a full year of starving myself and another year of battling Bulimia before I got the counselling and help I desperately needed. I learned it wasn’t my fault, and even though I recovered and began to rebuild my health, too much of my eating disorder had become habit. Over the 9 years that followed I would rely on those habits and the control my disorder gave me to make it through stressful times, and sometimes purely to lose weight.

More to come,
~Katharine

Purging

Isn’t that just the ugliest word??? I don’t like it at all; not how it sounds and not what it means.

It used to mean throwing up. It meant that for many years. It meant that somewhere along the way during that day I had eaten too much or eaten something I thought to be unworthy of keeping inside of me, and so I purged…

It means “to remove impurities”. Interesting, hey? I guess the act of overeating, especially the act of eating crap on purpose, would qualify as sticking impurities into my body, right?

Thankfully thankfully thankfully, those days are behind me, and every day that passes is a day I think less and less about physically purging.

But for me, Spring comes with a renewed sense of wanting to be “pure”, for lack of a better word. It officially turned into Spring here on the west coast as of Sunday, and I am telling you in complete honesty that it was that exact day that I started to feel better. I stopped sniffling and needing tissues every 10 seconds. I stopped feeling like crying all the time. I stopped feeling so tired. It’s like I’m like an old person who feels the rain in their bones…I am a 26 year old whose spirit somehow just KNEW that it was Spring on Sunday March 20th.

And that’s the day I got a huge ass bite from the Spring Cleaning Bug.

Brian and I participated in a game of Musical Beds with my family on Saturday, and we ended up moving my bed to my brother’s house in White Rock, and then picked up my Gramma’s guest bed and brought it back to Abbotsford later that day. Now my sister just needs the other bed brought to her place and we’re all set! I am VERY happy with my new bed, and bringing it into my home renewed my sense of ownership in my lovely little suite. I had to pull out the vacuum (you don’t even want to know how long it’s been…let’s just say I am still finding Christmas tree needles), and everything just started to feel more and more urgent from then on. All of a sudden I just had to open all the windows for fresh air, and I had to dust the blinds, and I had to organize all the DVD’s and VHS’s. And I had fun doing it.

The best part was yesterday, when everything was sparkling clean and I felt accomplished. Once the last Swiffer Duster pad had been chucked, I got a giant box, went to my closet and started throwing into it everything I hadn’t worn in a year. I purged every “impurity” in my closet that was weighing me down. I’m pretty sure I won’t ever miss a single thing that landed in that box, even though it is full to the top. Just goes to show how much crap I have accumulated. Hopefully someone will put it to good use.

Funny how purging used to be something that I did in secret; how it was something so disgusting and private and “impure”. Now it means freedom from things that are holding me back from living a more simple, enjoyable life.

How are you celebrating the return of our blue sky?

~C

An Introduction… Of Sorts.

I have know Christina ( ‘Stina ) for 14 years, and although our friendship has not always remained constant, a coffee date is all we ever need to bring it up to speed. We had such a date this past week and it gave me the opportunity to share with her my attempt to end a battle I have been losing for 11 years.

When she offered me a spot on her blog to share my stories and struggles, it seemed to me to be incredibly ironic. After all, she was with me 11 years ago when my “problems” began. After getting home the night of our coffee date, I thought long and hard about not only what I wanted to say, but what I wanted this “cameo” appearance on her website to mean to me. What was I hoping to get out of this? How would I properly convey 11 years of history, emotion, struggle and fear to people who you may not even know me? How would I even properly introduce myself?

As it turns out, for my introduction at least, I am going to use a method I learned from my High School counsellor. I can still remember my initial shock that day when I was told I needed to write my own eulogy. But after embarking on what I thought was a creepy and highly unnecessary activity, the benefits and reasons behind it became apparent. I mean really, how often do we stop and take a look at our lives and wonder what people will remember about us when we are gone. So 11 years later I am going to do just that…. again.

Katharine (Katie) Wall

Katharine, often referred to as Katie, was a strong woman. Always loving, she enjoyed a great relationship with her husband, family and friends alike. She loved to travel and was always ready to take off on her next adventure. Her compassion for children was unwavering, despite being unable to have children herself. Katie was always ready to lend a helping hand and loved to be challenged despite being proud and unable to ask for help when she needed it. Her past made living with insecurities a daily struggle and she often questioned her own self worth. She loved the Lord, although her need to control her life and the lives of those around her often came into conflict with her faith. Perhaps the most noticeable hindrance in Katie’s life came as a result of her addictive personality. She fought for 11 long years, on and off, with eating disorders, although at the end she was winning. She will be greatly missed and always remembered.

                                                                                                  
Katharine/Katie’s journey is to follow.
Thanks for tuning in, everyone. : )
~C

100

When I was little and my allowance for doing chores and being cute was still in the single-digit zone, 100 was a huge number. I remember my friends bragging about the fact that their Grammy’s and Grampy’s had given them ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS for their birthday’s, and I was so super jealous. I remember when my Grandpa Max died and we were cleaning his apartment out, my brother and I found $21 in change that we got to keep! It is a horrible thing to rejoice about following your grandfather’s death, but we were little and apparently not very attached.

Now that my life deals more in the quadruple digits (mostly outgoing, sadly), 100 doesn’t seem like such a big number anymore for the most part. Every morning I listen to Beat the Bank on 103.5 and I scoff at those who stop when they find $200 in vault #3. If it was me I’d go for the big one, but that’s only because I’ve lost sight of the importance of the hundreds.

The point is, this is my 100th post since I joined the blogging world in January of 2010. And I think that’s pretty cool. Sometimes I feel sad that I don’t journal in books anymore, but the truth is that there is very little I would say to my journal that I wouldn’t say to you. THAT is how honest I have learned to be here. THAT is how trusted you guys have been with my biggest secrets and emotions and melt-downs and joys. And it’s been so hard at times, so scary, yet of incredible importance. It’s been amazing.

I’ve been wanting to take this farther though, and that is part of the reason why I switched this to a webpage. My first friend I ever made in high school has been through some very similar things to what I have, and she has decided to use this webpage as an outlet to share her story. Look forward to it. It’s quite an amazing journey that will inspire you to be real, too. She’s quite a jem.

Have an aMaZiNg weekend, everyone. You are loved.

~C

You Win Some, You Lose Some

In this case, both of the above statements are valid.

It turns out that the position I had been hoping so very much for just wasn’t for me, friends. And I cried. And I was mad. And I was down. And I was confused. Actually, I probably shouldn’t put those feelings into past-tense, because they are still very real and still very true. But each day that passes, I am becoming more okay with the things that are beyond my control.

This is definitely one of those things. I did my best in my interview and I gave it my all. But in this case, there are people in my life that see more clearly that I do what is best for me and what isn’t. I am so lucky to work for people who want the best for me. They didn’t give me the job I wanted, and it made me want to quit, but they gave me something so much better suited for me that even I can’t cry about anymore.

Before I get to the part about what I will be doing this summer, I need to catch you up on some of the things that have been going on. Thursday the 3rd was a really, really brutal day for me. I was rushing from the second I woke up, a seemingly endless 2 minutes behind everything that day. Didn’t have time for breakfast, was nervous about the interview from the night before and what they might have been thinking. I got to work and found my beloved and very-pregnant co-teacher struggling a little bit in her day, so tried to give her as much support as I could. Later that afternoon as I was rushing to school to get some last-minute (very last minute!) studying in before my midterm that night, my boss called to tell me that my co-teacher went to the doctor, who told her she would not be returning to work until after her baby is born. So I studied as hard as I could, took my test, hoped for the best, and went back to work to talk this new little dilema out. I got home late, it was freezing and snowing, and took a call from another boss of mine who broke the news to me that I did not get the position of Sr. Coordinator. As much as I wish I hadn’t, I freaking cried my eyes out. And thankfully my boss is also a friend and so very patient with me. She listened to me while I cried, said tons of encouraging things, and said goodnight; that I needed a good sleep. I immediately got Brian on the phone and relayed the news, and he was really, really sad. He even offered to spend his day off looking up new jobs for me.

That was Thursday the 3rd and this is now two weeks later. I am still sad. But I am also happy and hopeful and am seeing things a little more clearly. Even though I won’t be the top boss this summer, I am still going to be an assistant coordinator, which everyone involved has agreed is a way better fit for me right now. Especially now that my co-teacher is gone, my plate has just gotten a whole lot fuller and this way I can take 2 classes this summer instead of 1. And by the way, now that I am not the top boss I get to do a whole heck of a lot more playing this summer than I would have before. I don’t have to be in charge and I can breathe a little more deeply and hopefully not have to take work home with me at the end of the day.

So it’s a good thing.

The Chinese symbol for crisis involves two separate characters, which apart mean Danger and Opportunity. I am definitely chosing to see this ‘crisis’ as a beautiful opportunity to become more secure in who I am, and as an opportunity to realize that I don’t always know what is best for me. Do any of us?

Thanks for all the support guys. Hope you’re having a great week!

~C

Empowerment

The path I took that has lead me to my career as a perma-student (or so it seems) at UFV has been a long one. By the world’s standards, I am waaaay behind the game. I “should be” long done my degree by now, perhaps even my masters. But the problem is is that when I graduated in 2002 (yikes, that long ago??), I had NO clue what I wanted to “be”. In fact, the question still puzzles me even today. But all along I have known that I want to be a helper of some sort, and I feel that I have been, education or not. And dude, I got to be a helper in Africa of all places. That in itself is worth it’s weight in gold. So I don’t mind being “behind”.

But now that I have arrived in my second year as a university student, things are starting to narrow down for me, and I have had to make some choices as to where I see myself in the next few years. As you know, I am on a journey to my Bachelors of Social Work, which is scary and exciting and intimidating and challenging. Some nights I sit in class and think to myself, “this is too big. I can’t do it”. Well, being an advocate for someone’s life IS a big deal and without proper training and experience I probably won’t be able to do it well. So I’m working on it. But I think it’s going to be really, really good for me. My prof often tells us that Social Workers are really Professional Helpers. That sounds like a good fit for me.

A hugely vital piece of information I have learned (well, have had drilled into my brain by many various profs) is that the practice of social work is actually the practice of empowerment, which is the ultimate form of helping. To quote some wise guy whose name I don’t know, I will prove it: “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime”.

I am learning to be that person who teaches a village to fish. And I am practicing even now.

Sometimes it is really hard to motivate my little students to clean up the classroom, especially when they’ve been having such a jolly time destroying it. I have to think of creative ways to trick them into doing it, but I actually prefer to think of it as empowering them to do it.

To the little girls I say, “Show me how fast you are!”, and they take off like pretty little speeding bullets and toys magically disappear from the floor.

To the little boys I say, “Show me your muscles!”, and all of a sudden kiddie-sized couches and big boxes of toys are being dragged back into their proper places.

It’s amazing to watch it all unfold.

It’s hard to imagine that one day I could be empowering someone to give up heroin, or even their child who will receive better care in the arms of another mother. Whatever is it I end up doing with these insanely expensive classes, it will be worth it because they have empowered me to empower others.

May you do the same.

~C