One Day at a Time. One Meal at a Time.
Posted on August 29, 2013
The purpose of my blog has really transformed through the months. I suppose the direction that my blog has assumed has coincided with what is going on in my life. It’s been almost a year since I started Chloe’s Countertop! That thought is pretty crazy! I’m not sure if it seems like it’s been around for much longer, or much shorter. I suppose it depends on how you look at it. When I think about how much I have done and what I’ve been through since I started it- then it definitely feels like this blog has been around and with me for much longer than a year. But then, when I think about when I wrote my first blog post– that doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. I can still remember how I was feeling, and what I was going through (and what I was wearing- i’ll get to that later:P).
To those of you who are following me and my blog solely for food and recipes- my apologies. I realize that it has definitely been through a bit of a transformation, and it’s difficult to know what to expect now a days with me and my blog (when I will post, and what I will post). At some point (soon) I want to have a more clear cut idea of what I have to offer and what I want to offer. At the moment, I am trying to listen to myself and follow my gut (aka my intuition). I have found that it has been easier for me to cook and take photos of food (post on instagram) than it is to write down a recipe, alone. This is largely due to the fact that I more of an intuitive cook than a cook who relies on recipes, measurements and plans. So much so, that I tend to fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to certain catering jobs (making up recipes on the spot, the night before a big event I am catering). In this way, instagram has been really perfect for me- because I am still able to share what I am cooking and eating (and doing) without writing it all down in a blog post or recipe post.
If I do end up writing a blogpost (as you have probably figured) I really enjoy using it as an excuse to write a journal entry, clearly. It’s worked pretty well for me in that way. However, I do realize that sometimes, these entries have become pretty long, and have evolved to being void of a recipe, every now and then. This is going to be one of those posts, I think. It’s not that I don’t have recipes and food to share, because I do. It just doesn’t feel right at the moment- to push out a recipe, just for the sake of doing it.
One thing about me, that I am learning to embrace and accept more and more- is that I am constantly juggling between being very intuitive and following that intuition, and totally ignoring that intuition. When I do end up ignoring my gut, it is because I am thriving off of an intense need to please. As a result of this, I am realizing that I have spent a lot of my life doing things and finding myself in roles that are for the purpose of pleasing others (or feeding that need of mine to be liked (loved) and accepted). I think the interesting part is that there was a time in my early teenage years when I made this switch to following the people pleasing side of me more intensely than the intuitive side. I’ve always had it in me (being incredibly sensitive and empathetic), but the imbalance occurs when I start to thrive more off of pleasing others than loving myself. I literally force myself to shut off my intuition to a certain degree; if I didn’t- I would not be able to carry out this people pleasing side without going totally crazy.
This past year has been about awakening that intuition. Or more so, opening up that blockage that I created towards my intuition. It’s been an interesting journey– but I do feel like it is finally coming to a head. For those of you that don’t already know, I developed severely destructive eating disorders at the age of 12/13. My eating disorder, similar to most eating disorders- was not a direct result of my relationship with food. Alternatively, I used my relationship with food as a way of covering up what was going on inside. Food was something constant in my life, that I could control. By controlling what I ate, when I ate and how much I ate- I felt like I had control over at least something in my life. What started to happen was that when I began to receive positive attention (rewards) for these controlling behaviours (people noticing that I was losing weight and congratulating me on it)– the eating disorder started to develop a life of it’s own. In other words, what started as a mechanism for me to feel better about what was going on in my life– turned into a mind game that began to take over me. Now, I am learning to look at my eating disorder as another part of me. It’s not me- it’s something that I hold onto and use– to get myself through life. When I undergo times of stress & pain– I will subconsciously begin to allow my eating disorder to creep back into my life. The issue is that it sneaks up on me without really recognizing, consciously, what is going on. In other words, I know that it’s there- but I tell myself that it’s ok and that I have it under control (I am choosing to use it to feel better). Before I know it, I find myself in a lot of pain, under-nourished, depressed and really, not living.
This happened recently. A few months ago- without really realizing the magnitude of my behaviour, I started making myself sick after certain meals. I started to crave this feeling of being empty– and if I was out drinking and ate too much, I would end up in the bathroom. Being out & drinking with a large group of people is a huge obstacle for me. When I am in large groups of people (or exposed to a lot of energies in general) I tend to absorb a lot of that energy. When I get home from these long nights out, I will be so overwhelmed with energy (a lot of the time this energy is quite negative, lots of insecurities out there) that I turn to food and then ultimately, bulimia- to feel better (or what I have trained my body/mind to think is feeling better). Long story short– as the months went by, this behaviour became more and more frequent, until it was happening everyday with every meal.
I only really began to put attention to what was happening when I came home to my ranch for a week during the last week of July/first week of August. It was like I started breathing again. Walking in the mountains, breathing in the fresh mountain air and —— being around horses, woke me up. I realized that I had NOT been living. I was waking up working, starving myself, living off of coffee and coming home to silence, darkness and food. I was in my own version of a prison. What really pronounces this is that it was all happening during the most BEAUTIFUL summer Vancouver has seen in years. I’m talking record breaking days of sunshine, stunning weather, beaches, outdoor activity, LIFE. & I was not taking part in any of it. I wouldn’t allow myself. I had spent too much time working myself down, and fighting myself. That’s the thing about an eating disorder– the power that your mind has on you becomes untouchable. It’s a never ending, self-destructive, abusive mind game & battle.
Something that is interesting, that I am really starting to take notice of- are the ways that my eating disorder mind starts to control me. One huge indicator is that I stop living in the present, almost completely. I am either wondering what I am going to do next, who I will see or not see, or what I am going to eat/not eat. This becomes pretty apparent not only to me, but to those close to me, who know me. It’s like I’m there, but I’m not actually there. Another thing my mind starts to do is compare how I look/feel to memories from the past. My long term memory of this is so strong. The reason is that I put so much attention and energy into it, lots of emotion. This is psychology in action, long-term memories are solidified by emotion. So, if a particular memory is accompanied by a large burst of emotion, that memory will become much stronger. Think about the strongest memories that you have. Chances are- they were very emotional moments for you. Aka — your first kiss or the day you lost your virginity haha (I had to insert some humour to lighten the mood).
For me, for instance- instead of enjoying the moment, witnessing the beauty around me and being truly joyous; I tend to be focusing on how I looked thinner and more beautiful a few months before, in that same outfit. Just like that destructive pattern of looking back at photos of a past-relationship and reminiscing, I will go through photos of myself in the past- until I have managed to successfully bring myself so far down in the dumps, that it only makes sense to turn to bulimia (I suppose it’s like icing on the cake of the self-destructive process).
Anyways, spending that week at the ranch gave me some lightness. I felt some peace. This was of course magnified by the fact that my mum’s beautiful friend Lisa was at the ranch for a few of the days that I was there. She is so peaceful and grounding. I felt at peace around her….. it was very special, and I am incredibly thankful that we crossed paths when we did. I was then graced by my best friend Paulina, who came to spend the weekend with me at the ranch, before we both drove back to Vancouver together on a much anticipated and awaited road trip. At first, I had quite a bit of anxiety about her visiting because I wasn’t sure I could handle it. I didn’t know if I would be able to get myself out of bed, put on clothes, and do things. That’s really what happens. My mind becomes really horrible to me. The second I start to think about having to go out and be around people- it ignites that solidified thought pattern of ‘you’re not good enough, you’re too fat to go out, your clothes will look terrible– I don’t love you so no one will’. That’s why I end up spending so much time in bed, when I am really sick. It’s much easier to stay in bed, in pyjamas (loose clothes), and watch mindless movies & TV shows. It’s like taking a permanent time out from the battle going on in my head. I get so exhausted.
However, Paulina came- and it was wonderful. It was so peaceful being with her. I was able to just be myself and show her my life with the horses. It was our own little weekend retreat away from the chaos and craziness that is a part of a city like Vancouver. On our drive back, as soon as we started hitting the city limits (to Vancouver) I immediately had anxiety. It was like I was driving back to my prison. I wanted nothing more than to turn around and drive back home to the horses. That’s when I knew. I needed to be there. This was going to be the next step in my life journey.
So, here I am. 3 weeks later and I am at the ranch. I don’t have a plan, nor am I trying to have a plan. I am on my own personal recovery retreat and I am starting to feel like myself again. It’s difficult with something like an eating disorder because it is a disease of the mind (and the body) so sometimes, trying to understand it or figure it out or solve it– is all a part of the problem. My biggest thing that I am working on right now is re-nourishing my body with beautiful, natural food (my body has been through quite a lot with bulimia in the past few months), witnessing my thoughts and patterns and trying to be at peace. I’ve been here for a week now, and it has already been quite the journey. Not every moment is perfect– and that’s been an experience on it’s own. However, every time I am with Legend and the other horses, I feel grounded and alive. Playing with him, watching him, laying on him, and riding him– I feel at peace. At this point, I don’t know where I will go after or what will happen– but I do know that I am where I am meant to be right now.
Horses are animals of prey- and therefore they are hyper sensitive and always in the present. They aren’t worried if their saddle is fitting slightly tight one day or if their bums look slightly big another. What’s more- they really don’t care what you look like. They care about what is going on inside of you. They see right through you. If there is an internal battle going on- no matter what clothes you are wearing or how skinny you are- that is what they will pay attention to. It’s this presence that brings me peace. I know that horses are so healing, it’s magical.
It’s also been really helpful for me to finally spend some quality time with my dog, Ollie. I haven’t been able to truly take care of him in the past few months because of my illness (luckily, my incredible mum/dad/friends are so supportive and have helped out). Waking up and taking Ollie on long walks in the forest and countryside, feeding him & attending to him is also helping me to build that love for myself too. That’s the thing about animals– if they are dependent on us, then it is important that we are attending to them and their needs. By doing this (feeding them, walking them) we are indirectly caring for ourselves. This is a large part of animal therapy.
My love for food is being revived. With bulimia, I started to put energy into that hate for food- which pervaded my life for so many years. This was truly heart-breaking. Not only had it become such a huge part of my personal life, but my career and working life also revolved around food, and sharing my love for it. By working with food, becoming a holistic nutritionist and catering– I was able to re-build a love for myself that I had lost many, many years ago as a child. However, this relationship with food is fragile, as is my relationship with myself. Once I put too much energy into my eating disorder– my fear of food and the way it would effect my body (make me gain weight) became much more important and powerful in mind, than nourishment. Food is so powerful in everyone’s life. I read something, somewhere a while back– that was quite interesting to me.
When you are about to eat something, ask yourself, “who am I feeding”? Is it your hunger? Is it sadness? Is it fear? Is it anger? What event just happened that brought me to the kitchen/fridge/pantry?” It’s an interesting activity to do, to understand a little bit about your own relationship with food. Every single person in this world eats, at least 2 times a day, or more ( hopefully). Thus, there are concrete behaviours & patterns that have been developed in everyone, around food. For me, it has been a journey- and this journey will never stop. I know that. I don’t expect that spending time at the ranch is going to “cure” me, and I am going to be ‘changed forever’. Instead, I am taking this time to find some peace. Who knows where I will go from here. I really don’t know. The important point for me, at this moment, is that I have chosen to take some time to love myself, care for myself and put me first. This in itself is a very large part of my journey. One day at a time. One meal at a time.