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Forward Motion

Can I let you in on a little secret? We’ve been believing a lie.

For as long as I can remember, the idea of progressing positively in life has been portrayed as perfect, fluid motion. The world around us makes overcoming addiction, heartbreak, and even grief look simple. We’re always seeing the before and after but never the in between.

Trying to keep up with this unrealistic idea of healing has ultimately hindered me more than anything. I’m sure I’m not the only one. On my long – yes long – road to recovering from an eating disorder and the many shitty hands life has dealt me, I’ve realized that healing is messy.

I think it’s an injustice to sugar coat reality for people who are too afraid to face it. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have friends in my life who were willing to be one hundred with me and tell it like it is. If you want to heal, it’s going to be the most exhausting, crazy, up and down adventure you’ve ever been on, and yes, it’s totally worth it.

Now, it might not always feel like that, but you’ll get there.

Anyways, anyone who tries to tell you that you should already be at a certain point in your healing can be dismissed. There is no time frame to overcoming the battles you’re facing. You can never be too earlier or too late. You set the pace. The thing that matters most is that you’re making a decision to choose forward motion even if your feet don’t move an inch. Sometimes the progress we make is so microscopic that we’re the only ones who know it’s been accomplished at all. Guess what? Nobody else has to see it for it to matter.

I’ve quit so many times because I’ve stumbled, and I didn’t understand that it was okay. I thought the only way I was beating my addiction was if I had a perfect streak of recovery with no instances of relapse. Relapse meant I was a failure.

This is flawed thinking.

I want you to understand that sometimes forward motion means you took two steps backwards but are willing to own it and do better. Forward motion means getting comfortable with the idea that healing isn’t going to happen over night. Progress is the decision and action to do everything in your power to be the best version of yourself no matter how long it takes or how slowly it happens.

You are not any less because you struggle. We all do. We all are.

Sometimes Recovery is a Bowl of Ice Cream

Blueberry pomegranate chocolate chunk. Yesterday, it was honey grahams and milk. Food is definitely my love language, which is interesting considering I’ve spent so much of life at war with it. I’ve never met someone whose weight fluctuates as much as mine. Up twenty. Down thirty. Up eleven. Down six. Back and forth.

The other day at work, two coworkers of mine were sharing their health problems with me.

“What you do now will catch up with you later,” one said as the other nodded in agreement. Their eyes seemed to plead with me to understand, but I already did.

I have not always been kind to my body. Since I was fifteen, I’ve battled with both bulimia and anorexia to varying degrees. In extreme cases, I was vomiting blood and losing hair, and in other instances, I was skipping meals and trying every fad diet I could get my hands on. Peace did not exist within me.

Naturally, I’ve been craving something different. I’m the queen of hopping on the weight loss train and doing super well for the first few months, but eventually I get lazy or uninterested and fall off. Ironically, this is usually around the time I’ve started to love my body again, so as I slowly slip backwards, the inevitable weight gain becomes a huge trigger. It’s an ugly, endless cycle, but this time, I’ve got the advantage – my heart is ready now.

I’ve always wanted “the body.” You know the one talking about. It’s the one society tells you that you need in order to truly be beautiful. It’s the one that is completely photoshopped and unrealistic. It’s unobtainable, and while inwardly you probably know this, when you have an eating disorder, it doesn’t click.

Twenty-two has been full of changes for me. A year of movement and reflection. As 2019 approaches, I know the goal for me is to be free-free. Mind, body, and soul. Light as a feather. Free as a bird. I want to cultivate a lifestyle of love, health, and positivity.

Health. That’s the kicker this time around. I was always willing to sacrifice my health for an image in my head that didn’t exist. If I just lost ten more pounds, then I could quit and be healthy. If I just looked more like her. If I just fit in to that two piece. What’s the point of having your dream body if you can’t do anything with it?

I want to be strong. I want to be healthy. I want to understand my body. I want to kiss it kindly from head to toe. I want to discover all the amazing things I know it can do when it’s treated with love. I want to be able to be around for my children’s children someday. I wanted to be able to have children someday.

While my body is not ideally where I’d like it to be, I’m okay with that now. Don’t hear what I’m not saying – some days, it’s a struggle, and I can’t find anything to wear, and I feel down, and I’m upset with myself – but I don’t let emotions dictate my path anymore. The power in this is huge because I can only become more and more okay with who I am as I move forward.

For anyone who’s every battled with their weight, I get it, and I’m here for you. If you love food, love food. It’s okay. Find the balance. You don’t have to get rid of all the things you love for a body that will always be changing as the years pass by. You can have a cheat meal. You can have ten for all I care. That doesn’t mean you have to quit the process or start all over; you just keep walking it out. Life is too short to be overly critical and to deny yourself of the things you really enjoy. Understand this – anyone on social media can paint a perfect picture of their weight loss journey. Don’t think for a second that’s what it actually looks like. It’s a hard walk to take, and we only see as much as others are willing to show us about themselves.

If you hate exercising, join the club, but don’t let that be an excuse for you to continue living a life unhappy with yourself. Discover something new. I didn’t realize how much I enjoy hiking until I stopped complaining that it’d be too hard and just did it. In the future, I want to try aerial silks and bouldering not because I think I’ll be any good at it, but because I want to find new ways to be active that I don’t hate. You’re limiting yourself if you believe a treadmill is the only way you can get to where you want to be.

I encourage you to get on the path to health – not to a body, or a dress size, or a social media presence. Listen, it’s okay to have goals, but make sure they’re good ones. Whole ones. For the right reason ones. The kind that will keep giving to you long after you’ve accomplished them.

Today, recovery is a bowl of ice cream, and a damn good one at that.


Driving to work this morning, the world was quiet. It was a quarter after four and the sun was still sleeping. A thought visited me:

“The pain will stay – learn how to carry it differently.”

Today is my 22nd birthday. Throughout the years, I have faced many different hardships. I survived depression, anxiety, and a suicide attempt. I overcame an eating disorder and fibromyalgia. I found my voice after being a victim of abuse. Life has not always been easy; I’m learning it’s not supposed to be.

Over the last two years, I’ve had to face one of the toughest battles of my life. A day once full of vivid color is now tainted with a shade of gray. As time has passed, it’s become almost unnoticeable, but like clockwork, something always presents itself to me.

A reminder. A gift.

How can pain be a gift?

My pain took me to a dark place – a place that lacked substance and joy. I allowed other people’s choices – their brokenness – to completely consume my life and steal any hope that remained. It felt like I was stuck in a cold, endless winter. The things that made me who I was – my love for people, the way I believed there was good in everyone, my desire to chase life down and live it to the fullest – were gone.

It is one thing to experience deep pain and loss, it’s another thing to let it rob you of life. We have no control over people’s actions. Learning the reality of human nature – of free will – was a rude but necessary awakening. The people you love the most in life will break your heart. Don’t let it surprise you. Don’t let it grab a hold of everything you’ve ever known and throw it on the ground. People are made of deep flaws, of their own wounds, of fear. Sometimes pain is inflicted. It’s life, and everyone has choices.

In the months that followed my heartbreak, I’ve learned a lot about myself, about other people, and about healing. I feel it’s important to share some of these things with you because nobody talks about it enough and that’s why so many of us are walking around bleeding on each other.

Healing is your responsibility. Nothing anyone can say or offer to you will make your heart right. That is a job that only you are capable of. I believe people are sent to us to help us navigate – people that have journeyed through similar darkness – but they can only walk with us, not fix us.

Healing has no time frame. I didn’t break me; I was broken by selfish, unkind choices. By someone else’s freewill. Nobody in this world is allowed to dictate your healing. While others may not see evident changes, they are not within you. They have not sat with you in the late hours of the night as you’ve cried and battled through nightmares. They have not seen the way you’ve beaten yourself down for irrational fears and insecurities – things that you did not choose to have. They do not know the ledge you’ve hung from by one finger, and how you’ve pulled yourself back up, all by yourself, even though many times you wanted to free fall off of it.

Do not allow others to make you feel like your progress is inadequate. How could anyone judge the way you’re summiting a mountain they’ve never even seen before? How could anyone decide the way you should heal when they themselves have not experienced the wound? People have a way of believing they always know what is best, but nobody knows your heart like you do.

Protect your energy. It’s easy to become consumed by the wound and the ones who caused it. Pride will always prevent most people from admitting they were wrong. The truth is ugly attracts. It’s only a matter of time before those people get caught up in the mess they’ve made. The more time you spend focusing on them and what they deserve, the less time you get to focus on yourself. They stole enough from you; don’t give them that kind of power.

It looks a lot like waves now. I go through seasons of wholeness, and then suddenly, the anxiety stops by to visit. The memories come crashing in. The pain submerges me. It doesn’t stay, but instead it recedes back far beyond the horizon, leaving my toes wet with a faint reminder that it will return. The waves used to feel like tsunamis. Now, they’re small reminders of the healing I’ve accomplished.

I used to be my pain. I would get up in the morning and put it on. I let it define my life. Today, as I reflect, I’m grateful for all the brokenness that lead me to this moment. Seasons change, if you let them. My pain is now a teacher. I’m present and able to see things for face value. I no longer allow myself to be bullied by my emotions. I’ve forgiven people who don’t deserve it because I understand that poor choices come from fragile place. Sometime ago, I wanted to die. I thought it was only a matter of time until the pain ate me alive. But, when I decided to stop giving power to the bad stuff, good things started to blossom. I’m blossoming.

I won’t be taking the pains of the last two years into this season. The old can’t go where the new should be. I know the ache will visit, but it will only continue to fade. I’ve fallen in love with the gray, and someday, the waves will still entirely and only neon lights will glow in the once darkened places.

Happy 22nd, Shay. You made it.

I Know What I Bring To The Table, So I Don’t Mind Eating Alone

After finally ending an abusive relationship that lasted several months longer than it ever should have, I found myself in one of the lowest seasons of my life. I had no sense of direction or identity. I spent years allowing myself to be defined by other people’s opinions of me, but then I woke up. Here’s some reasons why I will never compromise what I deserve for another human being again, even if it means doing life alone.

Independence tastes good.

So much of my life used to be consumed by pleasing everyone around me, especially my ex. I’m talking borderline obsessed. I thought it’s what I had to do to be a ride or die, but in reality, it was really just unhealthy and stressful. After we broke up, I moved across the country and realized I barely knew who I was. Now, I’ve grown so accustomed to an independent lifestyle that I couldn’t imagine relying on anyone other than myself for stability – most couldn’t handle the task anyways.

Sh*t happens.

I used to beat myself up about all the dumb decisions I made along the way. Why did I stay? What if I had said no? Why did I beg? I’ve realized that if I can’t change the past, at least I can learn from it. Being able to reflect on previous experiences has taught me what red flags to look out for in the future so I don’t cycle and make the same mistakes twice. Even better, accepting the past for what it was takes away people’s ability to hold it over my head. No sense sweating the small stuff.

Mind over matter.

Healing from abuse is no joke, and for a while my emotions were out of control. Every time I’d try to talk about things, I’d end up a blubbering mess. I stressed over what people would think of me and my situation – I was afraid of what he’d do if he found out I was vocalizing the pain. That’s a lot of power to give to somebody. Today, I’m able to speak about things with boldness, unashamed and unafraid of the repercussions. If people don’t like what I have to say, they can keep it pushing because every voice matters, including mine.

The view looks better with my head held high.

Both during and following my relationship, I was extremely depressed. When I moved, it was the first real decision I made that was my own. I did it because I could, and man did that feel good. After awhile, I couldn’t help but do more of the things that made me happy. I dressed the way I wanted, traveled to new places, and fell in love with my body. Now I’ll do whatever it takes to protect my energy; bad vibes have to go.

There’s always a critic.

I think some people really do enjoy the sound of their own voice more than anything. At one point, I felt like I had to appease every irrelevant opinion that was thrown my way, even if it meant changing who I was or pretending to be someone I’m not. Eventually, that got old. I realize now that people will always have something to say, but that doesn’t mean I have to entertain it. If someone feels the need to hatefully criticize any aspect of my life, they probably don’t need to have a place in it.

I’m selfish, and I don’t care.

Okay, not really, but I used to find myself stuck in situations that drained me because I didn’t know how to set boundaries. In a pathetic attempt to gain acceptance from my peers and maybe finally feel like my life had value, I took on responsibilities that weren’t for me and was left missing out on the things that were. Being aware of what I want out of life has taught me to invest my time in activities that benefit my life, my health, and my happiness first and foremost. If nobody is going to cater their life to me, then why should I to theirs?

It’s me, not you.

Knowing what my value is as a person has caused me to have to weed out a lot of toxic people from the mix. It seemed like once I started to understand that I was an individual with a lot to offer in the world, people got ticked. They no longer had the power to manipulate and take advantage of me because I wasn’t naive and insecure. It didn’t take me long to realize that those weren’t my people, and now I have no problem being selective about who has access to me on a personal level. I’d rather have one or two good friends than ten thousand wishy-washy people that only want me in their life if it benefits them.

Out with the old and in with the new.

So obviously I settled for a lot of friendships and romantic relationships that were seriously below what I deserved, but I didn’t realize it at the time. The benefit of knowing my worth is that people will come and go, and that’s okay. Sometimes, you just outgrow people. I’m secure enough in myself to understand that this is not a reflection of who I am or what I bring to the table. The ones meant to be in my life will respect the wavelength I’m on and what I’m trying to accomplish.

I stay fed.

My ex made me believe that he was doing me a favor because no one else would ever love me. The truth is, I will always have at least one person in my corner, and that person is me. I love myself and know that I don’t need validation from anyone to stand tall and get things done. At the end of the day, if the whole world is against me, at least I can look in the mirror and be content with the person staring back. I validate myself and only answer to my truths.

There are worse things than being alone.

I am a capable woman with talent and drive. I have a mouthpiece that gets me in trouble and a confidence that no one can steal. I have taken back power over my life. I know where I’m headed, and because of that, I’m not afraid to be alone on the journey. Knowing my worth and not backing down from it doesn’t make me arrogant or self-absorbed; knowing my worth means I’m willing to respect myself enough to walk away from anyone and anything that doesn’t encourage me to be the very best version of myself. At the end of the day, there’s something scarier than be alone, and that’s mediocre living.


We lost ourselves

when we decided that

in order to survive,

we must always be right.

What about being kind?

What about embodying love?

The flowers are dying as we

bicker over vanities.

The soil has dried and the

air smells of hate.