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5.03.2011

about those green pants.

disclaimer: for those new here, 
this post is a continuation of a very long story,
about ned (a nasty, little eating disorder)
i struggled with for years 
and am now in the slow process 
of recovering from.
for mor info click here.  



green pants


i'm gonna let you in on a little secret about those green pants...

the morning of those pictures i made my glitter sign (tracking sparkle all through the house), donned my green pants, set the camera to self-timer, and clicked away. 

and what i got were the photos you saw: green pants, sparkle sign, and me looking...happy, i think.

but upon first seeing the images i thought, oh, my legs look fat. 

and so i took a breath. 

and then allowed another, more rational (read: healthier) part of me to say, doesn't matter. 

and i made the choice--and yes, it was a choice--to let the doesn't matter trump the oh, my legs look fat. 

now i know some of you might be thinking, isn't the oh, my legs look great an even better choice--an even more powerful statement? to which i say, maybe. but, i think that choosing to give no value to what they look like is the ultimate goal. because then, whether they look good or bad or blue or long, it really doesn't matter--it doesn't change my day, it doesn't affect how i'm feeling. it has no power to undo me. 

there are still days i am undone. still days i feel like i've lost six years of my life to this thing. still days i feel i'll never be as thin as i need to be. 

i've been thinking a lot about what it is the eating disorder gave me. because anyone worth their salt will tell you there's a reason you keep it around. i fought against this idea as much and as hard as i could (for as long as i could). if there was one thing i was clear on, it was this: i hated the eating disorder. i wanted it gone. i wanted nothing to do with it. 

and then, just the other day, it came to me. it was not the binge i needed. it was the moment after. those brief, fleeting moments when after yet another rock-bottom, the only direction i could look was up. those brief, fleeting moments when the binge was done and a blank-slate was before me and i hadn't yet screwed up and anything was possible and maybe just this one time i. would be. perfect. and so i made lists and rules and nearly impossible-to-keep regulations because yes, indeed, this time i would be perfect. this time i would be different. this time i would be...someone else.

i think there's this idea that the thin version of ourselves is actually a different person. and oh what a dangerous, little idea this is! because let's say you become thin, you reach that goal weight, and yet you're still the same. and you still have the same fears and anxieties and chronic frustrations. and that dissonance--that disconnect between who you thought you'd be and who you actually are...that's the first crack. the first fissure in the foundation--the very thing with the potential to undo it all. 

i remember thinking as my first year of college ended...i'd like nothing more than a vacation from myself. i'm the one person i need a break from. and so i went home, worked at a job i hated, and lost somewhere between 15 and 19 pounds. and then returned to school in august. 

and, turns out, i hadn't gotten that much needed vacation. so i attempted to vacate myself, and where i made space, an eating disorder rushed in. 

there is still an underlying frustration and anger that countless medical professionals, educators, friends were unable to help me. but at the end of the day the eating disorder took root because...

well, because, i didn't love myself. (i don't think i even liked myself). 

i thought i did. or, at least, i didn't realize that i did not. 

i've never admitted that before. but there you have it. 

the process of getting better--of recovering--has really been the process of falling in love with myself. and let me be clear, it was not a process of learning to love myself, but of actually falling head over heals for myself. for my dark brown hair and caustic sense of humor. for my big feet and ostensibly gracious demeanor (i've got you all hoodwinked!).

there is a joy that follows. that comes from learning to look on yourself as God or the Holy Spirit or your inner divinity looks on you. it's the closest thing to Heaven i've ever known. 

it's still a day by day thing. good days and bad days and heavenly days. but day by day, nonetheless. 





76 comments:

Morgan said...

Before I even read this post I looked at your picture and thought a)how pretty does she look
b)how happy does she look
c) I LOVE those pants on her

I know it's a constant struggle but it sounds like you're doing the best you can day to day....

Syd said...

Thank you for your courage and your sincerity in this post. It is inspiring to all who read, whether it be those who suffer like you do, or suffer in other ways, or are learning to comfort those that suffer differently than they do. Beautifully written.

Kit said...

Thank you for this post! I am a new reader and I think that you are so beautiful!!!

Carrie Rosalind said...

Wow - another great post. I am at that point now where I am just starting to fall in love with myself again (not after an eating disorder, but after a bad breakup which can be just as difficult to overcome!). So thanks for sharing your inspiration and wisdom!

Ash said...

After I read so many of your posts, I just sit and think about how much I needed to read that, and how much I wish I could really thank you for having such courage. So thank you. You are lovely inside and out.

-Maria- said...

so right on about not letting fat, skinny, bloated, or whatever it is have power over our happiness. loved this post!

Jenni Austria Germany said...

now i know some of you might be thinking, isn't the oh, my legs look great an even better choice--an even more powerful statement? to which i say, maybe. but, i think that choosing to give no value to what they look like is the ultimate goal. because then, whether they look good or bad or blue or long, it really doesn't matter--it doesn't change my day, it doesn't affect how i'm feeling. it has no power to undo me.

^^^ i loooove that.

and now, the statment i'm about to make might seem contradictory to my loving the above paragraph....BUT: when i saw those green pants photos, i thought "daaang, she looks so good!"...for what it's worth.

Michelle said...

This resonated so deeply with me. My eating disorder is eating too much. Abusing myself with food. Not withholding it but rather overdoing it.

I too am on a path to being in love with myself. It is a difficult transformation, but part of my life's work and seeing myself through divine eyes is my ultimate goal!

Thank you so much for sharing something so personal.

Sara B said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your struggles. There is so much truth to what you said. One of my favorite parts was about learning to fall in love with ourselves, just the way we are, because that is how God created us and He makes no mistakes! If only we could all see ourselves through His eyes I think we would be completely different people. Thanks for the reminder to do that today.

becky said...

I am going to be completely and unapologetically honest: this writing, this feeling, this honesty, this sincerity and this courage made me cry.

Oh, Meg, you're an absolute treasure---so wise and brave and beautiful (and I don't, here, mean the way those pants look on you---I mean your soul and your spirit and your heart). I cannot---and probably will never---understand the depth of the illness (although you go such a long way in teaching us, such a long way in explaining something so very tricky) but I do most certainly understand a need to love oneself. Because we can fool ourselves as much as we like---but so many of us do not understand the beauty of ourselves---of our capacity to think and feel, our bravery and sensitivity---and at first I used to think this was modesty. Now, I see, it is not. Modesty is a little different: modesty is believing it, but humbly---and I do not have modesty: I have uncertainty. I wonder how many young women feel the same, how they succumb to the pressures not of the world but of themselves. I wonder how many need a little tug like this, a tug that you give day in and day out with detailed honesty, about who we really need to be---the person that keeps us happy, no-one else.

Kristen said...

Your so brave for posting this! I have that same automatic thought process you described, that the better you look the better everything else is. Its a constant challenge to overcome that automatic thought. Focusing on being healthy really is the best way and I applaud you for embracing that.

P.S. I like the green pants!! A lot! Are they long? I'm 5'10 and can never find pants that are long enough

Swirls of Happy said...

I love how raw, emotional, and wonderful this post was. You are so beautiful (my first thoughts when I saw the pic)!!!

Dancing Branflake said...

Thank you for sharing this. Urgh.... so many thoughts in my head right now. I'm glad I found your blog. Very beautiful.

Kaylan said...

Not to relish in your unhappiness (because I swear, I'm not), but to know that someone as beautiful, smart, and talented as you hits rock bottom, too, is reassuring to the little people like me that aren't as pretty, smart, or talented as you. I detest these bloggers that share only the happiness, the most beautiful moments (and maybe I'm guilty of that, too). I love that you're honest. Life isn't easy and we shouldn't pretend it is. And you're right, we all need to learn to fall head over heels in love with ourselves. maybe we all should have had a freshmen pre-requisite at college called "Loving Yourself" because isn't that the route to so many problems? We don't love ourselves enough! Do you want to teach this course to me!? ;)

P.S. Still love those pants and need to find them online!

Melissa B said...

Interesting!
Falling in love with myself and not just loving myself...

I can see why our culture would not allow for someone to be completely in love with themselves without it being seen as egocentric or narcissist.

How do you reach a balance?

Lucy said...

I just sent this to someone who I'm constantly trying to explain to.

Thank you for continuing to talk about trying in such a beautiful way.

all best,

lucy

Brittany said...

Thanks for being brave.

Jennifer Rod said...

to be honest i almost felt tears coming down my face as I read this post. and at the same time joy because you were so honest and i could clearly see how you are coming through strong and beautiful. ive always learned that freedom only comes through acceptance and acknowledgement of the problem and i think you have reached so far already...

i thank you for me and all other girls out there who need this encouragement to love ourselves, cause although not all of us struggle with this specific issue so many of us dont truly accept ourselves for who we are... we try so hard to be something else thinking it would make us happy. i know that i didnt become happy until i realized and accepted the natural beauty in me, extra pounds and all... God has been my main help and source of love and peace.

sorry for the long comment, but i was inspired. big hug to you today for being so honest and inspiring. :)

Erin said...

Oh, Meg! You are an inspiration! And being COMPLETELY honest, I absolutely adored those photos when you first posted them, and I wished that I could pull off such an outfit. Green pants? I want some! And sparkles? I'll take 'em!

You are so beautiful -- it seems both inside and out. I'm still waiting for you to write a book. (I told my husband about you the other day and how I anticipate a book by Meg in the next several years. I hope. *wink*)

I have also learned to love myself more... I used to refuse to post any pictures of myself on Facebook that I didn't like. But then I would get annoyed when I posted a picture of a friend only to hear the words, "I look horrible! Can you please delete it?" So I chose to NOT be one of those "please delete it" people. And you know what? I absolutely LOVE all my pictures now. Truly. Even the bad pictures show a part of ME... and I love me! :)

Thanks for this post! xo

Kaleena J. said...

i just wanted to let you know, when i first saw those pictures, i thought you looked really happy and thought 'she has really cute figure!'

I had (have) an eating disorder and I know what it is like to look at a picture of yourself and just be disgusted and point out every "flaw". The thing that is so terrible is the one thing I can turn to to make me control the way I feel about the "flaws" in the photos is my eating disorder.

Thank you for posting this, it helps me to read/hear your words about this.

Libby said...

Great post. You`re very brave for talking so openly about this issue. More power to ya.

Laura Marie said...

May I just say, my friend, that I find it no small coincidence that you accidentally wrote "falling head over 'heals' in love with myself..."

From heels to heals--what a beautiful, perfect slip. No slip at all, really; I think it describes your self-love even more wonderfully.

What a treasure this post is, and you are.

Johanna said...

I'm a new follower, so I just love how open you are. I will read all your posts about "ned" because I recognize myself a little too much in wanting to take a vacantion from myself.
You write so amazingly.

AsibiChanelia said...

Your honesty with yourself and others is commendable.I can only hope to have such courage and honesty(that you have),in facing that which I struggle with.

Your writing is a beauty in itself.

Alexandria said...

I love your honesty. Ned often still plagues me too. But days go by, and things get better.

marissa from the boot said...

you are remarkable! this was so well written and so passionate. i don't know you, but my heart goes out to you in your struggles. i hope that today was a good day and that tomorrow will be too.
your friend,
marissa

magdalena viktoria said...

this post really spoke to me:

"it was the moment after. those brief, fleeting moments when after yet another rock-bottom, the only direction i could look was up. those brief, fleeting moments when the binge was done and a blank-slate was before me and i hadn't yet screwed up and anything was possible and maybe just this one time i. would be. perfect. and so i made lists and rules and nearly impossible-to-keep regulations because yes, indeed, this time i would be perfect. this time i would be different. this time i would be...someone else."

I understand you. You are so strong, and so beautiful. And you are not done--you will keep becoming stronger and happier.
xx

Jay said...

i remember when i saw those pictures for the first time, and my initial thought was "wow, you look fantastic in those green pants"!! in thos green pants too, might i add ;) best of woshes from norway

ana said...

found your blog today and i fell in love with it. xx

ana

www.thebookisaworld.blogspot.com

Claire Kiefer said...

I love reading these posts and I love how candidly you speak. It's incredibly brave. I know this is totally irrelevant, don't get me wrong, but do know that when I first saw those pictures of you I thought, "This girl is spectacularly beautiful" and was so envious that you could look so incredible in that shirt/those pants!

But that's not the point; the point is of course what you did by yourself--giving no attention whatsoever to the destructive thoughts.

Which women face daily. I hate almost every picture of myself and dread seeing them once they've been taken. Inevitably, I feel like I look fat. It's such a dreadful feeling. I hate all the reasons why women are battered into believing these things about themselves.

Micaela texted me a picture of the two of you at lunch yesterday and you were both breathtaking. :)

Maria said...

"the process of getting better--of recovering--has really been the process of falling in love with myself. "
Completely understand what you mean to the fullest. 3 Years ago in my sophomore year of high school my mom took me to the doctor because she was worried about me. Being 119 pounds and 5'7'' I completely understand why now. Back then I was told I had a slight eating disorder...how anyone has a slight eating disorder, I have no clue..but I did. I think the technical name given to me back then was anorexia nervousa. Everything was in my mind. Now, being a freshman in college every day is still a struggle, but it's nice knowing that you're not the only one. Of course, my boyfriend hasn't a clue why I think my legs look huge, or why my stomach isn't as nice as it used to be to me, he understands he will never fully understand. As odd as that is.
Keep your head up and keep on truckin'. It gets easier, a little.

Abigail Leigh said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this!

P.S. Wherever did you get your pants? :)

Daina @ New York State of Mind said...

Your honesty is so inspiring. And girl, you rock those green pants. You are such a beautiful person and it is so wonderful to read about what a positive place you are in now.

Allie said...

First of all, the first thing I thought of when I saw that picture was "Oh my gosh those pants are amazing!" :) Second, you are the best. Your writing always gets me and your honesty is so refreshing. Thank you.

Toni said...

Beautiful thoughts. I remember once when I was getting over a particularly tough breakup I called my friend to say how excited I was that something was miserable in his life. Proud of myself that I didn't feel a need to step in and help him. She told me she was glad I didn't give in and 'rescue' him, but that she'd be more glad when I was more ambivalent to what happened in his life. Not that it's the exact same things, but the learning to accept what is rather than letting your mood and emotions swing all over the place with some external source.

And I love the joy that comes from learning to look on yourself as god does. Definitely easier said than done, but a beautiful feeling none the less. Great post!!!

Emily G. said...

Meg, your writing continues to astound me. One of my favorite posts.

P.S. When I saw that picture, my first thought was "She is rockin' those green pants." (:

Arianna @ Laughter & Linguini said...

before i even read this post i thought to myself, she is GORGEOUS and i LOVE those pants! :)

Happy Wife said...

It's hard to know what to say sometimes in this little comment box... It's blue walls are
so confining at times.
I'm glad to hear that you're falling in love with yourself. Like you, and many of your sweet readers and their comments, I too, am in a place of needing to love myself again. Your words rang true within my heart and this was exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you...
I am blessed by you often.
xoxo
Amber

Matisse said...

Lately, I've been starring every single one of your posts in Google Reader. Thank you.

The Many Colours of Happiness said...

This was so wonderful to read. I know some days you don't feel it, but since you started this blog you have come so very far. And I liked what you said about not letting how your legs looked matter at all, you have such a healthy, positive outlook.
When I was battling with my ED I think I subconsciously chose to keep it around. I was just so scared that once I got rid of it I would still be unhappy. Keeping it around gave me something to blame. If that makes any sense.

You, my dear, are the most inspirational person I know.

Anonymous said...

Meg-
When I saw the original post with this picture, I swear to you that this is what crossed my mind:
1) Those pants look fantastic on you
2) I want those pants
3) Damn, you're beautiful. Not pretty, not cute, B-E-A-UTIFUL.

love,
a reader who wants you to keep on loving yourself

Alex said...

Ditto to that comment above me. For reals. You have such strength, Meg, and I so admire that. You handle this with such grace and true beauty.

.Jessica. said...

You're an incredible writer; you make it so easy to empathize with your experience. Speaking from the other side as a therapist... the insight you display from your journey is the hope I have for all my clients and the reason I work with them everyday despite relapses and long periods without progress.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Emily said...

You are so wise and eloquent, my friend. You have such a way to describe your experience that I am sure is not only cathartic for you but also for your readers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and pieces of your heart!

And, as others above me have attested, you look AMAZING is those adorable pants - so stylish!

thestorygodgaveus said...

you hit the nail on the head when you said we think the thin version of ourselves is actually a different person. it is this ideal we build up in our head, but even if we reach that 'thin person', there is a whole new set of struggles. i have spent the last couple of years learning acceptance, as long as i am in my healthy weight range, whether i think i look fat or not (which is most of the time) i need to accept myself.

Thank you so much for posting this very candid account. it is a very important topic that needs to be discussed more.

Chelsea said...

You couldn't look fat in those paints if you tried honey.

YOu're beautiful. But you already know that!

and by posting these honest posts, you're helping SO many other woman (just like me) who have dealt with or who are dealing with NED too.

Hugs to you! You rock.

Ashlee said...

Whenever I feel this way (don't laugh), I look up pictures of Grecian statues of women. There were round, healthy, small-chested women with lovely hair and a serene smile. I remind myself that the world's idea of "beauty" will change every few years, and I will remain the same - I am always me. And the people who love me, love me just the same. You are all kinds of beautiful...timelessly.

jill said...

looking at yourself the way God sees you...giving yourself the kind of unconditional love you deserve. That really is they key.

Then we can do this for others. That is when the world begins to heal, and become a better-more beautiful place.

Thanks for another inspiring post.

Lucy said...

Those pants are SO RAD. And you. Well you're even RAD-der.

Keep smiling, gorgeous girl.

Taylor Yves said...

i SO COMPLETELY agree. "it doesn't matter." health matters, and i know you believe in health :)

Taylor Yves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tiffany said...

This is beautiful! Seriously, I'm new and didn't know anything about your struggle with "Ned" but I so appreciate you sharing. I think we all struggle with similar issues in different ways, and it is always so nice to be reminded that you take things day by day, thought by thought. Oh, and girl, I LOVE those green pants! You wear them proudly!

~Tiffany
http://tiffanyd22.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

this is perfect. thank you.

Cait said...

Hey Meg,
I've been reading your blog but for a while but I don't think I've ever commented. After reading this post I felt compelled to say something...

Your thoughts reminded me of one of the most important things I've realized about my ED... I was anorexic in high school, recovering for a while, and then slipped into bulimia in college, from which I'm still recovering and probably always will be.

The thing is, as much as i HATED having an eating disorder, and as much as I hated myself for being so messed up, I needed it, and I was so scared to let it go. And I did a lot of thinking, too, about why I needed it so much, and what it was doing for me.

And the thing I came up with, in addition to that beautiful moment after a binge that you describe (yes, i know that one all too well), is that my ED gave me a place to go when everything else I was feeling was too big, too terrifying, or just too much to deal with. I was so, so scared to just feel loneliness, or sadness, or guilt, or anxiety... it was easier to create crisis situations by bingeing, and then 'resolve' them by purging. Terrible, i know, but self-contained, finite, and concrete... unlike feelings, which are unpredictable, and which you so-often can't just wish away. And then afterwards, yes, I'd get to feel that moment of starting again, and maybe getting it right this. time. But it was the rush, and then the numbness, and then the relief that were just such an irresistible distraction from the real pain that I was so scared to face.

Real recovery for me started when I was able to feel a binge coming and give myself *just one moment* to think about what i was *feeling*. And there was a moment when it all made sense... when I realized just how scared I was, but also realized that my ED was just not going to help me resolve whatever the real issue was. And little by little, I was able to say to myself... "i'm SO lonely", or "i'm SO scared", and then do something that might actually change that, like call a friend, or do something kind for myself. But the thing that really blew me away was how much of a difference it made JUST to give myself the gift of actually acknowledging my feelings. So much of the time, that's all it takes for me to start feeling better. You know... sometimes we just have to learn how to really, truly take care of ourselves.

It makes me so happy to hear about your healing journey. Thank you for sharing.

Jo said...

Yes, yes, yes! Thank you for writing this! Thank you for putting words to these feelings. So many times I still find myself struggling with the thought that "if/when I weigh xxx pounds, then xyz will be possible" or "then I will do xyz". That's the sort of thought process that can really hold a person back.
Thank you for speaking the truth here!

An aside...my pair of pants that gave me the same reaction as the one you've described here are almost that exact same shade of green. It doesn't mean anything, just thought it was a funny coincidence. :)

Sending you a big virtual hug!

Jay said...

by the way, i do hope you get to fall madly in love with yourself, just like the rest of us do ;)

Felicity said...

I just love your writing, so honest. Glad I found your blog :)

I am Megan said...

You have nothing to worry about! you have a gorgeous, healthy body!

Rhianne said...

I need to think it doesn't matter more definitely. I always aim to just look happy in photos... I'm sure when I look back at them in the future I won't care about how I looked, just how I felt at the time and I want to remember being happy.

Platypodian said...

Your honesty is beautiful. But do not fear; you are far from being unhealthy! I promise. I love the green pants, too.

On the other hand, I am very unhealthy and I've always had troubles with body image. I am working on it though; I've lost 49 lbs!

Felicia said...

wow, you are so strong and it's absolutely beautiful to see. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Bridget said...

i know it's sooooo not as easy as someone telling you they think you're hot to erase all the self-doubt and insecurities....i know that. BUT for the record can i just say i think you are SOOOO beautiful?

well i did.

Shal said...

Meg, isn't it so funny how our mind works? We are always our biggest critics - but as many people above have stated - I remember seeing that pic and thinking "wow she looks so good!" and absolutely loving the pants, I have always had naturally bigger hips (like Beyonce! haha), so I know those pants would just exaggerate them in a non-flatering way - but you totally pull off the look like a sassy, mod lady!

Thank you for being so honest about your struggles - I hope all our viewpoints are a source of encouragement, and remember, if you can conquer your mind, you can conquer anything. It really is so true.

Sarah said...

Meg, as I read your blog day by day and I read about Ned. I start to find so much of myself in those stories.
HOW DID YOU FIND HELP? I don't like myself most days and I know I don't love myself. How do you find it?? Where did you turn?

You are a beautiful Person.

Erin said...

Those pants are lovely and you are gorgeous. I do agree with you that it is better to just "be" instead of working a thought from negative to positive. Also, the line about thinking that your thinner self is a different person is so true. I think people often think that their "new job"/"new significant other"/"new town" self is a different person as well, but it is always you that you are left with.

The Mister and The Missus said...

I love this.

Leighana said...

Ok I love the pants.

I like the style and I think it takes guts to wear em. This is a beautifully written post and I can identify with it on so many levels. Beauty comes from pain right? I definitely have those days. (ok, most days..)

Keep fighting against the "oh my legs look fat".. ;) (cause they don't anyways)

Feel free to stop by..
Leighanaluther.blogspot.com

Betsey said...

beautiful post. I love what you wrote, "i think there's this idea that the thin version of ourselves is actually a different person. and oh what a dangerous, little idea this is!" So true. I think a lot of girls need to read this, and I really admire you for telling your story.

Emily Lou said...

you are so exquisite.

look a little closer said...

you show us that being vulnerable really is a beautiful thing.

thank you for that.

Lauren said...

Yesterday I read through all of your NED posts. I just want to tell you that I think you are so beautiful and such a wonderful, brave example to women around the world. I look up to you in many ways!

Kate said...

You look great in those green pants! This is such an honest post, it's amazing. I think it's helpful for more than just eating disorders. It's true about everything a person can feel about themselves. I admire you for being so open about NED. Thank you so much for sharing! Your words really are inspirational.

Melissa said...

I read this post over and over. It truly hits home with me. Thank you for putting into words what so many women are feeling. You are beautiful.

Life is Good said...

You have the loveliest voice. You should work part time recording books on tape. I'm serious!

Abi P. said...

Hearing you actually read this out loud...

I am speechless.

marli said...

props, meg, props. i adore your blog, your reading voice (so cool! how do you do that?), and those green pants.

this is one of those posts of yours that just makes me sit back and say "ahh, that felt good to read."

thank you.