Thought Catalog

“Do you write?” a colleague asked me today.

I explained this little blog I have, in my own tiny corner of the internet. I told her how I struggle to get started, and that many of my best ideas come out in conversation, and I couldn’t possibly put them down on paper and do them justice.

But, the truth is, I’ve wanted to get my stuff and my ideas out there for awhile. Under my real name, and have people I know be able to see it. I could never go as personal as I have on here. I could never let the world know some of the struggles I’ve gone through. And, honestly, I wouldn’t want to.

However, I’m young, and I feel as though my recovery journey has left me with so much to offer the world. I don’t want to hold myself back anymore. Thus, you may notice me posting here less frequently (if that’s possible), and I try my hand at submitting some writing to Thought Catalog and other websites. You may also notice some posts go private, in case I choose to submit those, as well.

I thank all of you who have been with me on this journey. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. I’m ready to face the world beyond anonymity, and share what I’ve learned with those who may be suffering. I will still have a wordpress account, and hope to keep up with all of your posts and stories.

Much love,

Rosalyn

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Why can’t I answer these questions?

This evening, I found myself in a conversation with a woman who I consider to be a very close friend. She is someone who I want to stand with me when I  [eventually] get married, and one of the first people I want to call when I receive good or bad news. She identifies as a white woman, while I identify as Middle Eastern (after much discernment on my part, may I add.)

I’m not sure why I felt it necessary to get into this conversation. Maybe it’s because I’m coming off of an ACPA conference high and feel as though I have all of this information that I need to get out. Maybe it’s because I really feel as though she is wrong, and would like to be the person to change her mind. Maybe, it is because for the first time in my life I feel like a minority, and I am fighting for us.

However it wound up happening, though, it did. We find ourselves knee deep in a discussion about race and if it does or doesn’t exist. I firmly believe racism is prevalent in our society. She believes that the shooting of Michael Brown was justified, because he wasn’t “where he belonged.” She believes that affirmative action is “reverse racism” and that is the reason that she only got into one college and that she is having trouble finding a job.

No matter how hard I tried to challenge her views, she didn’t seem able to grasp concepts that seem so simple to me. Affirmative action isn’t reverse racism because you can’t oppress people who the system is built to help. While Michael Brown may not have been 100% cooperative at the right time, there is no reason he should’ve died for where he was walking. If he did deserve to die, Darren Wilson at least should be indicted and have his day in court, even if he is not found guilty. She refused to believe that, had Michael Brown been white, he would either still be alive or the officer would’ve had to go to trial.

I tried to explain it to her using anecdotes. I recently discovered that a friend of mine, who I consider to be a fairly intimidating, large man, is scared to walk the streets of his hometown at night, because he is black and fears being stopped by the police for no reason. He has this fear because he has been before. Her response? “Well, at least he knows what he has to do to protect himself.”

I was unbelievably frustrated by this refusal to realize that it is ridiculous that a man should fear walking in his own neighborhood because of the color of his skin. So, I turn to an example that she could identify with.

“That’s like saying that it’s okay for me, as a person who identifies as a woman, to be afraid to wear a short skirt, because if I do, I could be assaulted. But, at least I know what I need to do to protect myself, right? Cover myself up.”

Her response was, first of all, to chuckle when I said, “identifies as a women,” and reply, “well what else would you identify as?” Oh, my friend, the knowledge you still have to gain. Then, she says, “well, you know, that’s really a stretch.” When I asked her what about it makes it a stretch, she couldn’t quite come up with an answer.

I then proceeded to tell personal stories of discrimination. The time an airport security guard looked at my last name and skin tone and said, “I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit intimidated by your tan, right now.” The time I was nearly not able to enter a country without explaining my heritage and religious background. The time a student from college called me “Rican” for an entire semester, out of refusal to believe I was Lebanese.

At the end of the conversation, we left it as the goal doesn’t have to be to change each other’s minds, but rather, to be able to freely speak and have the conversation. But, honestly, I don’t feel as though that was enough. I tried for over an hour to get her to understand my point of view, to get her to realize that racism is alive and thriving in this country, and just because she isn’t out there spitting at minorities doesn’t mean that she isn’t part of the problem.

How am I supposed to make a difference in this world, if I can’t even make a difference in the mind of a friend? How can I educate students if I can’t get her to realize that she needs an education? All of my conversations regarding race, religion and gender identities seem to end in the opposite party refusing to believe that they could be wrong, so how do I stop the hate?

It is not for lack of trying. Every day I find myself in another conversation about why this matters, and every day, I find another person at the opposite end who agrees, “black people just have a different amount of melanin in their skin,” but, uses that as a reason to justify, “so why should we allow a certain number of them into our schools and jobs?” It is discouraging to get so invested, only to see my attempts fail. How do I fight the fight and win?

Rosalyn

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I just wrote a 600 word post and deleted it all. I don’t know what I’m trying to say, but I feel as though I need to say something.

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New Romance

I feel that not letting you in will be easier than you breaking my heart, but really, it’s the same battle just at a different time. I look for reasons to not give you a chance, but you always call when you say you will and you never let me pay for anything. Your smile gives away that you think you may like me. I think this is what normal feels like, but it’s been so long since I’ve felt anything, I’m not quite sure.

I start to analyze every kiss and every text. How close should we be, by now? Are we close enough to have sex? I know you want to, but I don’t know if I do. How do I make that decision? How did I make it in the past? What do I really know about you? I know your name, of course. I know what you do for a living and how many siblings you have. I know a little about your family and that you love to travel. I know your favorite band and favorite football teams. These are the things we talk about.

But, I don’t know who broke your heart for the first time and if it ever fully healed. I don’t know what scares you and what makes you want to cry. I know you love your nephews, but I don’t know how many kids you want of your own. I know you want to leave this place, but I don’t know if you’re actually willing to leave it all behind.

I suppose you don’t know these things about me either. I guess that we really haven’t known each other for that long. But, then why do I look at my phone, waiting to hear from you? Why does my heart skip a beat when you call me “cutie” or “sweetie” and sink just a bit when you don’t? Why do I read into every word you say, and then go back and read into each word that you didn’t?

I never did this the right way. I never had a relationship that started at a and ended with z and had the rest of the alphabet in the middle. It’s been nearly four years since I had a boy who I liked and who I thought liked me in return. While I’ve dated since then, it’s never been more than a few, and it’s never been like this.

Last time, I was with T. I was eyeball deep in an incestuous relationship with ED, and I hoped that T could be my way out. He wound up being the anchor that pulled me down, and it took years for me to pull myself up again. How do I let someone in after that? How do I let this thing continue in the direction it’s heading?

So, I wait a while before responding to your messages – never giving you reason to doubt my feelings, but never encouraging them either. I am vague in plans I’ve made, and never ask if you’re seeing anyone else. I play the game and dance the dance until we are tangled up in one another, and I can’t tell which feelings are truth and which are lies that I’ve told myself just to keep my head above water.

In less than six months, I plan to move and I don’t think we have enough time before then to start anything real. When I move and people ask if I’m seeing anyone, I’ll think of you, but say no because we were both too smart to label ourselves as anything other than “right here right now,” and even though you said you’d wait for me, I’d know you were lying. You’ll continue to call, and eventually I’ll stop answering, because that’s how I do it. That’s how I protect myself. Like I said, it’s easier to never let you in than to let you break me down.

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I sat down to write this post, and this fucked up story came out.

Those eyes. I’ll never forget the first time I saw them. I mean, really saw them. They had always seemed the most ordinary shade, until I realized they were flecked with gold. It caught me off guard, how I had failed to notice something that I had seen every single day for so many years. That should’ve been the first clue.

Shortly thereafter, I started to notice other things that I had been missing for so long. The way heads seemed to turn as we entered a room. The way his smile caused him to emit a glow, nearly imperceptible, but enough to draw people close to him. The way his voice, smooth as velvet, could capture an entire room, without needing to be raised.

I thought that I did this to him, for a while. Actually believed that I made him a better man and allowed him the confidence to be so charismatic. Silly girl. The sky only shines as bright as it’s weakest star, and I was merely dimming his spark.

Despite being well aware of this, I never changed a thing. I continued taking care of him and supporting him – convincing myself that we would get into a routine and eventually we would be a real partnership. Unfortunately, we never felt natural and every day, I could feel myself stealing parts of his soul and keeping them for my own use.

I didn’t know how to end the marriage. We had been together, going through the motions, for so long, I had forgotten there was always a way out. Looking back, maybe I didn’t actually forget, but I just liked the way it felt. He was my drug. With him, I smiled a little bigger, shone a little brighter. I had a spring in my step that I had never known before, and, I’m sorry, but I liked it. I didn’t care that I was draining him of his essence, as long as I was getting my fix.

I think that people eventually started to notice. Suddenly, little old me, wife of the most beloved politician in South Carolina was the life of the party. Southern charm took over my cold, northerner tendencies, and I became the one that the boys wanted to meet and the girls wanted to be. My husband waned away, huddled in the corner, not quite sure what was happening. No amount of doctor’s visits could explain his change in behavior or my new-found confidence.

I suppose there did come a time when I realized what was happening, but even I knew it was too absurd to be true. I figured it was all in my head and that my care for him was helping him, not stealing his soul away. After all, by this point, he was so far gone that he really did need me – I had taken to dressing him, feeding him, and nudging him in conversations to remind him to speak. I ignored the signs and convinced myself that I loved him and my hands-on care was just what he needed to get back to his old self.

Some may say it was cruel, what I did to him, stealing that sparkle from his eye. But, they don’t know how it feels to be the one that everyone always looks past, not at, and once you get a taste of what it feels like to be seen, you’ll do anything to stay visible. I guess that’s why, when he passed away a few years ago, I really didn’t feel bad. At least I knew that his energy, his soul, his essence, was being put to good use through my work.

You may be wondering why I am telling you this story. Why I am admitting to you that it is my fault that my husband is dead and that I stole the very life from his eyes. Well, shortly after he passed, I ran for office myself. Everyone loves a sob story, and a charismatic widow with a gold sparkle in her eye is a shoo-in.

About a year after I was in office, however, I needed a boost in the polls, and so I re-married. Michael is a slight, nerdy, non-threatening man, who treats me well and never steals the spotlight. However, a few days ago, I noticed the strangest hint of gold in his eyes – one that I swear was never there before, and I don’t want to die.

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“I am proud of you for so many things, but I think for that most of all…:-)”

My mom sent me that in a text message yesterday. I told her how freeing it was to feel god about myself. That it really is worth all of the time and effort it takes to accept me how I am, instead of trying to change it. I have fun, now. I feel good when I look in the mirror. I know a day (or even a week, as just happened) of less-than-stellar eating won’t ruin me. I know that my body likes how it feels on healthy foods, so I will always return to my norm.

I like being here, in this place – mentally and emotionally. Physically? Well, I’m working on it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know. But, I’m so much happier than I used to be in my own skin. And, yes, I may have lost a bit of weight recently, but not a large amount. No change in size is producing a false sense of happiness. This, folks, is coming from the inside. And, you know what? It may sound strange, but I really think my internal change is visible on the outside. I feel like I smile more. I have a more natural glow around me. I laugh. I hold my head high instead of looking at the ground (except when it’d cold, but that’s just to avoid bitter, icy wind in my face. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.)

This new year feels so fresh. I haven’t made any resolutions, because every day, I just try to be the best me that I can. Sometimes that means eating a lot of vegetables. Sometimes, that means giving myself permission not to so that I can enjoy the birthday cake. Sometimes it means trying to run a few miles. While sometimes it means lying on my couch watching copious amounts of Supernatural because Jared Padalecki is just too delicious not to look at for hours on end. (Don’t believe me? Give it a shot). Why should I resolve to change something about myself, when I’m already so great? If anything, I’m just trying to be more authentic and genuine and be more okay with who I really am. But, I’m not trying to change anything.

I woke up on January 1st with a sense of grace and gratitude in my stomach, and it hasn’t gone away. I’m not a religious person, but I really feel that God has been with me on this journey, and each step I take, I am one step closer to Him. I am so grateful for all that I have in life, and so excited for what the next year brings. I get butterflies in my stomach at the concept of applying for new jobs and being in a new place. A smile plasters across my face when I think of how fortunate I am to have my family and friends. I think of all of the great adventures I have ahead of me in life and in love.

I want to inspire peace in others. I want to advocate for the underdog and make a difference in the world. If I can change just one person’s life for the better, then my work will be worth it. I want to make a child smile and make my mom cry tears of joy. I want to hug someone when they need it. I want someone to trust me as their confidant and know that I am there to support them in their journey however they need me. I really think I am ready to leave ED behind.

Ed and I have been through so much together. He was there with me  in elementary school, when I felt self-conscious about being bigger than the other kids (looking back at pictures, I wasn’t.) He was with me in middle school when I would come home from school and binge until I was so stuffed that there was no room for dinner. He was with me in high school when I felt inadequate and followed me to college where I knew I would never be good enough. He was there as I binged and purged and starved all in an effort to gain control of the emotions I was feeling – all unsuccessful. I will likely never forget our time together, but the truth is, there is just no more room for him in this life that I’m living.

I think it was Jill who, maybe even a year ago, asked if I would believe her if she told me, “it’s really not about the food.” I didn’t. “But, you see, it really is. It really is about the food.” Well, Jill, if you’re reading this, you were right. If it was about the food, then I would be upset over the eating that happened this past week instead of grateful for the memories it caused. If it was about the food, I would still be in a binge cycle instead of back to my standard way of life. If it was about the food, I wouldn’t feel grace in my heart, I would feel despair.

It’s so hard to fix yourself from the inside out. How do you bandage a wound that you cannot see? I cannot even tell you how I got here. I can’t tell you the steps I took, or the order I went in or what worked and what didn’t. I just know that I decided, at some point, that there was a better way to live, and I wasn’t going to stop until I found it. I’m so glad I found that determination somewhere. I don’t want to think of where I’d be without it.

Last year, I wrote a recap of my year in a new year’s post. I went back and read it a few days ago, in anticipation of this one. Wow. Looking at my 2013 compared to my 2014 seems like a lifetime of difference. I can’t believe one person can feel such extremes in such a short period of time. I am so thankful for this blog, though. Being able to see how far I’ve come is such a gift. So many people measure their progress in pictures, or weight or measurement. I can measure mine in what really matters – thoughts, emotions, feelings. I get to take a peek into my soul and see where I stitched it up. My only hope now, is that some day, I won’t even be able to see the scars.

Rumi said, “There is a secret medicine given only to those who hurt so hard they can’t hope.” I don’t know what that medicine is, but, looking back at myself, hopeless and broken, in 2013, I am certain I got a dose of it somewhere. I am so thankful to have my life back.

I love you all. Happy 2015.

Rosalyn

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I’m Back (… and I’ve Missed You All!)

Happy Holidays, friends! I know I have been the worst lately – no life updates at all. I’ve logged in here a couple of times in the past few weeks to write, but nothing seemed urgent or important enough to put on paper. I suppose this is a sign that recovery is going well. I’ve had a passing thought or two to write about, but they never came to fruition.

How is everything going with you? Have you been well? Are you thriving in your recovery? Have you had a setback and are not quite able to pick up the pieces, yet? Have you decided to abandon recovery, altogether, for some reason? I want to hear about all of it.

As for me, I’ve been doing well. Really well, actually. I’ve maintained my increased caloric intake, and even started taking off some weight – ssslllloooooooowlllllly, but surely. I’m getting stronger each time I train with my trainer. I got enough confidence back to go back to Zumba, and I remember why I love it. It gives me to much confidence. I’m feeling happy with myself.

I look in the mirror, most days, and think, “damn, Rosalyn, you look good.” Today was one of those days. I was getting ready to go out, and I had this outfit picked out and it was one of those times where it looked as good on as I had pictured it in my head. It was a short a-line skirt that came just above my belly button, with a crop top that let just the tiniest hint of tummy peek through. Not fat tummy, though. Toned tummy.

I’m not scared every time I eat more than my caloric allotment for the day – I know that it just happens, and I just have to go back to normal the next day. Overcorrecting is so unnecessary. Sometimes, I start to do it naturally, but by dinner, I am reminded that it is just not how my body needs to react any more. I got on the scale this morning and saw the 170’s for the first time since 2013. And, guess what, ya’ll? I didn’t have to starve to get here. I eat so much food. And I love every minute of it.

I did sign in here to sort something out that has been rattling on in my head, this evening, as I tend to do. So, bear with me for the rest of this post, if you’d like, or feel free to just comment below and say hi to let me know how you are doing :-).

As I said, I felt great tonight. The past few days, actually, I’ve just felt amazing about myself. Part of it could be due to recent pounds lost, but I think that is a small part compared to the part of me that is happy with who I am and who I am becoming. I was out with friends tonight, and was dreading it, because I can’t drink due to being on some meds for a moderate allergic reaction I had earlier this week (no clue what caused it – wtf?). But, alas, I went out and had a blast! Why? Because I felt good. Confident. I felt that, if people looked at me, it was because they were thinking, “damn, she’s hot.” Not, “why is she wearing that?” I was dancing up a storm and felt like the life of the party. It was one of those times that I really felt my beauty shone from within.

Which got me started thinking as to why I’m still single. Sometimes, I think I over estimate my readiness for a relationship. I talk the talk, but whenever an opportunity presents itself, I fail to follow through. Online dating is a prime example. I’ve met nice people, but never allowed anything to come of it. Maybe I’m not with anyone because I’m not actually there yet. Then again, there’s always the thought in the back of my head that I’m not with anyone because I’m not good enough.

Tonight, though, I didn’t feel that way. I’m a freaking catch, man! I’m smart and pretty and I care about people and things going on in the world. I have motivation and initiative and I am not scared of trying a lot of things. I’m one of those people who people talk about when I’m not there, saying, “she’s so gorgeous,” “she’s hilarious,” “she’s fun to be around,” but the comments rarely make it to my face. I know this because I’ve been told enough times that this has happened to believe that it’s true.

So, tell me, why then, do I find myself questioning myself when it comes to guys? A male friend of a friend, whom I’ve hooked up with before, will be in town for the holidays. He told my friend that, if he wasn’t overstepping boundaries, he would like to again. He said that since me, he hasn’t hooked up with anyone as attractive. Why do I find this to be a compliment? He doesn’t want me, the person, he wants me to just hook up with and leave alone. It makes me feel as though my self esteem is so low to feel as though that sounds nice to hear.

Meanwhile, the same night I’m tentatively seeing him, I’m supposed to have an actual date with someone from online who actually thinks I’m a cool person and wants to get to know me. Why does this seem like a less attractive option? Why can’t I do what I know is good for me and see him instead?

I like myself. I’m happy with myself. I rarely sleep around, and I’m proud of that. I know I have so much to offer the world, and maybe, I’m just getting to know myself so well and be happy here, that I’m not quite ready to let anyone else in, yet. Maybe I want to be selfish and enjoy feeling proud to be me, because honestly, I’ve never really felt that before. And, since I’ve never felt that, maybe it just feels good to know that a guy thinks I’m attractive and wants me physically, because I’m not used to that. Is that such a terrible thing, if we are both consenting adults and know what we are getting ourselves into?

Are these all possible things to feel? Can I feel all of these at the same time? It feels so contradictory. Ready to date, but to selfish to start. Wanting to hook up with someone, but wanting so much more. Being happy as me, but thinking that just isn’t enough.

I suppose I’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings. But, know this: I am enjoying the ability to make these decisions without having to use food to punish myself for making the “wrong” one. There is no right and wrong, I’m learning. So much of the world is colored in shades of grey. Ain’t it beautiful?

Rosalyn

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