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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Transition to There

Perhaps I'm jumping the gun. Perhaps I'm ahead of myself and too eager to transition back to school-- back to life, but as someone very dear to me once preached, "facing death is how you learn to live." Today I decided to spend a few minutes going through and organizing a few drawers, which consequently transformed into an afternoon project. I dove into a pool of belongings I've acquired since August-- August 10th, to be precise. On August 10, 2009 I was admitted to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia by ambulance. If I had not finally surrendered, I would have died. Now, waves of love, memories and lessons learned float around me. Thus, began the great swim down memory lane.

First, I came across a thick stack of cards, letters, e-mails, pictures and plethora of thoughtful gifts sent from family and friends. As tears fall like diamonds onto the keyboard, I remember how lucky I am. I saved and carefully stored every message of hope, love, motivation and inspiration for this exact moment of remembrance. Never underestimate the power of words, because you never know when they'll save your life. The passion and beauty expressed is extraordinary and I am still terribly troubled, as I ponder what I have done to deserve such devotion and loyalty. I, truly, have been blessed. To each individual who has taken time out of their lives to help save mine, I thank you. I would not have survived without you.

Nearby, I am crashed by a wave of multitude of colors, though most prominently purple (duh). I'll never forget my first experience with art therapy. On August 14, I agreed to attempt to 'draw my emotions', it's not like I had anything better to do while on bed rest and plugged into multiple machines of sorts. Before me lay a piece of paper with a circle on it alongside the tools I could use. "So, uh, what am I supposed to draw?" I asked, in disbelief of the concept behind art therapy. "Whatever you want," the therapist said with a smile and tilted head-- as if she was actually curious about the nonsense inside my head. 'Oh, she's good. Reeeaaalll clever..' I didn't know where to begin, I had everything yet an infinity's worth of nothingness running in circles through my head. For some reason, the very first image my brain projected was a red cross. Thus, began my creation. 40 minutes later, I had created two masterpieces 'unique creations'. It was then I discovered:

        • I was about to embark on a journey-- one that should be recorded
        • The color purple is significant? Yes, it's symbolic of hope (apparently)
        • I'd much rather color in a book. My artistic skills are nearly nonexistent and I'm pretty good at staying inside the lines (heh)
I flipped through my art folder and coloring books and reminisced. I forgot the impact coloring had on my recovery sanity. I took out a great deal of frustration, anger and pity on those poor, abused crayons.

"Bring your binder and something to write with to group!" How many times have I heard those haunting words? This three-ringed binder I learned to loathe traps every lesson learned, memory and bond formed at the University of Princeton Medical Center's EDU. When I open the binder I am reminded of:

        • The tears cried and the days I dreaded
        • Every "constructive discussion" (i.e.argument with staff) I managed to concoct and 'rule' I challenged-- which usually got me nowhere, mind you
        • The staff who saved me: Beth, I think about you every single day and wish more than anything for a chance to reunite. Chrissy, though you got me to speak and cry in every group, you taught me so much about myself. And Rachel, when a piece of white bread is within my peripherals, I am reminded of the hope you had in me and the inspiration I, dearly, hold onto from you
        • The rock stars who fought with me
Most times I am still in disbelief that I, not only have an eating disorder, but that I have been confined to hospitals and rehab for the past semester. I was supposed to begin my senior year of college. I was supposed to be a music teacher for a local synagogue, the social-action chair on Hillel's board, a proud VoKols member, a roommate to three of my best friends, a caregiver for the most precious girl who has special needs and a dedicated (and frequently stressed) student. I will not toss my cap in the air with my friends. I will not enjoy a spring semester of excitement and dramatized fears about the 'real world' while living the senioritis dream students look forward to for four years. No, I have already missed out on and will continue to be a ghost to the life of a college senior. But, I will be alive.

As I tread through this eclectic mess and pack away the memories, I can only appreciate the journey From Here to There (yes, still in purple) thus far. My return to Pittsburgh in January is not guaranteed, though I convince myself otherwise, but I have learned that each day is a new beginning. And while this journey has barely begun and I cautiously await stumbles and falls that lay ahead, I am eager to proceed down my (not so) yellow brick road. There's got to be more to life than what's been left behind.

The inspirational Randy Pausch reminds us that "Experience is what we get when we didn't get what we wanted." 

P.S. I'm totally having breakfast for dinner tonight-- it's just been one of those lazy, winter Sundays. Banana & chocolate chip pancakes, anyone? :)


  1. omg this was amazing. you are such an inspiration!
    i have a box similar to that--filled with all the amazing things my friends and family sent me while i was in treatment. i also taped all the inspirational things my friends from treatment wrote on my mirror :]
    keep fighting sweetie. you deserve to go back to school and i totally believe you have the power to do it. i am working towards the same thing, although i will be an incoming freshman rather then an outgoing senior!
    love you bec! you are so amazing <3

  2. PANCAKES FOR DINNER!! yessssssss! love it girl!
    isnt it weird to look back on your life and think..did that really happen? almost like a nightmare..but its also a blessing in disguise girl..think about how much stronger you are because of it and your heart is so beautiful and i have NO DOUBT you can do it!! keep pushing through the hard times-it pays off.
    girl-you are awesome..praying for you

  3. You truly are an inspiration my dear! I am new to your blog and I have chills. Although never hospitalized for my eating disorder I have tons of therapy under my belt. I still struggle though at times and I know I always will. You are a bright star and have so much courage that I know your future will bring all the things you desire. I'm sending some of my inner strength your way tonight, because we can always use help, even from a stranger :-)

  4. this is an amazing post and I can feel you through it! You are an inspiration to all.....

    You know this was meant to happen to make you a strong, loving person that you are today! You are the bestest and I love you!!

    PS. it is great fun to have breakfast for dinner! Mix it up!


  5. beautiful post your insight and strength is prominent in each and every word. it's crazy how much can happen and change in the matter of months, sometimes i feel like i am changing from one day to the next.
    i just know you are going to make it back to pitt (how do i know, well it is because you believe it will happen).
    i've been avoiding remembering, but seeing you do it in such a constructive rather than destructive way helps.
    would you believe i have never had chocolate chip pancakes? all my life i kept them plain + syrup, ha i was not an adventurous child.
    enjoy the rest of sunday dear :)

  6. Hi Rebecca,

    What a great post!
    I'm starting study again too. I'm really excited to start life.
    It'll be a challenge to do it with anorexia next to me, but everyday it becomes more and more distant and I'm letting the real me show.
    I'm glad we've got so much support in blog land!
    Natalia xox

  7. i love the honesty you share in your posts. & i know, sometimes it is truly unbelievable that an eating disorder can take over like it does... but you are doing so well & you are inspiring to me!


  8. Chrissy<3 i love her shes seriously incredible.
    i'm sure those notebooks really bring back SOO many memories...I still can't look in mine :/
    hope you have a fabulous night girl!

  9. what a great post hun, your honesty is absolutely inspiring.

    i know how hard it can be to go back and look over those sorts of things but they can also help all over again when you're having a hard time. i know i've been going through the same thing as i'm writing a book about my ED and having to read over everything i wrote or talked about with people over the past seven has been far too long.

  10. Recognize that so much! I found a plain ticket and I thought: it DID all was real...

    Please look back and see the journey you already made. Going away from those times. The places and times you don't wanna return to, let that help you now... Stay strong girl!

    And pancakes with banana and chocolate: JUMMY!

    xxx Julia (Taste of Living)

  11. trust your intuition (i like to believe it's God talking to us). i was just thinking about this yesterday: how recovery can be such a long, hard road to travel down. it's crazy how day-to-day, things don't seem to change much, but when we look back, everything is different. :) just keep on healing and living! sending my love!!!

  12. You are so amazing!!! I love love love this post!!
    It bursts positivity and I can feel how you grow up durin your stay there!!
    I'm sooo looking forward to the art-therapy hours with my T, now even more!!
    Thank you for being so honest here and writing about your expirience and feelings!! It makes me feel so much less alone!!
    And thank you for the caring comment!! You are in my heart!! Hug n.

  13. Opening old cards from friends and family can be so powerful -- like capturing love in an envelope, and preserving it forever. I hope that when the time is right for you to return to college, you will bring all those loving memories with you. And despite your skepticism about your own artistic talent, I remember being fascinated and moved by the emotions, hopes, and strength that your images conveyed in art therapy. I hope you will give it another try. Last night I started working on a piece of art for my wall. It contains one word, "hope", which inspires me to keep going. I want to put this piece of art on my wall at home, at college, wherever life takes me. Your blog is so inspiring and I wish you all the best.

  14. You voice beautifully the things that are in many hearts that have 'been there'. Several persons miss years and years of their life. Be thankful if you miss only a semester or two. You are strong and you are wonderful and can offer so much. There will be more. I hope you enjoyed your pancakes with chocolate chips :)

  15. Not gonna lie, I got a little teary reading this post. I'm so happy that you survived and are fighting for your life every day. Life may not have turned out the way you expected, but that doesn't mean your life didn't turn out any better :)

  16. becca, this post was incredible. so powerful.

    i think the most important statement you made is, "but i will be alive." life has so many surprises that we don't plan for - going through the negative ones is an awful thing. but you're still here. you made it, you are making it.

    i've told myself many times this past year that i have to accept the life i have. i have to find a way to live the life in front of me, not what i wish for or what i might have had before. sometimes i'm still figuring out how to do that, but it gets easier and easier. it sounds like you are starting to do that now, and i really believe there is so much in your future, it's just a matter of staying focused and strong. and you can - and you are! xoxo!

  17. Loved this post and pancakes are a brilliant idea. You posts always inspire me.


  18. Hey there. I found your blog on Jill's (quarterlifewellness) website. I have also struggled with an eating disorder, so I relate. Thank you so much for sharing your story with everyone. I look forward to reading your blog!

  19. Your story is so filled with hope. Your perspective seems so reasonable and balanced, you may not be throwing you hat in the air with your class mates BUT you are alive. and that is what matters most. Figure out what you need to now, face yourself (which it sounds like you have) and live your life, this is only a short period of time and what comes after is FAR more meaningful and important...can you say FAMILY!?! =]
    I love breakfast for dinner!! yum! hang in there girl and keep going purple of course! ; ) <3 <3

  20. Beautiful post and thanks for sharing with us. Yes to chocolate chip banana pancakes! I wish I had leftovers from yesterday! Also I just realized you are from Yardley! I'm from Abington!

  21. pancakes for dinner - DO IT. thanks for a beautiful post.

  22. Aw, girl, such a meaningful post. I still have a box of cards, letters, notes, presents, and gifts from when I was in P-ton. Still have my binder too. I'm glad you were inspired and touched by the beautiful gestures your loved ones have given to you. You have been a truly amazing person to them, giving such joy to their lives--of course you deserve it in return! <3