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Sunday, January 24, 2010

"Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone"

I stood my ground. I expressed my feelings to my assigned counselor at COPE, something that was difficult for me to do. Yes, I can be aggressive and outspoken when a passion of mine is in jeopardy, but when faced with an authoritative figure, I freeze. My mother raised me to respect my authorities and to never talk back, so that I do. But Thursday evening, I found a way to respectfully express my concerns. I'm going to contact Pitt's counseling center and ask if they have some sort of ED support group, with other college students who face similar struggles as me.

It's time to check in with myself. Everyday is so hectic, faced with unknowns-- faced with fears. Sometimes I wish I could hide under the covers, like a child would hide from monsters under the bed. My monsters are out there, waiting to get me. They are the triggers and stresses that take forms of classmates, peers, schoolwork, the gym and the kitchen encouraging me to feel so vulnerable. I am overwhelmed, or maybe I make myself feel overwhelmed. Perhaps I unconsciously desire the demons to be there, so I have an excuse for hiding-- for being so vulnerable. As I have written before, vulnerability and I do not get along. I tend to say "I'm fine" despite genuine feelings as to not be a burden on others, because I'm tough (though not a fighter). I'm just fine, simple as that. 

But I'm not fine, and honesty stings. However, I am blessed to have the most incredible roommates in all of Pittsburgh the land. (I am aware my grammar is a bit odd... that's what Russian Fairytales will do to a person). 

Yesterday my roommates sat me down to have a chat. There is something extremely sacred about quality bonding around the kitchen table. It reminds me of the social aspect of meals. We sat around our circular table lit with a pumpkin spice candle and just vented. Laughs and smiles were exchanged, honest opinions and concerns were expressed and a few tears glossed my brown eyes. Meals are not just about the food, they are about coming together as a social community. Think about it. Let's suppose you have a difficult day at school or work. You're stressed, tired and overwhelmed. As you approach your front door the aroma of garlic (or in my apartment popcorn or oatmeal) seeps into your nostrils. At that moment, you are able to leave your problems at the door. It's true, food is an incredible comfort for most people. But there's more to this hypothetical situation. As you walk in, you find your roommates, family or friends working together in the kitchen-- united by the collaboration and joint effort of preparing and serving a meal. After you help set the table, you sit down and look around only to see the beautiful faces of the ones you love. At this point, one might experience intense anxiety. Thoughts such as, 'What ingredients are in this meal?' or 'how was it prepared?' may cloud the beauty one is surrounded by. Yes someone, with an ED perhaps, might not be capable of leaving the problems at the door. You, however, can sit, breathe and feel home as you reminisce with the company around you. Yesterday, as my roommates and I had our chat, I felt that warmth radiate from the beautiful spirits gathered around our (half broken) kitchen table. I felt home. I want to feel that way every time I approach the kitchen table. In the past, I've blogged about the social aspect of eating and I still struggle strive to eat intuitively with others.

My goal for this week is to reacquaint myself with the kitchen. I've had such a love/hate relationship with cooking, though I'm not entirely sure why. I find that when ED creeps around and haunts me, I get angry and take it out on the kitchen, by disassociating myself from it. Perhaps I animate the kitchen to represent ED in physical form? Again, I am not completely certain. But, in general, I love cooking. Last night I decided to be brave and take that first step into the kitchen. As I shuffled through the drawers for mixing bowls and utensils, a song seeped out of my mouth, which could have only meant one thing-- I was happy (when I'm 'content' or in a positive mood, I sing. When I am not, I don't. Simple as that). After an hour of measuring, greasing and pouring, the smell of oatmeal filled the apartment. 

Ta-da, I made homemade granola bars! And I even ate one... or three. I had forgotten how rewarding and satisfying eating your own masterpiece truly is.

As I conclude this eclectic post, with another check in. Right now I feel complete and satisfied. Maybe because I just enjoyed steamed vegetables, resulting in a full stomach, or maybe because the talk around the table made me feel complete. Needless to say, right now I am content. And I have hope that I will be fine, in good time.

"Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself - and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That's what real love amounts to - letting a person be what he really is."-- Jim Morrison



  1. that was a beautiful post. i love reading your posts, you know. because i think you put what i feel into words. so important. i just blab like a ditz. =D

    granola bars? CARE TO SHARE!? =D jk.
    - Tra

  2. This post speaks dearly to me Rebecca. You are not alone. Not at all.

  3. i'm glad your checking out the counseling center, i'm working with mine here (although i've only gone for my initial interview) they seem knowledgeable.
    thanks for reminding me that meals are social & that it is wonderful to laugh and enjoy the people and food around you. now a days i'm just embarrassed when i eat with people.
    "i'm fine" i know the phrase all too well. you know you're not, but how could you possible explain it to whomever is asking. and then its a matter of wondering do they really want to know. i think its partly a trust thing.
    granola bars! i've always wanted to make my own, but recipes can terrify me. i'm so glad you made them & enjoyed some, you're right its amazing to taste your own creation :)
    girl you're going to be better than fine :) love you!
    happy sunday!!

  4. ahhh loved this post :] i'm so happy you are staying positive despite the hard situations you are encountering lately. and im so glad you have such supportive roommates--i think that is key to being away at school and staying on track. its also great that you were able to talk to your counselor at COPE. hopefully, there is a group for you back at scuola. will you have to continue to go to COPE as well?
    those homemade bars look scrumptious!
    take care baby--i miss you like crazy and just remember, you are amazing and beautiful and you are going to be absolutely okay in due time.

  5. your words are so beautiful and inspiring. I really loved this post. I love your goal for this week. and it is true - you are gonna be okay. I know you will. keep pushing. you can do this.

    it helps to have great roomies too :)

  6. so great to hear from you. i'm really happy your roommates seem like great people who want to help you and be there for you...that is awesome. you should definitely make sure you always have someone to talk to really helps. you ARE going to be ok and you know that you can do this. Those bars sound great htat you made- and that is awesome! seriously, remember how badly you want to be in school :) recovery is worth it.. iknow you can do it love!


  7. Such an insightful post. I'm glad your connecting with your room mates, reaquainting your self in a positive manner in the kitched (bars look excellent btw!) and taking care of yourself by finding a support program! Keep up the good work girl! Lots of love
    <3 <3 <3

  8. Oh honey. it's great to hear you have roomies like that you can go to to talk with. i only wish i had some of those around right now, you are blessed to have friends like that no doubt.

  9. I was raised the same way re: "speaking back to authority" -- but I'm glad you were able to stand your ground!

    Good luck with your move back into the kitchen ;)

    <3 <3

  10. your roomies sound like great people. and i'm so proud of you for speaking your mind even though you were tempted to hold back when dealing with the counselors! i hope getting reacquainted with the kitchen will be a fun task, not an anxiety provoking one, but i'm sure it'll be a mixture of both :). wow those granola bars look perfect!

  11. Doesn't cooking feel wonderful? It has helped me a lot in moving forward recovery. It can be a place of dread at times, but it is definately a place of healing for me.
    Maybe we should have some cooking challenges during the week that we can do to make cooking even more fun? Let me know if you are interested.
    I am glad you are doing well and that you are opting for a support group on campus. That's what I did last school year. It helped tremendously! I owe my success to those two semesters.
    You really are a lucky girl to have such awesome roommates! Have a great week!

  12. you have wonderful roomies <3
    This is such a beautiful post. love you

  13. Aah that monster under the bed picture is so creepy! ... Although ED makes it look like a kitten in comparison.
    It's great that your room mates are so supportive and caring. I really admire your ability to remain in touch with and checked into your emotions and feeling, as I have a tendency to completely detach. I DO believe that you will some day (preferably sooner rather than later) be fine. Much much more than fine. You have the strength inside yourself and I"m so glad to hear that you're taking steps to get to a better place, both in the kitchen and with finding that support group.


  14. i think it's great that you spoke up for yourself, and even greater that you have roommates that you help you stay grounded. that social aspect of eating and cooking is one of my favorite parts about food - how wonderful it is that we all have this one thing in common, this need to eat. even with different tastebuds, we still share this ritual around a dinner table. keep focusing on that - not on the thoughts that might be plaguing you. focus on the joy.

    keep pushing. you *can* do this.

  15. I'm so glad you felt such a bond with a roommates at that table :) One of the worst parts of eating disorders is the distance it puts between us and the joys of eating (which, 9 times out of 10, are the joys of socializing). There is something very communal and bonding about eating together. I'm glad you felt friendship trump eating anxieties, if just in that moment.

  16. this post was lovely. I agree - the comfort of being with great people, great food, with laughter and smiles is unbeatable. There is so much more beyond a meal than it's initial purpose.


  17. I've actually visited the COPE program as well and it wasn't what I expected. Last semester I called Pitt's counseling center and they said they weren't currently running the ED support group. When I asked why, she said the support groups ran on need and interest. Maybe this semester they'll have one? I'm not sure but it would be nice to be able to share similar struggles with other college students. Also, I'm not sure if this helps, but my mom found one counselor specializing in EDs for college students. Her name is Lauren Lazar Stern- if you google her I'm sure you could find her contact info. Stay strong!

    - Hannah M

  18. Wow, Rebecca...this was SUCH an uplifting and beautiful post. I'm so glad you have angels around you to help you, and love you. I'm so glad that despite your fears and insecurities, you don't shut yourself down, but have learned to open yourself up to the beautiful ppl around you.

  19. Rebecca,

    I'm really glad you found a group with other people your age that you can relate to. Its so wonderful that you have friends that can act as another support group for you, it's rare when you find people you can really open up to, about anything.
    Maybe cooking will help you with recovery, being around food and seeing what it can do, and how you can make it into something truly special!


  20. Beautiful post! (: Thanks for your encouraging comment on my blog; I've actually read your's a few times but I'm a little comment-shy lol -Kylee

  21. Oh those granola bars look like they came out great!