About Me

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My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

10 Years

Its funny how time can go by and you don't even notice. I was talking to Brian the other day and was a bit surprised to realize that this year marks my 10th anniversary of "sobriety" from anorexia. The actual date came and went without any notice by me or anyone else. How could it not - I was busy living my life. That day was the first day of the 2008 mission trip to Pine Ridge, July 28th.

So, since I missed it, I hope you'll allow me to reflect a bit. I'll warn you, I'm going to be honest. Brutally honest. If its going to bug you to read it, then don't.

I'm not really sure how it began or what the big "trigger" was but I do know when people began to notice that something was terribly wrong. The thing about an eating disorder is that you can't hide it for long. You tend to wear it like a neon sign for everyone to see. Some say we do it for attention. Other say its all about control. I don't know. All I knew was that it bugged me to no end when people worried because to me, they were all overreacting. In my mind, I was fine. I just needed to lose a little weight and then I would stop.

The thing is, I didn't stop. I would lose 5 pounds only to decide that I needed to lose 5 more. Then that 5 wasn't enough so I would vow to lose just 5 more. It became a losing cycle in more ways than one. I resorted to starvation and then laxative abuse to help me achieve my goal. At my worst, my daily routine looked like this: Get up and run 6 miles. Then go to the Y and work out. Eat no more than 400 calories a day and then take up to 60 laxatives in a day to get rid of whatever I did eat. I built up a tolerance to the laxatives and became physically and psychologically dependent on them. I think that's called an addiction. I don't know what I was addicted to the most - the laxatives or the "high" I got from getting on the scale and seeing that I had lost more weight. Looking back it was ridiculous. I could wear my 9 year old son's shorts but still insisted that I was fat. To this day I don't understand it. Oh, I "get it", I completely understand the compulsion, the self-hatred, and the fear that drives such behavior but I still don't understand how someone so underweight can look in a mirror and see a fat person.

So, what made me want to get better? I finally got sick of being sick - literally Every single day, every single day, I would wake up and spend an hour or more laying on the bathroom floor in a cold sweat, sick as a dog, too dizzy to stand up without passing out while it felt like shards of glass were passing through my digestive system. I would have to stay there until all the toxins I had put in my body, were out, then I could go do my day. My therapist had begged me for a long time to enter rehab but I wouldn't. My excuse was that I had children and could not be away from them for the 3 months that I was told I would have to be there. Rehab was the one thing I would NOT do. And I was pretty adamant about it. But ya know, people generally don't get better until they are willing to do "whatever it takes". Somehow it occurred to me that while going to rehab would take me away from my kids for a while, that neither could I raise them laying on the bathroom floor.

I didn't go to rehab. Not because I wouldn't though. I couldn't afford to pay out of pocket and my insurance didn't cover it unless I was "actively suicidal". What the heck does that mean anyway?? One foot over the bridge?? Thankfully I had a great therapist, an OK doctor, a very patient and non-enabling husband (if you living with an addict and he gives you advice - listen to him - he helped save my life - literally), AA, and Eating Disorders support group, and a recovering alcoholic friend who helped me enter into a recovery process that would be one of the hardest things I've ever encountered in my life.

I will always be grateful to those folks who stuck by me and were abundantly patient and loved me when I was pretty unlovable. And in time I learned to be grateful for my experience in recovery. I am completely aware that God is perfectly able to deliver someone from the clutches of addiction instantly. He's God, he can do anything He wants. But I am so glad that He chose not to do that for me. I would have never entered the growth process of recovery and I would have missed out on one of the biggest blessings of my life. The 12 Steps helped me to live out my faith in ways that I had not learned in churches even though I had attended church since I was 12 years old.

In AA they talk about "the Promises of AA". At first reading they seem impossible, but I'm here to tell you that they are very real and that they are indeed possible to experience.

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.

We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.

Self-seeking will slip away.

Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.

Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.

We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.

We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not.

They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

They will always materialize if we work for them.

Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84

The road of recovery has not been smooth and without challenges. I don't think its supposed to be. Life isn't about being happy and problem free. I have relapsed many times. But that is part of recovery too... part of the process and part of the progress. Recovery is not about living it out perfectly. Its more about progress.

If you're one of the unfortunate folks who stuck with me through the bad times, I thank you. It was not easy for you and I do appreciate you.


hennhouse said...

Thank you for having the courage to share this part of your story. It is amazing to see how strong you are and where that strength comes from.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

I love you, Amber. I cried through this. Its hard for me to envision you on that bathroom floor. I don't know that woman, but I love and admire that woman for getting off the bathroom floor and evolving into the you that you are today. Wow. Anorexia, imo, is the probably the very hardest addiction to understand. I am glad that Brian and the others that love you stuck it out and supported you.

"taking one day at a time and being reasonably happy in this life and completely happy in the next" (or something like that)

Kansas Bob said...

What a glorious and uplifting testimony Amber.. moved me deeply.. tearing up as I type.

I so loved this..

"Life isn't about being happy and problem free."

..something I so needed to hear tonight!

Blessings, Bob

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your ten year anniversary. I know that this is a daily struggle but thankfully, God put people in your life who could support you and your recovery.

Michelle said...

You are a beautiful woman and don't ever forget that!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Amber: Happy 10 yr anniversary! Thanks for sharing as it helps me to know what you've been through and to rejoice in the healing the Lord has given! I never knew things were so bad when we were praying for you but am thankful that God spared the life of such a great sis-in-law! You are loved, Kath