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 17, 2009

11 Years

September is National Recovery Month. Last year I wrote out a part of my story. I think I will just repost it here. It has now been 11 years of "sobriety" from anorexia.

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 about my weight loss 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 at some point 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. Not to mention that if something didn't give soon, I wouldn't be around to raise them at all. I was doing things that compromised my health and put my life in jeapordy. Even then I knew there was a limit to how long I could get away with that kind of behaivor without paying the ultimate price.

I didn't go to rehab. Not because I wouldn't though. I didn't go because 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. Many of my relationships did not survive my addiction. Quite a few people just couldn't take it. I hold nothing against those folks. Not a single thing. I am aware that I was pretty impossible to be around on any level. In time I learned to be grateful for my experience in recovery.

Let me just say that 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

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

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

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

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.


Kansas Bob said...

Wow!! I am so glad that you wrote this Amber! So many quotable sentences:

"I finally got sick of being sick"

"Somehow at some point 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 am so glad that He chose not to do that for me."

Love your heart Amber.. that last quote says it all. I think that Christians persevere.. when life gets really ugly they find a way to see the Lord and bring some beauty to life. You have brought some beauty to my life this morning. Thank you.

Amber said...

Bob, thanks so much for the kind comment. Yes, there is a lot of beauty after the bad times. More than imaginable. "After the flood all the colors came out. Its a beautiful day". :)

KrippledWarrior said...

Thank you. Blatantly honest and no excuses. Praise Him. In everything, praise Him...

hallga77 said...

Everybody's normal till you get to know them. Why be normal?

I know you didn't ask for these but: love & prayers.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

I swore I commented on this, must have been via Facebook!.

Thanks again for sharing your story of HOPE and faith and endurance and HEALING and recovering. I love Bob's comment too.