the end of an era

In fifteen minutes it will be January 20th. In approximately eleven hours Trump will take the oath of office and Obama will say goodbye to the post he’s held for the last 8 years.
 
The last 8 years have been revolutionary for our country. Even if you aren’t a fan of Obama’s you can’t argue that this man made history. As history was made and the future shaped so was my life. And in many ways Obama’s presidency represents my recovery journey.
 
You see 8 years ago the weekend before inauguration day I broke up with my abusive boyfriend with the help of some amazing friends. As Obama was sworn into office I stood in the office of the hall of my college hiding from the man who terrified me. I had no idea what was to come and I’m sure neither did the man who I was watching with his hand on the Lincoln Bible taking an oath that would change his life, his families and many others including my own.
 
In the next 8 years that Obama watched over our country I experienced more change than I thought possible. As Obama began forming his legacy I sat in treatment centers with women who would become life long friends and others who I would mourn their deaths just a few short months or years later. I learned how to eat again. I was taught that I was enough as I was. I experienced flashback after flashback but worked my way through them to see the light that was waiting for me. I received my first service dog and then just four short years later held him as he died in my arm. I trained my second and returned to the show ring for the first time in 10 years.
 
I got the word hope tattooed on my arm. A word that Obama embraced and the thing that saved me when I was in the depths of anorexia.I celebrated five years of recovery. I gained weight instead of loosing it. I ate ice cream whenever I wanted and enjoyed every flavor of Cadbury eggs. I watched Michelle kiss the queen and ate snacks everyday.
 
As Obama negotiated international and domestic conflicts I negotiated my own conflicts of who I was as a person and how I could live this life limited by the confines of my own brain. I began to talk about my trauma in college thanks in a large part to Biden’s work on campus assault. I learned to set boundaries and became a proud feminist who admired Michelle and watched with tears in my eyes when she spoke about Trump’s actions. I watched Obama treat his daughter’s and wife with respect and the belief that they were equal. And I unknowingly absorbed the message for the first time – that perhaps being a woman didn’t make me “less than”.
 
And today as I prepare to go to bed on the last day that Obama is president I realized that this last eight years was the first time that I have lived without abuse. No bulling. No harassment. No rape. No partner abuse. In the entire time Obama has been president I have known that I have not belonged to a man who would abuse and use me.
 
And so as the Obama’s leave and this chapter of history is closed so does a chapter of my own life. Both America’s last 8 years and mine can be explained as chapters of pain, conflict, confusion, unexplainable joy, hope, despair and most importantly freedom and safety.
I’m saying goodbye to the man who has traveled a road at the same time as me. A road that was unknown and unpredictable for both of us. I also say goodbye to two men and one incredible woman that fostered an environment that gave me the courage to begin to heal.
 
Life doesn’t end here for either Obama or I (or for America). It’s just beginning. It’s time to spread our wings and experience a new adventure; one of freedom but informed by experiences of the past 8 years. And so as Obama says goodbye to the White House and the presidency I say goodbye to the 8 years of healing and recovery. It’s time to truly live.
 
 
 
 

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dear facebook friends and family

 

Dear Friends and Family who Voted for Trump,

I’ve posted political articles on and off since the political season began (whenever that was…seems like it went on forever). I supported Bernie and then happily and with no reluctance moved my support to Hillary. I was open about that.

 
I got some comments on things I shared and some discussion but for the most part it was respectful. For the most part people left things I posted alone or agreed with them or maybe liked them.
 
I deleted someone because they kept posting the “haha” reaction to articles I shared about how Trump reminds me and other victims of their abusers but that was it.
 
Since Trump won it’s been different. I’ve posted articles, memes and graphics. None of it is in anyway more polarizing than things I posted before the election. However, some of you (some who I wasn’t aware were Trump supporters – the Bradley Effect is real) are now commenting, arguing and dismissing my opinions.
 
Why? Is it because your candidate won so now you have some sort of bravery you didn’t before? Is it because the things I post hit too close to home? Why do you feel so defensive and entitled to argue with me when you ignored my posts before the election? This puzzles me. It’s Facebook. I know there will be disagreements. I just wonder why after the election people suddenly feel the urge to comment and argue when before my posts were left alone before. That’s the part that confuses me. 
 
 I’m a survivor. I make no secret of that fact. Trump reminds me of my abusers just as he reminds thousands of other people in this country of their abusers. Trump makes me feel unsafe just as he makes thousands of other people in this country feel unsafe.  As a survivor I’ve learned that I can’t keep everyone in my life. Sometimes I have to let people go entirely – other times, I have to limit how much my life intersects with theirs.

The majority of my posts post-election day have not been about politics as normal. They have been about how this man makes people (me) feel. When you dismiss what I post or what I write with a “sorry you feel that way but it’s not true” or long explanations as to why what I just posted is plainly just wrong when it was an opinion piece that expresses hurt and sorrow, you aren’t saying my political views are wrong, you are saying that the way I feel and am choosing to heal is wrong. And that is far more damaging and hurtful than anything you could argue with me about.

I’m not going to stop posting articles to Facebook. I’m not going to stop talking about what I am doing to heal from my trauma – on a global scale and on a personal scale – but I am going to be limiting who can see what I post. It may be a relief to you too. You probably don’t enjoy seeing what I’m posting because you disagree with it so strongly anyways. Perhaps it offends you. I’m not going to apologize for that but I am going to make it easy on both of us and limit our contact. Because you must understand, when you argue with me over articles or memes or whether something is true or not; whether I have the right to feel this hurt.; whether I have the right to feel this way about Trump; I hear that you are telling me you don’t support me. You don’t support survivors. If you met my abuser’s and they told you their version of the story you would believe them over me. Or you just wouldn’t care. That is what I am hearing. More than likely I’m wrong. But I’m not claiming to be rational. I’m simply claiming to be doing what I have to do to survive.

And so you’ll still see me post on Facebook. I would’t want to keep everyone from seeing my dog pictures now would I (maybe those annoy you lol I don’t know)? I do wish you luck. But, I can’t wish for everyone to “just get along right now” because as the movie quote says “I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”.  But I do wish you health and hope.

– Still very proud to be “With Her”, 

Kate

gus-and-i-for-hillary

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becoming bad-asses as the country fell apart (2008-2016)

I talked to a friend who does not live in America today. We talked about her country’s politics where there have been peaceful protests and then about America and how scary the rise of Trump has been. The peaceful protests in her country signals progress and hope. I couldn’t help but look at our protests which lately have turned violent and led to bloodshed and wondered what they mean for America.
We also reminisced about watching Obama win the election in 2008 while we sat together in our dorm room. It was such a special moment to share. I remember we both cried a bit as we watched the first African American in history step up to the podium to officially claim victory in the election. I think we both knew we were watching history in the making. And we both felt proud to witness it.
Now eight years later so much has changed. Verna is back in her home country. I’m back in my home town. We’ve both become bad-asses as Verna says. Our lives have handed us challenges and we’ve fought them and won. And our world is a different place than it was when we sat in Reed 308 and watched a young Obama and family celebrate in Chicago in November. I don’t mourn for loosing who young Kate and Verna were in 2008. We had a lot of growing up to do. But I do mourn for who America has become. It hasn’t done the same growing we have.
While Verna and I have matured and grown and become strong women (#badasses), the US has become a place of conflict, racial tensions and hate. For the first time I’m scared of my country’s future. As my life came back together the country fell apart. And now I’m living in a place that I don’t recognize.
What a strange thing to realize that a place as strong as America can fall to pieces while I glued myself back together again.
Reed 308

Reed 308 – Sophomore year of College 2008

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five years…

I celebrated my five year anniversary in recovery last week. Five years home from The Center for Change. I left that day thinking I could never maintain recovery and now five years later, I wouldn’t say I’m recovered but I would say I’m definantly in solid recovery. CFC has a tradition of having clients write a letter of hope when they leave to read to the current clients. I thought I would share a new letter of hope for anyone that needs it now five years later. 

 

I am writing this letter now after five years in recovery. It doesn’t make me an expert by any means on what it means to be in recovery nor does it mean I can offer advice that you absolutely must follow to get well but I can tell you what has worked for me. As I learned five years ago listening to other women talk about their lives I learned that as much as we like to believe we are unique individuals there are certain things that we all have in common. And I hope what I share hits on those commonalities.

Hope. You must live and breathe hope. If you become hopeless you have given up and you will relapse. You must believe that you can recover. You must believe that you will beat the odds and be one of the ones who lives in full recovery. When you are lying in bed awake in the middle of the night and the hopeless feelings creep in, get out of bed and pull out whatever it is that makes you feel hopeful. Maybe it’s a picture album, maybe it’s a book of quotes, perhaps it’s your goodbye book, maybe it’s the Bible or maybe it’s watching your children sleep or holding your dog. Whatever it is allow it to remind you that there is hope in this world – your job is to hold onto it.

Know that recovery is a choice. You did not choose to get sick but you absolutely 100% can choose to get better. What this looks like may look different depending on where you are in recovery. Choosing wellness in the beginning of recovery simply means showing up to meals and eating what is placed in front of you. In five years the choices may be choosing to continue to eat intuitively when you’ve gained 10 pounds on a medication or making the decision that it’s time to tell the secrets you’ve kept hidden for almost ten years. The bottom line is, is that you must choose recovery each and every day.

Sometimes it is tempting to sub out the eating disorder for another self destructive behavior. You must learn that all things that harm you must go. The suicide attempts must go and so must the cutting. Holding onto remnants of self-destructive behaviors does not mean you are in recovery even if your eating is perfect. You cannot be in recovery until you give up everything that you do to harm yourself. Recovery requires  that you to take care of your body.

I firmly believe that recovery does not require you to love your body. It requires you to care for it and to tolerate it but you do not have to LOVE all parts of it. If you are waiting to recover until you love your body or even like it you may wait forever. They say body image is the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place and for me I’m not sure I’ll ever even like what I look like. But I can take care of myself anyways. I can even dress as I want and take time to style my hair. Accepting your body must be the goal. It’s a bonus if you end up liking it or even loving it.

Recovery is a long and winding road. No two people’s journey’s are the same. If you are still struggling don’t despair. There is hope. There is always hope. And if you are in the tedious stages of beginning recovery. It gets better. It gets easier. And if you are like me – feeling lost in sort of a middle ground, stick it out. I have to believe that I’ll feel like I have more solid footing eventually. But overall, I must remember and so must everyone reading this that recovery is worth it. It’s always worth it.

 

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refugees

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

  • Martin Niemoller

 

I seldom get into politics on my blog (I can’t say never because I do sometimes) and I realize I’m breaking a long silence with a controversial post but I’m tired of being silent.

I first read this poem at The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. And it struck me then as important and in these recent days it has been apparent to me just how important the lesson in this poem is. And how it still applies today.

The refugee debate on Facebook has been strong this last week and it has saddened me how hateful and coldhearted some people can be. At some points it has just plain scared me. Have we learned nothing from history? Condemning a whole group of people as terrorists, dangerous, unclean and unwelcome seems dangerously similarly to how Jews were treated during WWII.

We once turned away a ship full of Jewish people and that act is regarded as shameful as many of those people returned to Europe to be murdered. Yet, here governors, presidential candidates and my Facebook friends call for us to turn away another generation of refugees. We shall someday regret this and look with shame on our actions I believe.

People have given many arguments for why they don’t want refugees coming to the United States and one I have heard is “we don’t have the resources to take care of our own homeless”. At the end of the day that problem will still be there whether we take in more refugees or not. And I ask you – how much did you care about the homeless before this debate started?

I don’t even want to touch on the terrorist argument. It just seems absurd to me that we should deny a whole group of people entry because one or two may put us at risk. And that isn’t guaranteed. It is stereotyping of Muslims that drives me crazy. I’d rather debate about how many people white males kill with guns.

Returning to the poem at the beginning of my post: while people sit at home typing on their computers I hope they remember that we as human beings have a responsibility to be there for one another. One day we might be the person that needs taken care of and if we don’t help now there may be no one there to help us when the time comes.

 

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20%

20% of people with eating disorders will die.

One woman and one girl has died from their eating disorders this past week who I met at my second treatment center. These make the fourth and fifth people I have known to have died from this disease.

I have been out of my first treatment center for five years. I have been out of my second treatment center for four years. I am scared as to what the next twenty years will bring for the women I grew to love.

When are they going to stop dieing?

I will remember you Nicki, Keir, Amber, Mattie and Aimee. I will fight for you.

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“it’s nice to be tempted” – Rich Mullins

I was messing around on Youtube today and ended up watching videos of Rich Mullins. Rich Mullins was a christian singer in the 90s who is famous for writing the song “Awesome God” and writing many other poetic songs. As a child and young teenager I often listened to his music to calm myself and find comfort. Anyways, I was watching videos of him today which I enjoy doing because he often ends up saying some pretty profound things before he sings and this one really hit home for me.

Sometimes even if you aren’t going to sin, it’s nice to be tempted.

This simple sentence describes why I torture myself by still immersing myself in the eating disorder world. I still check tumblrs of girls active in their eating disorder, read eating disorder books and just generally keep all of my ties to that world. It had previously made no sense why I had done so. I want to be done with my eating disorder. I am in recovery. I’m moving forward. I have better things to do that sit and wallow in that former life. But yet, even if I’m not going to relapse it is nice to be tempted too.

And why is that? Well, a part of me still finds that world familiar and comforting. I go there when I am afraid or think I need structure in life. If I still feel tempted to engage in symptoms it reassures me that I haven’t lost the power to return completely to the disorder. I may choose not to engage but it is somewhat reassuring that the urges are still there. That I’m not recovered because that terrifies me.

But is it right that I like to do that? Is it healthy? No. And it is something I need to work to give up to get to that place where I am fully and firmly planted in recovery. But Rich Mulllin’s simple sentence made sense to me and it was nice to put some words to those feelings I have when I visit those dark corners of the internet or fiction shelves. It’s very human and very normal to struggle to give up those last remnants of addictions or disorders and this was also a nice reminder to me. So I have identified another area of recovery in which to work. I have put some words to my feelings now which for me is always a start. The next step is working through them.

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Fifty Shades of Grey…normalizing abuse

Well I’m blogging again. I planned to start blogging for NEDA (National Eating Disorder Awareness) Week next week but I’ve decided to start early and wade into the discussion on Fifty Shades of Grey (probably regrettably) but here it goes…

Many women celebrate Fifty Shades of Grey because it breaks barriers and says that sex is not bad and women can enjoy it. I’d be all for the book/movie IF this is the only thing they are saying. As a survivor of a relationship that was controlling, manipulating and abusive I see many red flags in Anastasia’s relationship with Christian Grey. So many things that were in my relationship with my abuser. The power, the control. The things that are perceived as sweet and protective but are really about ownership and controlling every detail in a woman’s life.  Yes, you man argue that Christian did it out of love. But love doesn’t excuse this type of behavior. If a woman arrived at a shelter describing a husband who controlled her finances, showed up at her place or work or recreation unannounced, utilized tracking devices on her phone, when she was unconscious undressed her and put her to bed (regardless of whether or not he had sex with her), and continued to have sex with her even when she said no many times it would be described as  abuse. In fact it might be enough to get a restraining order.

It doesn’t bother me one bit if a couple chooses to engage in BDSM and it wouldn’t bother me one bit if a book chose to describe this as long as the relationship between the two people was healthy. But the reality is that Anastasia’s and Christian’s relationship is not.  The type of relationship that is described in Fifty Shades of Grey is not healthy nor should it be perceived as normal and it bothers me very much that millions of women are buying into the idea that it is.

I worry that young people who see this movie (and we all know they will) will think that this type of a relationship is normal and wind up in abusive relationships themselves but excuse all of the behavior because they believe they are living their own fairy tale and can “tame the beast”. It doesn’t work that way. Relationships like this end with heartbreak and hurt sexually, emotionally and physically. It can take years of therapy to move past them. Fifty Shades of Grey normalizes abuse and this, not the sex, is what is so concerning. I wonder that if I had read the book or seen the movie six years ago would I have found the strength to break up with my abuser or would I have seen his behavior as even more normal and I even more as the one with the problem. I certainly think it’s more than likely. I wonder how many women will stay with their abusers in part because of this film. I don’t think I exaggerate when I say this. Films and books especially popular ones influence culture in many ways. And I think Fifty Shades of Grey contribution to society is to normalize abuse and that is extremely frightening.

*I know not everyone will agree with me. Many of you won’t in fact. Share your opinion if you would like. I’d love to hear it. I have a hard time comprehending that this relationship can be seen as anything as abusive but if you don’t think it is I’d love to hear why.

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psych ward reminders

Early Thursday morning my life went chaotic. Which happens sometimes when you have a mental illness/illnesses. I don’t want to go into the details but the final result was that I found myself back in the familiar lounge of the psychiatric hospital I have been in countless (literally, I can’t count them) times before. This was unexpected. There weren’t behavioral signs leading up to this and the psychological ones were a combination of factors that hit all together and all at once. The good news about this is that I think my meds were already correct and I have the therapeutic issues figured out that sent me in so I’m pretty sure this isn’t something that has the ingredients to repeat itself.

The stay itself was productive in that it gave me time to focus on some issues that I’d been avoiding and ‘chill’ out while I reevaluated where I was at. I often find being at the psych. hospital harder sometimes than being at home. Mine has groups that are fairly well ran and a great art studio but on the weekends there is only one group and a whole bunch of time to sit around and be be bored or find something, anything that is allowed to do.  I was having to use self-soothing skills that I really hadn’t been practicing for awhile and I was feeling the effects from being out of practice. That was one major thing I realized. I’ve GOT to get back to using my self-soothing skills and also integrate some healthier habits into my life.

For me self-soothing skills are essential to my life. They keep my mind regulated and at peace. I define self-soothing skills as literally what it says something that “soothes me”. This is a little different from a coping skill for me. Coping skills are used in times of distress. Self-soothing skills are used all the time to keep me going. Also known as self-care I guess. So what are some of mine? Well, it’s little things. Coloring is a big one. The repetitive motions and the ability to zone out happily gives me great relief. Crosswords are another one. And so is reading. Ah yes reading. When I’m at home I’ve been neglecting reading. I’ve been on the computer as opposed to reading a book. And the computer does NOT soothe me. It activates me. It’s time for me to take some space away from the computer. Set up some boundaries with it in my life. Not gone – just less time with it.

As for healthier habits. Any exercise has dropped off the face of the earth for me. I throw the ball for Gus to wear him out instead of walking him and that would be so easy to add back in. Or play the Wii for just a little bit of time to get up and moving. Anything, that gets me off the couch. Another is allowing myself to go to bed when I’m sleepy and if that’s at 8:30 so be it. No more sleeping on the couch and waking at 12:30 to move to my room. Others are little things such as meds on time and with food, being direct with practitioners and a few other little things.

So the stay although unexpected was productive. I’m glad to be able to go to a good hospital that allows me to bring Gus and goes out of their way to accommodate us. I feel safe there and they make it as tolerable as possible. The staff by and large is good. And this is sometimes hard to find at a psych. ward/hospital so I’m grateful. But I’m very glad to be out and plan to go back to my life now while implementing some of the things I was reminded of. It’s good to have reminders but I think I’ll take them other ways now, thanks.

 

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