- Sara Mann
I haven’t blogged the past two weeks.
If you are a weekly reader and were bummed, I apologize!
The truth is, I haven’t felt like blogging. It’s been a really hard few weeks and I felt like I didn’t have anything positive to say so why say anything at all. I don’t want every blog to be about how hard what I’m going through is and since I spent the last two weeks battling and myriad of emotions about it all, I just couldn’t sit down and put it all into coherent words.
If I’m being fully transparent the past couple of weeks have been full of anxiety attacks, eating disorder thoughts, food restriction, confusion, hopelessness, stress, being overwhelmed, frustration and just trying to freaking GET IT TOGETHER SARA! But you know me, I may stumble and I may fall. I may lay on the ground for a bit with the wind knocked out of me trying to get a handle on what happened and where I am, but I will always, ALWAYS get back up and keep moving forward.
I think the past couple of weeks I finally felt…broken. I have been trying to recover for two and a half years, doing everything I can and now, to have to do even more, when I’m worn out and exhausted, just made me fall down. If I’m honest, this time, I felt like I couldn’t get back up. Every ounce of hope I had left was gone. Every drop of energy, depleted. Every coping skill I have, drained. I tapped out. I’m weary. Sometimes, when the circumstances of life cause you to fall down into a dark hole, you need people in your life to reach out a helping hand, pull you up and stand you back on your feet. We aren’t meant to carry the weight of painful experiences and long term illnesses alone. It can and WILL break us.
My husband could tell that I was in a pretty bad place. So, without me knowing it he texted my sisters and told them that I needed them, that I was having a really hard time and could really use some extra support. Now, I didn’t know he texted them, but when three days in a row I started to hear from my sisters, I knew something was up haha! I want to say a few things about this before I jump into each one of my sisters. First of all, I talk to all of my sisters a pretty good amount, so it’s not rare for me to talk to them, it’s just rare for two of them to call me in one day unless there is some serious drama happening. Second, my sisters have been extremely supportive throughout my entire recovery process and already knew what was happening with me. My husband was just saying that, hey, instead of talking once this week, maybe it needs to be more like three and lets plan a visit. I’m thankful that my husband reached out to my sisters to help me through this dark time. I really struggle with reaching out for help when I need it. I always feel like I just need to be strong and can’t let anyone know I’m actually struggling BIG time, but the truth is, I really needed them. Every day I was feeling overwhelmed and isolated, but felt better after a two hour convo with a sister! So, I want to take this blog and dedicate it to my sisters and share how they individually have brought something different to our relationship and how they have helped me get through this incredibly difficult time!
I just realized that many people reading this don’t know everything about me! So, I guess it’s important to say that I have three sisters! Their names are Grace, Rachel and Abby! (I also have two brothers, but this blog isn’t about them today is it?!) My sisters are actually a bit younger then I am. I’m seven years older then Gracie, and 11/13 years older then Rachel and Abby. Despite the age gaps I am actually very close with them! I try hard to have a close relationship with them even though I haven’t lived in the same state as them in ten years! Yikes! Since I’m the oldest sister (by a lot) I’ve always tried to be there for them, but when it comes to my recovery, I would say this is the first time I’ve really needed them to be there for me, and being the oldest, it’s actually been really hard to accept! But, I had to get over that quickly because I DO need their support and the love that only a sister can give :) So, a little bit about my sisters....
First up is Grace! I call her Geeger and if I’m being honest I can’t even remember why, but I do! Gracie has been my ROCK during my recovery. She is thoughtful, empathetic, sensitive and compassionate. When I entered treatment it was really hard. I felt like I had completely lost myself as a person. Gracie gave me one of the best gifts I have ever been given. She had all of my closest friends and family write me letters of support and she put them all into a book for me to read to remind myself while going through all of this that I was loved and had qualities that people cared about other then my weight and how I looked. Gracie is a strong woman of faith and if I am ever stumbling in that area she is right there to remind me of what God says and denounce everything that Satan is trying to tell me about my recovery and my life. Just the other day I called her and said I didn’t think I would every be able to recover from this or have my body back and feel like myself again and she strongly and factually said that is NOT what God says to us. He is my healer and I can depend on Him and he will bring me through this. Both Grace and I have gone through a hard couple of years medically so she has an empathy and understanding that a lot of people don’t when it comes to wanting something so badly and having your body say no. She knows exactly what it is like to be praying for something and have that prayer go unanswered for years at a time and feel the crushing heartache that comes with that answer and the feelings of utter disappointment and sadness. She never makes me feel bad for “crying about it” and the other day when I told her I was worried I was calling too much and didn’t want to be annoying and have every conversation be about how hard things are she told me that she would be angry at me if I didn’t call. That's what sisters are for! Grace and I both LOVE worship music and she is constantly texting me new songs for me to listen to that either encourage me or help me to worship God while I go through the hardest of circumstances. She comes and visits me and goes on really slow hikes. She answers the phone almost every single time I call. She celebrates every small win with me and mourns with me when I feel defeated. I remember going to her house a year into recovery, and after she made a fresh loaf of bread for dinner she stopped and announced how great it was to be sitting down and actually eating bread with me! haha. We laugh together and cry together, but most of all she keeps me on track with remembering who God is and that he will be faithful.
Gracie, I am so grateful for you. You have been there for me, especially the past couple of weeks as I have tried to navigate this new hurtle in my recovery. Sometimes I wonder if God gives me blessings any more and then I remember that he has given me you. You have comforted me in major times of pain and encouraged me with your own words as well as our saviors in order to build me up and help me get through another day, week and month of this process. Thank you for answering my calls and spending hours on the phone with me laughing, crying, praying, and chatting. Thank you for accepting me as I am and loving me through this hard time. I know you have many roles as a mother, a wife, a worship leader, a teacher, but being my sister and stepping up in that role during my recovery is one I will cherish forever. I love you!
The next sister in line is….drum roll please….RACHEL! Now Rachel is quit a bit younger then me and you might be thinking how in the heck can she support at 34 year old woman through recovery?? Let me tell you, Rachel may not be the most emotional sister of mine but she LOVES her some body talk. Now we aren’t talking body image talk, like, “how do I look in this”, we are talking, what is my blood work, how to my organs work, why does the body swell, MEDICAL talk. Rachel is a nurse in Ohio who graduated from Case Western and helps deliver high risk babies, so she is always up for some hard core medical talk. If I have a doctors appointment, she wants to know what happened and what I’m thinking about it. Honestly, this is really nice and super helpful. I am a photographer who loves art, pictures and wine. I do not care about insulin levels or the liver. But Rachel thinks they are cool, so when I’m overwhelmed with medical stuff it’s actually really nice to talk to someone who isn’t annoyed by it, finds it interesting and can at times slow it down for me and talk through it for me. I remember when my body started swelling really badly. Rachel was the first person to look at me and explain that my body was healing so therefore it is swelling. If you break your arm it swells up as it heals, well my body is broken, so it’s swelling up as I heal. It made sense and it wasn’t something I would have thought of on my own. When I am feeling overwhelmed with testing and bloodwork and results, Rachel is more then ok sitting on the phone listening to all of it and helping me understand it or at the very least able to say, oh yea, that makes sense! There aren’t many people who want to sit with you for two hours and talk about vials of blood, your adrenal glands and body inflammation…but Rachel will! She has the ability to renew my hope in doctors and in the bodies ability to heal, even if it is at a glacial pace. Rachel is also really encouraging. She always tells me that I’m strong and that I can do it and that she is really proud of me. It’s little comments like those that make me remember that I CAN do this and that I will make it through and that I’m not alone in this! Rachel also is good to talk to just to get my mind off of everything I’m going through. I can always call her up or answer her call and hear crazy stories about her job and after a while instead of thinking about how hopeless I am about my body healing I am more confident then ever because I know I will never name my child lil’ pimp! (I think most of us can agree that I’m not being mean, that name is just plane wrong….)
Rachel, Thank you for letting me go on and on and on and on about my medical issues. You bring me a sense of comfort when I talk to you about it all and for that I am forever grateful. Your knowledge about the body has at times helped me to feel more confident about what I am doing and the journey of healing that I am on! I am happy that we can celebrate how cool God is together when it comes to how intricately he has designed us! God blessed you with the desire to work in the medical field and not only do you in return bless your patients but it has also been a true blessing to my life as well. I love that I can call you up and ask if something makes sense and you are able to confidently say ya, or make sense of it for me! Thank you for making me laugh and sharing stories with me and having long conversations on days that were just really hard and I needed a distraction. I love you!
Third in line is my sister Abby! Abby and I are so far apart in age that I sometimes literally feel like an old woman when I talk to her. Abby honestly brings laughter and joy into my life! She showed me how to snapchat and instagram and keeps me up to date on all the new lingo and latest trends. In her letter to me (from the book of letters that Gracie gave me), she wrote down a ton of different songs and how they all remind her of me and why. She is super creative and absolutely hilarious. If I am at a party sitting at a table, I want to sit next to Abby because I KNOW I will be having a really good time! All of that stuff is really great, but on a more serious note, out of all my sisters, Abby has taught me the most about accepting myself, loving myself, body positivity and just having a good time no matter what body I am in. She was the first person that made me feel beautiful just the way I am. She has never judged my body as it gained weight. She has been a positive influence on me on how to embrace curves that I’ve never had and am not use to. She makes me feel like I’m more then how I look and that she just wants to hang out with me because she just wants to hang out with me! She isn’t competitive and cares more about being an awesome person then being the hottest person (even though she is beautiful anyway), and I love that about her. When I hang out with Abby I find myself feeling less insecure and having a lot more fun. If I’m embarrassed because I’ve seen someone I haven’t seen since I gained all this weight and I’m nervous about what they think, she is the first to say, “Who cares what they think, if they think something bad, THEY STUPID!” Her positive attitude, positive body image and hilarious/sarcastic personality has gotten me through some of my darkest moments. She is one of my biggest cheerleaders and her support means more then I think she will ever know!
Abby, Just by being you, you have helped me get through this really hard time. You make me laugh until I cry and you remind me that I’m a bada$$ that will get through this. Thank you for snap chatting me throughout these long days and understanding this new world of boob sweat that my flat chest had never encountered before. I envy how free you live life and how much you embrace your body and accept yourself. I know I’m older, but I have learned a LOT from you! Thank you for visiting me and forcing Dad to buy you plane tickets to hang with me when I feel lonely. Thank you for being a light during such a dark time and bringing joy into otherwise painful days. Thank you for distracting me with Bachelorette and Netflix talk and reminding me what it is to have fun! I look forward to every single time I talk to you and I never leave a conversation with you feeling defeated or sad! I love you!!
I didn’t mention Robyn before because she isn’t “technically” my sister. She is my sister-in-law/probably my best friend! Robyn and my brother have lived across the street from me here in DC for the past five years. Over these five years our relationship has grown from “you’re my brothers wife” to “I talk to you more then my brother and call you every day and you are basically my sister!” My friendship with Robyn has probably been one of the single most important relationships I have had throughout recovery. She has been there for me since day one and I honestly don’t know what I would do without her. Like I said before, we literally live across the street from each other, so if I’m having a bad day Robyn always just says to come on over and we sit together and chat over a glass of wine. This probably happens at least once a week! She is so full of compassion and understanding and she has pretty much been my go-to person when I’m having a really hard time. Since the very beginning she has validated how I was feeling and has been my strongest support. She has come to support group meetings, watched me speak at an eating disorder fundraiser, had my back when people are rude about my weight gain, hung out with me at parties when I felt insecure, walked slow with me on hikes when I couldn’t keep up with everyone else and at my hardest moments has allowed me to cry and vent and celebrate all the highs and lows that the past two years have brought me in recovery. Whether it’s texting me that she is praying for me, inviting me to do something to get out of the house or just enjoying the weather sitting on the back patio with a glass or rosé I know I can count on her.
Robyn, To say I am thankful for you is an understatement. I can’t believe how close we have grown over the past five years and I will forever be grateful for this time we have shared here in DC. Our wine nights are not only fun but one of the only places that I have felt free to be myself throughout this entire process. Your empathy, encouragement, kindness and validation has gotten me through some of my lowest moments. You have seen me weep and be angry and never judged me for it. Thank you for supporting me on the toughest journey of my life. I’m actually certain I wouldn’t have made it this far without your support and actual presence in my life. You have kept me from being completely isolated during the past two years of recovery and because of your friendship I feel less alone as I battle this. I cherish our friendship and I’m so glad to know that I will always have you in my life and that you are more then a friend you are a sister. I love you!
I may be having a hard time recovering from my eating disorder, but God has truly blessed me with the best sisters anyone could ask for. They all bring different and unique qualities to our relationships and they all support me in different ways, but each way is perfect in it's own way and I am thankful and grateful to have them in my life. The past couple of weeks have been brutal, but these four woman have made it a little more bearable and because of them I know I am never alone. Instead of always concentrating on the bad of the past couple weeks I can sit back and remember going to a DMB concert with Robyn, having Abby visit, hearing a crazy story from Rachel and face timing with Gracie for hours.
I don’t know if I will every fully heal from what anorexia did to my body, but I do know that whether I do or don't, I will always have these four woman in my life and honestly, it doesn’t get any better then that.
I love you ladies!!!
- Sara -