Control Isn’t Love

This is a hard one.

I’ve wanted to write this so many times, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Throughout the last year of blogging I’ve shared many secrets, but I think that this one is the one that I still feel deep rooted shame about, for a variety of reasons.

I was so young and foolish, and looking at my children now, I realize how important it is to talk about, because I don’t want them to someday end up in the same situation.

I guess the time to begin is now, right?

As I mentioned, I was young.

And extremely naive.

I was fifteen, and one day the most magical of things happened:

A guy actually liked me.

I wasn’t exactly cool in high school. I was weird, I liked books better than most people (still do, old habits die hard), and my past and mental health issues made it really difficult for me to relate to my peers.

So for me, this was a big deal.

If only I had known what I was in for.

It all began innocently enough, but before I knew it it all spiraled wildly out of control.


That is actually the key word here.

It didn’t take long for him to cut me off from my group of friends.

He even cut himself off from his group of friends, which at first I found odd.

But I quickly found out that it was because he didn’t want me speaking to other males.


Fast forward a year, and this became an even greater issue when I got a job at a local drive-in.

Obviously, to do my job properly, I had to speak to other males. My boss, my coworkers, etc.

My boyfriend didn’t like that, and there are two specific times that it exploded in my face.

On a fateful night in June, over ten years ago, we were forced to give out free root beer floats as part of a promotion.

You probably know how people get with free stuff.

Even in that small town, the place turned into a madhouse. My boss had anticipated this, and warned us ahead of time that we would probably work late.

I relayed this information to my boyfriend, who was the person who usually picked me up from work.

However, on said evening, he didn’t listen to me. He showed up early, and it made me nervous when he did that.

He showed up early at times, and I knew it was so he could watch me.

I went out to his car and told him (yet again) that I would have to work late, the floors were literally covered in root beer because we had all been working so quickly.

He didn’t like that, and grabbed me by the arm while yelling at me to get in the car.

And at that moment one of my coworkers happened to be taking out trash, and saw what was happening.

He called out to me, asking if I was okay.

I brushed him off and went back inside.

I knew my coworker was concerned, and it felt odd to actually receive that from someone.

You see, I worked in a different town than the one I went to school in. At my school, people knew my boyfriend and I fought constantly. I was always crying, usually because I had looked the wrong way or said the wrong thing, or whatever other tiny thing that set off his explosive temper.

But my disadvantage was that he was known as being a nice guy, and I was known as being cold and strange, and because of that I felt trapped.

I knew that even if I had the guts to say something, odds were nobody would ever believe me.

So it was strange to have someone express concern, and it actually felt nice to have someone care for a change.

You probably think that this is the part of the story where I say I dumped this guy and went on my merry way, but that didn’t happen.

I forgave him, like I always did.

The next work related incident occurred in my driveway.

As we were leaving school that day, one of my female coworkers made a leud joke about my boss and I.

It was inappropriate, but clearly a JOKE.

My boss was happily married, and this coworker was just trying to be humorous.

Obviously, my boyfriend did not find it humorous, and he screamed at me all the way to my house.

At this point I was sixteen, I was stubborn, and I was angry that despite giving up all my friends, all my freedom, everything really, that he still didn’t trust me.

So I told him that I wouldn’t leave his car until he admitted that he was being ridiculous.

Somehow I thought this was a good idea.

It wasn’t.

In a flash he opened the passenger door, shoved me out of the car, and tore out of my driveway, narrowly avoiding running over my legs.

I landed on my face in the gravel, and ended up with a bruise on my forehead and some other soreness.

This is probably the point yet again where you will think that I am finally going to tell you I dumped this guy, but I didn’t.

I forgave him, and the next day I carefully concealed the bruise on my face with drugstore makeup, just as I regularly concealed the rashes I got from crying so often.

Analyzing why I continually stayed in this relationship is lengthy, and honestly a post for another time, but I can give a few reasons.

I was so used to being abused by my stepmom, that the emotional abuse and criticism wasn’t that unusual to me.

When you experience abuse for a length of time, you almost become conditioned to it, and it was my normal.

So when I began eating emotionally, and he told me he preferred me bigger, because it meant, “Less men would look at me,” it just sounded like something my stepmom would say.

She was physical with me on occasion too, and in that way they were similar.

They also had another major similarity:

That they were well liked by others.

I didn’t leave the relationship until it almost reached its two year point.

I was on a trip with my grandma, sister, and best friend of ten years. She was like a little sister to me, younger than me, and the best friend I could have.

During the trip she expressed concern about my relationship, and said the words that changed my life:

“As angry as he gets, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he hit you.”

She didn’t know the truth, because nobody did. She especially didn’t know about the time I had landed on my face in my driveway.

But in that moment I imagined someone treating her that way, and I was filled with protective rage.

And then I was filled with confusion, as I realized that the standards I set for my best friend should also apply to me.

When I got home from that trip I gathered everything he had ever given me into two trash bags.

I called him, had him come over, and told him I never wanted to see him again.

He cried and protested, he tried using the tricks that had worked in the past, but I didn’t care.

I left him crying in the hallway, went into my kitchen, and made myself a burger.


There is far more than can be written about this, and this was really a condensened version, but for now I will save that for another time.

This is a secret I’ve carried for many years, and there is part of me that is still terrified at anyone knowing.

But I know that it’s time to let it go.

And I also know that there are countless other people who have faced the same dilemma, mistaking dangerous protectiveness and emotional abuse for love.

It is important to know the signs of emotional abuse as well as physical. Back then I wasn’t aware of them, but I am now.

Alienating someone from their friends, jealousy, explosive anger, setting unreasonable boundaries, etc.

These are dangerous warning signs.

Not normal, not “cute,” not “protective.”

And especially, NOT love.


(Written for October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For more information, visit: ).




In Constant Fear

Content warning: This post does contain talk of childhood trauma, and an image from the worst of my eating disorder at the end. If you are in a crucial state of recovery, this may not be the post for you.


I want you to take a second, before I really get into this, to think about something that scares you.

Clowns, spiders, public bathrooms, whatever.

Got it?


Now think about that feeling, the feeling of panic, the feeling of not being able to control the situation or your emotions.

I want you to really sit in it.

Submerge yourself.

Now I want you to try to imagine feeling that way almost ALL the time.

You might be confused at this point.

Why would someone feel afraid ALL the time?

Well, there are several reasons, at least for me.

But we have to go back in time in order for me to properly explain.

As a child I felt completely alienated from my peers. At the time I had slight snippets of why I was different. I had a general idea, but I didn’t truly understand until recently.

I presented symptoms of anxiety at a very young age. I honestly don’t remember ever not being anxious, and that comes from the trauma I experienced.

My mother died when I was very young, and a few years after her death I was moved half way across the country, away from everything I knew.

This is also where my abusive stepmother entered the picture, where she proceeded to manipulate and control my life for almost ten years.

So when I went to friends’ houses, I felt like I was on another planet.

They ate dinner together.

They spoke to each other, and even did things together.

It was odd to me, because my family didn’t even eat meals together. My stepsister and I were always separated to another room, where we ate alone.

I wasn’t really allowed to just “be” in the general living areas of our home, and almost every day I was lectured upon my return from school.

I would focus on the same point on the wall, and try not to cry as I was lectured about whatever abuse my stepmother wanted to throw at me that day. Because if I cried, she would taunt and scream at me more.

In school I often got in trouble for talking out of turn, because I was so lonely.

So it was odd to see normal family interactions at other people’s houses.

Watching my friends, I could see how comfortable they felt in their homes, and I was jealous.

Because I was never comfortable in mine, not even in my room.

My room was regularly raided by my stepmother, I wasn’t allowed to write down any thoughts of my own. I really didn’t have any true privacy, and seeing my peers’ lives made me realize how unusual it was.

I lived in a constant state of fear and anxiety, and even though I knew it wasn’t normal, there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

I had to be hyper vigilant, prepared for the lectures, prepared for all of it. I couldn’t rest or I might crack, and cracking only meant more abuse.

With the lack of privacy, I had no outlet either.

I was given strict instructions to never discuss what went on in our home, and the threats of being sent away from my father kept me quiet, and even prevented me from telling him.

It’s hard to look back on that now and realize how empty those threats were, but at the time I believed them.

The terror of possibly losing my father only made me more afraid.

Losing my mother also made me fear death, in a way that wasn’t normal for my age.

I regularly used to check to see if my childhood cat was breathing, because I was afraid he might die.

This fear later resurfaced when I had my children, and I became terrified they would stop breathing in their sleep.

My husband is understanding, and knows why that even now, when my oldest is five, that I will still occasionally check, just to make sure she is okay.

All of this is why I have what is referred to as CPTSD, or complex post traumatic stress.

Going through this kind of trauma and repeated physical and emotional abuse for as many years as I did resulted in many characteristics:



Panic attacks.


Distrust of others.

Among other things, including still often feeling afraid of everything.

A constant state of fear, which at this point I’ve been in for almost twenty years.

It isn’t as bad as it was when I was a child. I’ve been in therapy, I’ve cut off all ties to my childhood abuser, I regularly take medication, and I take necessary steps to practice self-care in times of stress.

But it doesn’t change the anxiety I’ll live with forever, the literal rewiring of my brain by experiencing so much at such a young age.

Be gentle with those with anxiety.

You never really know what they’ve been through.


Me, pale and ill at the worst of orthorexia in 2015. Eating disorders often surface in those who have experienced trauma, as a means to feel some kind of control.


Firing My Therapist and Losing My Eyebrows, Among Other Things

IMG_7071.PNGIt has been awhile, and I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve been struggling, because it happens.

But I will admit that two months ago I fired my therapist.

Not being in therapy has been rather difficult, though I was able to recover on my own after my recent relapse.

But I’ve decided to discuss this because I think it’s important.

I recognize that I come from a place of privilege to even be able to see a therapist in the first place, and I desperately wish therapy was more accessible.

That being said, I feel that it is important to remember that despite being in therapy to get help, your provider still ultimately works for YOU.

In this case my therapist was actually not the main problem.

It was the office that she worked for, which was a complete mess.

I repeatedly was bumped because of a previous patient, there were instances where I waited for over an hour only to be told that someone had accidentally scheduled someone else for my time slot, and I was constantly being asked to reschedule my appointments the day of.

I began to feel tons of anxiety going to my appointments, wondering if I was going to wait for several hours or if I would be bumped.

After giving them what was probably far too many chances, I decided that feeling anxious about going to therapy to treat ANXIETY was extremely counter productive, and I terminated the relationship.

I felt bad, but it had to be done.

A week or two afterwards, my husband broached the subject of me finding a new therapist.

I didn’t want to.

I didn’t want to start over, to have to explain everything all over again, to feel the nervousness and panic of meeting a stranger, etc.

So I put it off.

And my mental health hasn’t been in the best state.

My BFRBs (body focused repetitive behaviors) have been out of hand.

I’ve rubbed my naturally thick Italian brows down to almost nothing.

I’ve had frequent panic attacks and nightmares, getting caught up in past trauma.

It hasn’t been ideal, I’ll just say that.

And honestly that’s why I’ve been struggling with even trying to blog, or trying to figure out my online identity, because I just feel frozen most days.

So I decided it was finally time to get back into therapy, before things became even worse.

We’ll see how my new provider is, but luckily my last experience has taught me to have more of a backbone, and not give so many chances when people are behaving unprofessionally.

Your provider works for YOU. This applies in all medical situations, and I should’ve stood up for myself months ago.

If you find yourself in the same situation, please don’t make the mistake I did.

You deserve better.




The Relapse

I’m having a strange feeling of deja vu, as if I’ve had to admit I’ve been lying before.

Oh, wait…

I have done this before. 


Trigger warning: This post does include descriptions of disordered behavior. If you are at a crucial point in recovery, it may not be for you.

I never thought I would be in this position. I foolishly thought I was far better than I actually am.

Or maybe I was just lying to myself too.

My eating disorder is a lot like a spider.

Carefully laid strings, a pretty silken web, all a trick, all a trap, just waiting to wrap me up.

A few months ago I mentioned I had some issues with dairy. Which is true, but I used it as an excuse to completely eliminate it.

String #1.

A few weeks ago I decided to finally pursue veganism, which is something I legimately admire in others.

I even announced it, to put pressure on myself.

String #2.

I decided that I should probably start logging my food intake to make sure I was getting the correct macronutrients with the lack of meat and animal byproducts. 

My old friend MyFitnessPal became String #3.

String #4 was the most recent, as I announced that I would be stepping back from talking about eating disorder recovery, because I felt I had achieved what I wanted to.

All a carefully laid trap, so that I could easily begin my disordered journey again, without anyone suspecting a thing.

And nobody did, until I completely lost it today and started sobbing in the car.

I’ve barely been eating.

I’ve felt like garbage.

I haven’t been staying hydrated.

I’ve been weighing myself constantly.

I was recently horrified by a photo of myself, because my body is so different after a complicated pregnancy and numerous health issues.

But my saving grace is that I have a VERY hard time lying to my husband.

The only reason I was able to get away with my mass weight loss at the worst of my orthorexia in the past was because my husband was deployed. 

But this time, he’s here, and I cracked easily.

I don’t know how to explain how hard it is to have something like this that makes you lie to everyone, that makes you act like a person you aren’t.

I have a lot to figure out, and I never expected to relapse.

But then again, I guess most people don’t.

As far as veganism goes, I don’t think it will ever work for me. While I greatly admire the ethics involved, assigning moral value to food is where I crumble.

I wish that weren’t the case, but that’s how it is for me.

There are people who may believe I’m terrible for that reason, but it is what it is.

I think being more aware of where my food is coming from is important.

I’ve deleted the calorie counting app.

I can’t avoid all diet culture (this is the season for it), but I’m going to try harder.

I’ve come clean, I want to be honest.

And I know I am going to get back on course, this is only a brief storm. 

Yet Another Thing to Add to the List

It has been awhile, hasn’t it? 

Life has been overwhelming, to say the least. I still have a lot to say, I’ve just been struggling to find the time and energy to say it.

I’ve also been dealing with a new diagnosis, which I really wasn’t prepared for.

But after a lot of thought I really wasn’t surprised either.

It’s confusing, but I’ll try to explain.

I’ve mentioned it maybe once or twice in passing, but I haven’t really said it, so I guess I will now.

I found out that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, more commonly referred to as OCD.

When I came home from my appointment I was initially devastated.

All I could think was, “Great. Yet ANOTHER thing to add to the list.”

When I told my husband I was visibly shaken and upset, but he didn’t seem phased at all.

I was confused.

But after a lot of thought, after truly thinking about some of my bizarre behaviors, I found that this wasn’t surprising at all, and that deep down I already knew.

My husband did too.

It’s hard to talk about this because so many people think of it as a joke, or a slang term to describe their organizational preferences.

It isn’t.

DO NOT refer to yourself as, “Being just a little OCD,” because that’s offensive and unfair to people like me.

There are plenty of other words to use that more accurately describe your situation. 

OCD isn’t a joke. It isn’t preferring things in straight lines, because I certainly don’t.

It is different for each individual that has it, and it is a mental illness, not something to share a meme about.

For me a large part of it is being obsessed with cleanliness, which is common for OCD sufferers.

But what people don’t understand is that it isn’t a preference.

The people who have mocked me for cleaning my house so often, who have believed I was a show off because my house is usually so clean, don’t understand that if my house isn’t clean enough my skin crawls. That I panic, and have panic attacks. That I will snap and scream, sob uncontrollably in a corner.

Not so funny, right?

Before my back issues I spent an average of 4-5 hours a day cleaning.

My OCD at its height kept me from spending time with my children because I couldn’t focus on anything else until I was finished.

My husband is patient, because I will admit that I am VERY difficult to live with for these reasons, as well as others.

My fear also manifests itself in statistics. I’m hyper aware of the fact that the most likely way my husband is to die is on his drive to or from work. 

He texts me each morning and evening to let me know he has made it or is on his way home, because he knows I will panic if he doesn’t.

If it takes extra time, if there is traffic, I have to force myself not to begin calling hospitals.

I frequently imagine the deaths of my kids due to accidents, and I spend so much of my time gripped in unreasonable fear.

I often wake up in the middle of the night to check to make sure they are still breathing.

Sometimes it’s more than once.

This doesn’t just apply to my baby. It’s all of them, even my five year old.

On average I wash my hands 10-15 times while cooking. This is over the course of maybe half an hour tops. And I know because I keep track.

I thought everyone counted and kept track of things the way I do. 

Turns out that isn’t so normal.

I even carried lists in my pockets as a child. 

I currently have 10 active lists on my phone.

Notebooks full of lists too.

Lists, lists, lists, because they help bring comfort to this brain that NEVER stops running.

I don’t sleep well. 

This is just some of it. If I made a list of all of my obsessive behaviors it would take you all day to read them, but I want people to understand that obsessive compulsive disorder isn’t funny.

It can be debilitating.

When I had orthorexia I didn’t have a problem with excessive exercise, which is common for people with eating disorders.

Know why?

Because I was doing such heavy and demanding amounts of cleaning that I didn’t need additional exercise.

That already was exercise. I cleaned to the point of exhaustion, with a deployed husband, and small children.

Not funny.


All I ask is that you consider not sharing that meme or Someecard that you see about how funny OCD is. 

Or maybe even calling the person sharing it out, explaining that it’s a serious illness that isn’t a source of humor.

Because this isn’t funny for me.

Not at all.

Dear Eating Disorder, I Miss You

I know you are already confused just by the title.


How on Earth could you possibly miss something that could’ve killed YOU?!

(Trigger warning, this post will discuss parts of my disordered behavior. If you are at a critical point in recovery, this may not be the post for you).

If you haven’t ever struggled with something like this, it may not make sense. 

And if it does make sense to you, my heart goes out to you, because I know it’s hard.

I began my eating disorder as an obese woman, so when I lost weight, I completely transformed. I lost a very large amount of weight, nearly three figures.

Me, before orthorexia in 2013

By the end, I looked like a completely different person, who I’m not going to show you.

It was horrible though, because I wasn’t truly aware of it. I suffered from such severe body dysmorphia that most days I couldn’t tell I had lost weight.

My brain knew I had, because of the numbers. And I could see it when I posted comparison photos, which I did constantly to social media, just for reassurance that I had actually changed.

But just looking in the mirror, I couldn’t see it. 

That’s surprisingly normal for body dysmorphia. 

Anyway, I’m sure this still doesn’t make sense.

What exactly am I missing here? Not actually knowing what I look like?

Well, no. I don’t miss that. For the first time in three years I actually know what I look like, which is pretty great. But there are other things I miss.

Unfortunately our society treats people differently based on size. You may swear up and down that it isn’t true, but it is.

By default, if you lose weight people compliment you. They admire you, they may even be jealous.

As someone who really never stood out, an awkward girl on the sidelines, the attention was addictive.

The rush of losing weight was also addictive. 

I struggle with a perfectionist personality type, so seeing the numbers get lower and lower actually set off endorphins for me.

It was the equivalent of doing drugs, a rush of euphoria.

I had orthorexia, and unfortunately it also tricked me into thinking I was superior with my food choices. My disorder lead me to believe I was morally a better person for starving myself.

I look back at me then, and kind of want to smack myself in the face. I even got as far as trying to educate others on my food choices, because people asked me to.

I had NO place doing that. I’m so ashamed of it, but I can’t exactly take it back now.

It’s an illness. I really wasn’t completely in control of my actions. Orthorexia controlled everything.

But there are things to be missed, right?

I miss not getting the glances in public. Because people do look at you differently when you are overweight. I miss being able to blend in.

The catalyst for stopping my disorder was a pregnancy. Once I became pregnant, I knew that I could not continue what I was doing. So I was able to stop.

But I also ended up suffering from life threatening complications, which were not related to my eating disorder.

Those complications caused me to gain a lot of extra weight, which ultimately saved both my daughter’s life and mine.

But some people can’t see that, or don’t see it that way.

There are people who think I threw away the body I worked so hard for.

There are people who believe I’ll someday get it back.

I don’t really plan to. Most certainly not in the way I achieved it.

I didn’t look sick, but I was sick. I was VERY sick. I was afraid of sugar, afraid of carbohydrates. I avoided social engagements because other people’s food or restaurant food wasn’t “clean” enough.

So while I do think I miss some of the attention, I realize it’s because of warped societal standards.

I also realize that the disorder still lives inside me. It hasn’t been so long, not really. It’s there. I ignore it most days. I go to therapy, I work hard not to rank certain foods above others. I unfollowed all the harmful “fitspo” and “clean eating” nonsense.

But it’s still in there. And while it may try to trick me into missing it, while it may try to guilt trip me into giving it another chance, I won’t. 

I’ll keep shoving it away and putting in earplugs until eventually I won’t hear its screams anymore.

Because I don’t actually miss it.


The Perils of Perfectionism

I really can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I first realized I was a perfectionist. I really can’t gauge where I had the realization, because perfectionism has been such an inherent part of my personality for such a long time, that I didn’t really realize it was unusual.

I was often told I was a smart kid.

Having it thrown at you in an abusive setting makes it lose a lot of its meaning though.

My stepmother would say it in an underhanded way. That I was “book smart,” but that I had absolutely no common sense.

Of course, if you lived in an abusive household where your every move was controlled, you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn basic skills either.

I wasn’t raised in the type of family where I was praised.

I got straight A’s, I was a bright student, an advanced reader, but I legitimately can’t even remember getting as much as a, “Good job.”

That just didn’t happen.

As a result, I am very hesitant to accept compliments, because I’m never sure if they are genuine. I’m not sure how to react most of the time, it’s very uncomfortable.

I don’t have the best social skills, and I’m painfully aware of that.

But I do have to say that there certainly are advantages to my form of perfectionism.

I believe that it helped propel me forward out of my abusive circumstances, which is a really lucky thing.

Well, not lucky. I worked hard.

See that there? That’s what I’m talking about, and it wasn’t even intentional.

My perfectionism makes it damn near impossible for me to actually take credit for my own achievements, because I often suspect that I may have just gotten lucky.

I wouldn’t dare take credit for something that wasn’t actually based on my own hard work. Because according to the perfection monster, luck doesn’t count.

I can usually only focus on how things could still be better.

It’s dangerous.

As a perfectionist I’ve been given the gift of seeing how things can be optimized and more efficient.

Which is great, if I’m talking about a machine, or even how I run my household.

It isn’t so great if I’m talking about my own body, my own achievements.

See the difference?

It really isn’t surprising that I developed such a severe eating disorder, not when you look at how I view my body.

How I view nearly EVERYTHING in my life.

It’s hard to combat, because perfectionism is an exhausting robber of  joy.

When you find yourself so often focusing on how things can be better, it causes you to struggle to see how great things are in that moment.

My brain is always pushing.

My house can be cleaner.

My writing can be better.

I can do this faster.

I’m almost 27, I should be in GRADUATE SCHOOL.

This can look better.

I CAN do better.

And it really doesn’t stop. It just keeps replaying over and over in my head, until I find myself exhausted with the lack of achievement.

Sometimes my depression kicks me down and I just don’t do anything at all, and then I end up even more angry at myself later.

I’m so hard on myself that I can’t even see the positives of what I have accomplished.

It’s awful.

Luckily I am very careful NOT to integrate this into my parenting, but there are other perfectionists who may not be as aware.

Projecting perfectionism onto children is equally dangerous, and as a perfectionist I can see how easily that could happen. I am hyper vigilant, but it’s tough.

I’m not entirely sure what propels it all. I’m not sure if maybe part of me is still just wanting to be accepted, wanting someone to tell me, “Good job,” like I desperately wanted as a child.

As a perfectionist I really don’t know what I’m looking for, because reasonably I know that no matter what I achieve, there will always be a voice that says it isn’t enough.

It’s NEVER enough.

It’s hard to fight against that, but that’s what therapy is for.

I’ve had people tell me that they wish that they had my motivation, but I actually wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Because it never turns off.

It’s never satisfied.

The grass is always greener on the other side.

There is no rest, only more work.


What confuses the whole thing is that I also have anxiety, so that makes the entire situation even worse.

My anxiety always makes me feel like I’m not good enough, or that everyone thinks that everything I’m doing is stupid anyway.

From the outside, people like me appear to be motivated and maybe even moderately successful, but my point in writing this is that that isn’t entirely true.

Looks are very deceiving, and my internal monologue is often painful.

People are not always what they seem.

The people you make fun of because they don’t seem to do anything may be struggling just to get out of bed each morning.

And the people you envy because they always seem to be doing something big may not be able to slow themselves down, because they don’t know how.

There is always a bit more than meets the eye.