• Posted on December 14, 2016 11:53 am
    McCall Dempsey
    2

    Today, December 14, marks six years in recovery for me. I'll say that again...SIX freaking YEARS. It seems so hard to believe because it feels like yesterday I walked stumbled through the Carolina House doors. I walked through hopeless, broken and tired. I no longer had the energy to fight the monster in my head, much less pretend like I had it all together. I wanted out. Out of my disorder, out of life. But somewhere, deep, deep, deep down, I wanted to believe there was more - that there was more to life than calories, weight, loneliness and empty pain. There was nothing I wanted more in the world than to believe recovery was possible. I walked through the doors of the Carolina House with a willingness to become willing. I didn't believe recovery would happen for me, but I trusted the extraordinary staff around me. I believed that one day I just might believe that I could live in the fairytale that was recovery. I quickly learned that recovery was anything but a fairytale. It sucked. It was painful. Even as I write this, six years later, my heart aches for that woman who thought there was no hope left. Tears roll down my cheeks thinking of how damn grateful I am to so many for walking by me on this journey, for giving me the tools to save myself. If I could do one thing the rest of my life, it would be to sit with patients in treatment centers. There is NOTHING I love more than spending time with those in the depths of the eating disorder fight. While most patients welcome me, there are many who absolutely loathe me when I walk in the door. There eyes immediately scan me and disregard me. And I can't blame them - I didn't like me either years ago. I hated speakers that came in and painted this rose-colored fairytale picture of recovery. "It is all bullshit," I would think to myself. I compared my journey to everyone around me - who was sicker, thinner and more deserving of help. My eating disorder kept me in a spiral of shame and hopelessness, not wanting to accept the treatment I desperately needed and deserved. Comparison is not just the thief of joy, comparison is the thief of recovery. Comparison haunted me...and it still haunts me today. When I speak now, many patients only hear that I went to treatment once or that I was only there for three months. They look at me and see a life unattainable for them. "You only went to treatment once; this is my seventh time in treatment" "You were only there three months, I've been here 11-months" "You didn't have to do all the weight restoration." These are just a few things I have heard throughout my years visiting treatment centers. My reply is always this, "Yep. You are right." You're right. I only went once. I was 29-years old and had been struggling for 15-years.  Yep, three months. I was there three months because insurance dropped me two weeks in and we were paying out of pocket. My husband and I gave every penny to my recovery and so did my parents.  Nope, I did not have weight restoration per se, but I did have a body that was super 'effed' up (that being the medical term) and had months years of gaining stability with my body and digestive system. I've had older patients look at me like I am a young unicorn, flying through treatment just one time while sprinkling fairy dust on the world below. I have had men look at me as the typical white sorority girl who had an eating disorder for attention. I have spoken to rooms where every patient was under a blanket. I have met with children who can't (won't) look me in the eye. And I have spoken to countless rooms filled with a community of angry patients, wanting to sit in the dark and not hear the message that recovery was possible. And I get it. I've been there. Some days I am still that angry person who wants to throw in the towel on life because life is SO. DAMN. HARD. Then I remember just how much I have fought to overcome. I dig deeper past the anger. I, of course, call my therapist (praise baby Jesus for Mary) and remember that, yes, this too shall pass. However, nothing passes without a lot ton of work and determination. I recently found myself up against a room of comparison patients. They were throwing every comparison question at me, until I finally responded with this: "Comparison is truly the thief of joy and your recovery. The more we sit and compare our bodies, stories and journeys to others, the less time we spend focusing on what really matters: ourselves and our own journey of recovery. Rather than say, 'She wasn't that bad' or 'my eating disorder is worse,' use that energy to open your heart, find empathy and encouragement from others. You're right, my story is different from yours and yours is different than the person sitting next to you. But that doesn't mean we can't find support in our struggles. It doesn't mean we can't lean on each other, provide empathy and support. You had a choice when you came into the room today: you could choose to listen with an open heart or you can choose to compare and continue to sit in hopelessness." It all goes back to a choice, an active decision. I can't make anyone listen to me, nor do I want to. I hated those speakers. (Oh the irony that I am one of them now.) But I showed up, I listened - and some days showing up alone is our victory. So yes, I went to treatment once. Yes, I was not a marginalized, traumatized, underweight victim. I am none of those things. I am a white, blonde, female and yes, a former sorority girl, but those labels don't define me or my story. I choose what defines me and that is my heart. I am McCall, an  intelligent, brave, determined, creative, authentic, vulnerable and beautiful SURVIVOR...and so are you. Rather than compare labels, bodies and stories, can't we all just see each other as brave. Show up today. Be seen. Listen. And above all else, believe that recovery is possible. I am six years of living proof. SIX YEARS y'all. Six years comparison free and loving every minute of recovery, my body, my heart and yes, this hard and amazing thing called life.   photo cred: top left, David Humpreys; top right, Chris Moncus, bottom: SheaBird ;)     And to celebrate six years...here are just a few of my favorite pics of life since this day six years go...

    Carolina House, Eating Disorder, Pay It Forward
  • Posted on June 26, 2016 1:48 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    Weekends in treatment were slow...and I mean sloooooow. It was so frustrating to have so much downtime in our schedule. We should be 'working' and 'doing', marking things off our imaginary Recovery To Do list. Having an empty day meant I was being unproductive and lazy. As it turns out, down time at the Carolina House was very much on purpose. It forced us to practice stillness and cultivate the ability to be alone. Learning to be still and alone is one of recovery's greatest gifts. Stillness is a skill and a practice. For many of us, eating disorder or not, being alone is a huge challenge and trigger. In the quiet of stillness, we are often faced with feelings and thoughts we'd rather override with our to do lists. Think about it. When was the last time you were still? Like really still? With nothing to do or maybe with lots to do, but choosing to take time for yourself and just be. Meet SAVASANA, the most difficult yoga pose. By definition savasana means lying on your back, eyes closed with arms and legs spread at the corners of your mat. My mom is probably getting anxiety just reading that definition: Lying. Still. Even when I am in savasana, my mind wanders to every corner of my brain: What should I feed the kids for lunch? What are we doing tonight? Maybe we can watch a movie. Oh wait, Orange is the New Black is on. Yes, we should watch that. Maybe we can go on a date tomorrow. Jordan is off tomorrow. We should take the kids to the pool. Did I get sunscreen? What if the sunscreen I have is on the toxic lotion list? Does sunscreen really cause cancer? Why did Marjorie get cancer? Is it in the water? Did I give the dogs water this morning? Did I give Lola her medicine? I need to make an appointment for Lilly. Is she due for heart worm? I think all the pets are due. What if they get heart worm? The struggle is REAL y'all.  Like most moms, I am stretched thin, like really, really, really thin. And every so often, I snap. I need time for myself, time to reset and renew. I get to the point where an hour here or there of savasana, I mean yoga is no longer enough. I need a solid refresh session. My refresh sessions usually involve time upstairs in my office, earphones in to drown out the tiny humans on the first floor. It goes without saying, I love my kids and family. I am blessed...yadda...yadda...yadda. AND I am also human. I need time for myself away from my mom/wife/cook/vet/everything else role. This week, as I realized my battery was dangerously low, I laughed at life's irony: years ago I hated everything to do with stillness and solitude. Today, I crave it. I need it. It is an essential part of my mental wellbeing. And it is one that is SO hard to come by, especially as a working mom. Being a mom, a dad, a student, a career person...or any person in between is hard. Life is hard. Life is also very, very busy. Busyness has become the poster child for being good enough. If we fill our lives and calendars with to-do items then we are good enough. We are worthy. You are worthy whether you are the busiest person in the world or if you are laying on your couch watching Housewives. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either of those scenarios. The hard part is learning to say, "I need time for me. I need to just be." The gift of stillness is yet another reason why I am so thankful for my time in treatment and journey to recovery. It is beyond hard to shut the brain down. It is even harder to know that we need time to shut it down. We just keep going and going and going. So here is the Sunday challenge: take time for you. Take time to just be. Find gratitude in the quiet and practice stillness. Give yourself the precious gift of being still. It is a rare gift that we all deserve. These photos were taken on a Sunday during my time in treatment. The weather was turning warmer and I was beginning to find peace within myself. I was healing deep wounds and learning that I was a worthy and wonderful being, deserving of life and every gift recovery had to offer.    

    Authentic, Carolina House, Eating Disorder
  • Posted on April 4, 2016 9:56 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    December 2010 "McCall, breathe with me. Breathe in 2...3...4...out...2...3...4" I could hear the words being spoken to me, but couldn't catch my breath. I sobbed and shook uncontrollably, my body curled tightly in a ball on the stiff therapy couch. I was in treatment and having my first panic/anxiety/emotional tidal wave attack. Without my eating disorder to numb out my emotions, they all hit me at once. My emotional tidal wave had been rising for days and on that cold day in December it crashed and I began to drown under its surge. My ED mind kept telling me to "Get your shit together. Stop crying. What is wrong with you?" But I had no control. I could not stop. "McCall, breathe with me. Look up, tell me where is that one place you can go in your mind that brings you peace." April 3, 2016 The grass crunched beneath my feet and the brisk morning air pierced my face. I slowly walked to the top of Otie's Knob, my happy place. I was on my way back home after what was another epic weekend with my people, my Green Cove camp tribe. But before I could drive down the mountain, I had to return to Otie's Knob. But I had to do it alone. I had to go back and say thank you. Thank you to the people and place that make up my escape. The place that is always there in my heart and available when I close my eyes. It had been years since I stood atop this mountain by myself. Even though my friends and I had hiked up the day before, it was drastically different being there alone. The air was quiet, except for the wind rustling through the trees below. No chatter or laughter. Just me and my happy place. I folded my arms around my body and began to cry. This place, this view and the spirit of this mountain has been my sanctuary my entire life. Green Cove is a camp in every sense of the word. There is not a pool or fancy cabins. You will never hear a bugle call the end of an activity period because that is not what Green Cove is about. Green Cove was created to empower and cultivate every child to be her own guide. It helps campers find their strengths and develop real skills. Green Cove teaches that while we might be different, we all deserve love and kindness. Our circle of camp friends came from every walk of life. We embraced each other, our awkwardness, our strengths and weaknesses. There was no judging - just laughter and play. As a child, camp was my escape from middle school cattiness and feeling like an outcast. No one was an outcast at camp, not even me. In fact, Green Cove was the place I spread my wings and discovered many of my natural gifts: empathy, intuitiveness, leadership and creativity. I never felt judged or cast aside. As the years went on and my eating disorder began to take over, camp was still my escape. While the eating disorder raged in my mind, symptom use drastically lessened in the summers. Camp Green Cove saved me every year giving my body and mind the rest it needed beneath the starry North Carolina skies. This past weekend, I held back tears on more than one occasion as I looked around at the extraordinary women surrounding me. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, moms, entrepreneurs and every career in between. We are liberal, conservative, rich, not so rich. We've shared graduations, weddings, births, divorces and death. And through it all, we support, love and accept one another. Every year or so, no matter how matter how far apart we are, we return to Green Cove, the place that made us the women we are - strong, empathetic, brave and loving. In these last two years of heartache and grief, I have gone to my happy place more occasions than I can count. And when I was too weak to go there in my mind, my girls would bring camp to me with messages, calls, an epic video and love. The day after Marjorie was diagnosed with cancer, I had a long talk with her. I sternly told Marjorie there was a new pink room waiting for her at home. She had to come home because I have plans for her, the world has plans for her. I told her she was going to beat cancer because she is a Green Cove girl. It is in her blood. Her pale body weakly gasped for air as I gently rocked her singing our camp song, "Angels Watching Over Me." I described to her the magical place in the mountains that was waiting for her. There was a campfire seat with her name on it, camp songs waiting to be learned and mountains ready to be hiked.  I told her there was a happy place in the Western North Carolina mountains that I would take her one day. "Yes, my dear Marjorie, you WILL heal and hike up that mountain one day and your momma and her Green Cove tribe will be by your side." Yesterday as I stood quietly atop the mountain, I whispered, "Thank you." Thank you to Green Cove for giving me my happy place, my sanctuary, my tribe. I slowly walked off Otie's, tears still streaming down my face. I hated leaving this place, but I know that it is always with me. Camp Green Cove is just a dream away and my Green Cove girls are always one phone call or massive text chain away.   To my Green Cove tribe, Thank you for loving me all these years. Thank you for loving me even when I couldn't love myself. Thank you for carrying me to Otie's when I was too weak to climb. Thank you for reminding me of my strength within. Thank you for never letting me give up. Thank you for always, always making me laugh and reminding me that love (and killer dance moves) conquers all. And most of all, thank you for being my happy place. God be with you until we meet again...    

    About, Cancer, Carolina House
  • Posted on February 25, 2016 2:27 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    Have you ever wondered what it is like to have an EATING DISORDER? What it is like to live with a horrific mental illness that no one seems to understand, an illness that is often misdiagnosed, swept under the rug or hidden behind plastic smiles? I lived in that prison for fifteen years. Thankfully, I escaped, but millions of others remained trapped. This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week and while the country gathers to smash scales (yay Southern Smash), go makeup-less/mirror-less and other body positive platforms, let us not forget what we are really raising awareness for: a cruel disease that is so misunderstood. Many people share pictures of when they were in treatment or sick with their eating disorder. Pictures do not tell my story. Like so many others, I lived a seemingly happy and perfect life on the outside. If you've heard me speak, then you've watched my video of recovery. Years ago when I sat down to create the video, I had the desire to finally give justice and truth to my story. I struggled in silence for 15-years and I finally wanted to unmask what was hiding beneath those perfect pictures. And the only place that holds the deep and ugly truth were my journals. My journal was the one place I could write my shame story, my struggle, my pain. No one saw my pain on the outside, only my journals knew the prison I lived in. For this year's NEDAwareness Week, I want to reveal my truth and what it is like to live inside the mind of an eating disorder. I often talk about life after my ED, but what about those years I was in it. So I have decided to share a piece of that with you. From abvilence to accept my eating disorder diagnosis to realizing treatment was my only hope to survive, these are excerpts from my 2010 journals - unedited, raw, real. This is a small glimpse into my secret hell, my secret battle with an eating disorder... 1.5.2010 I don't know where to start...or what I'm feeling.  Part of me feels fine, but maybe that's because I can't exactly walk through work with my head down crying, but I'm really sad and unhappy right now.  I feel so big and gross...the holidays have so caught up with me.  And after yet another gung ho recovery effort, I'm back to where I started feeling defeated and ambivalent about the process.  I just want to get some weight off then get back on track.  Part of me is so angry right now too...angry and scared. I am sinking inward...not wanting to talk to anyone or see anyone...it makes me sad.   I hate this insane mental battle. I'm not doing inpatient...so not an option.  I can do this on my own, I can...I just need to get over myself. I'm pissed because I'm having to do all of this shit...who says it is that bad. Why isn't it just disordered eating instead of full blown ED? What if this process - all of the therapy and attention to the disorder has made it worse than it ever was.  What if I wouldn't have said anything...it was not this bad before...i was not this miserable and sad and unhappy and angry with everyone and the world. 5.24.2010 The sadness has crept in again and I don't know why. I'm overwhelmed with sadness. The thoughts have crept back in and I am letting them take me away.  I continue to doubt things are that bad because I really don't believe they are if people would just leave me alone. I'm just so confused. 9.20.2010 I hate this - I can't focus...I can't get anything done.  All I can think about is the damn smoothie I had at lunch and how many sugars were in it and whether I should eat a snack or not.  And then just about all of this  ...it won't leave me.  My head hurts from the constant thinking and debating and not knowing what to do. Why can't I fucking let go of this shit once and for all.  I am - right now.  I am going to make this effort for me...I am better than this.  I am going to fight this thing head on and do whatever I have to do to get me to recovery...I want to say I'm in recovery...not I have an eating disorder...Enough is enough.  I refuse to waste energy on this. I have to stop being afraid of hurting those I love.  I need to put me first.  Enough of this shit.  It's time I enjoy life - and really enjoy with all of me...not just with part of me when I feel good about me - enjoy it 24/7...I want energy to make it through the day...energy to stay focused and alert...energy just to be me. 10.11.2010 I can't focus on anything - all I think about is this issue.  I'm feeling like a relapse is on the horizon because that is all I want.  I stole a bunch of laxatives from mom and dads - ugh who does that.  Then I knew I was setting myself up yesterday for a binge and purge...and of course I did.  Now as a result I am tired, foggy and swollen - which makes me want to go buy water pills to help that - I'm in this violent circle again - tip toeing around the edge. I just want to get this weight off and get back in control of things. I feel so out of control, but at the same time all I want to do is eat.  Why am I so hungry?  I can't control myself around food - unless I control my access to it.  I am very frustrated right now.  I need to get over my crazy ways and just be.  Why can't I just be?  I am just so annoyed with myself.  I want to let this go - but here we are again with my eating disorder. It is all I crave. 11.2.2010 I threw up blood yesterday...and it did not bother me.  I am totally numb.  I was caught so off guard when I looked into the toilet and saw a clot of blood floating amidst the disgusting vomit.  And yet I continued to shove my fingers down my throat.  I am numb as I write this - I feel as though it is an out of body experience.  I hate all of the words like - vomit, purge, fingers down throat...but that is what it is.  It is time I stop candy coating and using all of my code words.  I fucking binge and eat everything my fat ass wants then purge and then have plans later for restriction.  I allow myself to eat, eat, eat then purge...then restrict because then it is time to shape back up. It's a pattern that has been happening for what seems like all of my life since childhood.  When will it stop?  When will I quit numbing myself and pretending things are fine?  Obviously, things are not fine.  It is not normal to puke blood, then keep puking and then not being disturbed by what you saw.  I should have freaked out...I should have been disturbed and should have yelled for help.  But I didn't.  I washed my face and continued on with my day - just shaky and numb.  Why do I continue to do this?  Eat, purge, repeat.  Therefore, no more feelings - just numb oblivion.  I'm beginning to wonder will this ever completely go away - I'm honestly not sure.  Because right now I can't focus.  I feel nothing - just nothing...happy on the outside, but afraid of what is about to surface on the inside. 11.10.2010 I am lost.  No other way to put it.  I am in constant turmoil - a constant back and forth tug of war between ED and the healthy me.  I am petrified of what lies ahead and I don't know why because it would be all wonderful and good things - health, a family, happiness, freedom.  So what am I so afraid of?  I don't know. There is a quiet voice I can barely hear that says I'm better than this. What the fuck is wrong with me?  Why do I know if I put the opportunity in front of me to binge, purge, take pills, etc I would do it?  The only reason I don't buy pills is because it would devastate Jordan and hurt him so bad.  I have hurt him enough.  I could care less what would happen to me. I know there is someone inside of me that does NOT want this anymore.  I tired of this - I don't have the energy.  It's all I think about. I carry it with me 24/7 and I burden everyone else with it too. My twisted mind keeps going back and forth - driving those around me mad, driving me mad because I know the truth. I know today things have got to change.  I've said it before and been full of bullshit - afraid to make the real changes - the ones that mean something, the hard ones.  Maybe now I'm just more realistic in that I know it's going to be the hardest thing I've ever done. It's so easy for me to minimize everything, not just ED, but everything in my life.  I'd rather talk about everyone else then have people talk about me.  I don't know why - it's just what I'm comfortable with. The crazy thing is that I thought getting married was going to solve my little issue with food.  I focused on the wedding and what I had to do to 'prepare'...I thought life was so good and that after the wedding it would be so good.  I binged on my own wedding cake.  Driving to work.  Sick.  I was so thin I knew I could have a piece at home when we got back from our honeymoon.  And I did - all of it.  In my car driving to work at 8am.  Sick.  This is my untold secret - the last of my secrets.  I binge.  Binge. Binge. Binge.  I loose control - that precious thing that I hold so tight.  I control everything...except my binging.  And now I have discovered and perfected the purge. Ugh it's so sick.  So embarrassing.  But nonetheless it is what I do, what I've always done.  I am tired of this.  It's getting old. ED is getting old. 11.30.2010 Officially one week away from my 29th birthday.  This is so not the place I imagined myself to be when I turned 29.  I just wrote the Carolina House an email asking for an admission date.  I just don't know what I'm doing.  Is this the right thing?  I feel like it is but wont let myself believe that I am 'that bad off'.  This has been a part of my life for so long I don't know any different.  All I know is that I am at the end of my rope and I feel that life has just unraveled.  I don't have the words to describe how I feel, what 'behaviors' I'm doing or why I do them.  I just don't know - I never know.  All I know is that I feel empty and I feel dramatic for feeling that way.  I feel that I am supposed to just get my ass up and kick it into gear.  I need to stop with this bullshit and get the fuck up.  But I don't.  I just want to lie in bed or curl up because everything hurts too much.  I know I am sick and I need more help than anyone can offer me here. The thought of being free from this and moving on with a productive and happy life is so overwhelming - I want it so bad.  But as long as I stay in this place I continue in the same cycle of having my every move dictated by someone/something beyond my control.  I am unable to function on my own.  I don't know how to sit and plan and be productive...not that I always have to be productive, but I am constantly distracted thinking about ED and thinking about what I can eat next, how many calories, what's in the pantry, what I can purge, how to cover my tracks, or maybe not eat - just make coffee or popcorn.  It is a constant, 24/7 debate. I truly pray that I am able to be open and honest when I go to NC.  I want to be so bad - but sometimes I just don't have the words.... God, please give me the words.  Let this be done. I share these today to remind you that no matter how alone you feel, hope is there. Our stories might be different, but hope remains in us all. I once gave up that hope in recovery, but my team never did. I believed in them and they believed in me.  Always remember that recovery is forever and always possible...I am living proof. With love and light, McCall

    Carolina House, Eating Disorder, Journals
  • Posted on February 19, 2016 7:29 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    Today, I experienced one of those full circle moments in life that takes your breath away. For the past two days, I attended an eating disorder conference and saw many, many friends some of whom I haven't seen since Marjorie was born. I received numerous hugs, arm squeezes and sympathetic head nods. I loved and appreciated every single one. My Carolina House family was, of course, well represented at the iaedp conference. My former therapist, nutritionist and a few others who have found their way into private practice. I love seeing and catching up with those special people who played such a huge role in my recovery. They were with me on those days that I just rocked and rocked on the front porch writing baby names in my journal. I wanted a family, but I wanted recovery first. My main motivation to recover was to start a family and these two women beside me have been next to me since the beginning, walking with me on this beautiful journey. When Manning was just a few months old, I traveled back to the Carolina House to show off my precious baby boy, my proudest recovery gift. Today, Marjorie got to meet a few of the people who played an instrumental role in her mother's recovery, along with many other eating disorder professionals who help so many. The eating disorder professional community has not only welcomed me, but supported, prayed and cried with me during the last 16-months. My heart was so full seeing everyone meet Marjorie today, especially Christy. Today as Marjorie grinned and giggled at Christy, I was hit with memories and choked back tears. The simple interaction brought me back to a day I think of often. The day after Marjorie's biopsy surgery proved to be a day I will never forget. Its memories give me chills and a stomach ache at the same time. The pain, sorrow, exhaustion and eventual hope made it a day I will always remember and a phone call I will never forget. On June 2, 2015, I hit the wall, the inevitable wall. My body was weak, my mind scattered and my heart was completely shattered. I needed to let it out - the anger and sadness. I remember seeing a sign that said 'Patio' and I realized I had not been outside in a week. I stumbled out the door and onto a bench. While sitting down, I received an email from Christy and without thinking I dialed her number. I needed someone who knew me - really knew me and could sit with me in what was the lowest point of my life, someone who had already sat with me through a dark time. She answered the phone knowing it was me and within minutes, I was letting out a bellowing cry. I physically hurt and was bent over with my head between my knees, one hand grasping the phone and the other squeezing my stomach in a feeble attempt to rip out the pain that was inside. My cries turned to anger as I screamed, "Why isn't it me? Why isn't it me in that bed? I want to die, Christy, I want to die." There was no filter, my mind and heart spilled out. I hurt more than I ever knew was humanly possible. In the moment, I thought I was going to ache forever. Christy sat quietly on the other end, giving me the space and support to say everything I needed. In between my moans, I could hear her sniffling. When I was deep in my disorder, I would experience tidal waves of painful cries. I felt like they would never end. I am living proof that even the most painful of emotions end. They might not go totally away, but they will end if you honor them. Because I let it out that day, because I followed my gut, I was able to hang up, take a deep breath, wash my face and go back to my daughter's bedside. Regardless of how painful that day was, it was such an important day and one I refer to often when speaking. In the darkness of these horrible life moments, we have a choice - we can give ourselves the permission and grace to feel and let it out or we can 'survive' and continue hanging on by a thread. Recovery is THE GREATEST gift I have ever given myself and one that proves itself to be on a daily basis. Never be afraid to let it all out - the good, the bad, the big ugly cry and weeping sorrow. Find a person and use them. I am blessed to have cultivated a big support circle. And after five years, I am so thankful to still have Christy in my rolodex.   Below is the journal entry from that day. I have not gone back to look at these posts until today and now I remember why... Tuesday, June 2 – 9:00pm This afternoon was pretty uneventful for both Marjorie and me. The more time I spent with Marjorie the better I felt. I was still struggling with it all this morning. My body was still shaking and my mind was so foggy. I thought a night’s sleep would help me be more alert and responsive. I was wrong. It was next to impossible to get my body out of bed. I felt as though I had the weight of the world pinning me down. As much as I wanted to get up, I just couldn’t. Then Jessica texted me saying the doctors were making rounds. I got up and staggered to the bathroom. Brushed my teeth and hair and went to put on clothes, which are extremely limited at this point. I was forced to put on a Nike jacket my mom gave me. It’s a great jacket. One problem: Jessica was wearing a matching one downstairs. Text from Jessica: Our room is next for rounds. Hurry. Shit. Matching Bobbsey Twins it is. I raced down the hall and into the elevators. I hit the third floor and felt as though my legs were going to give out. Why did I still feel so weak? I slept last night, well sort of. Marjorie’s room was surrounded by doctors, residents and nurses when I got there. I walked in and saw Jessica in the matching jacket. The doctor stopped and smirked at the set of Nike twins standing in front of him. The resident began to rattle off Marjorie’s case as if she was reading a seafood gumbo recipe card. I once again felt as though I was floating in a dream. My eyes went between the resident talking and my sweet baby girl lying in her bed connected to every tube this hospital has to offer. I held Marjorie’s hand while I let my sister handle the medical entourage in our room. It was still too much. A voice in my head kept saying, “Get it together. You need to listen. You need to know what’s going on.” But my body and mind could not catch up. When rounds were complete, Jessica went upstairs to shower and change out of our matching jackets. I was left alone in her room for the first time. I stood over my precious baby girl, talking to her and eventually sobbing to her telling her how sorry I was. She is heavily sedated, but I know she hears me. I sang our song and felt her little hand squeeze my finger so tight I never wanted to let go, but I did because I felt as though my knees were going to give out. Jessica returned so I stepped out to go to the bathroom. On my way back to the room, I saw a sign that said ‘Patio Access’. I decided to explore and also that it would hurt to get some fresh air, considering that I had not been outside the hospital in a week. Literally. I found a bench and sat down. My hope was that maybe some time outside would do my mind and body good. That if I took a little ‘breather’ my mind would return and I would be able to process and have conversations with doctors again. My phone buzzed signaling new emails. I opened my phone and glanced at the emails. There was one from my former Carolina House therapist. I typically reply via email, but for some reason my hand went to the phone number in her signature. I didn’t know why at the time, but I know now. Before recovery, I kept everything bottled up inside. I never listened to my body or intuition, whether it be hunger cues or emotional cues. Today, I follow my ‘gut’. Often times I have no idea why I do something until much later. The phone rang twice before Christy picked up with a soft, “Hi.” “Hey,” I muttered back. I filled her in on the medical side of things, Marjorie’s treatment plan and prognosis. Then somewhere along the way, my voice cracked and the flood gates opened. I’ve cried a lot this week. I’ve broken down a lot this week. I’ve almost passed out multiple times this week, but I haven’t cracked. I cracked and let it all out. The sadness, the anger, the confusion, the desperation to trade places with my baby girl. Emotions poured out. I needed a safe place and a safe person. I am lucky to have two ‘safe’ people in my life. They are not in my inner-circle, but know me better than most. I did not know when I clicked the call button, but I knew when I hung up why I called. My intuition and spirit knew that was what I needed. I did not need someone to say it was going to all be okay. I needed someone to let me pour it out, to cry with me and to tell me THAT was okay. All to often we want to fix: fix problems, fix emotions, fix cancer. I seem to find myself in these situations that there isn’t a ‘fix,’ but rather a ‘sit with it and in it’ kind of scenario. Sigh. But I’ve been through it enough to know if I don’t let the emotions out, if I don’t take care of myself, then I am no help to Marjorie and the people I love most. I walked back into Marjorie’s room weak and tired, but calm. My emotions were calming and settling down, kind of like Marjorie’s heart rate. After a yummy lunch (thank you, Derek, for Publix Sub Tuesday), I found my mind clear and almost alert. My ‘island besties’ came to visit, as well as a sweet friend from Jacksonville. They all loaded me down with snacks and special gifts. I was actually able to talk and enjoy the visit…even laugh. Then Dr. Gauger came in just to check on Marjorie. She was our first Oncology doctor who gave us our diagnosis and game plan. She isn’t even on service this week, but wanted to check on Marjorie. Did I mention how extraordinary she is? She has stolen our hearts like Marjorie has stolen hers. I suddenly found myself having a lucid conversation with Dr. Gauger and our PICU doctor. I was answering questions and responding in complete, coherent sentences. Sounds silly, but I honestly haven’t been able to put words together. Today was, dare I say it, a good day…well in comparison to the past week. Marjorie is stable. Marjorie is COMFORTABLE and that is all that matters. We will stay on the vent until her liver goes down. When will her liver go down? When will the chemo start working? Well, those are the million dollar questions. Tonight Jessica and I are having a slumber party upstairs in our old room, which we have now dubbed the ‘Hospitality Suite’. We both need a good night’s sleep. I can’t thank the Wolfson staff enough for their love and kindness. I rest easy knowing my girl is just downstairs resting peacefully. Tonight’s prayers are said to St. Erasmus (Patron Saint of Liver Disease) and St. Peregrine (Patron Saint of Cancer). It is time for some LIVER SHRINKAGE!!!!  

    Cancer, Carolina House, Eating Disorder