• Posted on February 1, 2017 4:23 pm
    McCall Dempsey
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    For the last ten years, February 2nd has been a bittersweet day for me. While I wish our wedding day, conjured feelings of love and joy, my heart pulls the opposite way. My day was lost stolen by my eating disorder. This is a notion not many can understand or relate to, even my own husband. Rather than look back on my wedding day as a Cinderella Story, I see it has my personal hell. I was a prisoner in my own mind, trapped inside calories and weight. My bright orange, digital scale giving me my daily worth. I watched the number sink lower as our wedding day approached. My close friends and family wrote off weight loss as "The Bride Diet" because it is normal for brides to shrink down for her big day, a notion I fight hard against today. I have waited ten years to reclaim our day. A day that should have been about Jordan and me, joining hearts and hands to spend our lives together. Six years ago, I spent our fourth wedding anniversary in treatment at the Carolina House. I spent that day grieving my wedding and what should have been. Deep down I had hope that one day I would reclaim what should have been mine. That day is now here. Jordan and I have had more bumps on the road than many of our friends. But we don't walk through life asking "Why?" We embrace the cards we are dealt and walk forward with faith, gratitude, perseverance and love. Someone once asked me what has carried Jordan and me through all of our tough times. It took me no time to answer: laughter. Jordan isn't my rock. He melts and falls with me, but I can always count on him to make me laugh. Even on our worst days, his light heart brings a smile to my face. He reminds me that laughter and joy are never far away, some days we just have to look a bit harder to see them. Six years ago, Christy asked me what recovery looked like. And six years later, my answer has slightly changed. It used to be walking on the beach with Jordan, but now it is skipping. Our life and our love has been tested over and over again. My heart is filled with more love and gratitude I can't help but kick my feet up in the sand and skip with joy. My energy is no longer spent on what I look like, how much I weigh or what people thing. My energy is spent feeling the joy, the sadness and every emotion life throws my way. I am living life. And tomorrow, Jordan and I will reclaim the day that was ours all along. A video posted by McCall Manning Dempsey (@mccalldempsey) on Feb 1, 2017 at 10:47am PST ​ Cheers to ten years...and cheers to LIFE and LOVE.

    Eating Disorder, Live Life, Relationships
  • 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 October 8, 2016 9:52 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    To my dearest daughter on your second birthday, I wish I could look back on this day with loving memories and joy. But I can’t. Your birth date was one of the most difficult days of my life. I will never forget the sounds and sterile surroundings of the OR room. Your daddy sat behind my head, resting his face next to mine and holding my hands that stretched out on the cold steel table. When Dr. Glas finally pulled you out, the nurse came around the curtain and held you up. “She’s beautiful, mom and dad.” She said as she held you up for us to see your precious face. You looked back at us with wide eyes, as if to tell us, “I’ve got this mom and dad.” Tears streamed down my face – and your daddy’s too. Those precious few seconds would be my only glimpse of you on your birth date. My body had been through too much and I was unable to see you until the following day. I could not get to you fast enough the next day. Waiting for the doctor to make rounds and free me from the catheter and IVs, was agony. Unable to walk, your Aunt Anne and daddy wheeled me down. Daddy already had the NICU drill down – sign in, scrub in. I followed his lead, trying my best to clean my hands with IVs hanging from my arm. He pushed my wheelchair into your tiny room, where your NICU Momma Lisa was already there loving on you. She lowered your bed so I could get my first glimpse at you. I slowly reached my hand through the tiny porthole of your Plexiglas home and touched your tiny fingers. Tears welled and streamed down my face. You were so beautiful – and so tiny. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. But there you were. You clearly had a different agenda. Your birth set the tone for the spirit you carry with you today: small, but MIGHTY. Tough, but loving. Wild and free. Full of LIFE and ready for life’s next adventure – even if your mom and dad aren’t ready. You clearly have your own timeline and march to your own drum. Your contagious laughter and independence are going to carry you so far in life, my sweet girl – I just hope daddy and I can keep up with you! I don’t know why you have had to endure so much in your short two years, but I do know that there is NOTHING you can’t overcome. You have captured the heart of so many – and you have so many angels flying on your shoulders, watching over you, protecting you when we can’t. I often think about how I will tell you about your birth and tumultuous first year of life. I still don’t have the answer, but I don’t think I have to. You will let me know when you are ready. You will lead the way in your own life – just as you always have. Marjorie Mims, you are a shining example of what life is about. Perseverance, discovery, love, hope and faith. May this year be filled with tons of laughter, Minnie Mouse, wagon rides, black beans & cheese (lots of cheese), dancing, singing, sparkly & squeaky shoes, hair bows, big brother tackles, friends and HEALTH. You are my hero. You and your big brother are my heart and my light. I prayed long and hard for you. I dreamed about you before you even kicked your way into this world. I thank God every day for not only blessing me with a baby girl, but a feisty one who is going to be a world changer. You’ve already changed my world for the better. I know this isn't the birthday we planned on. Hurricane Matthew drove us out of our home, but we are together - and that is all that matters. You continue to teach us that no matter what curveball life throws us, we will march on - and we will do it with laughter and love. The world is your oyster baby girl and I can hardly wait to see what God has in store for you! Happy happy birthday my precious angel. Here is to the best year yet and prayers that your daddy and me can keep up with you! We love you, peanut!

    Faith, Family, Health
  • Posted on July 20, 2016 10:19 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    ...they sat down, ordered a beer and started reminiscing on the good ole days. This was last weekend for me, at the wedding of one of my dearest and oldest camp friends. Camp Green Cove has connected me with the most extraordinary people on earth. We come from different walks of life and wear different labels. But we are blind to labels, we only see the exquisite person underneath. We have so many labels that define us, whether self or society inflicted. My time at Green Cove stripped away all labels. There was no fat/thin, black/white, Jewish/Christian, gay/straight. We were all kids, loving life and loving each other no matter how different we were because we really didn't even know we were considered different. I was probably 17 before I realized my best friend was Jewish. After that, the two of us would stay up for hours talking about Catholicism, Judaism and the meaning of life in general. This past weekend was a beautiful reminder of what life can be like when we forget the labels and just be. After the fantastic welcome party in downtown Asheville, a group of us walked to another bar. Some straight, some gay and some transgender. We sat at a table, met partners and shared life stories. The next day was much of the same: laughter, rosé, new and old friends. Alden and Olivia's ceremony was the most beautiful and unique wedding I have ever witnessed. The heavens literally opened up, rain poured down, but the mood was not dampened. The entire wedding danced the night away and toasted to the beautiful couple. What really left a mark on me was the post wedding day activity: tubing down the French Broad. Everyone met in the parking lot with excitement (and post wedding headaches). We laughed at previous night shenanigans, lathered up with sunscreen and rented our tubes. As we plopped oh so elegantly into the river, there was one topic I never heard: fat talk. There was not a single mention about body parts. No "I'm so fat" or "OMG my muffin top". Nothing. It was body silent - just laughter and belly laughs at everyone's float mount. The Green Cove tribe tied our tubes together for our slow float down the river. In the two hour float, not a single minute was passed in silence or talking about bodies. I was blown away, but not shocked. I would not be here today without Camp Green Cove. It was my sanctuary every summer. It was the one place where I could really be me: witty, empathetic, goofy, sensitive and kind. No one ever picked apart my body at camp and there were no body competitions. Diet talk and fat talk simply did not exist when you entered the Blue Ridge Mountains. As I dismounted my float (actually, I ended up floating in the tiny cooler float because my float hit a rock...shocking, I know), I smiled. Well, I smiled because I just spent the last hour in the world's smallest float, but mostly I smiled because I was back with my tribe. My people. My place in the world where it doesn't matter if my belly rolls when I sit or if I say something silly. A place where I get to meet the most incredible people and reunite with my favorites. We are all who we are. Some of us have more bruises and scars in the journey of self-discovery. Some of us have endured ridicule and bullying for our sexual orientation. Some of us have destroyed our bodies only to build them back up again. At the end of the day, when we reunite, we are still the kids who climbed the mountains without fat talk, laughed without labels and loved without boundaries. May all of us aspire to be Green Cove girls - to love one another in a world filled with so much dark. May our light and love shine outward. May we never judge based on labels. May we always be kind to one another. And above all else, may we always be kind to ourselves. It doesn't matter what label you wear at the bar or in life...as long as you wear it with pride and love. Because at the end of the day, we all know this one simple truth... LOVE (always, always) WINS.                       Cheers!  

    Authentic, Body Image, Eating Disorder
  • Posted on July 7, 2016 7:57 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    [Guest Blog for Jacksonville Mom Blog] Soapy suds ran down my naked body in the shower. I closed my eyes in an attempt at one minute of peace in my whirlwind life as a working mom with two babies. No such luck. “Honey,” my husband yelled as he swung open the bathroom door holding Marjorie. “Did you know the stovetop is loose?” “Yes. Yes. I know it is. I will call the contractor.” Jordan walked out and Manning entered a few minutes later showing me a truck I have seen (and picked up) a thousand times. Sigh. So much for a few minutes alone. I turned the shower off, opened the door, grabbed the towel and stepped out of the shower. Jordan and Marjorie reappeared this time trailed by our two dogs. I stood before my husband naked as he went on telling me about his day, weekend plans and other non-important news. My thoughts had nothing to do with my body and everything to do with my desire to have a solid five minutes alone. Read the rest about how my hubby saw me naked on the Jacksonville Mom Blog

    Body Image, Eating Disorder, Motherhood