How I Finally Lost the Holiday Weight

I have been feeling heavier than ever these past few weeks. My anxiety high and emotional fuse short. I knew this time of year would be hard – my first holiday in grief, but I had no idea just how much the heaviness would weigh me down.

My grief has manifested in an array of emotions. And, like most people, I find it 10,000 times easier to lean the other way rather into the hurt. I have spent much of this year leaning into work, family, busyness or color coding my cute planner…basically ANYTHING to distract me from the real pain and hurt.

My GaGa is not coming back. It has taken me almost a year to truly accept this. I have been waiting for the perfect signs. I peer slowly around corners in hopes to catch a sunflower in a sidewalk or the proverbial red bird sitting perfectly waiting to chirp directly at me.

The funny thing is that I have seen countless red birds and witnessed beautiful sunflowers, but none were ‘perfect’ enough. They weren’t her talking to me. I needed to lean into the hurt, but was afraid. I couldn’t muster the energy or find the support to do so.

In early November, I knew it was all starting to be too much. My anxiety was through the roof and I was isolating away from the people I love most. I needed support and had to take the brave steps to find it. Just like people can’t read your mind, the perfect therapist isn’t going to call and invite you to her couch. You have to go out and find them.

I drew on some inner strength (and Google) and did just that. My new therapist and I have been talking a lot about leaning in – leaning in to the grief rather than run from it with to do lists and busyness, carving out time to sit and ‘be’ (ugh! I hate ‘be’ing) with GaGa and my grief. As well as realizing ‘signs’ (like life) do not appear in perfect forms. GaGa is with me when I open her dining hutch that now sits in my dining room. GaGa is with me when I see my son holding the blanket she made him seven years ago. She is always with me AND it still hurts.

My birthday came and went without a call or card, but I leaned into that hurt. And I didn’t just survive and limp through that day, I thrived through it with intention.

I cried (and cried…and cried) days leading up to my birthday. And on my day, I was at peace. I was okay.

As Christmas approached, I was met with the same heaviness, knowing it was a year ago that GaGa wasn’t just here on earth, but at my house. I renovated a bathroom just so she could come and in hopes she would come back for longer periods of time.

I had a funny feeling last year would be a year of lasts. I didn’t outwardly acknowledge it, but I felt it in my gut. That is why I impulsively flew from Delaware to Baton Rouge to surprise her for her 94th birthday. It is why I renovated a bathroom so she would come for Christmas.

And this year was a year of firsts: first Easter, Mother’s Day, kids’ birthdays, her birthday, my birthday, Christmas without her. I gained so much (emotional) weight this year trying to muddle through life without my best friend.

And finally on the 25th day of the last month of the year, I shed the weight. I leaned in. I leaned in all the damn way in and it hurt like hell.

So how did I do it? How did I finally lean in all the way?

Last year on Christmas day, everyone went to nap – everyone, except Gaga and me. We sat out on what was a bluebird perfect day and talked. That was GaGa and me, we could talk for HOURS on end. I would ask her to tell me about her days as a welder in WWII, how she left home to help for the war, how she raised three kids, and a million other questions.

As she recounted her life story, intuition knotted my stomach and told me to hit record on my camera. I clicked the red button on my phone and secretly filmed her telling me her life story.

I didn’t tell her because she would have killed me! But I knew in that moment that I wanted to capture it (and her) forever.

Nearly three weeks later she was gone.

I have watched the video from time to time over this year, never getting through its entirety. When I really missed her late at night, I would play it and go to sleep with her talking to me.

Christmas afternoon 2018 was eerily similar to 2017 – picture perfect sky and a quiet house. I stood over the kitchen sink cleaning. I felt exhausted and heavy. I decided to stop what I was doing. I poured a glass of GaGa and my favorite champagne, Verve Cliquot, and headed outside.

I wadded up on my outdoor couch and hit PLAY.

I cried. I hurt. I laughed. And I cried some more. But I smiled. I smiled as it felt like she was there with me, talking directly to me. I watched both videos, over thirty minutes, while sipping champagne and wiping my tears.

The video ended. I stood up, walked inside and resumed cleaning. I felt lighter and more at peace than I had this entire year.

I had finally lost the weight. I had leaned in, really leaned in and let go, knowing there will never be a ‘perfect’ sign and even worse, knowing she is not coming back, but also embracing that I will be okay.

I’ll never forget the morning of GaGa’s funeral. I put on my white coat and draped GaGa’s pearls around my neck. I looked in the mirror and felt beautiful and confident, as well as absolutely heartbroken. I felt grounded as I shared her eulogy because I knew GaGa and I said our good-bye without a single regret. I stood at her grave, sunflower in hand feeling both confident and about to crumble – such is the dichotomy of grief and life.

I am entering 2019 with those same feelings, especially with the one year anniversary of her death is just three weeks away. But this year I will continue to lean in, knowing I will be okay.

So you want to lose that extra baggage? Lean in to what scares you most. Embrace the hurt and the ugly.

We can either choose to push our hurt away, letting it affect our relationships and life or we can lean in. It took me a year and some really hard therapy sessions these last two months, but I’m doing the work and leaning in.

If life were up to me, GaGa would still be here. Unfortunately, life isn’t always up to me, but how I handle these moments are my choice.

I’m leaning in and losing the weight. Won’t you join me?

And PS…the day after Christmas (after I stopped searching for ‘the perfect’ sign) Jordan, the kids and I pulled up to the house and all together spotted a red bird sitting perfectly on the edge of the roof, staring straight at us. I had to laugh. I see you GaGa, and love you. Always.

Ditching the BUSY Diet

Yesterday, I almost forgot to eat…almost. It was one of those work from your car, the hair salon and be the kids’ chauffeur kind of days. I couldn’t help but think of a diet I used to be a big fan of – the BUSY Diet.

I grew up hearing the phrase, “I was so busy today, I forgot to eat.”

This led me to connect that forgetting to eat (aka restricting) means you are busy and productivity means you are worthy. Stopping to eat and nourish my body quickly became equated to weakness, shame and/or worthlessness. After every meal or binge, I would berate myself, “Why can’t I ‘forget’ to eat?” I was embarrassed to eat in front of others because in my head it meant I was lazy and worthless.

The BUSY Diet and its harmful ‘I forgot to eat’ language echoed the halls of high school, my home and reverberated throughout my life for years to come. Now that I am a proud member of the motherhood gang, I hear about the BUSY Diet on the days that end in ‘y’. It makes me thankful for my recovery and sad that so many busy themselves in hopes to numb out uncomfortable feelings or anxiety.

I get it. We are B-U-S-Y. I have had plenty of days where I look at my watch and it is 1pm and I have to scramble to find lunch. I also get the physical appeal of forgetting to eat. That feeling of emptiness and maybe even the number on the scale going down because you are so busy. Of course, when the number on the scale goes down, the compliments increase only reinforcing the BUSY diet.

I’m thankful to have escaped from the BUSY Diet…and my eating disorder. Food is no longer on my brain 24/7, but neither is busyness! Sure, I’m off-balance most days, juggling work, kids and the Dempsey zoo. With the chaos of my life, I forget A LOT in my daily life – kids’ lunch boxes, those 100 solo cups I signed up to bring to school Friday, returning emails, texts, calls and any other form of communication…the list of “Things McCall forgot” goes on…and on…and on. But one thing I never forget is to eat.

I wrote this blog from Zoe’s Kitchen where I grabbed a late lunch before picking up my ballerina for dance class. After a late breakfast and coffee, I headed to my once a year hair appointment (praise up for fresh hair!), left the salon at 1pm, ran to Target (because I refuse to take my children into Target, especially Marjorie, it turns into a 2-hour trip looking up and down every aisle.) After Target, I planned to go home and eat, but time got away from me. Marjorie isn’t the only one with time management issues at Target.

I was starving and knew I didn’t have time to make it home. So off to Zoe’s Kitchen I went and ate all by my happy self. I could have EASILY ran three more errands or stopped at a coffeeshop to work, filling up on caffeine instead of the real calories my body needed. But, alas, the beauty of recovery!

In a world that tells us we should GO-GO-GO, recovery tells us the opposite: slow down and take care of your body. I wish everyone could understand and embrace the recovery lifestyle. I am so thankful for my eating disorder for giving me the opportunity to learn how to live a life that honors who I am: mind, BODY and spirit.

Mom life keeps us busy enough. Hell, I don’t know how I make it through most days without forgetting a kid or locking the dog outside (actually forgot the cat outside last night so never mind). My main motivation for recovery was to be a good role model for my kids. I would never want my kids to deny themselves food for the sake of productivity so why would I do that to myself?

I slow down to nourish and recharge. I cannot pour from an empty cup. And Lord knows a hangry momma isn’t a fun momma!

The BUSY Diet is just as bad as every other diet. Being productive does not make you a worthy and capable human being. You are worthy as you are. Take time for YOU. Slow down. Rest. Recharge. And go again.

Skip the coffee and get some real food. (Or get coffee with real food). I highly recommend Zoe’s chicken roll ups 😉

PS…While busyness isn’t an excuse to not eat, busyness is my excuse for not paying more attention to this blog. Life has been cray-CRAY. And I can get perfectionistic with this blog – perfect title, photos, links, etc. So I will be ripping off the perfection band-aid and heading back to the imperfect world where I live. Stay tuned and subscribe because I plan to be writing a lot more imperfect posts 😉 

Because Not Even Jesus Could Do It All

This working mom thing has been kicking my ass lately. I do my best to manage my foundation, mentoring folks in recovery, while also taking care ofmy family, pets (because that struggle is real) and the house. On the days that end in ‘y’, I feel pulled in a thousand directions, never completing one task before getting overwhelmed in another. I don’t think I’m alone in this scenario:

I start an email and suddenly find myself meticulously cleaning a nail and screwdriver drawer in the garage. Or I load up to run errands to adult places like the bank and post office and suddenly find myself in the dollar section of Target…for two hours.

And underneath all of my current life to dos is this little thing called grief, pressing on my heart and mind all day. Jordan and I also had to say our ‘See you laters’ to our best friends who are our family last Sunday as they moved to Texas. To say our hearts were broken is an understatement.

After a super busy Mother’s Day weekend and a busy and emotionally draining few months, I decided I needed a good recharge. Recharge for me means sleep (which is fleeting when your 3-year old has a cold), cutting out alcohol, good nutrition (meaning feeding my body mindfully, rather than on the go. NOTE: This does NOT mean eating “healthy”. Our society equates cleanses and detoxes to recharging, when it actually does the opposite. READ: your body needs food.) Recharge also means erasing my social calendar and staying in.

My mind is easily cluttered. My life by itself is a clutter – an organized(ish) and fun clutter, but clutter nonetheless. I am a work hard, play hard kind of gal. I throw myself into life in the very best of ways. When you see me at an event, I am ALL in. When you see me with my kids, I am all in. But there comes a point where I fall down head first. My ongoing challenge is to recognize my need to slow down before falling, but we are all a work in progress here, right?

I knew I needed a serious recharge when my body became weak with a cold, my mind on overdrive, and my sleep non-existence thanks to anxiety. I could feel suppressed emotions welling up from within, bound to erupt whether I was ready or not. My emotions needed an outlet and my body needed rest – real rest.

I always say recovery isn’t a ‘cure’, it is this amazing gift of awareness. It does not mean I live a perfectly balanced and emotionally stable life. Recovery means I live life – the good, the bad and the emotionally unstable. BUT I now have the wherewithal when I need a good recharge. I can sense when I’m numbing out my emotions with busyness or wine and need to reset my body and mind.

And I know I am not alone.

We are all guilty of over-filling our lives with to do lists, work, food, pills, alcohol, social media or simply saying “yes” to everything that is asked of us. In our current climate, it is impossible not to fall into an unhealthy coping mechanism to distract us from life’s anxieties. The end goal, for me at least, is not to never again over schedule; it is simply to continue to be aware.

How am I really feeling? What does my body really need? What can I do to honor my body, mind and spirit in this moment?

My standard argument to my husband when I feel like I am not being ‘heard’ or ‘seen’ is: “When is the last time you gave the dogs and cat their heartworm medicine?”

Can I get an Amen, ladies? No offense to the guys, but as women, we often take the burden of house work, child care…and pet care, while also working full time.

However, I am proud to say that my husband and I split majority of child care. I am also thankful that my hubby knows when I’m overworked and overtired. He usually gives me a timeout and sends me to my room. You would think I would skip into my room and take a nap. But I resistantly shuffle to the back feeling guilty because ‘I should’ be able to manage it all. And there is that ‘should’ word sliding into my brain. ‘Should’ is my five alarm fire that I need a recharge. We can exhaust ourselves with what we ‘should’ be or things that we ‘should’ be able to handle, but all that does is take necessary energy away from what is really going on – we are tired, stressed and need to hit the reset button.

Usually for me, after a few days of recharge, I come to my (no longer numbed out) senses and realize that not even Jesus Himself could manage all of this. Right?

[When your grocery trip perfectly resembles your current state of mind.]

Life is B-U-S-Y. And it ain’t slowing down any time soon. So I am going to have to make recharging a top priority for myself, which is beyond hard for me. I am really good at ‘resting’ on Sundays by doing laundry, cleaning out closets or doing a fun (but tiring) Sunday Funday at the beach. There is NOTHING I love more than hanging with friends, running with my kids on the beach and enjoying a toddy or two. But Monday morning, I feel anything but recharged. I feel sunburned and exhausted.

This isn’t saying I will never again partake in a Sunday Funday, I am simply noticing that I need to listen (really listen) to my body and mind and honor what it needs. Maybe I need a Sunday Funday or maybe I need a Sunday where I nap and leave the laundry for Tuesday night. Sometimes my recharge is a few days and some times it is longer. I do my best to listen to my body and balance it with life to dos.

Our society is an all or nothing mindset and life does not have to be like that. Sure addiction is real. Sobriety is certainly an all or nothing recovery, but that is only one small aspect of the overall journey. Same goes for me on my eating disorder recovery journey. Food was only a small aspect of it. The overarching theme is learning to take care of yourself, but moreover, becoming aware of when you need to use those skills. Recovery is cultivating that beautiful awareness of when you need to stop and take care of yourself.

We are all going to become too busy and worn down. The goal is to stop and recharge. And that’s just what I have been doing this week. My guilt for saying ‘no’ and leaving volunteer duties is currently at ZERO. I desperately needed these few days of rest and recharge because let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure Jesus would even a need a recharge in the crazy world we live in!

So cheers to awareness, recovery & recharge!

Clearly, I need to take a page out of my sweet boy’s book! Manning KNOWS how to recharge and relax!

Lucky Number SEVEN

Today my morning went a little something like this…

5:30am Alarm, pre-dawn emails and work to do’s

7:00am Tiny humans wake up, morning Hunger Games begin (insert another cup of coffee)

As I extracted yet another foreign object from our new puppy’s mouth, asked Manning for the 34th time to brush his teeth and chased a naked Marjorie, I laughed at how chaotic and amazing life is today. You see, seven years ago, the morning of December 14th was different, drastically different.

Seven years ago today I admitted myself to treatment at the Carolina House. Seven years ago I gave myself the best gift – the gift of recovery.

Every day I connect with people fighting for the mystical place of recovery. They see it as an impossible and often unattainable dream. So did I seven years ago.

Today, I travel the country, speaking and connecting with recovery warriors in treatment. It never fails I am always asked the same question:

Is FULL recovery possible?

My answer is and will always be

YES. I am proof.

We often want to put a label on where we are in our journey or we attempt to be ten thousand steps ahead of where we really are. We jump at the chance to say or have someone define that we are in recovery, recovered or fully recovered. Disease gone. No more.

It doesn’t quite work like that. We all have to come to a place where we define recovery for ourselves. There is no universal finish line that can declare you RECOVERED.

So when recovery warriors ask me if I define myself as fully recovered this is how I always respond:

I am FULLY recovered AND I will always be working towards recovery because recovery is an extraordinary journey of self discovery. I never want to stop figuring out who I am and being my best authentic self.

I did not take a magic pill to find recovery. I worked VERY, VERY hard for many years AND I fell many, many times along the way. But I kept getting up and if I was too tired to get up I looked to those around me to help me up and guide me back to the light.

.entrance Road to Carolina House.

To be quite honest, the years of struggling are a distant in my memory – thanks to my life’s messy beautiful chaos and the years that have passed.  However, they will never be forgotten. I still have a knot on my stomach on this day. I will never forget standing in the freezing cold in my red peacoat, waiting for the van to pick me up. I will never forget sobbing to my family that night that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I will never forget my first full day, sitting in group therapy, hearing other’s share their struggles and thinking, “I am not alone.”

For nearly fifteen years, I was held prisoner by my eating disorder. I did not know what normalcy was. I did not know how to feed myself or that it was possible to even love myself. If I had not entered the Carolina House, there is no doubt in my mind that I would be dead. Whether at the hands of my eating disorder or myself, I was running out of energy to put one foot in front of the other.

But even if I had survived by the grace of God, I could not imagine the half life I would be semi-living. Because seven years ago, this was my reality:

October 19, 2010

“I am lost. No other way to put it. I wish someone understood what I deal with on a daily basis…

To know what it’s like to be hungry, but a voice says you can’t eat. You become numb or you plot and plan a day that revolves around stuffing your face – alone – all alone, can never be with anyone. Then figure out what painful measure you will use to get rid of the food – and nonetheless you still end up a fat ass because you shouldn’t have eaten it anyway.

I want others to understand what it is like to hate your body and brush away your husband’s touch because you are embarrassed. To know what it’s like to try on 30,000 different outfits only to end up in tears on your closet floor. To know what it’s like to see your huge, ugly breasts – the ones people envy, but you look at with disgust and burst into an unbelievable meltdown that leaves you cripple on your bathroom floor unable to speak or breath. To know what it’s like to fear and love food. To hurt for no reason at all – or at least a reason you don’t know yet. To know what it’s like to want to start a family and be a mom but you know you can’t take care of yourself much less an innocent child.

I just wish someone understood.”

My reality today is drastically different. I eat when I am hungry. I stop when I am full. I love my body, nourish and respect it. I move my body with joy. I get dressed with excitement (usually because it means we have a babysitter and are going out without the kids).

The best part of my life today is living a full and present life with my family. There is no doubt my children are my greatest recovery blessings. My two (HEALTHY) amazing kids that call me Momma.

For me, recovery means getting to live and lead by example. And that starts with my children – showing them what it means to love and respect your body. I get to show them how you can chase your dreams and live authentically, while being kind to everyone around you. I get to show them that life is messy and we embrace the mess and chaos. I get to show them that while our house isn’t always sparkling clean, it is filled with love!

And most of all, I will always remind my precious babies that life is not perfect. It is hard. They will make mistakes and fall. They will hurt. But in the midst of their hurt, I will sit with them, always reminding them they are loved, fiercely, and that they are never, ever alone.

If you are struggling, know this – RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE. I am proof. Recovery is NOT easy. It is a long and painful journey, but it is filled with moments of hope, color and some pretty damn amazing people. Recovery is a choice. So keep showing up – every day, every minute. Keep standing up after each fall. Keep reaching for support. Keep fighting! Because this life, your life – and is worth it. You are WORTH it.

The ability to live in the present and lead an authentic life is the greatest gift I ever gave myself. It all began seven years ago today. And seven years later, I am still choosing it by showing up and choosing recovery. every. single. day.

This is recovery, SEVEN years in recovery. Thankful every day. Cheers to lucky number seven y’all!

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Breaking My Silence

For the last six years, my blog has been my journal, my sanctuary and place to heal. Blogging became my therapeutic outlet. I didn’t care who, if anyone, read it. Blogging was simply about shining light on my life – the good, the bad and the imperfect.

I haven’t logged on over three months – the longest writing hiatus I’ve taken since starting the blog. This summer I shut down my blog and went back to the OG writing tool – my journal. I needed to take some quiet time to finally start the long road of healing from Marjorie’s traumatic birth and cancer.

I signed up for this mom thing, knowing it would be tough, but completely naive to what an emotional roller coaster it would be. My mother always said I would know the size of her love when I had babies of my own. She was right, as usual (shh, don’t tell her I said that).

A mother’s love is a love so great, it physically hurts. And when you see your babies hurt, you just want to crumble from the mountainous ache in your gut. You want to shut the world out and take the pain onto your own body. You want to run away, clutching your baby in your arms.

But, instead, you put on your warrior momma face and big girl momma panties and attack. You ask questions, you advocate, you break down barriers, chase doctors and nurses down the hall and call on whoever it takes (I’m looking at you insurance people).

But even the toughest moms wear down. We cry in dark closets and in the carpool line, hiding our puffy faces behind sunglasses. We wake up drenched in sweat after nightmares and with anxiety that feels like an elephant on our chest and a heart attack all at once. We have flashbacks to the really bad days and a horrific fear they might return. We struggle to put one foot in front of another, but we do it anyway because that is how we get through our day.

One foot, one minute, one email, one load of laundry at a time. And this summer, that was where I found myself – one day/one minute at a time.

It’s been over two years since Marjorie’s diagnosis and three years since her birth, but grief and trauma are funny things. They knock the wind out of you at any given time and I’ve had trouble breathing for the past few months. Triggered by our recent move, the trauma and fear of my world crumbling again has completely shattered my once stable(ish) mental state.

In February, Jordan and I decided to make the leap of faith and move to Jacksonville. The last time we moved, I ruptured at 25-weeks pregnant, Marjorie was born at 27-weeks, stayed in the NICU for nearly three months and was then diagnosed with cancer. I almost lost my Marjorie twice, twice within the first year of her life. Naturally, with another move on the horizon, flashbacks began to seep back into my brain like poison. It started small and then grew into a giant, strangling me with anxiety and disturbing thoughts.

One late night in March, I emailed my therapist, Mary. I was looking for some down and dirty tools on how to combat the growing anxiety in my chest.


March 26, 2017

Hi Mary – 

I wanted to reach out because I am really struggling again with vivid thoughts of horrific tragedy. If you remember, I struggled with these the fall after Marjorie’s diagnosis and they are back again. I’m at a loss with how to ‘combat’ them. 

For example, every time I travel (which is all the time) or drive, I am having vivid images of horrible wrecks, death, etc. I am also having them at home – seeing Marjorie hanging on her crib or like today Manning was playing in our driveway and I was standing right there and suddenly saw a car run him over in my head. It’s awful and it is really starting to shake me. I know they are just thoughts, but I they are causing me anxiety and panic. What can I do in those moments? I feel pretty helpless to them right now. 

I would love any guidance on these thoughts.

Always thankful for you.


I didn’t get the down and dirty list of tools to help ‘fix’ my anxiety. Instead, I received an all too familiar and typical Therapist Mary reply:


Hi McCall,

I’m sorry that you’re experiencing these very scary thoughts. I do remember you having them before and how distressing they were to you.  Email is probably not the most effective venue for a discussion about these things. Thoughts like this can occur when we have feelings to process that we haven’t had time, space, or witnessing to sort through. More than “strategies” or “skills”, having a place to share and process is probably more what you need.

I’m aware that this is not an easy time for you to be in therapy with someone new, but I do think that having in-person therapy when you are settled is what is most appropriate. In the meantime, I’m happy to set something up with you to discuss this more. Let me know what you think.

Warmly,
Mary


I was certainly open to finding a therapist, but it would be two months until we were moving so the new therapist hunt would have to wait. The move occupied much of my mind, but once we finally made the move to Jacksonville, my symptoms increased in frequency and severity.

I began to experience panic attacks, disturbing thoughts, nightmares, insomnia and all around massive fear that something awful was going to happen to my family every single day.

It was a beautiful day at the beach, but my anxiety kept me from fully being present and enjoying it.

My best friend (that I haven’t meet), Brené Brown, says “You can’t dress rehearse tragedy,” but I wasn’t dress rehearsing – I was full on living through tragic events every day, multiple times a day. If the kids were happily playing in the driveway, I would suddenly know that a truck was going to run them over (in our own driveway) so I would hurriedly scoop them up and take them inside. When we went to the beach this summer, I knew Marjorie would be swept away in a rip current even though she was splashing in barely an inch of water. Nonetheless, the images felt so real I scooped her up and only let her play in the sand.

My thoughts, fears and anxiety began to take a toll on me. I felt crazy and lonely. The tipping point came on a steaming hot day in July. Marjorie and I were leaving the grocery store and I got a call from Christy, my steadfast and amazing former Carolina House therapist.

I had seen Christy just a week before in North Carolina. Over coffee, I shared Mary’s suggestions and my desire to find a new therapist to tackle the bad anxiety I was experiencing. Like Mary, Christy offered to help find me a new therapist.

On this day, Christy was calling me back with the names of therapists in my area who she thought would be best for me. We talked for a few minutes, as I drove home. The conversation was fairly light and normal as we talked through therapists.

After we hung up, my heart began racing, tears began falling and my breathing became short, very, very short. I text Christy to call me back. I could not talk or breathe. It was all too much – the memories, the trauma, the hurt. It was as if every horrific memory came back out of the blue.

“Breathe with me, McCall,” I heard Christy’s voice say on the other end of the phone. She sounded a million miles away and the world around me seemed to be spinning. I tried to breathe with her, but couldn’t. My mind raced around me. I tried so hard to listen and breathe with Christy, but I couldn’t. I wanted to. I wanted to listen, but I couldn’t. The panic and fear enveloped me and I felt like I was drowning. She asked me what I could see, but I couldn’t see anything. Nothing, I see nothing, I thought. I can’t do this, I thought.

And then I saw my Marjorie. Sitting quietly in the back seat watching a movie.

“I see Marjorie,” I told her.

I could hear Christy exhale and smile through the phone as she replied, “Good. Good. What is she doing?”

As I began to describe Marjorie’s outfit and curly hair, my chest began to rise and fall at a normal pace. My tears began to dry, leaving my face painfully red and swollen.

As the minutes clicked on, my heart rate finally began to slow thanks to Christy’s calming voice and guidance.

“What are you going to do today, McCall?”

I told her I was picking up Manning from camp and we were going to go back to our new home and swim.

“Good,” Christy replied, “Good, McCall. Water and sun will be good for you. Stay in the moment. Right now you are safe and so are your babies. You are safe, McCall. We will find you someone. You will get through this. I care about you and will help you find someone.”

I thanked Christy for being there (like she always is) and for helping me.

After that day, it became very clear – I needed help.

On August 3, 2017, I walked into my new therapist’s office. My stomach was in knots and I felt sick. Why am I doing this, I thought to myself. I should just push on. I am making this up, I thought. But deep down I knew better. I knew this was something that wasn’t just going to go away.

I sat in the waiting room and immediately began scrolling through my phone, finding peace in the mindless Facebook Feed trance.

“McCall?” A kind voice suddenly broke through my anxiety ridden trance. I looked up to see a woman about my age with long, dark curly hair, warmly smiling back at me.

“Hi, I’m Karly. You can come on back now,” she said.

I smiled back, put my phone in my purse and followed behind her. Here I go, I thought. It is time to do this…


And so began my next journey of healing – EMDR therapy for PTSD. PTSD was a hard one for me to swallow and it also brought me peace at the same time, knowing there was an explanation (and diagnosis) behind my unbearable anxiety. Feelings of ‘I can’t be that bad’ resurfaced and also my own limited knowledge that PTSD is not limited to war vets and sexual assault. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any point in your life. I’ve had to work hard to challenge the feelings of shame and not being that bad.

Until recently, I kept thinking, I don’t want any more chapters in ‘my book,’ but life had other plans.This summer I was faced with two choices – find help or continue to live in fear and anxiety, once again being a prisoner in my own mind.

I chose help. I chose to reach out to my support system and find a new support system. It has been anything but easy. This journey has been the most difficult road I have ever walked.The EMDR sessions were so incredibly difficult, I honestly didn’t know if I had it in me to continue. But recently, I turned a corner and felt ready to share.

I will share the rest in the weeks following, including explanations around EMDR – but for now just know that no matter what you go through in life, we all need support and help. And in my case, you still might need it years later. We have to not be afraid to reach out and challenge the shame swirling in our head. Some days we have to be our own hero and other days we get to lean on and let others pick us up.

I am so thankful for my eating disorder recovery for giving me the skills and people (looking at you, Mary and Christy) to help me realize when I’m not living the life I deserve. There’s no doubt God places people in our lives when we need them most and these two women are proof.

I am thankful for my best friends (aka soul sisters) who can sit with me in the pain. And most of all, I am thankful for my husband, my best friend and soul mate who (once again) doesn’t fully understand what I’m going through, but supports me without hesitation.

I started this blog six years ago without rules – no scheduled posts or pressure to post a certain amount. I write when my soul needs it. I am thankful to have found my way back to my blog. I have missed it – and I have missed all of you – you remind me I am not alone. Thanks for waiting on me and for loving me.

I can finally say (and mean it) that I will be okay. I can do this. And if there was ever a motivation, it is these two precious souls. They snap me out of my bad days and make me smile when nothing else can. As much as I do not want this new chapter in my book, I’ve got it. I will continue to do the hard work, reach for support and remember what my other bestie (that I haven’t met yet), Glennon Doyle, says – we can do hard things.