#freEDom: Beauty in Imperfection

You know it has to be important when I trade up my beloved Trade em Up posts.  This campaign by Sloane means a lot to me. It goes beyond the blog world, beyond all exterior validation. It is also something I could write and talk about for days, one post will only chip at what I actually want to say. But to spare you a novel, I am cutting myself short. This is not easy to post. I kept wondering if I really should. This part of my past, I tend to gloss over because perfection is a never ending battle. This probably will be one of many in this type of series, I bet reading some of the other ladies posting on this will inspire me on another route. Here I go…

Perfection is a big part of my personality and has been as far back as I can remember. Perfection was more than just everything being a certain way, it was a form of pressure, mold and lifestyle. It took various forms through my eating disorder – rearing its head in both the onset, sick and recovery period. Yes, even in recovery perfection played a role.

I talked about my eating disorder on the blog quite a bit when I first started. A huge part of my eating disorder mentality, a mentality that made my struggle an over five year struggle, was the fact that I had to maintain this perfect exterior despite the fact I was crumbling inside. Even at my worst, I refused to ask for help, disclose the details of what was going on or even acknowledged that I was in pain. Why? Because I had to be the perfect Alex, I had to be the girl who could pull it all off.

I didn’t understand my eating disorder at first. Sophomore year in high school when I was diagnosed I had no idea that it had such a grasp on me. I thought it would just go away, frankly I didn’t really care if it went away. I was hospitalized twice in high school, both for short periods of time and STILL I would not admit this thing was bigger than me. I went to day treatment twice in high school, skipping almost three months of my junior year. But as I said, my struggle was more than just my high school years so why didn’t this treatment work for me? Excuses aside, excuses I did make in that moment – it was because of ME. I know why and I am at the point where I am willing to admit why. In treatment, I took on the role of the ‘perfect patient‘. I did everything they told me from when I arrived at 9 am to when I left at 4 pm. My weight increased slowly, I chose a variety of foods, I participated, I did it all. I left those doors and the Ed was in full swing. Outside, it was only myself holding my actions accountable. I told everyone, oh I am doing this, oh I am doing that. False, perfect Alex was saying she was perfect when inside she was hurting more than ever. In progress!

So what changed? Inpatient treatment my junior year of college. It is where that perfect Alex was broken down with a hammer. And I still remember the moment so vividly. The first two weeks of treatment, I swear I went back to being a middle schooler. (so sad to admit, it was my ED again rearing its ugly head). I refused to speak to anyone, ANYONE not even parents, counselors,  nutritionists, other girls there. The place was a small house so only about 8 other girls were there with me and yet I refused to open up. Not one peep. However, perfect Alex made sure to eat all that was in front of her, do what she was told and be the first one in bed. Looking back, I still remember some of my closest friends I made there being shocked at how different I was at the beginning than the end. Well, two weeks in, something cracked. I was pulled into the office with the director and told I was going to be kicked out if I didn’t drink this. I broke down, I cried I begged and looking back I see the inner turmoil I had. On one hand, my ED was telling me good you don’t need treatment get the heck out of there. But the other part of me, knew this was not who I was. Who cries over a drink? Who refuses to speak to anyone, even people who only want to help you? Was this what life was going to be like?

I knew then I had to let go. Let go of everything I had held onto, all those secrets about my disorder I never told people, all those moments of guilt that I still felt and all that I wanted from life. I remember sitting in group therapy for the first time asking to speak. I said, I am not perfect, perfect led me nowhere. It led me here, it led to broken relationships and it led me to dishonesty. All of which I never want to be. In my worst days, I stole food, I lied to loved ones, I cried to myself and I hated every fiber of who I was. I want out.

Wow, this post is quite different than what I thought it would be….

My final breaking down of perfection came as I reentered my college my senior year. After mysteriously disappearing for a month, telling people I got an early internship, I wanted to do anything but return. But I  knew I had to, I knew I wanted to graduate and I couldn’t let this image of Alex hold me back. My struggle was one that many saw on a small scale but one I always hid very well. I took part in a lot of school activities,  head of many things but yet this secret was mine. Until senior year. I asked to speak on a panel of students, in front of the entire student body, about my eating disorder. Yes, a room full of girls I knew would judge me from that day forward, guys who I would see at every party, friends who only knew the little moments of my breakdown. I told them all the details I was ashamed about. I told them the unhappiness I had, the depression, the embarrassing moments I had to endure. I told them for once that I have flaws but boy am I damn proud of where I am today. .

I know I didn’t go into a lot of detail about my disorder. I am always open to it, but not sure what would even make sense on this blog. However, if you ever want to personally email me or ask me questions I so encourage you to do so. As I said, it is something I am always willing to talk about. I would never want what I went through to happen to anyone else. The years in my eating disorder were years I can never get back, years I regret and sadly years I am ashamed of. Today I fight hard to remain in such a good place because I know life is worth it, not having to worry about every little detail of my body, health or food. I could write, re write, edit and re work this post for days. But you know what, I am leaving you with the first draft.

Perfection, yes it does look good sometimes but honestly, I think there is much more beauty in the imperfection.

Let go… cause there’s BEAUTY IN THE BREAKDOWN. 

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98 responses to “#freEDom: Beauty in Imperfection

  1. This is such a wonderful post. Really. It is so honest and so different from the typical posts people put up about their ED. I’m really glad you did this, not only to share with others, but for yourself. It sounds like you took a lot of time to write it and all of your agonizing over it paid off. I think so many of us are in the same situation as you and it’s really nice to feel like we can relate to others who share a similar background. So thanks for a truly inspiring post. Have a great day!
    p.s- we’re down to 2 weeks before break :)

  2. Wow, Alex… Just wow. Beauty in the breakdown – so true, and so profound. Thank you so much for sharing this. It was incredibly brave of you to come clean and tell your classmates about your struggles, but you honestly have no reason to be ashamed about any of it. You have come so far and overcome so much.. and you damned well better be proud!

  3. Wow, Alex… I love this post. I think it’s awesome that you are able to be so open and honest about your tough past with ED. I had no idea how bad it was for you.

    I struggle with that need to be perfect as well. But I know that it’s a problem I have, so I try to work on balancing it in my life and not to get too upset when things aren’t as perfect as I want them to be. It’s important for me to remember that, just because something isn’t “perfect,” doesn’t mean it’s not good.

    I love that quote about beauty in the breakdown! It’s so true. And thank you so much for talking about your experiences… it’s nice to get to see who the real, deep-down Alex is. It was so brave of you to tell your classmates about everything and brave to tell your readers as well. Congratulations at being so at peace with yourself and your past that you feel comfortable opening up about all of it :)

    • that quote is my favorite song and from the song ‘Let Go’ on the GardenState soundtrack. favorite song, favorite song for sure. It was a bad battle, one tough battle that took years from my life. i am glad I can be open and get such a positive response from this community

  4. I’m so glad you posted this Alex! I don’t think you realise it but you are such an inspiration to people – whether they are have suffered from an ED or not. I personally want to thank you – sometimes when I have bad days or restrict my food instake or obsess over food or exercise, and I come on here and read your posts, I remind myself how lucky I am to be who I am and that I shouldn’t want to change how I look. So thanks – it’s truly lovely to come here, see your beautiful personality shining through and read these posts! :)

    • i am glad you get that sort of reaction. using behaviors like that are only ways to mask the emotions that are breaking us down. Keep challenging all those negative thoughts because the Bec I know is pretty awesome.

  5. Wow girl, this post has left me speechless (in a good way of course). I know I have told you how proud I am of you so many times but I truly am. The way you just opened up to all of us, shared personal information is absolutely incredible. You should, heck you NEED to be proud of yourself. What you’ve overcome and LEARNED through this whole journey you’ve been on throughout your life is huge. It’s something that not many people can say they have overcome. Your positive outlook on life is such an inspiration in so many ways. I truly do believe that everything in life has a reason. Yes you may not of seen it years prior, but I can tell you have now. You’ve grown into such a confident & beautiful young woman Alex. You don’t take things for granted. You’ve learned to love who you are. Continue being a shining star girl <3 love you

    • I am with you on that, I have to agree that everything in life has a reason. I know I would be a different person without this past, yes it is something I would never want but it did teach me a lot about myself. Your words mean a lot!

  6. Your true and raw self shines through your words — this piece is one of unbelievable strength, courage, and commitment to self. I don’t even know where to start …
    Thank you. So much. I have been through many (oh so many) of the similar struggles, and even continue to. I truly believe that holding onto idealism in perfection is the only thing still holding me back in my recovery. I’ve toed the line for so long, being perfect in recovery to the point where I’m allowed to do what I want without gaining too much weight. Just enough eaten to please whoever it might be — doctor, dietitian, parents, you name it.
    You’re right. Perfection is bogus. It led me to lie, deceive, steal, and hurt others myself in more ways than I could ever count. It is what is keeping me from happiness, not what is making me happy. It will be the promise never to be fulfilled. But I’m finally, FINALLY starting to find that (as you so beautifully put it) there is MORE beauty in imperfection. I don’t need to be anyone’s version of perfect — not my own or anyone else’s. I can just be ME!
    But after so many years of trying to be someone else, I’m still not completely sure who that is. You know what though … I’m finally excited to meet her.
    You’re fabulous. Thank you SO much for the introspection. Thank you SO much for sharing what I know was extremely difficult for you to share. Thank you SO MUCH for paving the path so I have an easier walk along the journey. Thank you. <3

    • Every word you just said is exactly what I wanted to get across in this. Perfection held me back in recovery, it made me hold onto a weight, number, image, idea that was not realistic or even happy for me. it is about breaking down that wall and finding the amazing Chelsie you are.

  7. Alex, you are so strong and truly an inspiration for opening up about your ED. It takes a lot of courage to write a post like this, and you kept it honest and real. I’m definitely guilty of chasing the ideal of perfection, but I do my best to remind myself that perfect is neither possible nor should it be a goal. Thank you for sharing, friend, and stay strong!

  8. i just want to hug you and high five you all at the same time. i’m so impressed with your honesty and your ability to be so self-reflective, not to mention approachable. thank you so much for sharing your story and i am SO SO proud to say i “know” you and i can’t wait to really know you on saturday!

  9. Thank you for sharing. I never realized all about this in your past. Wow, you are so strong and I can relate to chasing perfection! Have a great day friend and thank you for sharing.

    • I think you may have missed a lot of my earlier posts that were very much talking about my past, it was not the highlight of my past at all. It was a tough battle. Have a great day! ps. I want whipped cream for my coffee like stat

  10. I totally understand your need for perfection, I used to be that way too. I was so depressed my first year of law school because I HAD to be perfect, I had to get the perfect grades, I had to look perfect, I had to have the perfect friends, but inside I was just hating myself. It’s so great that you’ve moved past this and opened up about it, it’s never easy because you don’t know how people will react!

  11. I read this as I was walking to vote today and couldn’t stop crying (the polling people probably thought I was nuts or super overexcited to vote…but I could also care less). You took the words right out of my mouth and so eloquently described an experience eerily similar in parts to my own. Thank you for being so honest. Thank you for starting to believe that you’re worth more than the pursuit of perfection allows. Thank you for embracing your beauty and strength, imperfect though it may be. Thank you for being an imperfectly real YOU.

    • gosh, this made me blush! i am glad you could relate so strongly to this, that is honestly why I wanted to write something so raw and so personal. I appreciate this and can’t wait to go read your post!

  12. Wow, I can’t imagine how hard this was for you to write. This is so inspiring! We all struggle with perfection I think, some more than others. I’m so glad that you shared this because it’s definitely something I needed to hear. You ROCK! :)

  13. This is an awesome post Alex – something that I know a lot of people (myself) can relate too!
    It’s not easy to talk about the ED or putting yourself in a position where you can be judged for it. But I always find that’s it’s almost a cathartic experience – and honestly, your story helped at least a few people in the room.
    Perfection is unachievable and I’m glad you realize that striving for that is more harmful than helpful!

    You are inspiring and I always love reading your posts <3

    • Sam, this comments means so much to me. I agree, it is a cathartic experience despite those judgments that could happen. I read your blog for all those reasons, I want to meet you someday… that is a demand!

  14. Thank you so much for sharing Alex. It is never easy to talk about things you struggle with but like you said it makes you real and people like real over the illusion of perfection. You are definitely an inspiration and I encourage you to continue to reach out and share your story. I know that it could help so many young girls!

  15. This is such a powerful and honest post, Alex. I’m so glad you are finding your way and learning to step away from those negative behaviors. I’m so proud of you-it’s definitely not easy to put yourself out there. Good for you!

  16. Holy freaking cow! This is beautiful. I am absolutely in love with how you describe perfection and its grasp on you during your eating disorder. I was the same way in many ways about being the perfect patient. Yes I ate the food, but it wasn’t until I was already “healthy” again that I saw this ED was still there. Perfection has so many ways to impact and destruct lives and it is so difficult not to strive for it. But I think it is amazing that when we let go is when the best experiences happen

    Thank you so much for sharing this Alex. <3

  17. Alex, this post is absolutely beautiful! You are so honest and open–and oh, I know about that struggle with perfection! I went through major depression and did everything in my power to look/act “perfect.” I thought my problems were my own and there was no reason to share with others/open up–but when you do? That’s when you find out we’re all flawed…and all just a little bit crazy. And that THIS is what makes us perfect! You are such a strong and lovely lady, and I KNOW you’ll always keep moving forward in life!

    • I love how you put it, I most definitely struggled with depression myself and intense anxiety because of that perfection I thought I needed to possess. I am glad you have found a beautiful balance of accepting and being you. So sweet!

  18. this is such a beautifully written post Alex! You should truly be proud of yourself for being able to open up and write this. To be able to speak in front of your college and tell people who the real Alex is. I hope you are proud of yourself and know that what you went through only made you a more stronger, understanding person and caring person!

  19. This is a great post to share and I’m sure a lot of people can relate. I love that you spoke at your school — I know it doesn’t mean anything now because it’s over, but I remember going to panels like that about different issues and I always respected the speaker! I’m glad you are able to write about this.

  20. I am blown away. Seriously I have no words. I have chills all over and am in complete awe of your bravery, honesty and strength. This post is exactly what I had envisioned for this campaign–there is AMAZING beauty in the breakdown! I love you girl, and thank you so much for sharing.

  21. Love this post. You’re amazing. I love the honesty, I love that it’s a first draft and not “perfectly” edited. And I love how far you’ve come in your recovery. It’s inspiring for so many people to read your story, and the fact that you had the courage to speak in front of your peers in college is seriously incredible. I’m sure you’ve been a blessing to so many people!

  22. What a beautiful, beautiful post. It’s strange how a post sometimes takes on a life of it’s own. You sit down with a goal in mind of what you want to say, but as the words of flow out of you, they sometimes flow in a completely new direction. I love that. Anyways, I’m a big fan of your pure honesty. I understand how hard it can be to be completely honest and vulnerable in such a wide open way. It takes a lot of strength.

    Wishing you all the best!

  23. This was a really great post. I know it must have been difficult to write; but it’s amazing how you can look back on that time in your life, embrace the struggles, and move on from them. You are such a better person now because of all you’ve been through. Now, you can help others and make a difference in their lives!

  24. I think it’s awesome that you can be so transparent about your experience with this. It really shows your growth! So proud of you and I admire your strength. *Hugs* to you friend!

  25. This post is amazingly beautiful!! Thank you so much for opening up and sharing this part of your story! I find that writing about these things can be so very therapeutic and helpful in even the smallest ways! I love the transformation you’ve been making and you are so incredibly brave for sharing this!

  26. Wow Alex.. this was such an inspirational post and I’m so glad you were able to share it with us. You are such a strong person and it shines through your ability to speak openly about your experience. You seemed to have really grown through all this :) xx

  27. I was so much looking forward to your post today and it definitely did not disappoint. Thank you for sharing this with us,Alex. You are such a strong and inspiring soul and gave me new hope today. Thank you for everything; your posts,your support,your friendship. It all means so much to me,really.

  28. I loved you honesty in this post. I too struggle with that perfect word and being the best and such. Thank you for sharing your experiences and things you’ve gone through. I know it’s tough but you’re helping so many others! xoxo

  29. This is a beautiful, beautiful post, and I’m both proud of an inspired by your courage to be so honest and open about your past. Thank you so much for posting this <3

  30. Perfection is BORING!! Yet so many try to achieve it. I wrote this quote in highschool…”if its our imperfections that make us unique, then why are we trying to perfect our imperfections?”
    Its hard to remember, but God created us just as we were meant to be. HE DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES. So that crooked nose? He gave it to you for a reason. Those extra lbs on your hips? He gave them to you for a reason.
    Once we remember that we are perfect in HIS eyes, wordly perfection will no longer matter. Love you lady!

    • Oh wow i adore that quote, you were one smart kid. I am continuously amazed by your inspiring dedication and hard work. all of these are such lovely reminders of what God has given me, things he gave me for a reason.

  31. Beautiful post Alex. I feel like opening up to people about the past is always difficult, but in the long-run well worth it. I’m so happy that you shared your past with the blog world, I feel like just through this post I have gotten to know you so much better!

    P.S. I love that Frou Frou song. I always listen to it after having breakdowns :)

  32. I loved this post. Thank you for sharing your story with us! I’ve been thinking a lot about my imperfections today (well body ones). How I would love to be rid of those!

  33. Beautiful, Alex. Thank you for sharing, I can only imagine how much courage it took to write this post. I am a perfectionist and I’m stubborn. I felt like I could relate when you talked about not talking to anyone at the beginning of impatient treatment. I’ve definitely had moments like this in the past and then looking back (and sometimes even in the moment), I realize how immature I’m being. I’m slowly starting to learn to embrace my imperfections and let go a little bit. It’s hard though!

  34. Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin

    I literally started tearing up reading this post because I heard a lot of myself in certain parts. I commend you for opening up like this and really want to do the same. Imperfection IS beautiful and honesty is even more. I love you more and more with the more I learn about you (in a non-creepy blogger friend way ;) ). Thanks for sharing this and you really should be proud of yourself for how far you have come and everything you have been through and fought against.

  35. Alex this post was so inspiring! And I could relate to it so much about struggling with perfectionism. I never really opened up to anyone about my ED either because I didn’t want to ruin my image of having it all together. Sometimes I wish I had though, instead of keeping it all bottled up. There’s nothing wrong with admitting our flaws – everyone has them! It’s awesome you were able to realize that and open up to your classmates about it. That must have been so scary, but so freeing! :)

    • I couldn’t agree more, I know I suffered for much longer than I need to because I wanted to hide this flaw within me. It was freeing but scary at the same time, however I would not take it back.Such a growing experience for me.

  36. Alex, this is a beautiful post. I admire your bravery both intalking at your school and in posting this for us. I’ve also suffered trying to be perfect. You are such a wonderful and inspirational woman. I know the future holds great things for you. Thanks for sharing.

    • I just read your post and all I have to say, is thank you for putting yourself out there like that. This all means a lot to me.

      • You are welcome! I’m glad I posted it. It helps me let go and not be ashamed of things that are in the past. It also feels good to let others know that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. I think it’s a great campaign. It means a lot to me too. Thanks for your support!

      • You are just such a wonderful person. Seriously. Keep that light shining strong

  37. Such a beautiful post, Alex! Thank you so much for sharing. I know it’s natural to strive for perfection, but you really hit the nail on the head here about how that constant struggle to be perfect actually breaks us down and precludes perfection. But sharing your struggle really helps others, and I know this post alone is affecting your readers (including me!). :-)

  38. This is an amazing post. You have left me speechless. You are a beautiful and strong woman, Alex!

  39. Love this post. Thanks for sharing, Alex<3

  40. amen. love this post and the beauty of it all. I’m glad you’ve overcome it all. I hope kids (since they’re allowed on the internet nowadays) read this and understand it. stay strong. you’ve got a lot of people behind you. :)

  41. This was so uplifting & positive! Thankyou for this wonderfully written portrayal of your ED experience , you are clearly a very smart, brave and inspiring young women:).
    It almost seems ,that in some ways the ED benefited you, like you came out the other end of this awful disease stronger, and more courageous & confident.
    I aspire to be in a better place , & more at peace with myself too one day. Cos somedays(ok, most days), recovery seems impossible to me.
    Xxx

    • hang in there Sarah, recovery is a journey but oh so possible. I know it is hard to ever say that someone is recoverED but I think working in recovery is what makes it all worth it. I think my ED changed me in many ways and made me more aware of myself.

  42. Alex, this is so important for you to share. I’m glad you opened up to all of us, as it’s not only therapeutic to you but also beneficial for those out there who are facing similar challenges and feelings. You’re such a strong individual and this has only made you stronger each day. Xo

  43. Pingback: A No Fun Run « lifeasliv

  44. I’m just seeing this post now, and I’m really glad you shared this part of your life with your readers. I’m sure this couldn’t have been easy for you to write. I think we all struggle with perfection (I know I do), so this is incredibly inspirational and amazing. Thank you for writing. =)

  45. one of the legitamite best post I have ever read I almost printe this out!

  46. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast

    What an important and powerful post, Alex! Thank you so much for your boldness in sharing… I’m sure it will touch many others who may be struggling.

  47. Pingback: Thankful Thursday {late and abbreviated version} « Strength in Freedom

  48. Thank you for being brave enough to share this with us! It was raw, beautiful, and touching. Perfectionism is incredibly difficult and painful to live with. I used to be “sick” with it too and it made every day a challenge. It bothers me when people say they are perfectionists or are “OCD” about something because they usually have no idea what it truly feels like to experience it. You’re amazing and strong…keep it up pretty lady!

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