Colorado #4: flourishing

The importance of some things can't be overstated. I've known this day was coming, and said nothing, keeping the date close to my chest in order to have just a little more time to think about it.

When I came back from a Colorado vacation a year ago this week, I told you the superficial stories first. I saved the crucial one for last and dreaded the telling, because I knew how much of a surprise its contents would be for virtually everyone I've ever known:

It was one of the most liberating moments I can remember in my adult life. I whispered my worst and nobody ran scared. I wanted to scream, to dance, to hug and shout and be grateful and cry, all at once. The words may be acid, but the burn on the way out was nothing in comparison to holding them in all these years.

- 'Colorado #3: truth-telling'

A year ago, a friend gave me the courage I needed to change my life. It was a simple statement: "You are strong enough to go home and fix this, kitty. You should. You have to."

A year ago today, I used those words to keep my fear at bay long enough to sign my name to a one-year gym contract. I hoped against hope all the while that this signature wouldn't be just an empty gesture, but the first in a series that would add up to something significant.

I survived the first week of workouts through daily calls to Jody, who, i think, really did know that he was what stood between me and quitting.

I relearned how to eat. What to eat. How often to eat. Food was not my enemy. It was not emotional comfort or solace. It was a tool that, when manipulated properly, enabled me to keep workouts going.

After several tries, I found a trainer that I trusted.

Eventually, I realized I wasn't relying on my friends to get me through the workouts on a daily basis. I wanted the results, knew I was capable of getting them if I stuck with it.

Like I said: a friend gave me the courage I needed to change my life, but in the end, I was the only person who could actually change it.

So what is a year, in these terms? Dropping 34 pounds. Going from a size 24 to a size 14. Going from a 44DD to a 38D bra. The rest is much less tangible:

Dropping below a size 20.

Shopping at a lingerie store for the first time in a decade.

Buying a short skirt.

Learning to put on makeup.

Looking in the mirror and no longer hating your reflection.

Rediscovering my love of swimming.

Learning for the first time the contented feeling of a set of muscles fully worked.

Realizing that you've made friends at the gym and at the pool, friends who will miss you and wonder where you are, if you aren't there.

* * * * *

So let me say what I wish I could have said a long, long time ago, but only now feel that I've earned the right to say:

My name is Amy. I lived with an eating disorder for years. In some ways I will always live with it, but it no longer controls me. I am a survivor.

I have wanted to be able to say those words for a long, long time. I think I've finally earned them.

* * * * *

For those of you who have read these words, or stood by me through this year, thank you, thank you, thank you. You know your names and your places in my life, but you may not realize just how important you have been to me. I lost count of the number of times that the kindness and supportiveness of my friends gave me the strength or the courage to keep making the right choices, one decision at a time.

On Sunday, I return to Colorado. It seems fitting to celebrate this milestone there, where this process truly began.

It may be quiet around here until I return. I've said a lot this year.


Amy, you are an inspiration. Congratulations on what you've done. Your accomplishments have been tremendous! Thanks for sharing it with us.

When I shelve inspirational books at work, I often sneer, because it seems to me that too often those people are merely making money off their misfortunes. (I shouldn't do that.) But you write of the same kind of things, in simple words with a touch of flourish, and it brings me near to tears. You aren't that much older than me, but you've already accomplished what I want to achieve -- you touch people's lives, and change them. Congratulations. Thank you.

hi amy! your accomplishments are definitely hard earned and i congratulate you on every one of them... just thought i'd let you know, reading your post made me no longer feel alone in the same struggle i'm having right now... to quote Lisa, you definitely are an inspiration... have a safe and fun trip!