Trapped but only temporarily

Since August 30 I’ve been visiting. Well, my parents aren’t here so I’ve actually been house and pet sitting, in addition to working. The first two weeks I spent a lot of time downtown. I liked it there, found a special park for lunch and thought about my grandparents. Recently, I’ve been more in the urban-suburban area. Everywhere there is a new development. I feel very trapped without more nature and realize how much I’ve benefitted from spending time at the ocean slash choosing to live elsewhere. I wish I could like it more here, I love my dog and am very grateful, but oh how good it feels that for once I don’t have to force myself and just need to get by! I’ve decided I’m going to sell some of my things at the house that can’t come with me in the long run.

Four lessons I’ve learned about myself in wanting over the years

If he didn’t notice then, that “already” makes him blind.

If he isn’t seeing: There is no coming together in hiding.

I rationalize based on how I want my observations to translate; that doesn’t mean he comes together.

If I think, “Why can’t he be better?” and feel some combination of annoyed and disappointed but am no longer anguished, then I’ve finally worked through the pain he brought up in me and am facing him (or ready to).

They couldn’t occupy this heart

I thawed the frozenness of years past only to realize he’s the one whose arms I want to melt in today. What matters is that I arrived here in my emotional process. With the others, I was always trying to figure something out about myself through them. There was a sexual attraction, yes, but they couldn’t occupy this heart and took over my space instead.

Making blue lights into trees

Well, this spirit came to me. She was a little girl. Oh-so-happy and smiling, with pink and purple in the background and many animals. I remember eight months ago I imagined her all throughout the forest. I could only see the grown-up version. Then I started playing around with blue lights and making them into trees. I’d get anxious because of the blue light, then realized “I just need some shade.” Last week I became aware of my left palm and bottom of the left foot. Then, today, I found a tree growing in my heart and rooting. Also, the spirit mentioned that I actually am her and just don’t see it. She said that everything is going to be fine, and I don’t have to hold “Laura” together anymore. It’s okay to go to sleep sometimes and not associate with my problems.

My feelings for him weren’t real, and I was just deranged

Some of my other crushes were cute but I couldn’t fathom someone similar to him. I think I confused him for God—like I needed him to get to God—because my own relationship with God was so shaky. Yet, at this point the man is still untouchable, but God is very nurturing and supportive. In a way that means my feelings for him weren’t real, and I was just deranged. Nevertheless, remembering and reliving him, at this point, is helping clear numerous extinct relations and experiences from my plate. It was odd how he appeared in the sky as a kind of mushroom or umbrella above me, and then in the ocean as a vortex (both were initially black). Roughly three weeks later I entered this vortex on my own, and this time it was very clear and sparkly. This vortex I saw as something very healing and pure between us, but still can’t find him inside. The fear at this point is that despite my varied premonitions he won’t come true, making it so I feel lost and untrusting of myself. Then again, my heart is very strong and wouldn’t abandon me. If this person does, then he was never in it from the start.

One year after moving California was already a horrendous failure

More than anything else, as a seventh-grader, I needed this door to his world and I needed him to open it and let me in because I could not speak or miraculously make him want me. For half of a semester, sure, just being touched by him (never literally) was enough to keep me going.  But it makes little sense to me emotionally that, somehow, over the summer I got swept away and forgot how strongly he’d made me feel then liked new people the next year. Truthfully, I can’t remember much of anything that happened between seventh and eighth grade. I asked my mom, and she told me about going to camp with a group of girls. They weren’t necessarily my favorite and had been friends for a long time before me; I felt unimportant, like they didn’t really need a Laura. Within their group, I didn’t at all have the same specialness that had been there for me in Maryland and as a basketball player.

Although there were other people I experienced attractions to in eighth grade, nothing was the same or strong enough to mesmerize me like the seventh grade crush. But of course the message learned from adults, society or whatever had been that I was just a 12 year-old, couldn’t really have deep feelings for this boy who’d left anyways. Not having him there and losing the world he created for me (that I, ultimately, created out of him) explains, in part, how I became so obsessed with school and competitive against myself. Everything felt like my fault although of course in reality I couldn’t control this boy and the door I recognized as “his” came through my own eyes. No matter, she wasn’t enough, and I positively needed him more. At the time I still had friends but they’d only known me for a very short period of time since I met new people in eighth grade and didn’t stay close to the people I’d had classes with in seventh. I just didn’t matter to people like I had in the past, felt unworthy, and like one year after moving California was already a horrendous failure for not getting this boy and, furthermore, for dropping basketball. Especially once diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, I’d never get another chance to feel the same way about a guy since, at the root, my seventh grade crush was all about timing. I recall him now, symbolically, as the midpoint of my current life.

Seventh-grade Laura: “I didn’t want to ruin him with my ugliness and problems”

We had social studies and physical education together. Social studies came before lunch. I terribly looked forward to seeing him and sitting across from each other. Well, almost. The room was set up like this: Walk in the door. On the left side is the board. Turn right to face the front of class. He sat on the right side of the room, and I the left. I think he was in the second row back and I the third, which made it easier to stare. He was also one row down horizontally; I was more nestled in the middle. Either way, I was completely embarrassed and wanted to hide behind the friend who sat in front of me. She liked me and always wanted to hug; I thought getting attention from her would make him notice me more. I always prayed that when students got assigned partners, we’d be set-up. That didn’t happen. I think I got him to sign my yearbook, though. I remember how close I was to opening my mouth in physical education as the school year wound down because once I realized “this is going to end” I felt more sad and alone than ever before. But he was just so quiet, pure, mysterious and innocent; I didn’t want to be the person responsible for ruining him with my ugliness and problems even as a seventh grader before anorexia nervosa.

Meet Laura Susanne Yochelson, Author of Sick

Thursday, September 18 at 4:00 pm

Women’s health at Montgomery College Germantown

For students enrolled in the course

Follow this link to the newspaper for an article on my talk from last year. Look forward to speaking with a reporter, hopefully, this week!

***

Thursday, October 9 at 4:00 PM

San Marcos Library

2 Civic Center Dr. San Marcos, CA 92069 ▪ (760) 891-3000

Curious about food, body image or weight? Learn about eating disorders from a local young woman who has experienced one.

At the age of 23 Laura Susanne Yochelson published her first book, Sick: In The Name of Being Well, I Made Myself Sick. In Sick, Laura recounts her experiences with OCD, anxiety, depression, and anorexia nervosa. Her struggle led to finding meaning in the body and embracing holistic health.

sign from my talk earlier this year in Del Mar

Sign from my talks earlier this year in Del Mar, where Sick is available.

Laura’s high school crushes and relationships

One of the questions I get asked sometimes when I present about my book is often to do with sexuality. People note that I made a big deal of writing about boys through middle school, but once high school starts did I have any crushes or relationships? In seventh grade I had my big crush the second half of the year, and someone I liked the first semester who liked me but, clearly, couldn’t get past someone else. In eighth and ninth grade there were at least three guys interested in me from the running team or classes. One of these guys was similar to a kid from earlier. It was the type of thing where he liked me then changed his mind to someone else and couldn’t decide. Kinda immature, eh? By that point I was more “into” anorexia nervosa, anyways. In tenth grade there was actually somebody nice but he had other friends; I felt uncool. I did not have a boyfriend in high school, although I did have boy friends my therapist was convinced liked me, which got old. My therapist pressured me to put myself more out there, but I didn’t have a good time. Mostly, I saw guys at the gym but didn’t talk to them. Besides that, I liked guys who were mean and took away my confidence in eighth and twelfth grade. Unfortunately, this pattern would repeat later, and inspire more writing!

Final basketball/moving post?!

Because I really am ready to move on from these topics…

In moments it seemed like my phenomenal everything, especially based on how it brought me so much positive attention, but I expended so much energy covering my abandonment following various deaths in the family–and ultimately disconnecting–through this obsession with a mostly physical performance that it was to the point of displacing her into a realm beyond my control. That is very scary for a child. The good news in this sense is that basketball was never truly part of “Laura”–I’m free!–but plainly took over. I missed feeling natural socially at school and talking to my girlfriends on the phone.

A girl’s lame fantasy in pronouns…or her love?

She needed him first in order to save herself. Emotionally, not getting ruined her. Now is finally her turn to experience him. If he can’t, she gets anybody. Her purpose wanting comes in realizing he’s always been there, with her, as if she was never actually alone and knew on some level: “This is why I suffered and lived all along because I couldn’t ‘yet’ have him.”

Yochelson-40 shampoo

Last night I dreamt my friend was trying to sell me new shampoo. I guess she owned the store. She went to the shelf and picked out a shampoo specifically for me. The bottle was plastic but gold in design with cursive writing on the front. I held the shampoo to look on the back and knew that even though I liked it and wanted to make my friend happy, I wasn’t going to buy something unnatural. But the ingredients consisted mostly of my last name being listed, each time followed by a dash and different number. The one I remember is “Yochelson-40”. Sadly, I still worried at least initially that this might represent something artificial. Afterwards, I remember riding in the car with a younger version of Grandma Kay (who passed away in 2006). She was driving wearing a white blouse, telling me about herself at my age. There wasn’t traffic and the ride was smooth. From the front seat, I could see the black-paved road ahead. I took in light and scenery through the windows.

Re-encompassing Laura

First, there is happy Laura from birth to infancy. She is very joyous. Adults look at her and want to brag. Afterwards, meet three to seven-year-old Laura. She is pretty, girly and well liked by peers and teachers. She is boyish in the sense of being athletic but still enjoys style, nature, etc. At the age of five life begins to get more difficult, but she isn’t lost and holds herself together well. Eight to 10-year-old Laura comes next. She is less happy and beginning to break but is saved (slash haunted) by basketball. Even without the same shine as before, her intensity is irresistible. People like her because she is funny and also sweet. Fourth is eleven-year-old Laura. She stands alone. This is her year of feeling like life is coming together as a sixth grader in middle school. There are still real problems, but for the most part she feels good around her peers. Although afraid, she is secretly excited about high school, growing up and boys.

In a way, 12-year-old Laura is singular too. My first year in San Diego, for the most part, I loved the adventures and newness. However, 12.5 year-old-Laura belongs with 13-year-old Laura. There are many, many changes happening now. She is under pressure and cannot see herself in the midst of too much going on. Fourteen to 18-year-old Laura represents intelligence and anorexia nervosa. By 19, Laura number seven, focus returns to to healing. That means no more: “Moving ruined me!” Or, “You don’t know the real me when I was a basketball player!” Slash; “Look what I’ve been through and how special I am because of this disease!” Thankfully, my current focus encompasses enough to redeem the rest.

A refugee in her red

The other day, while engaging in a specified daily activity, I could feel various vacuous pinpoints trying to penetrate my brain from around the head. I was separate enough from the pinpoints that they didn’t absorb into interminable goop. Since then, I’ve thought about some of the scariest things I worry about and ways this goop-de-shame has taken over and killed my ability to want. What’s left is a red circle enclosing my entire abdomen, which signals: “YOU FAILED ME!” A weight is collapsing her. I know what I want and desire to get those things most deeply but the goop just keeps me so on edge that I become trapped like a refugee in her red. As the goop gets let out and washed away, I take in a sea filled with sparkles, starfish and colorful lights.

No longer being watched

Everybody was watching and counting on me—page 50 of Sick

…the intrusively watchful eye of the psychiatrist—page 111

I froze up inside at the thought of having other people watch…—page 155

***

There are three men or six eyes in the back of my head–each with one per parent–and a total of four in front. That makes 10 (one-zero) total. One man is really stuck under my head. His cyclops-looking eye is mucus green. Another’s eyes border the cyclops and drip orange. That makes three eyes (or four, if the cyclops eye is two stuck together) total. As for the man with the outer two, his gift arrived in a flat, rectangular blue box 1.5 years ago. The box has a black cross, red ribbon bow. Today, I held the box, opened it and found shiny pixie dust. He told me to see through their three-four as zero and reclaim one sight.

My rich purple kingdom

Yesterday I met a grandmother angel in a layered white dress. She placed a necklace around me made of yellow pearls and lit up my abdomen where I saw a rich purple kingdom. As part of this kingdom there is a castle, moat, forest, flowers, and animals. She made me Queen, gave me a crown with jewels, and covered my heart with a powerful green stone. She told me to trust the messages I receive and not give up on myself.

Baby, grandpa and princess

I’m made of a baby with a pink stripe, old grandfather and princess. The baby has special powers of love and healing. She is nurtured by the grandfather. The grandfather is very wise, surrounded by dark green with a long beard and crystal ball. Through this crystal ball a princess was envisioned. She is very bright and has command over perception.

Tribute to my seventh grade crush

He was the only magic left. Without him, I was locked into an incredibly gruesome and ugly reality.

Below, in quotations, I’ve shared a paragraph from page 75 of Sick. I rekindled this experience to write upon revisiting middle school. He protected me from facing the debacle of my whole life in Maryland. Without this fantasy and actually being able to open my truer inside that others couldn’t see to him, there was only being stripped of her. I remember racing down the ramp and crying hysterically to Mom holding my now ruined yearbook. The saddest part was never finding out if he knew I was real.

“The last day of seventh grade, the Irish girl in drama class who I shared my crush with drew all over the photograph of me in my yearbook with red. The girl drew funny eyes and a funny nose so that I looked like a devil. The girl drew over my crush’s photograph too, and got a kick out of it. She did all this while I was signing someone else’s yearbook, so there was not much I could do. Since my crush was changing schools, the girl ruined the one memory I had! She rubbed in the fact that I was a nobody to my crush and a nobody to almost everybody at my new school. Furthermore, the girl made a joke out of my feelings—feelings that I believed were more than a physical attraction—and felt far too deep and unfamiliar for me to even attempt expressing. For the entire second half of the school year, I spent my time being invested in and consumed by the feelings—made-up or not—I had for my crush. I needed my crush and the mysterious feelings that he brought up in me to distract me from other pressures I felt at school, and also to distract me from the anxiety that would otherwise have swallowed me whole.”

More popular than I thought

Everything seems so busy this week! I shouldn’t actually be writing now, but writing is presently my favorite way to start the day, so humph. There’s a lot of important things I did this summer, but there’s a whole other imaginary, unorganized pile waiting for me calling, “Hey, you didn’t get to me yet!” Yesterday, though,was pretty cool. I walked into a room and a few people I hadn’t seen in a year called me by name: “Hi, Laura!” It was really nice! I didn’t necessarily remember other people’s names, though. In fact I felt very shy about saying their names back. So, two people called me by name, and I said, “Hi, how are you?” Then a woman kindly introduced herself to me. I didn’t know how to reply so I was like…”Hi” and then “I’m Laura” with a laugh since it was pretty obvious by then. Oh, well, guess it’s good I smiled and gave eye contact. Even that used to be hard.

Her almanac of crushes comes down to one

Growing up I came to think that crushes could replace each other. Get a fresh, new crush for all the grades in school, better yet multiple, because nobody is real and going to last. With good intentions, I remember one therapist telling me when I was hung up on a guy, something along the lines of, Not to worry–he isn’t the only one. But I wasn’t satisfied with my therapist’s answer and stayed stuck on “Bob” until devising a deeper explanation. Eventually, I decided Bob was a cousin in my previous life. At first I thought he’d been a close friend who left me behind. Then I changed my mind to boyfriend (but interestingly never husband), until finally landing at cousin. The reason I ended up at cousin is because the two of us seemed related–not directly–but it is clear that I liked Bob because of something left-over; my experience with him was painfully raw to the point of  debilitating, which is not the same as life-giving long-term. The crush after Bob I initially told myself had been a brother or husband. However I later decided, No, he was a “bad” uncle. In fact, I had a dream with this person, “Mark,” and he acted as a greedy superior, but gave me important sustenance I needed for my family to survive, which probably explains my prior attachment to him in this life. Nevertheless, whatever happened then did not give Mark permission to try and control me! Before Bob and Mark came “Sam,” whom I originally pinpointed as having been my father. Sam, I more recently decided, was my rival fraternal twin brother. Why else did I see into “him” from the back without first receiving a forward introduction?

I have no human, familial brothers. However, my dad’s mom had lots of brothers. My dad’s dad had brothers too. I never met any of these brothers; they died before I was born. On the other side, Mom’s mom was pretty much neglected by her dad, a tidbit referred to in my book. Even though I didn’t know any of these great uncles, great-grandparents, etc. it isn’t surprising that I perceive them in various guys I’ve been drawn to. My purpose in writing is that not every crush is the same. No, not at all! Intense crushes require effort and investigation in order to understand emotionally. From that point, the right bond will be made (which isn’t necessarily lover), or the bond tapers off and gets less stuck. Other crushes, of course, are unimportant bullies. Still yet, I’ve become curious about someone because it appeared his family already had a relationship to mine on some level, such as through a deceased grandparent. Then again, there are also new folks who come along and bring with them a purely mystical reason for wanting without logical explanation beyond. I honestly believe that once history is worked through, the kind of person desired becomes obvious, whether it is a previous crush, new ability to make room, some flexible combination or at the very least taking in what is already there, which could be a whole lot.

From 32A to 32…xyz?

Yesterday, I wondered what it would have been like to be a son instead of a daughter. I don’t want to be a man and am happy with my womanhood. Why, then, do I still shun it away 11-12 years after being diagnosed with anorexia nervosa? This week I got fitted for bras. When I was still sick/underdeveloped I could get by with something cheap from almost anywhere, but for me today bras are quite pricy and can only come from one place. When asked my size, I said the right bandwidth but a combination of letters I knew was too small because I’m ashamed of my cup size. I realized after getting my new bras with the correct fitting that it was wrong to keep jamming myself in. Maybe that sounds comical, and I’ve been made fun of (slash complimented) for being full there, but it’s unhealthy and disheartening to stuff my body too tight and feel the need to hide this expression out of my control. I hope one day I’ll be completely comfortable and stop trying to push her away…

Trying re-feeding fall 2008

I’ve attempted my beet story below before. Last week it came up again. Much of this writing relates to Sick.

I didn’t know how to cook, and ended up experimenting with purple (“red”) beets. I peeled the beets and cut them up. That took a while since beets are hard. I tried to steam the beets. They were taking a really long time because I fretted over using the lowest heat possible. More people entered the small kitchen, and things got tense. My dad started to prepare his pasta. My mom had her bread in the toaster. I became concerned about mixing utensils and my food getting messed up by particles from theirs, which nobody understood. I remember sitting down, and trying to eat the beets but they were still too hard, then people lost patience. I ran into my closet, screaming not because I was purposely starving myself like the anorexic people saw me as, but because I was starving. Everybody thought I should eat and get “healthy” as soon as possible, but nobody, it seemed, intended that I be genuinely fed.

My story about steaming beets is one of numerous interrelated tales that took place at the condo in Maryland. I remember, for instance, when I was with my sister outside on a bench after attempting to eat something that would impress other people. Then I got ill. I couldn’t eat whatever, gain weight and be so-called normal. For a time I had to go on a very special regimen. After being so restricted it’s no wonder that once I finally took risks with other foods I just wanted to eat! It took at least four years from the time I got down to my lowest weight at 18-19, then reached my highest and finally dipped back to a healthy, comfortable and maintainable place by 22.5.

Something lifted and I came together

There’s a very particular radius containing specific landmarks where a lot of things happened. Some of these landmarks include: the condo, the shopping center, the middle school, the high school, and the doctors office. In my head each place is distinctly concentrated because my experiences were so divergent. At the heart of this space things went well for a period. As the circumference broadens, memories of anorexia take over and the remainder of my unhappiness trails throughout. Today, I was in the parking lot of the shopping center. Suddenly I sensed a broad darkness circulating above me, containing the entire span of the condo, the shopping center, the middle school, the high school and the doctors office. Following the release of this ominous mushroom, it was as though I finally came together for the first time. The reason for this mushroom is not random. Earlier, I was walking at the water. For a while I stood there observing. Then out she came! This girl I’ve been holding so long. I saw her, curled up in a ball, trying so hard to look and decipher herself entirely contrary to the way she was taught life works: get good grades to define yourself here, add a little bit more up on the basketball court there, etc. I took very good care of this girl, but am quite relieved now that she is free.

Closing off Laura

They chose their world over remembering our friendship now that I wasn’t part of their everyday lives. What’s annoying is how they stole what I’d brought to the group…but neglected me! The nicknames I made up for various girls. The fascination with sport(s). The childish inside-jokes. They didn’t need me there to take these things. Better to forget Laura, close her off completely and act like it was all their own. Because I didn’t need anybody, right, and was just spoiled rotten to get to move to California even though one of the main reasons why my family left is because things weren’t going well in the sense that people were unhealthy/unhappy, so we wanted something different and very far away.

Unlocking her gold mine

My sense of Laura got stitched into setting. Through the process of becoming that world, I lost everything that makes me. Throw “Laura” away and take this other version instead because it’s better. She’s a small, comical girl everyone wants to pinch at and to take from. She doesn’t need anything so just eat from her lunchbox. She won’t notice anyways. In truth I needed those people more than I needed to feed myself because I felt so scared and alone. Today, I cannot push up against their webbing anymore. It took a while to stop rubbing and let fully sink in: Fifteen years ago, I was one of “them,” I belonged with those people and had my place. Of course there were other groups too but everybody thought I was cool. People saw me was an attractive substitute version of myself—not at all reflective of the depth, potential, creativity, passion and underground worlds I manifest. This life and kind of fun wrote all over me, creating distance at heart. It will kill me to keep feeling sorry about missing my social heyday when it’s in fact nothing compared to the gold mine I’ve unlocked from inside.

Why I started using my middle name

My first name is easy: Laura. I’ve always just gone by Laura. In 2010, I started to integrate Susanne (pronounced a tad softer than Suzanne, but not Susan). For a lot of girls or young women, I think it’s a phase to start including their middle name, such as on social media. For me, though, incorporating Susanne, my middle name, rectified an important distinction.

When I think of “Laura Yochelson,” I get stuck in the way other people see that girl as an eight, nine, 10 year-old. Laura Yochelson, yes, she played basketball and she was a good student with lots of friends. However, in preschool and kindergarten, when all most people could get out was Laura, I was viewed entirely differently. I like that Laura more than Laura Yochelson because she feels more natural to me and, hence, safe.

As I got older and other people had the same name or similar names things started to get confusing, so it’s no wonder Laura became overridden by “Laura Yochelson” almost totally. Laura Yochelson makes me think of the color blue. Laura Susanne Yochelson is purple. She can even be pink, and unlike Laura Yochelson, isn’t netted by red. One belongs within the other, but both are not the same. I need people to think of me as Laura Susanne Yochelson because she is how I would like to be perceived. Since my name isn’t Laura-Susanne, I still go by Laura when it’s without the Yochelson.

My way of describing what OCD feels like

In short, constantly rechecking myself until she’s gone.

This is scary and hard to write, but I’m going to try anyways. In Sick I describe OCD via thoughts, rituals, calculations and feelings of being followed. More specifically, that sense from behind like “they’re” coming after me. (Throughout anorexia nervosa, “they’re” refers more specifically to the voices telling me I shouldn’t eat to guard against going spoiled.) A perfectly round apocalypse in the upper back. I’ve done something terribly wrong and my ability to culminate in speech is consequently being deafened. “They’re” going to get me and take her away. To the extent I am able to navigate this “they’re” biochemical loophole dictates my appearance to the world as a person. Most people can’t tell if I fake it/readjust/hold back from the inside coming out in order to quell the tension I experience as if darts are being shot from the outside in, keeping me twisted tight, tight, tight like a rope that can’t be squeezed out anymore. When I was being made, a baby or child some “energy” stomped on me with a very heavy foot, and the impounded imprint from a harsh heel that dug too deep permanently distorted the perception.

I’ve been told that in my soul this life I’m a wild stallion running free. It’s hard to imagine how much farther I’d be if I didn’t have this other stuff to deal with. Then again, I think working through it is my way of test-riding… Can’t wait to experience the real thing soon.

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Some of my new logos

One of my summer projects has been working with a graphic designer. We collaborated on creating logos. With these logos specific templates are being designed that can be used for a business card, bookmark, flyer, social media, etc. The process of working with her has been helpful to me for a variety of reasons. In particular, for the first time I’ve found a way to represent myself that identifies with more than eating disorders, but doesn’t neglect them.

Originally, I played around with two separate sets of terms for my logo. For the first set, I thought about combining “author” and “teacher,” but that seemed too serious to describe me! That is why, more recently, I added the creative “artist” to my title, so I am now “Author, Teacher, Artist.” For the second set of terms, I chose words to clarify the approach I wanted to incorporate in the design, and to encompass the message in my work as a writer, presenter, movement instructor, potential massage therapist/esthetician, etc. I brainstormed a list including “beauty,” “environment,” “health,” “lifestyle,” “spirituality,” “wellness,” and others. I was originally going to combine “environment” with “body” and “healing,” but as such came out too long and potentially complicated. Anyways, if somebody is into “body & healing,” which is what I selected, they are most likely aware and into the environment too, hence my decision to include green in the design.

For the colors I selected not only green, but also orange and purple. I thought about what these colors mean to me on a high level, and they evoke depth when combined. I also considered blue and red alongside yellow. But blue is already so popular, red is personally quite intense, yellow can be hard to see and, actually, is already special as the main color of my first book cover. I also enjoy the combination of pink and silver, but these seemed a little fancy, and perhaps too girl-oriented; the font is elegant/fun instead.

After the designer and I talked, she developed images representative of my ideas and what we discussed. I decided on the design of three blended stripes, which somewhat resembles the qualities of a shooting star. I also considered the image of a fish or dolphin. Even though my take with the designer was totally unique, fish and dolphin are already famously recognized in other forms, such as sports mascots, recreational parks or restaurants. I wanted a symbol that is gentle and meaningful yet didn’t make someone immediately think of a popular association when they saw it. The designer also developed a uniquely shaped box that includes my initials, LSY, traced in white.

At this point we’re still working on the business card, so nothing is completely final yet. I will be in charge of the printing, and the designer is providing suggestions, so I’m getting excited to begin carrying these around, because then I’ll no longer have to explain myself through cards that include the term “eating disorder,” although if anorexia nervosa is something I want to bring up upon first meeting someone, that’s fine too!

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Fiction piece about a girl friend, written in the first person

I once had a friend named Kathy. Kathy and I became friends because we saw each other everyday. When Kathy came over, she always compared my family’s house to hers. She liked where I lived more and was jealous. Even though it made me feel bad, I told myself Kathy wasn’t being mean, she was just insecure.

When I joined a club at school and Kathy was already more advanced, she didn’t make an effort to introduce me to her friends. I told myself that I only needed Kathy to be there in order to feel okay in the club, even if she purposely left me out.

Later, Kathy wanted to get together. She was alone and didn’t know people. For several months, I made an effort to reach out. We met regularly. My family also provided support. But it wasn’t long before Kathy told me to my face that she didn’t want to hang out anymore. She made up an excuse by explaining that someone else said she couldn’t be my friend. Anyways, by now, Kathy had new friends with boyfriends who went out late and were super into sex/acting sexually. So long as she provided the impression of being one of them, Kathy didn’t need people like me.

Two paragraphs about my summer 2014

This summer I wanted to go in the water in a bathing suit. I wanted to play in the waves, swim and dive. A couple weeks ago I got board shorts on sale and like them a lot. I do have a bathing suit, but I didn’t wear it. I went in the water with my clothes on, but not all the way, since I didn’t want to get soaked. I also wanted to surf, which I did somewhat as a tween/teen, but haven’t since then. There are specific places related to the water and living here previously that I will visit soon. Two weeks ago I did something special for myself when I got a makeover, then gave a signed copy of my book to the store, and purchased new clothes, all reasonably priced!

At home, I took down all the childhood pictures. I organized these pictures in 2009, and finally got sick of looking at them. I need a new bed/mattress and artwork, but that may not happen for a while. I also want to improve my diet, and already know what I’m going to do. However, there is an issue because I cook a vegetable in advance then never want to eat it. I try not to waste food, and still think it is good to practice, but this whole cycle is annoying. It isn’t like I’m not eating or eating junk, I just need new options without creating more work.

Being brave and writing about boys, again

I surreptitiously told myself that, in conjunction with my second book coming out, I was going to be ready to meet someone. Well, I’ve always been ready, but then again not really. At this point I’m not realistically interested in any guy I’ve previously had a crush on from school, work, etc. At the beginning of summer or during various points I may have felt more optimistic about one or two of these people, and even if it was hard to confess my feelings (or, on the contrary, to hold them in), I realize the best way for something to happen is by me liking differently. Some of the guys I’ve previously “liked”–recent, far-off, whatever–I don’t want anything to do with, but not in a nasty way. I put “like” in quotations because there are some people I’ve liked as in an attraction out of my control but not a relation I want intuitively. This is a potentially manipulative other I am interested in out of need as opposed to desire; I have to get “my” feelings out or plainly get out because due to a characteristic vulnerability he’s gotten in and, ultimately, using me.

I’ve gotten so good at getting around without a relationship and do rely on having my own space, so it will be interesting to see if when seriously presented with an opportunity I’ll actually want it. I have been rejected (which generally results in me feeling more relieved/glad this nonsense is finally over than disappointed), and I do reject people or opportunities, but again, not in a nasty way. Part of the reason why I don’t “try” harder is because I fear those things I need being taken away; I became so traumatized throughout anorexia; in the wrong relationship I easily become very unhappy and trapped. Then again, it isn’t that I don’t try, but I’d rather have no boyfriend than be tied down by too many relationships, especially those that feel forced.

At this point in life my most real moments have been with myself. Hence, does the type of relationship I’ve written about mean enough to truly want? Of course there are moments when I just want him, but this kind of “he,” I know, is already with me and I, literally, cannot look outside my heart for another. Certain people make me feel more passionate than others but if I can’t access that passion with a particular individual, or if he doesn’t give me room to move with it, then of course I’d rather be alone. I used to do certain things to try and make myself more desirable. Today, if something I do makes me come off as attractive, cool, but I do it for a bigger reason than to look good or win somebody else.

California, Maryland, Florida, Colorado and more…

Well, I finally turned in a revised galley. I began my initial design/publishing process in October 2013 and am satisfied, honestly, with everything since then. The cover is complete. Hence, late September, October or even early November 2014 should be good timing for my book to be ready/available. I already have several upcoming events lined up for Sick and additional in process but am eager to share my new fiction book regarding romance and relationships. It’s going to be weird, I think, not having this second book to come back to; I have trained myself to be so focused and almost reliant on the process of working through it. I’m hoping not to start a third book right away so that I can get out without thinking about writing more, but will happily continue blogging and doing articles.

This year is going to be really busy! Three quarters of next month I will be in Washington, DC area training, giving talks and teaching. I will visit again in December related to a trip to Florida. Before summer 2015 I would also like to visit a couple places in Colorado because there are several schools there I am curious about. I remember going to Boulder on our move to San Diego in 2001. I liked it. I would miss the ocean a lot, but the programs I am interested in are quite special and from what I can gage at this point not much like them is available elsewhere. For instance, if go forward with adding esthetician to my repertoire, they have unique, holistic schools. However if I decide to move forward with massage that can be done locally. So there is quite a difference but I want this badly enough at least to compare fairly. It really isn’t about rushing to get certified or licensed because I already have other skills; I want where I go to be what’s most healing.

For transitioning reasons, summer has seemed stressful but I’ve also done some great things for myself and, just this week, met a couple new and supportive people. In the meantime I aspire to be out of my childhood troubles and comfortable with or without that version of myself. I also don’t want to get stuck in relationships where sharing my feelings is prohibited at worst, strangely odd at best. Part of me wants to make the most of prior affiliations, another part just wants the relief of things being over that I never got a chance to appreciate as complete. I’m getting less sensitive on the topic of eating disorders and feeling grateful that sharing my own experiences is helping people.

When sexiness is outweighed by shame

As a child and tween in Maryland, I wasn’t at all needy for a boyfriend. As I’ve written before, a lot of boys just liked me, based on my basketball version. I never had to master the act that most girls do to attract boys because of the way my tough, smart and funny personality insulated others from my shunned insecurities.

As 12 year-old in California it became apparent that liking a boy wasn’t enough to make me feel more sexy than ashamed or comfortable impressing him in that way. I’m writing about this now, because last night a cute guy seemed to be looking at me. But I couldn’t act more sexy as if to say “I’m interested!” or get through underneath his sunglasses and hat. That just isn’t who I am, I thought. So, I smiled, looked away and kept going. I love to be sexy on my own and to fantasize, but for “sexy” to be another’s first impression is something I’ll have to get more used to being comfortable with.

Could I have been in the WNBA, gone to Yale and become a best-selling author?

What I wanted: to be a WNBA player.

What happened: I basically quit basketball in middle school.

What one parent wants: to pay for me to get the master’s I don’t want.

What another parent wants: for me to make more money.

Who I probably could have been: applied and gone to an Ivy League like my dad’s side, even though he reassured me that summa cum laude from American University is very highly recognized.

What I should have done: Been more patient with my book until it was more ideal.

What happened: Some people were critical, but I didn’t lose momentum or time and started right away on my second book.

I’m going to sing, paint and garden

I’ve only sung once, on my own, in front of a crowd. But people who heard were complimentary. My voice is pretty soft. On my own I love to sing or pretend. It is hard for me to sing with others around. It must feel so powerful to be a singer who is really tuned in and able to sing, like, from the gut. I wouldn’t want to be a famous singer and lose my writing. Then again, the idea of having my own recording studio and CD is pretty awesome. I’ve never had singing lessons, though, and would want to write my own lyrics. Along those lines I’d like an instrument to go along with my voice. I want to drum with my hands, learn piano and play guitar.

I’ve done drawing, painting and photography more than singing in the past. It would be hard for me to take up drawing and painting intensely because of the concentration and focus I put into writing. A more reasonable start might be ceramics or craft and jewelry making.

My dad’s mom gardened. She did the roses at her apartment complex and planted trees at our house. I don’t have much experience gardening, but because my grandmother was good, I’d probably be too.

Toodle-oo on August 8!

I don’t like to be friends, colleagues, etc. with someone who supports another person the first person knows hurt me.

Is that being too mean or picky?

No, because it takes a lot to “hurt” me. For better or worse, I prefer to be on good terms with everybody. In fact, I’m often on good terms–or just plain no terms–with people who hurt me.

But when I trust someone to be my friend first, and for whatever reason (s)he hails the other person or circumstances in front of my face, I leave both.

I want to learn these three things

I want to learn how to do my nails because I’m bad at it. I want to paint a flower on my thumb like I got for the eighth grade dance. I want to understand my feet.

I want to learn how to do make-up. I’m better at make-up than nails because I experiment everyday with my face. I don’t wear that much make-up and am generally more interested in the regimen that comes before. In fact, I think I look better with less make-up because when it falls I look sad and old. But what I put on has to be exact.

I want to learn sugaring. I want to learn these three things, for starters, not because I’m conceited or don’t enjoy my appointments but because I want to feel more competent. I want to not have to wait until my nails get way gross and my skin gets noticeably hairy; I want to learn what makes me feel pretty because I am tired of paying for myself.

Laura is 1/2 Kamino and 1/2 Yochelson

Kamino is:

  • business-savvy
  • giving
  • hard-working
  • humorous
  • modern
  • short-medium
  • smart
  • stylish
  • social

Yochelson is:

  • competitive
  • creative
  • cultural
  • curious
  • intellectual
  • proud
  • studious
  • tall
  • traditional

During a period in my childhood I preferred Kamino, which is by nature more alluring. With age I came to appreciate Yochelson’s footing and sophistication.

Six types of family members pertaining to another’s eating disorder

This isn’t based on my own family; just a culmination of ideas.

Bossy family members feel threatened by the sick person because they cannot authorize her. Bullying family members are hostile. Healthy family members confuse the sick person who thinks she is like them. Older family members are less sensitive. Popular or cool family members are difficult to communicate with because they feel fake. Likewise, secretive family members never express direct concern or face the gal and are ultimately off-base.

Note about bossy family members

Earlier on I had a tendency to draw bossy people into my life. I let girls who wanted to hang out with me push me around. People liked to pull at me; I remember complaining to my mom about my arm hurting.

While cooking, a bossy family member might “force” another to test some of his or her food to see if it is ready. If the other person refuses to try, turmoil ensues.

I don’t have a boyfriend, and I’m not ashamed

Does it make me feel bad to see other girls, and their pictures with their boyfriends on the Internet?

For a woman who doesn’t have a boyfriend, she features herself as the center in a group of men.

For a woman who does, 100 people support a picture just because they’re together.

For a typical woman my age I think her relationship is about the image of being taken. If she is, she’s desirable. If she isn’t, she must make herself wanted through the appearance of being threatening via a combination of having numerous men allies and highly attractive, close women friends plus taking part in an active, ideal, essentially famous-looking life located somewhere important-sounding.

I see women and their pictures with men/boyfriends. Much of the time I’m not jealous, let alone impressed. Boosting one’s self through the momentary reactions of others to a photograph that says “we’re together” cuts off the breathing room for a relationship to evolve individually. Does anybody notice whether his arm is around her shoulder like a buddy or nestling the waist? If they’re kissing, is he embracing her or posing? She has her hand on the front of his body and looks so in love, but he just stands there and doesn’t seem to care. Maybe it’s healthy every other girl I know is proud enough to post her relationship online. At this point, she’s still oblivious to any apparent incongruence, and of course it’s cool to show-off.

To conclude, I’m tired of not receiving the same social support as girls who have boyfriends. Since I don’t have a boyfriend, people assume I’m not as happy or satisfied as I could be. People laugh or call me slow. But those other girls with their boyfriends are by no means ahead.

When it comes to sharing a memoir, be warned

I shared about my book with handfuls of folks relevant to the story. Many of these folks I hadn’t seen in years. Some of them I gave free copies to. I thought they would care more; that I would get a heartfelt message in return, or a follow-up. But, if anything, the answer I received was, “Sorry, I haven’t had time to read it yet.” Then she avoided me. I’ve seen my characters from my story inaccurately mixed and used without reference, yet Sick explicitly states that names have been changed to protect others; certain settings are altered. (I was hurt by what appeared to be an attempted present day reenactment of a meaningless, ultimately irrelevant childhood feud.) It also bothers me when someone doesn’t read all the way through. For instance, to the diagnosis of my eating disorder, just because they judge it as irrelevant to them. Or maybe they stop at when I became a vegetarian because they like that, although later I explain about needing to eat animal foods.

My story of crushes, and Canada

San Diego is much different than Maryland or DC. Many more attractive men surround me. I see someone I “could like” at the beach, in the grocery store or walking around a nearby shopping center. Everyday, based on the regular places I go, there are numerous opportunities. When I lived on the east coast and saw someone I might like, l felt instant pressure. Here, I’m learning not to trouble myself so much.

In college, I had one crush my first semester. He ended up transferring.  Then, after my year off,  I studied in a program that drew more women. The last semester I almost liked someone younger, but not really, mostly because of the way his various features reminded me of another.

I met additional men through my work as a personal trainer. Although it seems like this type would fit well due to my own interest in fitness and nutrition, and I did develop two serious crushes over a period of four years, they were wrong. I don’t mean “wrong” in a judgmental kind of way, because I truly did put effort into getting to know each. One came roughly a year after the other. In between, there actually was someone I liked at school, only because he came at that time right before I got my first period.

Following my two serious crushes, I couldn’t desire another or be attracted and consumed myself, emotionally, back-and-forth. One night I decided to write down every guy I’d ever liked. I listed my crushes in one column, and all of the boys who’d historically liked me in another. Based on this chart, I circled the people who really stood out. I directly contacted one. It soon became obvious that he was just more of the same.

Then, something happened. Someone came into my life who was exactly like one of my two serious crushes. I got confused. I wanted him to be a better version of the same person, but facing him through me “God” indicated he wasn’t.

Now it is summer 2014. According to my age, surroundings and astrology, this was or is supposed to be my time, yet regardless of how much others are impressed by what I’ve accomplished, I’m only 50% of where I’d like to be distinct from a relationship. Four years ago I met with a shaman who told me I wasn’t going to date; there is only one person and I have one baby. But my location, today, doesn’t correlate with her reading of around Canada, where she said my husband, children and I escaped to in the last life from eastern Europe, but then I left my family and died on my mission to help “my people” who made it to the United States. (In the life before that I lived in Russia and fought tyranny, she explained.) Although a couple months after meeting with the shaman I did take a retreat in the Berkshires, Boulder (after Miami) is most likely my next trip. I’m also over liking men because they share my religion, even if others prefer it that way.

Guest post by Ellie Herman

Ellie is in the process of writing a memoir on anorexia nervosa and blogs at http://ellieherman001.wordpress.com. Ellie is also a student at Albright College, where she studies psychology.  For this guest post, she bravely shared an excerpt of her writing.

The pain:

Eating disorders use several different torture methods to bring pain to the afflicted.

Hunger Pains. You think you know what it feels like to be hungry, but having an empty stomach is a pain that completely overrides that of skipping lunch. Pangs shoot through your abdomen, and you know exactly what the cause is. If you occupy yourself, you can usually train your mind not to notice these pangs though… or maybe your stomach just stops twisting itself in screaming protest because it learns that your stubborn self will not be delivering the food it demands any time soon. When your stomach is empty, there’s a dull sensation that persists even when the pangs stop though. This is not over-powered by the mind and is not something that can be trained to subdue. The dullness will last as a silent shriek from your body.

Heart pains. These don’t manifest until the disorder has well-established itself as a part of you. Your body is depleted of nutrients, energy, flesh, and muscle. It shouldn’t be pushed, physically, to do much of anything in this state, but the anorexic mind knows no boundaries to the things it decides to do to the body. The mind wants it to move, to burn more energy, to whittle away. The heart, being a muscle, pulls at any resources it can: the stomach (empty), the muscles (dilapidated), and is forced, then, to pull only from itself. It’s been weakened too by the lack of nourishment, and as it pulls on itself its owner feels its strain. Close to the skin because there is no flesh even on the chest to cushion it, the heart makes itself all too known to the anorexic mind. Painful pounding, painful pulling.

Cramps. These usually happen at night. You’ll wake up and realize that a pain is shooting through your calf. Surely there is someone stabbing you. Surely your leg is missing. Or, maybe it’s a pain in your toe this time. You realize you can’t move your toes; they’re locked in a binding cramp. These cramps are not coincidental. This does not just happen regularly to everyone. Your body is deprived and yanking at strings, and muscles are made of strings. “Potassium,” it says in its dying voice. “Need potassium.” And it draws it from the fibers of your thin legs as a last resort.

Guilt. You feel bad about what you ate. You feel bad because you ate something out of your normal “routine.” You ate something that wasn’t “safe.” You ate something good, something delectable, something sinful. It was likely delicious, but you feel like you shouldn’t have eaten it. Surely it has already ruined your discipline. Surely your stomach is now a beer belly. Surely the people who saw you eat it have now disowned you. The guilt of eating is a pain like no other.

Guilt. You feel bad about not eating. Your body is pleading for nourishment. It really doesn’t care what type at this point…what it wouldn’t do for a calorie. But, you’ll deny it that luxury for as long as you possibly can. It doesn’t feel good. You’re only convincing yourself that it feels right. Deep down you feel bad about not putting that food in your mouth, allowing your body its deepest desire, granting your family and friends confidence in your ability to overcome this demon. The guilt of not eating pains you and others who watch you shrink.

Others’ eyes. People look at you differently when you’re too skinny and when you’ve gained weight. When you’re too skinny, it’s a pity look. Their eyes plead with you to eat. The sorrow there is usually genuine; they’d gladly give you any food they have on their persons. Family’s eyes are the worst. Filled with love and pain and fear for your whittled future, these eyes will haunt you even after reaching a stable body weight. You caused that fear, that longing, that feeling out of control. In reaching for your own control, you take it from your loved ones, leaving them in the same pool of emotion that you put yourself in.

Fullness. When you do start putting food into your malnourished body, it is shocked. Your stomach simply is not used to having mass in it, and it contracts with surprising strength for its shrunken size. The pain can make you think eating is wrong, too much for your body, an unfortunate side effect to doing exactly what you need to do: eat more. Your little stomach stretches itself, trying to accommodate the new nourishment in its clutches, but this stretch can be excruciating. You feel full after a few bites of a meal.

Sorry, you’re not my best friend!

In elementary and middle school, various girls called me by best friend. With one I shared lockets. However the two of us became more distant by age nine due to my engagement with basketball. When my family moved, neither of us made an effort to keep in touch. Ironically the main similarity we shared is that both of us wanted to grow apart from our childhoods. Yet, our approaches to doing so were contradictory.

In first grade, I reasonably considered the person I got to know the best soonest to be my best friend. As I got older she continued to seem safer because, like the girl I shared lockets with, she didn’t do competitive sports. (I did.) By third grade more people wanted to be my best friend. In sixth grade I had separate groups of best friends that didn’t get along with each other. This is in part how I ended up learning about “my” surprise party from somebody who felt excluded. Often, when I received an invitation, it mentioned not to discuss it at school since not everybody got one. Sometimes, I felt a girl who called me “best friend” did so because she wanted to own me.

As an adult, it sounds childish to still hear people qualify or measure when it comes to friendship. Referring to someone else as “my best friend” while in conversation with another close friend is potentially hurtful. Of course, people like to splash their various entitled friends online because it makes them look special, too.

Not everybody has a best friend (or multiple) from kindergarten, college, the neighborhood or whatever. It’s okay to be that person who doesn’t.

Visiting with eighth grade me ~ she inspired my second book

More recently, I’ve come in touch with myself as an eighth grader. She is sad and alone, but not sick yet. What’s missing is the life she got used to falling back on that became too much a part of her. She cannot yet determinate the impending crisis this other version shall impose and, consequently, feels stung by a sense of ambiguity. She doesn’t talk to her old friends, or see them, because doing so doesn’t make sense; she wants freedom from that period. At school she is liked but cannot see it. She is beginning to open up to something more new and girly that basketball previously forbid, which is positive. However her physicality is clobbered. More specifically, she is incarcerated by everything she wants but isn’t allowed and doesn’t understand why or what she did wrong to need this deprivation.

Ways I reacted to guys in my early twenties

  • A stranger yelled at me from his car, “Hey, do you have a boyfriend?” I rolled up the window, pretended not to hear then looked away.
  • He brought up sex in conversation without having formally asked me out…I ignored the rest of his messages.
  • He gave me a sad, distant look. I smiled back.
  • He had just gotten out of the water with two other friends and their surfboards. I walked by. One said, “Hey.” I whispered back “hi” and didn’t know what else.
  • He judged me, so I explained I’m a writer. And I write books.
  • He walked down the aisle, I sensed him tuning into my conversation, then he came behind me to checkout even though other lines were free. I was tired and didn’t give eye contact.
  • I asked him about a simple item. He unnecessarily had me follow him around the store then asked me a question. I reacted: “Um, no.”
  • I teased back at older men who teased me. Because otherwise he likes “you” and is taking advantage.
  • It slipped that he has a girlfriend, but then he tried to ask me out/get closer. I wasn’t interested.
  • Realized that since I’ve known him five years, and what’s between us hasn’t gone anywhere, he just makes me stuck. I disconnected completely.
  • We made a plan to see each other for the first time in years but then he deferred. A couple years later when he tried to add me back, I didn’t accept.

Additional observations:

  • Force yourself to reach out and say something/break it off if you want a fair chance.
  • If he suddenly starts wearing sunglasses he is trying to appear nonchalant but is ashamed.
  • If he keeps restyling his hair and is noticeably stylish, he isn’t good-looking without being fake.
  • If he says “call me” multiple times then he is cool, not classy.
  • If it is clear he likes you, but you don’t, it’s okay to not want to hang out.
  • Just because he got good grades, or would like people to think he’s smart, doesn’t mean he is able to communicate.
  • Just because he’s older–maybe even a bit older–doesn’t mean he’s mature.

My vision of an alternate version: for Laura

She doesn’t feel bad about basketball or childhood friends.

She’s plenty cool today.

She doesn’t fret over her appearance.

She has fun experimenting with different tastes and styles.

She doesn’t need to be on top of everything.

She’s very good at what she likes to do and gets by fine with the rest.

She doesn’t regret having been sick.

She has an eye-opening story to share.

She doesn’t second-guess every word that comes out of her head.

She enjoys being known as an author who is authentic.

She doesn’t walk to quell anxiety and think things through.

She surfs and does water sports–almost carelessly–instead.

She isn’t tied down by boys from the past or soul mates.

She meets new people everyday.

She isn’t torn between the east and west coast.

She has her own place.