"Listen to the words that others can't speak; speak the words that others can't hear."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This is my public confession.

Before I go into the details of this post, I want to let everyone know that I have been MIA from writing lately but it's because I'm starting to enjoy life again. My social life is "thriving" (using that word only because that's where I feel I should be rather than where I actually am). On the real though, I am being more social as well as working and going to school. Who would have thought I'd be here a year ago?! ...A big thanks to the people that believed in me!

Okay. So. I can't really avoid what this post is truly about for much longer given that the title is probably cause for concern. 

Breatheeeee...and I say that not only for you but myself as well.  This post is really not as alarming as it sounds. 

I'm struggling, but DON'T FREAK OUT.

I'm not in a "bad" place. At least not compared to where I used to be. In fact, I'd say I'm doing fairly well all things considered and I'd like to think my treatment team agrees. (I don't know how they'll feel after reading this, but I also don't think it'll be a game changer). I've been pretty honest with them.

I'm coming up on my one year mark for cutting and I'm nervous. Not because I don't think I'll make it; I know I will. I just know that in the past things have not worked out for this long and part of me is bracing myself for the worst. Like they say, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. ...I guess?

But honestly, that's not really what I'm struggling with. I'm actually just struggling with food and body image. And I know the word "just" minimizes the situation but what can I say? I'm a minimizer.

My nutritionist is on maternity leave. She actually just left about two weeks ago. We have been preparing for this for over a month and it's not something that was new to me. In fact, we did the best we could preparing for this gap. It's only for a couple of months so I'm really not looking for a new nutritionist or anything of the sort, just support.

Part of me knew this was coming, but I wanted to believe I could do it on my own. As some of you know from experience, and others through reading this blog, Ed is a sneaky bastard. I was doing good at quieting his "voice" in my head (y'all know what I mean by voice right? I'm crazy, but not THAT crazy), but lately I can't get him to shut up. 

I haven't been following my meal plan. I have been restricting, and I'd like to think it's not on purpose (i.e. I'm too busy to eat), but that's a lie. If everyone else can find a way to eat three meals a day then so can I. 

Also, I'm feeling really guilty when I do eat. Every part of me wants to purge but I've been fighting that off as much as I can. It hasn't been perfect, in fact I'd be lying if I said I haven't done it in the past month, but I'm trying really hard. 

Many of you might think I'm doing this for attention or to try to lose weight but really, my nutritionist and I have figured out that on the weeks I use behaviors, my weight tends to go up. Now that could be water weight or my body starting to go into survival mode, but part of me wants to think that's my eating disorder talking... but factually, my weight does go up. So no, I don't do this for weight loss. I really don't know why I do it.

I've heard all the explanations, from "purging emotions" to "control" to whatever else. I know all about it. At this point, it's not anybody's job to figure that out but me. I don't want you to tell me that I'm beautiful just the way I am or that I can do this. I know I can.

I guess I don't really know what I'm looking for when I say support. Maybe it's just someone to listen or probably even someone to read this post. Maybe it just shows me you care.

Whatever the case, whatever "support" means to you, I could use some of that.

Hope everyone is doing well and know I'm always here to listen. I don't have the answers and I may not even know how to respond, but I know that someone listening helps a lot.



<< In treatment, that one creepy patient.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Word Purge

I want to write a beautiful poem; 
There are so many things I want to tell you. 

I want this to be meaningful, 
But not just full of shit 
Because we all know half the stuff we hear goes in one ear and out the other quickly forgotten or not believed. 

Listen to me. 

As the sun sets, and darkness starts to fall, 
I'm once again reminded and I relive it all. 
And I know I'm not the only one who feels the way I do, I'm not the first or the last to say that I'm with you. 

Listen to me. 

I've been there. 
Leaning over a toilet wishing to be thin, hoping that your heart will stop, 
Wanting to give in.  

And I, I have been there. 

Crawled up in a ball at night, as the monsters call my name, 
I've felt their hands around me but still I've taken all the blame. 

And I've carved into my body 
To forget that I was used, 
I've left my temple burned and scarred, terrified and bruised. 

I have been there. 

And I want this poem to be about redemption. I want it to tell our stories from the inside out so others can feel what it's like to want to crawl out of your skin. 
Because living in a shell, puking and eating and puking and cutting and eating and starving and cutting again, 
That's not a life worth living. 
And I've been there. 

I've stared at a bottle of pills for hours debating how many to take. I don't want to die I'd tell myself as I committed suicide. 
"I'm not sick enough," I'd say,
"I've been worse before." 
God I've heard this so many times from people I adore. 
And I've been there. I have felt your pain, 
And I know how to appreciate the sunshine when all you get is rain. 

Because I'm here now. I still wake up to sweat and tears and I sit here quietly facing all my fears.
But I know how to smile, and I know how to laugh and if I could give you a reason to keep fighting I'd say that these two are the greatest gifts of all. 

Because seeing a smile on a strangers face and hearing a giggle or a cute embrace makes the sunsets beautiful and the dark nights bright, 
Makes the shadows quiver in the moonlit night. 
And it brings new memories to cloud the old, and I know these are all things that you have been told 
But you've never seen it so how could it be? And you're stuck in the same place as yesterday and the day before and the day before and the day before. 

And I've been there too, just as lost as you. And I know I'm not the only one who feels the way I do, I'm not the first or the last to say that I'm with you. 

But if I could dry your tears and show you how to live, I'd do it in an instance and have nothing left to give. 

If you could see yourself the way that I see you, you'd understand when I say that I have been there too. 
You're beautiful and wonderful and have so much just ahead, 
And together we can fight it, we won't ever be misled. 

And I want to write a poem that you can relate to, 
Forget the bells and whistles, and the sappy "I love yous". 

I don't know how to end it since the future's so unsure, 
I don't know and can't promise that we will be secure. 
But I know I'm not the only one who feels the way I do, 
And I know I'm not the first or the last to say that I'm with you. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cause for a celebration.

Six months ago today, I was readmitted into inpatient treatment at Presby Dallas. I drove myself to day treatment that morning and fought my demons as hard as I could... I had been up all night fighting actually, but it wasn't enough. Right there in the hospital parking lot I picked apart a razor feeling it slice through the tips of my fingers as I tried so desperately to get to the blade.

I sat in the drivers seat hiding the stained paper towels for almost an hour before wrapping my arm up and going into day treatment. The nutritionists and therapists knew I had had a rough day yesterday so they asked how my night went and I told them it went well. I told them it had its rough spots but I made it through the night okay. I wasn't lying to them. I mean, technically I had made it through the night just fine. After breakfast that morning I thought I was in the clear, all the 'important' people thought I was fine and they'd pass the word along. I had nothing to fear. 

Three hours into the day Dr. Pennington came to visit with me and asked how my night had gone, "I heard it went well," she said. I told her that it was hard but I made it through the night without hurting myself. She said she was proud, but I could tell she wasn't fully convinced. 

"So no self-harm at all yesterday?" 

"Nope. None at all yesterday," I replied. 

I saw the way she looked at me, almost like she could see right through me. "But..?"

I came clean. 

Dr. Pennington knew almost right away that it needed stitches even though I tried to convince her that it was fine. She wasn't born yesterday and I was not her first patient. I was taken to the ER and although I thought I had convinced the doctor that I was okay to go home, she thought otherwise and gave me the chance to sign myself in voluntarily. 

This was October 2nd. I was inpatient at Presby until 11pm on Oct. 30 and had until 11am on Oct. 31 to be admitting myself to River Oaks Hospital in Louisiana. Twelve hours. If I didn't make it there in twelve hours my insurance would refuse to pay for treatment. 

Treatment was not an easy choice. It wasn't a way out for me and it wasn't an excuse or an escape as some might say. Treatment took hard work and dedication. It was a daily battle. It's difficult to explain because a lot of people think that it's about being doped up, fed three meals a day and sitting through groups. Some treatment places even have weekly massages. That's living the life there! ....Not. 

Essentially everything I stated above is true. You are fed three meals a day plus snacks, you do get your meds when you need them and yes, you go to groups all day everyday, but it is so much more than that. I just don't know how to explain it but I'll do the best I can. 

At work today, a guy friend asked me if I wanted to get lunch with him. Before he even finished asking me I said, "I already ate." I hadn't eaten and my insides were yelling at me to quit lying. So I told him, actually I hate some hours ago (I had six fruit snacks) but I'm not really hungry. Lie #2. "Well," he said, "why don't you just come with me then?" I wanted to go. You are too fat. You look disgusting. He's going to be embarrassed to even be seen with you. You might actually have fun, and then what? Abort. Abort. Abort! "I don't think I can go today, maybe tomorrow?" I asked knowing I wouldn't see him the next day. 

So imagine having someone follow you around literally 24/7 bullying you, telling you things that not even your worst enemy would say to your face. I'm not schizophrenic, bipolar or have multiple personalities (not at all bashing on those who do, many of them are my bestest of friends) but there is always a voice inside my head telling me I'm not good enough. It tells me that I deserved the things that happened to me (even typing that feels weird because the voice inside tells me that they didn't 'happen to me', I brought them upon myself). Things will never change. 

This is what treatment is about. It's not truly about getting through the meals or staying safe throughout the day, that's just the stabilization period. Treatment is about finding YOUR voice and quieting the other. It's about learning to take control again starting from realizing that you do have a choice in taking a shower and brushing your teeth to major decisions like going to school or moving away. 

I got out of the hospital on December 7th. The first decision I had to make was whether I was going to fly home or have my parents pick me up. I went back and forth on this for almost two weeks. Finally, my therapist looked me in the eyes and said, "Bella, you have a voice. Make your decision and let everyone know what YOU want." 

I have faced many obstacles since leaving the hospital. It's very important for me to remember that although I have left the treatment facility, treatment is not over yet. I have made good decisions and bad decisions. My thinking is so much clearer and for the most part I feel happier. Not all my symptoms are gone and you know what? Maybe they never will be. I just have to remember that it's about progress not perfection. 

I feel like this post focused on a lot of 'negative' things, but really it's just part of my journey that got me to where I am today... and 212 days free from cutting is a great place to be.

Thank you Kyla, Stephanie, Dr. Pole, Dr. Benigar, Shele, Kirsten, Ingrid, Gillian, Dr. G, Bridget, Dara, Katie, Dr. Symons, Whitney, Megan, Sandy, Dr. Pennington, Darce, Dr. Harris, Jeff, Dr. Lavigne and finally Jessica and all finally all my friends and family for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dear Me.

Dear 30-year old me,

     Woah. These past ten years have gone by so fast haven't they? It seems like just yesterday you were getting ready to celebrate your 21st and start living your "adult" life. I want to write you this letter because I don't want you to look back at the past ten years with regret.

     Yes, you've fucked up a lot. You made your fair share of mistakes when you were my age, but never forget that you also learned so much from them. When you look back I want you to remember all the hard work you put into your treatment and recovery. YOU did that, no one can take that away from you.

     I know you're going to want to forget your early twenties, they were rough, but I don't want you to be too hard on yourself. You worked really hard and that's not something that should be forgotten. I want you to remember what it was like to feel down and out and how empowered you felt when you picked yourself up again.

     Your brain is going to cloud your memories and bring out all the negative things, but I want you to remember that not every day was bad. In fact, even your 'bad' days had something good in them. I want you to remember days like today, March 3, 2013.

     It's a Sunday. You're regretful because you went gambling last night with your family even though you know that's not a good coping skill and your therapists have told you not to do it. You had some trouble with eating disorder behaviors this past week and you were trying to forget it even happened at all. You also struggled with urges to self-harm. Because you went out last night and didn't get home until this morning, you didn't wake up in time to see one of your treatment friends who came in from out of town. You woke up feeling like a fuck up and wanted to stay in bed all day and drown in self-pity... but you didn't.

     You got your ass out of bed, met up with Taylor (yes, the Taylor that you met at Renfrew... your sister Taylor) and she took you horseback riding for the first time in your life. Your day started off badly, but you ended up LOVING today. You were out with Taylor most of the afternoon and you were both able to look back at the past year and say, "Fuck yeah! We've come so far!"

     You had lunch with her and didn't even think about the calories or the affect it might have on your body. You got on that horse and you fought the disordered thoughts about exercise and "burning off" what you had eaten. You enjoyed yourself, you had fun. Most importantly, you reached out for support and found a healthy outlet for your feelings. I hope you're able to put those moments at the forefront and not beat yourself up for the past.

     Thinking of you... well, me at thirty, I feel now like you're going to feel old and jaded. But really, you have many friends now that are in their thirties and their still a kid at heart. I hope you're able to be that way too. Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't have it all together yet. You have a lifetime to figure it all out.

     I do hope that by now you've found someone you can settle down with, but if you haven't that's okay too. Just remember, it's better to take your time finding a 'forever' than to rush for a 'for now'. Remember what they taught you in treatment about relationships, 1+1=3... you+me= we. The formula for a good relationship starts with the PRAISES model. Physical, Recreational, Aesthetic, Intellectual, Spiritual, Emotional, and Sexual intimacy both with yourself and your relationship... but always start with yourself first. You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. You've struggled with that a lot this past year.

     Your past self is almost twenty-one right now and as I'm writing this I'm looking on the walls and seeing all the positive affirmations I've put up for us. I'll end this letter with reminding you of your "Daily Recovery Plan" sheet and some of the affirmations your friends have given you.

Daily Recovery Plan


  • Spend time with God.
  • Acknowledge I am valuable because I am.
  • Set boundaries and let others know what they are.
  • Set limits for myself.  
  • Be aware that others' needs do not come before mine.
  • Be still and listen to my inner voice.
  • Only sweat the biggies.
  • Laugh.
  • Be flexible. 
  • Forgive (myself and others). [...yes, that's a hard one!]
  • Live in the present.
  • Do something special for myself.
  • Try to have an optimistic attitude.
  • Give love. 
  • Receive love. 
  • Take care of my physical needs.
  • Share myself with others (because I want to). 
Affirmations (from friends)
  • I deserve to love myself.
  • I forgive myself. 
  • I am beautiful.
  • I can learn to appreciate my body.
  • I am compassionate and have many gifts. 
  • I am unique.
  • I am strong, wise and beautiful inside and out.
  • I am kind and gentle.
  • I can love myself.
  • I am worthy of love and respect.
  • I am funny, caring, unique and Cuban. (Thank Kevin for that one!)
  • I love my body; I know I deserve for everyone to respect me and care for me. I am Bella Beautiful.
  • I'm so beautiful from top to bottom, from inside and out. I deserve the best... always.
  • I will NEVER NEVER NEVER give up.
  • I am the best daughter a mom could ever want! (Thank Heidi, your treatment mom.)
  • I am a special caring woman. 
  • I deserve to live life and experience joy!
  • I am an epically wonderful person to be friends with.
  • I am a special, fantastic, caring, and beautiful woman.
  • I can love and accept my body.
Take care of yourself. Nothing that is worth it will come easily, but it's definitely worth fighting for. 

With Love,
Your 20-year old self. 

P.S. If you read this and realize things are not how you expected them to be ten years ago, remember that it's never too late to start over. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013


I sat in my therapist's office the other day with tears in my eyes. I fought as hard as I could fight, but the tears still came and I got angry because I wanted them gone. Jess, my therapist, seemed to be welcoming the tears with open arms. "I have to be strong," I said as I wiped what would have been my first tear from my eyes.

I keep telling myself to hold it together, let them know everything's alright, you can do this. And I can. I know I can do this. But I also have to remember that we weren't meant to walk through life alone and as much as I wish I could do this alone, it's simply not possible.

I'm a part of several private support groups for the different treatment centers I've been through and have come to realize that recovery isn't as fantastic as I've made it out to be. Someone who I love dearly, someone who inspires me, who gives me hope when I feel like there's no hope out there... Well, she hit a rough spot and announced she's going back to treatment. On the outside everything seemed to be going okay, but there's always more to people than meets the eye. 

So this is my post, as honest as it gets. 

I've been struggling.

I've been feeling sad, anxious, angry, lonely and overwhelmed. I picked up the phone the other day to call someone and realized that although I have a lot of support out there, there is no one in my area that I can reach out to that will understand without judging. Not one person. So I told myself, "hold it together, Bella... we can do this." I wiped the tears from my eyes and moved on. 

I emailed my therapist who thank God replied within the hour. She told me to breathe, she told me the bad feelings will pass. She let me know that I am safe and that things may happen out of my control, but I can control how I choose to react to them.

That day I had a slip-up with my eating disorder symptoms. The next day was the same way... but on that third day, after breaking down in my boss' office and asking for support from a total stranger, I made a different choice and I didn't act on any ED or self-harm symptoms. 

I've thought a lot about how life has been going ever since I got back. In the grand scheme of things everything has been great, my life is coming together and unfolding as it should. I've been strong, much stronger than in the past. Yes, I've had my setbacks and difficulties, but I've handled it all better than expected.

I've realized that I'm going to feel alone at times. I'm going to have moments where I have to trust others more than I do myself. I'm going to doubt, cry, hurt and feel... something that I hadn't allowed myself to do in a long time. But most importantly, I've realized that after it's all said and done, I am going to heal.

Recovery is not a straight, clean road. It has its bumps, detours, twists and turns, but there is no doubt in my mind that recovery is worth it. Totally worth it. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013


    Climbing a tree as a kid, falling off your bike or skateboard, burning yourself while cooking or getting wounded in war... Scars are symbols of hardships and overcoming. They are a symbol of strength. They signify certain stages of life coming to an end and for some people they are a source of pride. On the other hand, they could symbolize weakness. A moment in time where something went wrong and one was deeply wounded.
     Unfortunately for me, scars are all too common on my body. In fact, I have probably close to 50 scars on my body right now. Some are big and others small; I needed stitches for some of them while for others a simple band-aid did the trick. They are a constant reminder of how I gave in during a moment of weakness.

     Being a swim instructor now, scars are very difficult to hide. When I'm out of the water it's easy to wear long sleeves or pants, but in the water there's nothing that'll hide them. While I was doing my training the other day, I began to feel uncomfortable with my body when I realized one of the girls was staring at me. Immediately thoughts about being fat and ugly ran through my head. I wanted to run out of there. I began to think with my wise mind and told myself that it wasn't my body, it had to be something else. I followed her gaze and when I looked down I remembered that I have four big scars right smack in the middle of my thigh and she was staring right at them.

     I felt so embarrassed. 

     I could feel my face burning red and I was afraid someone was going to ask me what was going on. I wanted to cry but was trying to pull myself together. I told myself it didn't matter, they're a part of who I am. I got in the pool as fast as possible and engaged in conversation to get my mind off things. 

     When I got home I allowed myself to think about it some more. Was it really that bad? I didn't care when I had open wounds there, why should I care now? Did it make me worse than everyone else? Did it make me less of a person?


     I am not less of a person for being weak at one point or another. I am no different from anyone else. My scars are meaningful to me and I shouldn't care what anyone else thinks. I've realized that I may look different from other people, but who doesn't? I am not less of a person and I deserve to feel good and comfortable with myself. 

     I am proud of my scars. Sure, sometimes I wish I didn't have so many of them, but I can't change that now. My scars no longer symbolize weakness. They are a reminder of how weak I've been in the past, but most importantly, they signify how strong I was to overcome my weakness. They're a reminder of how forgiving my God and my body is. For so long I caused harm to myself and my body pretending like it didn't matter, but I no longer have to do that. My God watched over me every single time I did that and he left a sign behind letting me know that He cares. If He didn't care He could have stopped my wounds from healing. I could have gotten an infection; I could have died. Instead, my body, God's wonderful creation, did what it was made to do and covered my wounds with new skin. I couldn't be more grateful than I am now. 

     Over time, I know most of my scars will fade. When that time comes I will be ready to see them go but will always remember each and every one of them; they all have a different story to tell. Scars aren't always visible and I think the biggest one of all is inside me. I'll always carry it on me, but even that one, the most painful of them all, is new skin. 

Like me, each scar has a story, but a new beginning as well. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tradition, Tradition!

     We celebrated the new year last night with an old Puerto Rican tradition. Back home friends get together and build what's called an "Año Viejo". They take a mop and put jeans and a t-shirt and stuff it with newspaper. They add a head and a face that's supposed to look like an old man. After all that is done, they write a note with what they want the past year to take with it, what they want to change.

     At midnight, everyone goes outside and light the Año Viejo on fire symbolizing an end to all the negative in the past year. Last night we made a mini Año Viejo of our own and burned it in our backyard. Knowing that it was illegal made it even more exciting! ;)

     It's the first day of the new year and I can't help but smile at the fact that 2012 is over. The new year symbolizes new beginnings and God knows I need that right now.

     Last night my parents said that they would want to erase this past year altogether, that they wanted it gone. I can understand why they would want that, it's been a difficult year for all of us, but to be honest, I wouldn't change a thing. Last year I learned more about myself than most people do in their entire lifetime, and I met some of the most amazing, loving and understanding people. I learned what it really means to "support our troops" and that trouble comes in all shapes and sizes, but one is never worse than the other. It's equivalent depending on each person and where they are in their life.

     God has a plan for each of us and I truly believe that last year was a part of the Plan. If I wouldn't have gone through the things I went through I wouldn't know the true value of life. All in all I am thankful for last year, but I wouldn't ever want to repeat it. 

     This year, if you're going through a rough time, keep your head up, keep smiling and remember that it's all part of the Plan. 

     Here's a little of what went on last night...