Tag Archives: sincerely chelsea

I don’t know if I’m “recovered” and that’s okay

I had a particularly physically active day today and, as is fairly typical for me when I’m physically active, my hunger signals were muffled. They don’t go away exactly, but they become majorly delayed and aren’t as strong as they should be (until I actually start eating, at which point they becoming insanely strong). I ran by the store after my volunteer gig and the thought hit me that I could totally just skimp on or skip dinner altogether, go to bed early, and call it a done deal. The thought, It’d just be so easy actually flitted through my brain because apparently physical activity also gives me amnesia.

As of today, it’s been exactly fifty-one weeks since I entered an intensive outpatient (IOP) eating disorder treatment program. I graduated about ten weeks later and haven’t looked back. Well. I have. Obviously. But I’ve managed, through work, therapy, and keeping myself honest, to not dip back into old behaviors. I haven’t purposefully skipped or delayed meals, I haven’t counted calories, I haven’t been running at all.

However. The thoughts are still there. Not all the time, and they sometimes take slightly different forms (I will sometimes fall into a rabbit hole of second guessing myself. “Did I hike for that long because I wanted to or because of calories or something?”), but they still crop up, which is why I’m writing this in the first place.

I remember the first time I really thought about the difference between getting better and getting well. I read about it in a book: the main character spoke about being in the hospital for some chronic condition and how people shifted from saying, “Get well soon!” to “Feel better!” There’s quite a bit of nuance there, and I think it’s important to recognize.

I’ve thought a lot over the past year about the recovery vs. remission camps in the eating disorder community. There are those who say sufferers can completely recover and never deal with an ED again — they can get well. Others say that sufferers can be without symptoms for massive lengths of time (or potentially forever), but that, much like many substance abusers, the tendency to turn to ED behaviors is still there — so, they get better, but still have to remain somewhat vigilant. I’ve sat in both camps over the past year, and now, I have no idea where I fall.

I do know one thing, though: I’m personally doing pretty well. But I still have thoughts. There’s not a part of me that thinks back to this time last year with longing or nostalgia. But, there’s apparently a part of me that momentarily remembered restricting food as being “easy”, at least this evening. There’s a part of me that still has issues with the shape and size of my body or with balancing exercise. It’s all there; I’ve just learned a lot of tools to deal with those issues.

I think this is really important to recognize. Over the years, I’ve often seen recovery painted as a pretty stark Before and After. There’s so much more to it than that, though. It’s rare that recovery is presented in such a way that leaves room for those thoughts, those wonderings, those feelings. (In fact, a couple of years ago, when I first felt urges to restrict after eating intuitively for awhile, I completely freaked out because I assumed such urges meant that I was relapsing.)

I’m not sure where I stand on the whole recovery/remission debate any more, but I do know this: I’m doing really well, but I still don’t love my body. I’m doing really well, but I still have urges to go run when I need to deal with something hard. I’m doing really well, but I apparently still have thoughts about skipping dinner. I don’t really know what conclusions can be drawn about that — it’s not even been a year for me after all. But I do think it’s important to recognize that the recovery process can certainly involve thoughts and urges. It’s not just an After photo.

I ate dinner, in case you were wondering. It ended up being more of a fiasco than anticipated due to some spoiled food (oh, how quickly I would have used that excuse to just skip altogether last year), but I definitely ate dinner. So, even though the old thought was there, clearly something’s different. I think just knowing that is okay for now.

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On the subject of bravery

Wow. If I put off writing this like two days, I’d have spaced my blog posts apart exactly one year. Oops.

I could make a bunch of apologies or excuses or whatever, but what it really boils down to is the fact that this hasn’t been a huge priority for me; the whys and wherefores aren’t all that evident even to me and, in the end, aren’t particularly important. I don’t have it within me to make promises of more frequent posts, but the world is full of exciting surprises, so who knows.

The subject of bravery keeps appearing in my life and it’s something I have a complicated relationship with. I’ve made several choices over the years that others have called “brave” while I just knew the choices had to be made. I’d have called those same choices “brave” in others, which does lead me to wonder if anyone truly feels brave when they’re in the midst of an act of bravery.

At some indeterminate time either early this year or late last year, I started slipping after experiencing some pretty solid months concerning all things related to eating and weight. I could retrace exactly what went down, but it’s truthfully a rather dull series of events that eventually culminated in a plan that I never named but should probably have been called My Very Own Plan To Relapse But Only For Ten Weeks And Then I’ll Stop Because It’s Not Like This Is A Slippery Slope Of Deceit And Doom Or Anything. 

So, long story short, I went down the rabbit hole as it were and ended up in a place that, if I’m honest with myself, is the worst I’ve ever been eating-disorder-wise. I’ve fooled myself into thinking I’m not as bad as I was in 2009 because I haven’t lost the same amount of weight (yet), haven’t fainted in a library (yet), haven’t had many major physical side effects (yet)…but at my Previous Worst Place, I was at least completely unaware of what I was doing to myself. This time around, I’m painfully self-aware. I have made some really unwise decisions for months based on fear (so. much. fear) and the lies that come free (!!!!!) with your purchase of the Eating Disorder Starter Pack and have spent the past couple of months telling myself that I’ve been in a holding pattern when it has been confirmed by reliable sources that I am, in fact, getting worse.

It’s been exhausting. The initial excitement of dropping weight and hiding something has worn off – partially because I’m not dropping weight and I’m not hiding things like I was earlier this year, but also because it’s draining in general. I’ve had to drop two of the three classes I was enrolled in this semester; I’ve had to reenter ALL THE THERAPIES; and I feel as if my life has become some sort of shrine to Not Eventually Killing Myself By Way Of An Eating Disorder.

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Original image source: Hyperbole and a Half | Template source: Know Your Meme

So, after weeks of just sort of flopping around like a lost Magikarp (that’s right: I play Pokémon Go. I’m a cool mom. Minus the mom part.), my dietitian (who’s super rad and has her own blog that she updates slightly more often than I update mine) said the Dreaded T Word (“treatment”) – literally hours after I’d had the following thought:

No one will ever tell me to go into treatment because I’m not like dying or anything.

Or something to that effect.

Anyway, the past few weeks have involved several discussions about Treatment or “a higher level of care” (a phrase which I’m like 99.9% sure is stamped all over every textbook pertaining to the clinical treatment of mental illnesses because it keeps popping up everywhere I turn right now). After an assessment and some discussions with my counselor, my dietitian, my friends, my pastor, my job, my insurance company, the jack o’ lantern I carved last week, and probably the entire cast of Grey’s Anatomy or something, I’ve decided to go into a three-evening-per-week IOP (intensive outpatient program).

At this point, it’s just something that needs to happen. I don’t like it. Parts of it are terrifying, and frankly, every aspect of starting any sort recovery sucks. The number of times I’ve used the phrase “lose-lose situation” over the past couple of months is…a lot. But, it just needs to happen. As one of my very favorite poems says, “If you aren’t recovering, you are dying.”

While I’d love to say this decision was a no-brainer, it honestly wasn’t. These disorders are gross and giant and have creepy talons and a lot of empty promises. They’re coping mechanisms, so they serve a purpose (or at least did at one time), and when it comes time to give them up…it’s legitimately hard. It’s not even about the weight; it’s about having something there that’s mine, that I can manipulate and control and focus on when everything else seems super crazy. Or at least feel like I can. Until I can’t actually control it any more…then it’s time for more help. (I believe the phrase that tipped my dietitian into You Might Need Treatment territory was “I’m not driving the car any more”…and then some smart-ass comment about Thelma and Louise because if I don’t maintain a two-to-one ratio of sincere transparency and deflecting jokes at all times, I will implode or something. I’m working on that.)

Which brings me to the subject of bravery. Through this entire process (getting help, slipping, relapsing, getting help again, and now getting a [*sigh*] Higher Level of Care), I’ve heard the word brave applied to my actions. I don’t consider myself particularly brave in light of all of this; I just know things can’t keep going the way they’re going and I only have two choices; one of those involves me being a terrible role model for my friends’ babies, abusing my body horribly, and…I don’t know, having a heart attack or collapsing from electrolyte imbalance or something equally as horrifying and not particularly fun. The other choice involves increasing the intensity of my recovery efforts.

If I were to see someone else struggle through this stuff, live a life truly eaten up (ha) with a debilitating and excruciating disorder, and then choose to get what will no doubt be very difficult help, I’d probably call them brave. They’re repeatedly shoving themselves into uncomfortable and (irrational as it may seem) frightening situations in hope that someday things will be a little better. When you think of someone working every day to fight against actual fear in order to do what’s best…that’s bravery, is it not?

But I don’t feel particularly brave; I just feel as if I’m doing what needs to be done. I’ve found myself thinking about this quote from The Village (which is underrated and you should go watch it immediately) a lot lately:

Ivy Walker: How is it that you are so brave while the rest of us shake in our boots?
Lucius Hunt: I don’t think of what might happen, only what must be done.

I started thinking about this more last night as I have a recovering friend who is considering her own (*siiiiiigh*) Higher Level of Care. She thinks I’m brave; I think she is; we both think pretty poorly of ourselves for “getting to the point of needing this”. And I’m now wondering if anyone ever actually feels brave.

Because, really, what is bravery in the first place? My favorite definition (courtesy of whatever source Google uses) is “ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage”. That doesn’t mean the pain or danger isn’t real or scary, just that brave ones are ready to face it. Bravery involves some sense of fear, some weight, some risk…and in the midst of all of that, it may just be doing what needs to be done despite the hurdles all around. It may not be making a giant show of confidence by breaking the neck of the scary thing and standing on it for all to see. It may just be pushing through and doing what’s uncomfortable and even painful because it’s the right thing to do.

I still don’t know that I’m particularly brave. And I don’t know how much that matters in light of the Lord’s plans. I do know that He’s gifted me with certain attributes and that He’s growing me through all of this. I don’t totally know how everything will turn out. It’s scary and stretching and exhausting…but, I think I know what needs to be done, and I think I’m finally doing that thing…and that’s something.


Happy Birthday 1989! or how Taylor Swift sort of changed my life in a weird way

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This is the story of how Taylor Swift changed my life, which is a sentence that sounds super dramatic and ridiculous and I am fully aware of that.

So, my friends all know that 1989 was a really important album to me, but I don’t know if I’ve ever explained why. I genuinely have no idea who cares about this, but here we go.

I’ve spent basically my entire life making what should be choices of personal preference based on everything other than personal preference. Yes, yes, even after writing my post railing against judgey music hipsters, I still made choices based on things other than what I actually liked. This controlled every part of my life: instead of basing food choices on what I enjoyed, I chose food based on carb content or “clean”-ness or because eating candy for breakfast has somehow morphed from maybe-not-the-greatest-idea to totally-endearing-and-relatable due to Instagram or whatever; I chose clothing based either on my horrendous body image and need to feel small or on the styles of my friends because I prefer neutrals and neutrals are boring or something (or — as in high school — I chose clothing based on both what would make me feel small and on its Quirkiness Level. I mean…I routinely wore my brother’s camo cargo shorts with a Sesame Street t-shirt. I do not suggest this method of choosing a personal style.); I tried to shift my personality around in order to please friends (who absolutely did not require this of me) and whatever crush I had at the time (who probably thought I was being weird as a result of this) because I am loud and opinionated and decidedly not cute or delicate in the way I wanted to be (there’s a reason Sarah Jaffe’s “Clementine” used to make me cry all the time).

Anyway, I spent a lot of time not enjoying things I actually enjoyed because I needed to put a certain personality that I’d deemed as the Ideal Chelsea out there. Even when I allowed myself to enjoy things that didn’t meet my standards, I did it in secret and rarely admitted to liking certain things to friends (with a sense of shame every single time). This was freaking exhausting because I held myself to impossibly high and incredibly weird standards.

Included in my weird standards was the idea that I couldn’t like Top 40 music because I had to be quirky and unique and exude Natalie Portman’s character from Garden State 24/7. This was a constant, ridiculous mental battle because I legitimately love “Raise Your Glass” by Pink, which basically voids any attempts I may have made to avoid Top 40 music. I also judged other people hardcore if they liked things that were considered popular. In fact, despite the fact that I admitted my love for every Taylor Swift song I’d heard to that point in the 2012 blog post I mentioned above, I continued to both judge Swifties and feel a little ashamed of myself for liking her music.

Looking back I realize that Taylor’s music has seen me through a lot. Not in a she’s-what-gave-me-hope way, but just in a she-gave-me-something-to-smile-about-during-a-rough-patch way. I fell in love with a mash-up of “Love Story” and “Viva la Vida” back during my crazy/detrimental Bible school experience; when I was absolutely miserable in college back in 2011, one of the few things I looked forward to every school day was hearing “Mine” on the radio while I was driving; and, I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that “We Are Never Getting Back Together” and “Trouble” were both released as singles at an extremely convenient time.

Fast forward to fall of 2014. I’d just had just taken a three-month ride on the Eating Disorder Relapse Express and was finally buckling down on eating carbs again. I was super self-conscious because I’d gained weight as a result. I was terrified of liking food lest I would lose control somehow and dedicate my entire life to eating pie. I was borderline suicidal due to a lot of issues, and was depressed to the point of not being excited about anything (one of my favorite ways of describing my state of mind was: “I would react the exact same way emotionally to someone throwing me a surprise party and someone impaling my foot with a nail gun” or something to that effect).

I was still trying to hold myself together by not allowing myself to like things that didn’t fit the personality ideal I’d created for myself, which, once again, is exhausting and has an ROI of negative a million.

I was really active in the eating disorder recovery community on Tumblr at this time and happened to start following a college student named Sarah who’d written a poem that I really like. Sarah also happens to be, in my personal estimation, the World’s Biggest Taylor Swift fan. By following her blog, I was inundated with Taylor gifs and videos and news every single day. I began to see posts about how Taylor treated her fans and about her music and marketing. I was impressed in a way I hadn’t expected to be.

The night before 1989 was released, I heard several of the songs via Sarah’s blog and sort of fell in love, particularly with “Clean”. I knew that I wanted to buy the album, but I felt legitimately conflicted, like I was going to somehow lose some (incredibly silly and judgmental) part of myself by admitting defeat and actually paying for an entire Taylor Swift album.

Despite all of that, the next day (one year ago on this very date) I went to Target on my lunch break (I needed the physical album because I obviously needed the Polaroids duh), feeling incredibly silly, and bought the CD. I put it in my car’s CD player and it didn’t leave its spot there for about three months.

I remember feeling so goofy and — for the first time in a long while — genuinely excited about something. Even though it was something small. Even though I’d broken a thousand of my personal rules (Don’t Like Mainstream Music, Don’t Jump on a Bandwagon Late in the Game, etc.). It felt like this insanely huge victory because I’d made a choice based on what I liked rather than on what that Ideal Chelsea that I carried with me everywhere would like. I actually remember telling my counselor about it because it seemed like such a huge accomplishment at the time.

Anyway, since then, I’ve become an unapologetic fan of Taylor. I saw her perform in Arlington, Texas a few weeks ago and danced and sang and yelled and had a grand ol’ time. I’ve become comfortable with a lot of what I enjoy (in recent months, I’ve come to terms with the facts that I love cream gravy, taking selfies, and running despite previous judgey-judgerson thoughts I’d previously had about those who enjoy such things). I’ve really started to allow myself to enjoy the things I enjoy with no weird, self-imposed shame involved.

I’m not foolish; I know Taylor Swift didn’t solve my problems. I know that a lot of growth has been a result of the Lord placing a good counselor and pastor and great friends in my life who’ve all helped me get through my depression. I know that being on a mood stabilizer has helped me tremendously. But, the way I see it, 1989 was a bit of a turning point for me. I was finally letting myself like things based on my personal preferences rather than rules, and that’s kind of important.

Anyway, that’s my apparently very long story that took an entire lunch break to write.

Happy birthday, 1989! I have so enjoyed your existence for the past year! And I feel incredibly silly writing to an inanimate object but whatever!


Sexual abuse is always a big deal

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The Duggar family. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

I’m angry.

It takes a lot to make me angry.

It’s true that I tend to rant about random things and I’m fairly sarcastic and even a bit cynical at times. But anger isn’t something I feel very often.

I’m angry, and here’s why:

This morning I was greeted with news story after news story that one of the Duggar kids had molested some other children when he was 14. Now, I don’t know much about the Duggars other than the fact that they have 19 kids, they promote the bizarre homeschool cult that was started by Bill Gothard, and that Christians love them. I’m a devout Christian myself, but I’ve personally found the strange, almost cult-like following of the Duggars a little weird, and I also think it’s a lot weird that Michelle and Jim Bob have chosen a life in which their ever-growing family is shoved into the limelight in exchange for money, but whatever.

I had no problem with people liking the Duggars. But I cannot stand idly by while people who claim the name of Christ try to excuse and brush over what happened.

The reasons I’m angry are threefold. I’ll start with the obvious.

1. I’m angry that it happened.

Sexual abuse is horrific and it scars the lives of those who live through it. Add to this that the counseling the girls received is questionable at best considering the sources from which it likely came, and this entire situation is just a giant train wreck of emotional turmoil and baggage. I wish I didn’t have to belabor the point, but since a lot of people keep saying really insensitive and disgusting things, let me make this very clear: no matter how long ago it was or who the offender was, sexual abuse is always a big deal.

If it helps to make it personal, imagine your daughter or son or your niece or nephew coming to you and telling you that someone had touched them. Is it a big deal now? Because the girls in this scenario are someone’s kids too.

Which brings me to my next point…

2. I’m angry that it was covered up.

First off, Michelle and Jim Bob: what is wrong with you? It appears that your son molested your own daughters. Repeatedly. Snuck into their bedrooms and touched them. Why didn’t you report this to authorities? Why did you decide that it was okay to ignore the well-being of four of your children? What in the world?

Secondly, church elders who were told about this: Congratulations! You’ve all won Class A misdemeanors, which is the minimum charge for a clergy member in the state of Arkansas who does not immediately report the abuse of a child! Good job!

Seriously though, even if you were morally conflicted, you have a legal obligation to report situations like this. There are way too many instances of abuse being covered up within the Church and it disgusts me. You don’t get to decide that you’re above the law.  Josh’s processing and possible sentencing should have been up to the governing authorities. At the point in which he broke the law, he should have been reported. Period.

And then the big reason…

3. I’m angry because of the reactions of Duggar Fans.

The messages I’ve seen defending the actions of both Josh and his family astound me. “It was a long time ago”, “He was only fourteen”, “‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone'” (that last one doesn’t mean what you think it means).

No. No. No. NO.

Look, I’m fully aware that the Duggars have always presented themselves as a nice, devout Christian family. And I’m aware that one of the things the world likes to do is point out any potential area of hypocrisy it can find in the lives of Christians. And I’m also aware that many Christians feel the need to try to avoid this sort of thing, which results in them attempting to make excuses for, cover up, or distract from blatant, public sin. That’s not okay.

People are sinful. You are sinful. I am sinful. Every last Duggar is sinful. The only thing that sets Christians apart from unbelievers is that we are saved by the work of Christ. Not by our own works, not by avoiding the “really bad” sins, not by pretending that we don’t sin at all lest people think that we’re fallible. By the work of Christ. We still sin. And we repent. The Lord works to sanctify us, but until we die we will have to battle our sin nature and we will sin. Every day.

It’s rough to have the world look at you and say, “The Bible teaches this, but you did that.” And our initial inclination is likely to try to cover ourselves, just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden. But the fact of the matter is we are sinful and are dependent daily on the work of Christ. We cannot escape our own flesh. It is always there.

All that being said: defending the actions of Josh Duggar, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, or any of the elders who did not report this issue to the authorities cannot be justified. Five young women were sexually abused. Yes, it was a long time ago. But Josh did molest them, and multiple adults felt it was necessary and acceptable to hide the entire incident from governing authorities. These facts cannot and should not be defended.

It’s fair to say that there’s not much that can be done now. I have no demands of the Duggars (though Michelle and Jim Bob admitting they handled the situation poorly would be nice). But I do think that those who follow the family, particularly my Christian brothers and sisters, need to deal with the fact that the family is made up of sinful human beings and need to stop defending any part of this occurrence.

These events are horrific. They are damaging. They altered the lives of five young women forever. Covering up sin and illegal activity is despicable. Disobeying the law because you consider yourself above it is abhorrent. And defending people who do any of these things is simply disgusting.

Grieve the situation, grieve with the victims, pray for the Duggars – even Josh. Do what you need to do to come to grips with this entire tragedy. But do not under any circumstances try to sweep this under the rug or treat it as if it’s not a big deal. Sexual abuse is a big deal and it should not be tolerated. Period.


Hard Things or: How I’m Learning to Stop Whining and Love the Process

I have a general tendency to make myself do hard things even when there are easier ways just because I like to see if I can do them.  I once (rather proudly) hand beat meringue instead of going out and buying or borrowing a mixer.  When my car broke down and I needed to go to the post office, I (somewhat stupidly) walked three miles there and three miles back when there were rides readily available. I participated in and completed NaNoWriMo during my senior year of high school which was by far the most academically demanding year of my life (it involved writing for 8+ hours a day during nearly every day of Thanksgiving break, but I did it).  I’ve (absolutely stupidly considering the number of people who got malaria on our team) slept tentless while in Mozambique, tried everything that was fed to me in India, and forced myself to eat foods that my eating disorder deemed frightening.  If a friend is in need in some form or fashion, I’m accustomed to doing whatever I can for them and still managing to get most everything I need to get done accomplished by staying up late or getting up early (this is not so much something done for the sake of doing hard things, but more because I love my friends dearly).

I’m used to focusing on something and willing myself to complete it.

I can’t do that any more.

So, about 18 months ago I was diagnosed with this autoimmune disorder that runs in my family.  It basically causes my body to attack my thyroid.  Theoretically, if I’m given the proper medications, I’ll be fine: my hair won’t fall out by the handful, I’ll actually want to eat food, and, best of all, I’ll have energy.  The dosage of medicine I was on worked really well until about March of this year and then things started to go awry.

It may have been stress, it may have been my body just deciding (as you do) to launch a massive attack on my thyroid, it may have been some other third thing that I don’t know anything about. Regardless, I have been just exhausted for months, excluding some short-lived energy spikes I had a few weeks ago.

I’m not sure how to explain it to people who have never experienced an autoimmune disorder.  Basically, imagine that you are getting adequate nutrition and sleep and you wake up every single day feeling as if you’re about to get the flu. And sometimes, you wake up and want to cry because you’re so tired and you can’t get out of bed but, unfortunately, laying in bed all day doesn’t pay the rent, so you have to.  And other times, you have to choose between being there for a friend and being even 80% present at work the next day. And still other times, you have to decide if you will be social or have a clean house this week because you really can’t do both.

Quite frankly, I’ve had a really sucky attitude about all of this the past few weeks.  I just want to be able to do everything I was able to do before, but I really can’t.  I like being independent, I like being able to feel like I can accomplish things and, most of all, I really like thinking that I can will myself to do anything and everything I like as long as I’m determined enough.  That this has taken such a high priority in my life is not okay.

I’m realizing more and more how much of my worth I place in how much I do.  I like the idea of always having a clean house, visiting with everyone I love, and helping out my friends who are having a rough time — and in the past, I’ve been able to do all of that.  But, now that I can’t (at least until I hit some sort of sweet spot with my medication)…I’ve felt entirely helpless and sort of worthless.

I’m reminded often by dear friends that Christ loves me no matter what and desires my sanctification.  I know that what I’m going through is neither out of His plan or His grasp.  And I know that this whole thing may very well be the answer to some pleading prayers asking to be further sanctified.  It’s really hard, and I really haven’t even been trying to keep focused on the Lord.  This is totally wrong of me and I want to change that.  I know that what I’m going through or what my friends or family are going through are all apart of God’s plan…and I know that both myself and my fellow believers are being sanctified through circumstances and His Word.

I just want to be able to keep that perspective when things are hard.


For those who think that those participating in the #YesAllWomen tag are being dramatic

The facts are these:

Every woman I’ve ever met and probably every woman you’ve ever met has been harassed or at least feared harassment on a regular basis.  We all learn pretty quickly to carry pepper spray, to splay our keys out between our knuckles while we walk through parking lots, to download panic button apps, to think of several options for escape if in an elevator with a man alone, to check stairwells, to never, ever, ever go outside alone at night, etc. Men, interestingly enough, are not taught these things no matter how many of them are harassed because, while the physical intimidation and harassment of men is seen as an unfortunate anomaly, it is accepted as something every woman must prepare for. It is, in fact, normal, and something we more often than not simply resign ourselves to putting up with.

And put up with it we do. We don’t yell at the guys who whistle on the street or make lewd comments at the gas pump. We often don’t report inappropriate behavior at work for fear of retaliation. We avoid direct conflict with overly aggressive coworkers and customers by wearing fake engagement/wedding rings. And, for those who don’t understand how often this type of stuff happens, let me be clear: this happens a lot – sometimes daily – to women who leave the safe confines of their homes.

We are treated – not by all men, but by some – as objects .  Not people with thoughts and opinions and value. Objects. We’re told to smile on command even at times that seem illogical (Who smiles at their computer monitor while working on spreadsheets at work? Who walks around the grocery store just grinning up a storm at random strangers? Wouldn’t it be weird if we naturally did this?), we’re verbally told that any attention from men no matter how unwanted is flattering, and we’re told by the actions of those around us that the word “No” doesn’t mean a thing to some people.

And, I don’t even mean “no” in the context of sex.  I mean, “Stop touching my arm. Stop. Stop.” I mean, “No, I’m not interested in a date. No. No. Still no.”  I mean, “There was no reason to put your hand on my waist. No, really, there was no reason for you to do that; why are you arguing with me?”  To those who see us as objects, our words don’t actually have value because we simply exist to be manipulated at will, to give that guy an ego boost, to affirm his manhood or ability to flirt or some other thing that apparently needs validating.

It’s wrong and it’s dangerous and, though I know that it will never stop completely given the fallen and sinful state of our world, I do think that it’s an important conversation to have. So, here we go.

Women are not prizes awarded to the nicest guys.  Women are not opinionless automatons who lack any preferences beyond wanting a Nice Guy.  We do not owe anyone affection.  Even as a Christian, while I am expected to love my brothers and sisters in Christ and the world at large, I am not required to show romantic affection to anyone.  It doesn’t matter how nice you are, how much you bend over backward for someone, how much you sacrifice for her: she doesn’t owe you anything, and denying you romantic interest does not inherently make her shallow or unfair or anything other than a woman with preferences.

The reason this is important in light of the Elliot Rodger case is because Elliot saw women as objects.  Granted, the boy had many other issues. However, the reasons he gave for attacking and killing 6 people were eerily familiar; familiar because many, many women have heard self-proported “nice guys” whinge about being “Friendzoned” by women who have “terrible” boyfriends (who the women in question seem to be perfectly fine with most of the time, interestingly enough) while they remain the superior choice. These women have, in the minds of those crying “Friendzone”, been reduced to objects: medals to be pinned on the chests of the Nicest Guys.  This is dangerous dehumanization, and I’m personally glad to see the discussions that are occurring around the subjects of the objectification and safety of women.

I know quite a few men (particularly those identifying as Men’s Rights Activists or MRAs) and some women as well appear to be offended that people are using this instance to springboard conversations about objectifying women in general. They are claiming that those involved in the #YesAllWomen discussion view all men as rapists or threats or women objectifiers.

For those, I’d like to explain something.  Heck, I’ll explain it to you in zombies:

Imagine with me for a moment that you are in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.  You’re doing pretty well, hanging out with your friends in the bunker of your choosing, making do.  Late one night you wake up briefly and see a zombie bite someone’s leg.  You can’t see whose leg it is and shortly thereafter, you’re knocked unconscious so you aren’t able to see who was bitten.  The next day, everyone is accounted for and seems okay.  Everyone is wearing long pants, though, so you can’t see the zombie bite, and asking people if they were slowly being turned into an undead being seems rude, so you decide to wait and see who turns.

Obviously you’re cautious around everyone in your group now as you aren’t sure who might be dangerous and who might be safe.  You live every day in fear that you will be attacked, but you aren’t sure who to expect the attack from.  You keep a cautious eye on everyone when you go to the bathroom, to get a snack, to take a walk. You have a hard time sleeping at night knowing that it might not be safe. You constantly plan escape routes to use in case your friend-turned-walker corners you.

Now imagine the same scenario, except there is an unknown number of zombies in the world and they all look like people you trust.  That is essentially what it is to be a Careful and Responsible Woman.  We don’t see every man as a threat, as a rapist, as a predator; but every unknown (and sometimes known) man has the potential to be a threat.  They, unfortunately, are not clearly marked for us, so we have to be careful. Every. Single. Day.

We are all objectified by men. Not all men do this.  But, #YesAllWomen most certainly do experience the effects of objectification on a regular basis.  And it’s something that we need to be willing to discuss.


Approximately one million (or maybe fifteen) statements about food I’m tired of hearing (and my mental responses)

1. “Did you see how many calories are in that?”

No, I didn’t. Because I chose not to look. For many reasons. Please stop telling me.

2. “There are no such things as healthy carbs.”

Please take a nutrition class. Any nutrition class. Here, I have a catalog for our local community college for you.

3. “Ohmygosh you can’t eat gluten?! That must be so hard!”

The hardest part for me personally is trying to convince others that life without bread is still worth living and that I rarely have to think about how horribly deprived I am of all the apparent gluten-filled wonders that the culinary arts have to offer.  Well, that, and not being able to eat Lebanese food.

4. “Eat this thing it’s really good. No, really, have some. No, really, you have to try some. My personal worth is apparently attached to whether or not you decide to eat this thing. Have some.”

I have said “no, thank you” like three times at this point. This could be for a variety of reasons including: I’m not hungry, I am allergic to it, I am trying to cut back on sweets, I already know I don’t like it, or I just plan don’t want to.  Please stop harassing me about this.

5. “Yeah, I ate a whole pizza, but I’ll run it off later.”

This is not healthy. Food is fuel. Exercising in order to eat is not okay.

6. “But the calories!”

Like, do you even know what calories are?

7. “I’ve been really good all day, so I can totally eat _____________.”

Food choices are not moral choices nor should food be a reward; it’s fuel for your body. Sometimes we put in premium, sometimes we put in questionable low-grade fuel from that weird gas station down the street. But it is all just fuel.

8. “This has zero calories, so I’m good!”

You do realize the absence of calories means that your body does not recognize this thing as a food source, right?

9. “Juice detox!”

STAWP.

10. “You have to be on the exact diet that I’m on in order to live life to the fullest.”

What. No. Just, no.

11. “CALORIES.”

Just…go read something about calories that didn’t come from SELF magazine. Please.

12. “There are toxins that stay in your body for thousands of years and to get rid of them you just have not eat food for a month, drink only a mixture of water, cayenne pepper, powdered inulin, and take this new wonder herb from the Amazonian rainforest that absorbs all of the toxins in your small and large intestines and–“

I honestly do not understand where we got the idea that our bodies cannot take care of themselves if we give them proper fuel. What is happening.

13. “This is a healthy fudge brownie because it’s sugar-free and fat-free!”

For something to be healthy it must contain actual nutrients from actual food sources that are actually benefitting your body in some form or fashion. Being sugar-free and fat-free does not magically pack a recipe full of nutrients. Technically, using this logic, I could just eat spoonful after spoonful of Splenda and call it healthy.

14. “Ugh, fat!”

Fat is actually good for you in proper amounts and is entirely necessary for many functions of your body.

15. “BUT CALORIES.”

Aaaaaand we’re done.