Late one night recently I found myself missing home and perusing articles on a newscafe.com. I don’t know why, but I ended up reading articles I had written almost a year ago about my eating disorder and feeling like someone else had written those words. That was someone else’s life, someone else’s story.
I love that you can be reborn in your life, that we have the ability to look back and not entirely recognize or identify with who we used to be.
I liken it to having an old puzzle where the pieces have been warped over time or have changed shape since some random child spilled juice on the cardboard. Some of the pieces won’t fit in the picture anymore and you are left with only the good pieces, the puzzle more beautiful with the pieces you made as replacements.
I am no longer in Redding, and my former Curves in Shasta Lake City is no longer open. I now live in a tiny town on the coast of Oregon and I am managing a trendy little coffee shop on the main street.
I moved here to get to know my sister, to be her friend and to have her in my life. It is something I always wanted and never managed before now. Street 14 Coffee found me — as all great things seem to do these days — through someone I love.
I know every day when I wake up and every night before I go to sleep that life is magic and I am lucky beyond measure to be living mine.
Living here is like being on an episode of “Cheers” – where everyone literally knows your name and you cannot go anywhere without stopping to talk to someone you know. Sometimes I feel like I moved right into a Frank Capra movie, like this is where all the great people from “It’s a Wonderful Life” moved after retiring from Bedford Falls. The twinkle lights stay on all night on main street, “Gone with the Wind” is showing at the Liberty Theatre and you can sit , drinking your coffee and laughing all day, at the Columbian Café, whether they are officially open or not. I cannot tell you how much I love this place, and better, I love that I can be myself here.
I cannot honestly remember the last time that I had an episode. Someone once told me that my eating disorder would always be in the back of my mind, that I would always be consciously dealing with that thought process.
For me, thankfully, this is not true. I have gone months without thinking about it in any capacity, too wrapped up in this new adventure to give it much thought. It manages to creep in every once in a while, when I am craving pizza or when I feel overwhelmed by the awesomeness that is any frozen food section, but I manage to move on quickly and without too much effort.
I am the healthiest I have been in years. I have lost well over a hundred pounds, and not on a crash diet or by surviving on water and mint garnish. I forced myself to do it the hard way, by making a lifestyle change. Today I weigh 180 pounds and I am a size 12. Those numbers never existed in the old life; well, only in the lie I told on my driver’s license. I still can’t believe it when I look down at my scale.
I can run a mile without wanting to die or without someone finding me passed out on the track in need of a respirator or some other serious breathing apparatus. I work out almost everyday now, on the elliptical or walking all over town, running on the beach. I have never felt this freedom before, or this intense desire to not waste the daylight. I haven’t even seen anything on television since I moved here, I had to stop living in other people’s reality and start living in mine.
I have found a support group of real friends and trusted mentors. This year brought all my favorite and most influential people into my life. I am blessed to have found men and women who I never need to lie to, who I don’t have to hide things from and who love me unconditionally — for me.
It took me a very long time to realize that no one was going to wave a magic wand and that I wasn’t going to miraculously wake up loving myself. I believe that my life started to change the moment I admitted out loud that I wanted something more, that I wasn’t enough for myself.
It was a hard lesson to learn that we may not always have the love that we want, but we are surrounded by love, regardless. I learned that every day you can choose to feel isolated and alone or you can trust in the people you have surrounded yourself with and ask for help.
I still have those moments when I look in the mirror and I wonder who this girl is looking back at me. Sometimes, when my sister and I go out and some guy tries to buy me a drink or pick me up, I still find myself resisting the urge to say, “Who, me?”
No one here knows me as my past. They are seeing me with fresh eyes, and I am still adjusting to what that looks like now.
I think I will always look at 2009 as the year that changed everything, a year that defined me and taught me some of the most valuable life lessons I had yet to learn.
I realized this year that you get one life and no guarantees. I realized that if you want more for yourself, then you have to require more from yourself, that you can’t be the victim and the volunteer. And most importantly, I found that happiness is choice you have every day, regardless of the things going on in your life.
And I am truly happy.
Read Caitlin’s previous articles here.
Caitlin Moore will always want to play third base for the Giants, but until then she spends her time dancing in the living room, working at Street 14 Coffee, living happily and healthily in Oregon, and hoping she can make childhood last a little longer.