My Recovery Kitty – The Saga of Lilly!

Buckle in for a funny and plot twisting post, you’ll be shocked at what happens!

At the very beginning of my Eating Disorder (ED) Recovery, Sean and I moved in with one another. Maybe I should be clearer, I moved in with Sean and three of his friends, and yes, I know what you are thinking… Why would I ever do such a thing?!!

Yes, it was chaotic, extremely trying and oh so difficult, but it worked! But that is for another post, this post is about my first little fur baby!

This was 4 years ago! I had just moved out to Jackson….and the journey was JUST beginning…I had no clue what I was in for!

When I moved into Sean’s place I decided that I needed something that I could call my own, something that I could love, hold onto, take care of, something that wasn’t connected to anyone else, and that wasn’t related to food, or my body.

The Animal Adoption Center in Jackson, WY, had just received a litter of kittens, and it just so happened that I was a crazy cat lady…so it was really meant to be! Sean was on board, after a bit of convincing…and it was decided! I was going to be a kitty mother! I specifically wanted a boy, that was my only requirement. I went to the adoption center and played with all of the tiny creatures, and picked out this little black kitten, he was PURRFECT (lol…too corny)? Sean made a separate visit to the adoption center, and unknowingly connected with the same kitten, and the deal was done! We named the adorable little man Liam, and counted down the days until we could take him home!

Liam’s first week home! Look at those saucer eyes!!

I took Liam home when he was about eight weeks, he wasn’t drinking his mother’s milk anymore, and they therefore allowed us to adopt him! Liam was about the size of a tennis ball, his fur was all-scraggly and his eyes were as big as saucers! I fell in love, and a small part of me started to heal with that newfound love and connection. My purges were less frequent, and I wasn’t constantly thinking about recovery, instead I was focused on this new little, but oh so big, love!

Only a few days went by and Liam got really sick, and I mean really sick. It turned out he had a parasite that is common in feral born cats, and most often ends in death. I was determined to keep my new little baby, nothing could take him away from me! I stayed up nights with him, cleaned him in the bath, spoon fed him and hydrated him to the best of my abilities. I took Liam to a different vet to get a second opinion, and they prescribed some intense antibiotics and fluids for my little 2-pound bundle of love. With a lot of patience, perseverance, fluids and love, Liam finally got better, and with every day so did a small piece of me.

Sweet little man! This was him at about nine weeks!

A couple of months went by, and Liam started to change. His attitude and overall demeanor completely shifted, in that he became protective of his food, he would hiss and bite every time we tried to pet him, and he never wanted to play. The anxiety started to weigh on me, this little kitty was getting in the way of my relationship, was causing me more stress than joy, was testing me! But I kept reminding myself that this was a sacrifice, this was the cost of being a kitty mother, unconditional love! Remember patience is so crucial within the most trying of times (Click on the link for more)!

I was counting down the days to Liam’s appointment to get “fixed”, the vet advised me that getting neutered usually helps the testosterone levels, therefore it might alleviate some of his behaviors, although it is best for male kittens to wait at least three months.

The day of Liam’s neuter appointment finally arrived! I brought Liam to the vet, they put him under a mild anesthetic, and began shaving his under belly. The vet advised me that I could stay in the room, as it would be a quick “snip, snip.” I sat there for a while, and the vet tech hesitantly asked me if Liam had been neutered already, I said no, as he was adopted at the young age of eight weeks. The professionals kept feeling around, and abruptly said…. “welp, um it’s a girl!” I paused, shook out my ear, and laughed “right!” thinking that they were joking, and after a few moments I quickly realized this was no joke! “Jayne, your cat is a girl, we are going to have to do this quickly, as a spade takes much more time, precision and need for anesthetic”

The vet tech pretty much pushed me out of the room, and told me to return in a few hours, they would call me if there were any complications. I, on the other hand, was a mess. This verdict tore me apart, my little baby boy, was not a boy, he was a girl! I was obviously not crying because of the social norm that gender is, instead my tears were coming from a place of uncertainty, in that I had put my heart and soul into something and now that something changed.

Those eyes!

Once I collected myself, I returned to the vet, and picked up Liam, it just so happened that poor little baby, girl, Liam had been in the middle of heat, and was in so much pain that she was coping the only way she knew how! The craziest thing was that two different vets had informed me that Liam was a boy; he apparently had two little fur toughs at the base of his under belly that shaved right off! The poor thing was hurting for the past couple of months! Liam was coping by biting, scratching and growling, he was hurting me because he was in pain. This behavior was synonymous of my ED, my behaviors were only manifestations of anxiety, stress, perfection, and pain….I was hurting my body because my perception of the world was hurting me, I was in pain. 

Happy brother and sister moment! Poor Gio had a little eye issue!

I brought Liam home, and quickly shed of my sociology background, rid of the notion that gender is a social norm, and got Liam a sparkly pink collar to go with her new name; Lilly…. for some reason this made me happy, probably a confirmation of the misogyny of society.

She thinks she is royalty!

Lilly started to recover, and her true personality started to shine through! She was a sweet, incredibly sassy, kitten with somewhat of an attitude problem! Lilly grew to LOVE her adopted Kitty dad, Sean, and rebel against me, her mother. She would scratch me, bite me, ATTACK me, and then go and cuddle with Sean, like the typical angsty teenager! For a brief period we allowed Lilly to be an outside cat, but when she came home one day all bloody and tore up from being hit by a car, Lilly quickly became an indoor cat again! I know…the drama!

She chose her Dad’s team over her moms Blackhawks….

The saga truly goes on an on, Lilly continued to test me, and with that I grew stronger. I was able to take care of something, watch a small being, MY small being almost die, come back to life again, change personality, and truly REJECT ME, and with that came so much pain, so much discomfort and so much growth.

Yes, we even tried walking her!!!

Lilly’s journey was symbolic of my Eating Disorder Recovery. It was tumultuous, painful, confusing, what seemed like a near death experience, challenging, forever evolving, uncomfortable, and beautiful! With pain, and discomfort came change and growth. Change cannot and do not exist within a state of comfort.

A game of “where is Lilly?”

Believe it or not, Lilly was a MAJOR part of my recovery. She tested me in so many ways, she pushed me to reevaluate what I believed was healthy, unhealthy, important, not important, life or death, Lilly taught me a new kind of love, one of constant challenge and testing, My recovery kitty reminds me everyday what unconditional love looks like, feels like, and let me tell you something, I have learned how to love myself, unconditionally…. and that is self-compassion at its finest! So thank you my little Recovery Kitty, I love you Lillykins!

This was when Lilly was an “outdoor” cat, she would go outside for about 15 minutes and come right back in! I miss this little bungalow we lived in!!
Lilly and Gio are the best of friends…their personalities shine through in this photo!

Be Your Own Advocate

Whether within recovery from poor self-image, people pleasing, lack of self worth, or an Eating Disorder, having a voice for yourself is crucial.

Advocacy is one of those things that doesn’t necessarily seem natural to us, in that we were never taught how to assert ourselves, promote ourselves and look out for the greater good of our souls. We grew up with parents, or guardians of some sort as our advocates, teachers, coaches, tutors, aids, peers, counselors, and even companies and government officials who speak on behalf of us. Within daily life, as an individual, the only advocate is yourself.

It takes courage, adjustment, and self-acceptance, but the moment you start to advocate for yourself, the moment you begin to look out for the greater good of your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, the moment you talk on behalf of your soul, is when you will truly be advocating for yourself, and this is self care at its finest!

If you don’t advocate for your emotional well being who will?! No one. Because, you, and you only, are the one who knows your limitations, boundaries, feelings, emotions and state of wellbeing. The absence of advocacy calls for compliance, blurred boundaries, lack of care for one’s self, and pure exhaustion.

You cannot live a happy and fulfilling life if you are constantly filling up someone else’s cup from your own supply, because that will only run you dry, leaving other people underserved in the end. Think of yourself as a barista…. you cannot properly and sufficiently serve others if you haven’t had the chance to stock up the fridge, prep the machine, or serve yourself! You must be your own barista, and serve yourself first, before you can serve others.

I am a recovering people pleaser, and self-advocacy is something that I struggle with on a daily basis, and with constant practice and time I have greatly improved! For a very long time I surrounded myself with friends that required constant service, in that I had hardly any time, if at all, to serve myself, metaphorically speaking, they were overly caffeinated individuals, and being their barista, I was at fault. It took me to the point of a breakdown that I realized I needed to speak up for myself. When a friend asks to go out for drinks during a busy week with school and work, I can now practice self advocacy by saying “I cant tonight because I don’t have it in me, I love you but I can’t.” Or sometimes I even say, “Thank you for the offer but I just need to have some time with Sean/myself/family.” It is OKAY to serve yourself, to advocate for yourself, to be honest and possibly displease others!

Advocacy is crucial in so many areas of our lives…

In Eating Disorder Recovery…

-Advocate for support when needed

-Advocate for space when needed

-Advocate for trust

-Advocate for treatment when needed

-Advocate for nourishment when needed

With friends

-Advocate for space when needed

-Advocate for support when needed

-Advocate for closure when needed

-Advocate for your self-care

With Work

-Advocate for your time

-Advocate for your professional and personal boundaries

-Advocate for your gender rights

-Advocate for EQUAL pay

-Advocate for a raise

-Advocate for a promotion

-Advocate for security

With yourself

-Advocate for nourishment

-Advocate for sleep

-Advocate for luxury

-Advocate for health

-Advocate for wellbeing

-Advocate for happiness

-Advocate for recovery

Lets advocate for self-advocacy! God knows that someone needs to stand up for your wellbeing!

The Fitness Culture within ED Recovery

We live in a fitness driven culture, and there are healthy ways to co-exist and thrive within this intense culture, therefore over the next few weeks, I will touch on how individuals within ED Recovery can succeed within today’s intense fitness culture. This #MotivationIsNotJustForMondays post is an overview of the current fitness culture, and how it affects those within ED and ED Recovery.

Millennials…this is somewhat of a tainted word in my book…. why you ask? Because it is a label that my peers, and myself fall under, a label that is saturated in shame, false assumptions, and negative perceptions, therefore I cringe when using this term, because in reality Millennials are incredibly innovative, hard working, and understand the balance between work, health and happiness.

Across the country, Millennials have revolutionized exercise, more so than any other generation. Think of all of the gyms, fitness clubs, yoga studios, barre boutiques, and spin classes with cult like followings, and even fitness apps where you can have access to a fitness class literally at your fingertips (See my Skyfit app posts…linked here). Yes, this generation has changed the way the world looks at physical activity, and health; statistics even prove that Millenials are the healthiest generation as of yet. 81% of Millennials claim to exercise on a regular basis, compared to that of 61% of Baby Boomers…therefore 76% of all regular exercisers are Millennials. Therefore, Millennials have had a major impact on exercise culture. For more statistics click here.

There are so many pros within this new view on physical activity, in that it creates a new focus on overall health within our every day lives. Focusing on health and wellbeing is a beautiful thing that I, and most helping professionals promote. Although, it is important to remember that when within a state of recovery, or a vulnerable state within your Eating Disorder (ED), it can be somewhat dangerous to engage within this exercise focused culture. I am not, by any means, saying that this fitness culture is negative or bad, instead I am pointing out the risks and dangers within this culture when living with ED.

For instance, as a millennial (cringe), a major part of my self-care is exercise and physical activity, but the intense hype that exercise receives on a social basis is incredibly triggering and intimidating for me within my own recovery. I consider myself far along within my recovery, and many professionals would consider me fully recovered, therefore it says a lot that I feel triggered within this fitness culture.

This fitness culture, focused around the intensity of exercise, can be incredibly triggering for anyone within ED Recovery. Certain messages can be persuasive to push oneself harder than necessary, to carry unhealthy motivations behind one’s exercise, and cause for behaviors that are detrimental to one’s recovery.

While we co-exist within this intense, pro health, fitness culture, it is crucial to stand close to your recovery and continue to bring awareness to the motivations behind your exercise. So as you move through this weekend, I challenge you to acknowledge the feelings that are raised while we live within this culture. I challenge you to find healthy motivations, and to keep yourself safe within your recovery as you partake in self care, whether that be through physical activity or not!

We will check in next week to discuss how to safely approach and thrive within today’s fitness culture, when living within ED and ED Recovery. Dont’ forget to Self Care it Out People!!! #SelfCare