Chipping Away at Change

It’s said you have to hit rock bottom in order for something to change.

But just when I thought I might have been close, I would get out my chisel and start chipping away at the ground, refusing to believe I had hit a new low. So even though the chisel felt heavy and my body felt tired, I ignored it. I continued to chip, chip away, always pushing myself just a little bit more, always challenging my body to keep up with my mind.

I was my birthday seven years ago. I had finally came home for a visit, the first after moving away for a six-month internship across the state. There was cake I didn’t eat, concerned looks I didn’t see, things said I don’t remember.

Any pleasure I’d once found in food had been lost, yet it still felt like a drug, one I literally tried to run away from as I ran myself into the ground. I needed it, I wanted it, I hated it, I loved it, I was bored, I was stubborn, I was stuck.

Instead my thoughts were consumed as they usually were with the next chance I’d have to destruct, to push my broken body a little bit more in an effort to calm down my mind, to use my body to show a pain I couldn’t put into words. It was a pain I had chose to ignore.

But what I couldn’t ignore was the pain in her eyes when my mom broke down sobbing that day.

We were sitting on the deck talking about nothing of note, or at least nothing I can recall now. What I can recall is the hard wooden chair digging into my back and the scent of the freshly cut grass, a smell I had missed living in a concrete city for the past few months.

I rested my eyes on the view from the deck, but the weight of her gaze drew me back.  She was crying, and then she was sobbing.

She let it all out, a flood of emotion, a mother both scared and confused. I had no clue what I had done, what had caused this sudden outburst of words and tears, concerns and fears. Not sure what to do I just kind of stood by, still numb to the fact I was sick.

But I listened.

I acknowledged the fact that things weren’t quite right, that my pain was no longer just mine. I acknowledged that something was wrong. My 5’ 8” frame suddenly held more than just my double-digit weight; it held the weight of the worry she felt, the gravity of a situation I had tried to ignore.

That chisel I used to keep digging the hole was put away just for that night. It wasn’t a fix and it wasn’t the end, but it would be the start of a very long journey.

It would be the start of some change.

This post was in response to this week’s RemebeRED prompt:


This week we’d like you to write about a moment in your life when you knew something had to change drastically. Really explore the moment.

Even though I’m not ashamed of where I’ve been, this post was still hard to publish. I feel weird, like it’s something I just want to forget, but it’s the first thing that came to my mind.

However, my next post will be day one of the 30 Days of Shamelessness. Let the freak flag fly!

26 responses to “Chipping Away at Change

  1. I am so sorry for what you went through.

    We are the same height. Weird.

    Thanks for sharing this. Soemtime sjust saying what the bottom was helps getting over it.

    • It was part of the bottom, but I’m afraid I spent a lot of time there and there’s really no “getting over it.” You can only take the next healthy step forward, which is something I try and do on a daily basis. It’s just part of a big web of crap, one that I’m sure everyone has gone through. We all have our things, those things we know need to change. The specifics might vary but the broad concept is the same. If someone doesn’t have “things,” then I would like to shoot them with a rubber band gun repeatedly, making that their “thing.”

  2. Good job, Abby. I admire your courage in sharing your story and so eloquently, too.

  3. Considering that the prompt hasn’t even been up 24 hours, and this just flew up days before it was due, I can only imagine how organic this post was and how hard it was to hit “publish”.
    Thank you for sharing this. It is a perfect example of before/after. The moment in the chair, smelling the grass. Then the moment hearing Mom sob.
    The words felt clean and tidy, which I’m sure your brain liked. But the emotion, the weight of the issue is there. I feel it.
    And I understand OCD. Or, at least as much as one can. It gnawed at me as a kid.
    Anyway. About you. This was a spot-on response to the prompt, and i’m glad you shared it. Thank you.

  4. I agree with The Kitchen Witch. Not only does it take a great deal of courage to start the healing, it takes a lot to share it.
    Stopped over from Lady Bloggers tea party and decided we should be friends after reading your “about”. Unfortunately, I’m technologically retarded and can’t figure out how to follow you. Yeah, I’m one of THOSE people.

    • Because I am also technologically retarded, I think we’ll get along great. We might never actually figure out how to communicate, but that’s just a minor detail. Let’s be friends.

  5. The beginning was amazing. The realization of the fact that rock hard bottom, for some of us, still isn’t the wake up call. I really liked that.

    Good work on the prompt. Good work on hitting publish anyway. I think it’s those sticky ones that are the best ones to put out there in the end!

    (I can’t get my oomph back for TRDC these days….)

    • To be honest, I can’t get my oomph back for TRDC these days either, which is why I kind of forced myself to do this one. *shrug* So it goes!

  6. I feel like anything I could say would be trite so I’ll leave it at well done. Well done.

  7. Thanks for your courage Abby, encompassed both in the story itself, and your sharing of the story. Courage…

  8. I’m so impressed with how quickly you can get these great posts up. I really want to do this one, but it is definitely going to be a challenging one, it’s going to be hard to write about what is pretty much entirely an internal struggle. So it’ll probably take me right to when the link-up is opened if not longer.

    It can be so hard to hit publish on something so open and honest. But that is why your writing is so compelling. I loved the chisel analogy, it resonated with me.

  9. Here I am always trying to avoid “depth” and “actual emotions” and I accidentally read this. Cut that out.

  10. This was very powerful Abby. Thank you.

  11. Sadly it takes more. It take you (us)…WE have to be our own impetus from the inside out.
    We think a mother’s tears or (for me a brother’s death) would make us snap out of it.
    I wish that was all it took.
    Because after you walk away and pick up the chisel again … it’s now heavier with guilt and shame. You know?
    This was so beautiful. I bet you are using your chisel to a carve a pathway upwards now. You seem so strong.

    • Agreed (with the first part, not necessarily the strong part.) We all have to have that “oh shit” moment that we can at least use as a starting point. There’s no question there are many, many more lows than highs (no pun intended) and the change has to come from us. I think that’s the hardest thing, as many of us are so used to trying to make other people happy that we feel like that should be enough to get us “to change.” Once we accept that’s bullshit and that we have to do it for us–and really want to do it–that’s when change can and will happen.

  12. Look at you!

    Showing another part of you.

    You should have an alliterative warning so as not to freak everyone out Like Serious Sundays.

    Really great, Abby.

  13. This is beautiful!

  14. Oh wow Abby, the way you wrote this was so powerful, so raw and open. An eating disorder is never easy to get through, admitting it and the power issues it boils down to is a brave, amazing thing to do. You are brave my friend. Thanks for sharing this with all of us! Xo

  15. Beautifully written as always. It always amazes me the level of detail I can remember from those emotionally charged days. I suppose it’s our body’s way of telling us, “hey you, don’t forget this because if you do we’re going to have to learn this lesson again some other day.”

  16. Powerful. Raw. Well done, Abby.

  17. This is beautiful. I have been there and while it was me that realized I needed to change (at the scolding of my doctors), but it doesn’t mean the monsters don’t lurk in the shadows.

  18. I love the imagery of a chisel. And that you admit that it wasn’t the end that it’s a hard long journey to come back. But your mom was an important catalyst.

  19. Thank you for sharing this. As painful as it must have been to write, the imagery of using the chisel to dig deeper and deeper into “rock bottom” is really powerful.

    I am sorry you went through this, even though I don’t know if that’s the best way to put it, since it’s probably still something you deal with each day.

  20. As a mother, it scares me, thinking of my child in so much pain and me not being able to reach or help him or her.

    I’m glad the chisel was put away, even if it was temporarily at that point.

  21. Thank you for linking up, I’m so glad I stopped by. Your piece is well written and quite raw, I enjoyed it 🙂

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