At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Monday, 31 July 2017

The last and final sunset, heralding a beautiful new dawn...

And so it was time for me to go home. After an incredible five weeks full of sunshine, smiles, laughter and unforgettable experiences, the sun was finally setting for me, on my time in beautiful Catalonia. But each sunset marks a time of change, a new beginning. For with the darkening of that lilac blue sky comes the night, a night which in turn will inevitably pale and wane as an orb of soft brightness appears upon the eastern horizon.

Sunrise at Mas Banyereres 

For me, that was how everything felt like, on that final evening as I gazed out of the small window of my plane with the massive engines humming and singing as we became airborne. Far below me, lay the city of Barcelona; its lights glittering like hundreds of scattered diamonds flung from the sky; its shore flanked by the ever moving sea which pulsed and ebbed as it kept its own ceaseless beat.  A scene of such beauty and finality - nothing could possibly have befitted more a way to end such an unforgettable trip - that tears automatically sprang into my eyes and coursed down my cheeks, moistening the pages of my book which lay forgotten on my knee. But I did not wipe them away. I merely kept looking, absorbing every detail of that view in all its sublimity. Soon the city began to fall away, being replaced by the soaring mountains with their thick covering of shrubby trees. Two different and inevitably contrasting landscapes; both contained within Catalonia itself; a land which once had been a stranger to me, but which now had become known, and loved.

But there was another stimulant behind my tears, tears which were of both sadness and joy. Sadness, at leaving such a beautiful place; in which I had so welcome, so accepted. Joy at being able to go home; home to where my family and friends waited for me with outstretched arms. No, but there was another recognition. A recognition that this night was not the end. Not an end; but a beginning. This night was a new dawn.

A new dawn which would mean that my adventure in Catalonia was only the start of what was a whole new journey for me. A journey of discovery and acceptance; a journey of learning, and new experience. A journey which would involve doing things I had never thought possible before; a journey, in which I would find myself, and nourish the real person who I really wanted to be.

That was how it felt like; in that bittersweet moment of exquisite joy, tinged by the droplets of poignant and tangible sadness. I had realised that this end was not a night or even a sunset. On the contrary, it was a new dawn: a sunrise, to something new and even more beautiful.

My time in Barcelona has been so significant to me in many ways. But above all else it has made me realise that I can in fact do anything. There are no limits to what I can achieve; now, it is time for me to leap upwards, upwards into the sky, and to dance amongst the stars.

I did it! I'm home! I got back to Ireland in one piece on Sunday morning and am now once again ensconced in my cosy little chair in the sun room here at Derryguile. And needless to say the post I had planned to write in the final week at Mas Banyeres just did not happen..I was as busy as ever meaning that unfortunately I didn't get a chance to update :'( but hey, it doesn't matter, because I can do it here, instead😉 I really want to talk more about my experiences, and what I learned from them, and their relevance to my recovery. 💚xxxx

Saturday, 22 July 2017

A battle that I fought and WON..xxxx

Barcelona. I knew the word and I guess I thought I knew the city - or did I? What defines to know a place? I had heard of it, of course; had claim to a somewhat scanty knowledge about where it was and what it was like there.

But never did I once consider that upon a day in June, approximately three years since I embarked upon the journey which is recovery from an eating disorder, I would be setting off on one of the biggest adventures of my life, to exactly that place - the golden glowing jewel which is Barcelona. And I've been here for over four weeks now, and this beautiful place has already stolen a piece of my heart.

I say Barcelona but perhaps it would be more correct to say Catalonia. As I'm not based in the actual city itself; but rather, in the countryside some little way inland. I'm just outside a little town called Centelles. It's small and quaint and full of that quintessential Spanish charm, with its narrow streets and ornate, high-towered church, the many bakeries whose windows are adorned with shelf upon shelf of tantalising delights, and its scattering of ice cream parlours which the Ganache Elf has frequented quite often of late. ;)

Making the decision to come here was one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life. I had so many fears and so many insecurities. What it would be like, would the other people like and accept me, would I cope being away from home. And then of course there was Ed, hovering in the back of my mind like a malignant wasp which refuses to be swatted away.

But I took that leap and threw myself off the cliff into the deep. A deep so unknown and so terrifying in its immensity. But then I discovered that instead of being drowned by that fear, of being borne away by that rushing tide, I could learn to master it, to ride those waves. And the waves would touch my face and skin, soaking me to the bone, but that cold fear need not touch my heart and soul. I could be like the graceful silver dolphin, cutting through those waves; I could be like the shooting white star, slicing through an infinite, ink-black sky.

This trip for me has been about so many things. Pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, and learning to learn that I could cope with being away from my beloved home. It's been a learning experience and an adventure. I've done things which I've never done before, met people who I know I will remember for the rest of my life. I've taught my way through four classes of bright eyed children, each one with their own story to tell, each one with their own different personality and different smile. Faces and names which have been inscribed on my heart. I know as time passes, the concrete images now fixed in my head will begin to fade. But I know that the memory of them will be with me forever, as will the joy that I found came hand in hand with their identifying of me as their teacher.

I have discovered that it is with children I want to work with, for my future. The sense of fulfilment I have derived from this job - the way the children's faces light up when I praise them for all their hard work; that sense of pride and fondness I feel tugging at my heart when I look through their homework and marvel at the progress they have made - is something like which I have never quite felt before, and want to feel again, once I return home. I only have one week left now - I've been four weeks here since yesterday, a fact that amazes me in itself - and my time in Catalonia has almost come to an end.

It has been hard. So hard , in many ways. But one thing that I know is that I do not regret anything about my decision to come here. It has changed me in ways which I know I needed to be changed. And now my life's path will bring me back home, home to that rugged little island perched on the edge of immense Atlantic Ocean, to that cream-walled Dorma Bungalow at the island's very heart. Mid summer in that bungalow's emerald-bright garden, where the eucalyptus tree rustles its aromatic, papery skinned branches and the sweet peas flowers stir in a soft summer breeze. And it is here where my recovery journey continues on. And I know exactly what I am going to do, and how I am going to achieve it. ❤

I'm so sorry for my blogging absence over the past few weeks - it's literally been so so hectic I haven't had a chance to write at all! Over the next few days I will hopefully get to fill you in on the stuff I've been doing while I've been here, and normal blogging will resume once I'm back in Ireland. Thank you so, so much for sticking with me and thinking of me, for all the comments and words of encouragement, the advice and support. It means SO much, it really really does! 💗

Sunday, 2 July 2017

She learned to conquer the Fear...

It was the Tuesday after my birthday that I got the Skype call that changed everything.

I was sitting in the lounge - or the "sun room", as I like to call it. My writing room. The frontermost room of the house which the sun's first light spills into every morning. As that golden orb ascends into the sky, it casts golden shafts of sunlight through the brooms' enormous east-facing window, illuminating the faces of my loved ones' pictures upon the walls, causing the polished oakwood of the little oval table to shine and gleam with an almost fairytale-like quality. It's one of my favourite rooms in the house. It's here where I retreat to every morning to immerse myself in my own little world; that being, of course, Morokia.

But on that morning I was not sitting there with such a purpose in mind.

Besides me were bundles of Morokia notes I had brought with me to look at while I waited for the Skype app to ping. Pages upon pages of dog-eared A4 sheets, covered from top to bottom in my messy, scrawly handwriting that noone can ever decipher apart from me. Truth was I was unable to really read them, of course. The words would float like thin, wispy clouds in front of my eyes, drifting away whenever I tried to grasp them tightly to my quivering, pulsating consciousness. Yet at that very moment I wanted to be like on of those clouds, in the sky. Graceful, airy, suspended in that blue infinity forever, without any duty or obligation, any pain or regret.

A few months ago I had done something which I had never, ever done before.

I had applied for a job. Not just a local parttime job in a cafe or local store, all of which I've tried to get into before. It was a summer camp job, based in the renowned city of Barcelona on the South Spanish coast. It still makes me smile at the randomness of the way in which I found out about this job. I was walking out of Trinity through Front Arch, wrapped up, as usual, in the comforting folds of my daydreams, when a sudden chilly gust of wind reminded me that I hadn't got my gloves on, so I paused, slipping out of the way of passerbys to stand directly by the Arch's Wall. As I scrabbled in my bag for the gloves that I hoped I hadn't left in some random place as I am often wont to do, I suddenly realised I was standing by a billard plastered in dozens of small, typed notices and adverts. And I don't honestly know how and why, but one particular slip of paper called out to me. Spanish summer camp seeking young English teachers for July. Apply with cv. There were other details, all of which I read and committed to memory.

The old Emmy would have just smiled, and walked on. The Old Emily would have thought to herself how wonderful that would be, but that she would never be able to do it.

But this Emmy applied for that job. And a few weeks later, she had her first Skype interview.

I remember the feelings which coursed through me while I waited for my interviewer to call. Self-doubt, and disbelief, and scorn. You honestly think that you, of all people, are going to get this? As if they'd pick you. You'd be absolutely hopeless!! And alongside that there was the slimmest glimmer of hope. Please, may it go ok. Please may I get this job.

But alongside that hope throbbed a beating vein of fear. That fear wrapped itself like a snake around that thin thread of hope, crushing it in its heavy, suffocating coils. No no. Please don't pick me. I don't want to go to Spain, on my own. I would be useless at that job. Please God may she not pick me.

And then the Skype pinged and my trembling hand went to press accept. Then I remembered. There was another time, when I accepted a phone call. One that I knew would change things, forever. The one of the day they told me my bed was ready at the hospital.

And hadn't I felt fear and trepidation that day? Hadn't I felt surrounded by vast currents of terror; currents which tore at me with the ferocity of hunting lions, ready to bore me away and tear me apart?

And yet I faced that fear and thrust myself into that current, felt it ripple and surge around me, its power. And I realised that I was stronger and more powerful than that fear, if I chose to be. I need not be anymore the girl who drowned in her fears. Rather, I could be the one who fought those tides of self-destruction.

And this time neednt be so much different.

I could learn to conquer the fear.

And yes, I was offered that job, much to my shock and disbelief. And yes, I did accept it. The months passed like young damselflies skimming on the surface of the water, and before I knew it, it was time for me to go. To leave my beautiful home, so beloved, so familiar, so precious to me.

If I had felt fear at that day of the interview, the terror I experienced that Thursday when I left for Dublin Airpot, was that multiplied tenfold. What it would be like, would the people there like me or not, how would I cope in an actual proper working environment for the first real time of my life. And then of course there were the ED fears, forcing themselves insistently to the forefront of the others to blare out at me like high-pitched, wailing sirens.

But yet this time I refused to submit to them.

2017 has been the year of the change for me. This year I have overcome more thn I could ever have thought possible, or imagined. I gained weight by myself for the second time, nd this time found a level of acceptance for my new body which I never could put claim to before. I put my recovery first even though I was at college, and struggling to get through the finl last curucial term of that degree which had caused me so much heartbreak.

And then there was this. Barcelona. Another thing I could never have thought of as being possible.

I am learning to conquer my fears, not give in to them. And I know that I can use this strength to beat every single last one of my demons and let my light rise like a diamond bright star into a ebony black sky. And one day the clouds of depression which remain wrapped around me will part and fall away, and the final few chains of ED. They will weaken and I will take them in my hands, snap them like brittle kindlewood between my now strong and capable fingers. No longer a prisoner. No longer a girl with an ED. ED will become a thing of my past, a thing that was fought against and overcome, just like those fears which I faced.