things i love thursday: a blog for cameron.

Monday evening, right after I posted my latest blog, I received the news that Cameron, a dear friend of mine whom I’ve known since childhood, passed away. After a long battle against Leukemia, a bone marrow transplant, then Graft-Versus-Host disease, she finally fell ill with a fungal infection in her lungs and then she was gone from our midst.

The news shot through my core like an ice-cold sword. I burst into tears and spent the rest of the night angrily crying out to God.

Why her? Why? Why, one of the sweetest, most talented, most precious souls to ever walk this earth? I know so many other terrible people who get to live. Why doesn’t she get to stay with us?

(I’m one of those terrible people, by the way, as is evidenced by the horrible prayers I’ve been praying since her passing.)

I felt especially bad for posting a blog link on my Facebook right around the time the rest of my hometown started posting about Cameron’s death. I felt so tacky, so self-serving. I felt like a total ass.

But there is something many people from our hometown didn’t know about Cameron.

They all knew she was sweet. And hilarious. And fiercely intelligent. And crazy talented. Anyone who’s spent five minutes with Cameron can tell you any of those things.

But one thing no one but me knew about her: Cameron loved this blog. 

She did. She loved it so much. She loved my writing. And I can’t even tell you why someone so great, someone so smart, and someone so incredible, would even read my (sometimes nonsensical and always emotional) ramblings, let alone love them. But she did.

She would always message me the minute after I posted a blog and thank me for speaking to her heart. She, just like me and many other women out there, fought the same body image ideals of our twisted society. And my writing gave her hope and peace and encouraged her to love her body (even when, in the end, it didn’t seem to love her back).

And so today’s TILT is dedicated to Cameron. To the person she was, and the person she made me to be.

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I first met Cameron Huster at our church when we were little. She played the harp and I burped on purpose. She was small and sweet and I was tall and loud and wild. She made friends with the other girls in our children’s ministry and I climbed kumquat trees and pouted. And that’s how we grew up.

When we got to high school and I went astray, she was the only person from my churched upbringing that remained my real friend. And never in a “man I hope I can rub off on Lindsay and be a good influence because OOOH BOY is she awful” way. But in a genuine, “I care about you because you are worth caring about” way.

When I learned that I was going to Florida State University for college, she reached out to me because she was dual enrolling at FSU our senior year (because I wasn’t kidding about her being a freaking genius) and made plans to meet up with me and show me around. She was the one who told me that I had to go to MoMo’s and try “pizza as big as your head”, a pizza place that ended up being integral to my quality of life during my nine years of living in Tallahassee.

When I got pregnant and then had Dax, she was one of the people who was SO excited and grateful for my new journey. She came by to snuggle him and brought him toys (a music instrument puzzle and an orchestra music box, complete with — of course — a harp) because she loved Dax so very much. She loved him so, not just because he was cute and tiny and a baby, but because he was mine. And she loved me. For some reason this smart, talented, sweet, incredible person loved meMy whole self. My opinionated, aggressive, stand-offish self. She loved me and she loved Dax because we were just the way we were.

Cameron Huster believed the best about everyone. And that included me. She believed that, even though I had my demons, I was worth a damn. She always treated me as such. Even when I was falling asleep in the pews during the church services in which she played that harp, she always loved me and made me feel worthy of love. And I never wanted to fight her on it, to tell her, “No, actually, you’re way too good for me.”

Because even more than all that, she made me actually believe that I was worth a damn.

This morning while I was eating my breakfast and trying to organize my thoughts for this blog post, I kept saying in my head that this world will be a much crappier place now that Cameron is gone. But you know what? That’s a lie.

Because of all the people she touched — like me — this world is going to be a better place because she was in it. She left a piece of herself in me, and in everyone around her. And while her body may not be with us, her spirit permeates the air in things like the words I write in this blog and in the conversations we have with those around us.

She may not be breathing anymore, but she is alive. And I am grateful that she is alive in me.

Love you, Cam.

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how to physically love your body even when you mentally can’t.

For those of you who don’t know, back in 2007, I was diagnosed with an ED-NOS, or eating disorder not otherwise specified. I was taken aback by the diagnosis, but before I could argue I was flung into therapy, nutritional counseling, and was prescribed some anti-depressants to treat the disorder.

I’m happy to say that this diagnosis was seven years ago and I have yet to relapse. Huzzah! However, that said, I don’t really like to say I’m “recovered”. I know full well that, out of nowhere, dark thoughts can sneak into my brain and make me adverse to eating. Just a few months ago, before I got pregnant, I was having a really hard time at work and my go-to solution for it was to not eat dinner. This sounds crazy to anyone who hasn’t struggled with disordered eating, but it hit me like a freight train in the dark.

Even though I didn’t want to, I immediately told my husband how I was feeling, so I could have someone in the room speak some reason into me. It worked, but it felt uncomfortable and wrong. Like I was faking it.

But here’s the thing — the majority of my ED recovery was exactly that: me faking it. I’d been eating in a disordered manner for so many years (12 years at the time of diagnosis) that anything other than that seemed wrong. But after faking it for a while, it became more natural, and now, I fake it less.

I might almost say I’ve made it. (Almost.)

I’m 20 weeks pregnant right now, and just like I experienced with my first pregnancy, my mind swings back and forth between feeling beautiful and proud of my round belly, and horrified at the changes and the lack of control I have over my expanding frame. And this would happen to me throughout my ED recovery, too. I would swing back and forth between happy to be healing and terrified of relinquishing control.

And now, halfway through my pregnancy, I sometimes feel the need to physically fake loving my body when my brain can’t, in hopes that it will eventually catch up.

If you ever find yourself in a position like that, here are some ways to fake it until you make it. (And you WILL make it, I promise.)

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1. Exercise

I know. Sounds gross, especially when you look down and aren’t happy with your body. But seriously, exercise not only releases endorphins and other happy hormones in your body, thus making you a more pleasant person in general, but I always feel more confident in my own skin when I’ve gone for a jog or tackled the yoga mat.

2.  Shower/Bathe in the Dark, But Not For That Reason

I’ve bathed in the dark because the sheer thought of laying eyes on my naked body has repulsed me. But lately, instead, I’ve been showering in the dark so I can’t focus on how my body looks at all, but how it feels. I turn the water just the temperature I like it (scalding, actually) and close my eyes, and allow my body to feel good. And then I say a prayer of thanks for legs to hold me up and skin to feel the hot water. (And, at this time, a body that is strong and healthy enough to build/care for another human life. Regardless of how unattractive I might feel, that is an incredible gift for which I am so very thankful.)

3. Stay Naked

I had a roommate in college (whom I lived with when I was diagnosed) who always had “naked time” after her shower when she would just lay in bed and relax. It sounded weird to me at the time, but I gave it a try, and there is something sweet about letting your clean body be just the way it was created for a few minutes without rushing to cover it back up again.

4. Apply Lotion Everyday

The sheer act of applying lotion to your body is a very practical way to love yourself. Check out this post about the lotion challenge and give it a try for yourself. Pick out something that smells divine and commit to putting it on everyday and evaluate how you feel about your body after a day, a week, a month.

5. Open Yourself Up to The Love of Others

This one is always the hardest for me, but is ultimately the most rewarding. Whenever I’m feeling particularly down on myself, I will ask someone close to me why they love me and then listen to their whole answer without responding. When they are done, I won’t argue with them. I won’t try and dilute their words. I just say a very heartfelt, “Thank you.” And let their words be true. Because they are, even if they don’t feel true to me.

Those are just a handful of things I’ve thought of over the past week. What do YOU do to love your body, even when it’s hard?