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I have met some amazing people via the Internet, and Meredith Thomas is one. Of course, I count my husband in that great bunch of people, too, thanks to online dating! (You will read below that Meredith had a bit of luck finding love online as well.) When I first came across Meredith’s blog, This Side of the Creek, I knew that she had an important message to share with the world. Thanks, Meredith, for taking the time to share your journey of hope and healing here on my blog as well. If you would like to connect with Meredith, reach out to her by commenting here or visiting her Facebook page. We would both love to hear from you. (If you post a comment below, you’ll automatically be entered into a drawing to win an ebook of the tenth anniversary edition of Life Without Ed!)

This post is one in a Life Without Ed Birthday Blog Series celebrating both recovery and the Tenth Anniversary Edition of the book, which was released recently along with the audiobook!

A Recipe for Recovery
by Meredith Thomas, M.Ed., PC-CR

Real-life dreaming is a fairly new concept for me. Growing up with an eating disorder, the only dreams I had were while I slept; they revolved around someone swooping in and rescuing me from the darkness that was my illness.

I spent 18 years with Ed, who, along with some people in my life, convinced me I wasn’t good at much. I wouldn’t go far, and I wouldn’t know what it means to experience normal life events such as marriage and childbearing. By the age of twenty-seven, I’d decided the path I’d watched so many others take just wasn’t for me. I’d stay where I was; mad at myself for being different, and mad at Ed for making me different.

However, one ordinary day inside the newsroom of the local paper where I worked as a reporter, my life did begin to change. I sat leaned over a long piece of white paper covered with stories for the next day’s reading. Red pen in my hand, I began editing the Education section. As I skimmed through the articles, I noticed something that would hold the key to my future and unlock the ability to dream…in real-life!

Halfway down the page was information on a Master of Education program in counseling and human development that was being offered locally through a 4-year college, but on our community college campus. I’d entertained the idea of going to graduate school for a counseling degree but never truly thought it was something I’d be able to do, because I was so wrapped in my Ed. But when I read that article, something inside of me said, “This is it…this is where you’re supposed to be.”

Within a few days, I was accepted into the graduate program. I remember looking into the mirror in my apartment bathroom and saying, “You’re going to be a graduate student in less than two weeks!” But the level of excitement inside of me was beyond verbal expression. I wanted this more than anything and believed God had opened this door specifically for me. How could I not walk through it?

I returned to therapy to finally claim a life without Ed. It was a very slow, long process. I knew if I wanted to make a career of counseling and help others overcome their struggles, I had to get to a place of sustaining my own mental health. This became my priority.

Engagement Photo
Engagement Photo

Eight months into my graduate program, I decided to check out the hype about online dating. I didn’t really feel ready for a relationship, but I was curious. Fortunately, another dream began to take shape and my online dating experienced worked out quite well. Within one week, I met the man who is now my husband!

It was around this time that the publisher at the newspaper where I worked asked me to start a blog on mental health. Amid all I had faced and all I was beginning to do, there was one thing that never changed; my ability to write. Writing was a passion Ed tried to kill, but one that my publisher helped me harness by suggesting I start the blog. Within a few months, the blog won an award through the Associated Press Society of Ohio and went on to win a second time.

Sadly, the next year I lost my best friend to her own Ed. It was a loss that ultimately saved my own life. I turned fully toward recovery and never looked back. I wanted to dedicate my life to helping others fight their own battles and do so in honor of my best friend.

Today I’m married, happy, healthy, and am effectively counseling others. I’m working on my certification as an eating disorder specialist, am writing my first book related to recovery, and am developing a road towards speaking publicly.

Once I was able to recover and have real-life, non-Ed dreams, nothing could stop me! I’m excited to see what the future holds.

fullsizeSchaeferLifeWithoutED

What does the future hold for you? Do you have a dream big enough to beat Ed? Post your dream here (as a comment below) for a chance to win a digital version of the tenth anniversary edition of Life Without Ed from the iBookstore. One winner will be chosen randomly among all who comment.

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