Recovery is lonely. Even when you have an amazing support system, there are some things that no one else can understand. There are days that are dark, no matter how brightly the sun is shining and you are exhausted from all of the effort it takes to keep it all together. It’s easy to write about the wisdom I have gained and how far I have come in my recovery from my eating disorder. Writing about a bad day in recovery is a different story.
When I first stepped into therapy, one of the promises I made myself was to be 100% honest. I started with myself, my therapist, and my immediate family. I soon added my closest friends. When I started this blog, I knew it would be no good without complete candor, so here it is: the truth. Yesterday was a bad day. And this is what it looked like...
I feel the fog rolling in and can practically see it obstructing my view. I hear a faint chuckle as the eating disorder blows the fog my way...a fog full of self-defeating thoughts....a fog so heavy it crushes my very belief system. It’s like an out of body experience. The cycle goes like this - I get overwhelmed, the negative self-talk begins (“you’re doing too much”, “you’ll never catch up”, “and, by the way, you are fat”) and my mood goes downhill fast. I get bitchy and hear myself like it’s someone else talking. And it is. It is the eating disorder. That manipulative jerk that sneaks in the back door of my mind as soon as the smallest crack appears. I picture him like a black mist; like a smoky fog that can seep into every crevice of my mind. A murky, black fog that is void of goodness. It is, in its essence, negativity. It is dark, bad, ugly energy. It appears when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror at the wrong angle. It appears when you are standing in your closet trying to find something to wear, a pile of clothes gathered around your feet. It appears at the refrigerator door. Sometimes it appears out of the clear blue sky and that is when you really feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you. I know there will be hard days. My goal is for there to be less and less of them, for the fog to lift earlier each time. But when it’s foggy, it gets loud too and then it’s hard to hear my true self talking. Her voice is choking on the heavy mist.
I don’t share all of this so you will feel sorry for me. I don’t share to scare you. I want to shed some light. I want others who feel the same way to know they are not alone. And I want them to know that I now have many more good days than bad.
So how do you eradicate something that exemplifies darkness? With light! The first step is always awareness. Noticing this and being able to describe it is a huge step for me. One of the eating disorder’s powers is in his ability to make you think his thoughts are actually yours. So deceitful! The good news is, I am on to him. The bad news is, he isn’t leaving without a fight. The greatest power I have right now is the power to begin again tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day, a clean slate, a fresh page. I will gather up so much good that there will be no room for black, murky, dusty fog. I will breathe, I will kick ass at yoga, I will surround myself with friends and loved ones. I will push through.
So, yesterday was a bad day. I survived it and feel a little stronger today because of it and because of that, today is a good day. So if you are on the path to recovery, remember that I am by your side. I am fighting the fight with you and for you. And I wholeheartedly believe that this fight is ours to win.
"The fire ignited within you is stronger than the one in your fireplace." - sweet words this morning after sharing my pics ❤️
There comes a time in every woman's life when she accepts full responsibility for herself. Some are luckier than others and come to this place early in life. I was almost 40. I spent so much of my life waiting - waiting for the next diet, the next workout, the next brilliant mind who would crack the code on how to solve all of my problems. I waited for swimsuit season (because surely that would scare me into getting my act together). I waited for the New Year. There was an awful lot of waiting...
Something about turning 40 made me say enough is enough and I finally found the truth in my favorite quote from Glenda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz: "You had the power all along, my dear." Somewhere deep within me a small flicker of a flame began to burn. With every act of bravery, every act of kindness toward myself, the flame grows a little brighter. There are days the winds blow so hard that I fear it will be extinguished, but the strength that flame has given me could not be blown out with even the mightiest gust. This morning, after being stuck in the house for two days due to winter weather (ironically, high winds!), I caught myself saying "just wait until the weather is better and then get back on your mat." This girl no longer waits. I stopped in my tracks, went upstairs to change, and grabbed my mat. I had my own little hot yoga class in front on the fire and it was wonderful. A simple 25 minutes of gentle yoga shifted my entire outlook. It calmed me - mind, body and soul. The other amazing thing about self-care is how it multiplies! I went from yoga to photography to a hot bath and a healthy lunch. Then I picked up a pen and started writing with the sun streaming in through my kitchen window on a beautiful, cold winter day - a day that I was frowning upon this morning.
So, stop. Take a breath. Listen. Ask yourself what it is that you need right now. The answer will be different for each of us, but whatever it is that your heart of hearts is asking for will surely fan your flame.
My therapist handed this poem to me and asked me to read it a few months ago. I wasn't halfway through before the tears started rolling down my cheeks. She said, "Have I shown you that before?" I caught my breath and replied, "I would have remembered this." To me, this poem beautifully describes what the path of recovery is like. I have read it a thousand times. My copy has notes scribbled all over the page. By Chapter I, it says "in the eating disorder". By Chapter II: "those moments when you want to seek help". Chapter III simply says "recovery" and Chapter IV reads "in between recovery and recovered". By Chapter V, I wrote in large capital letters "RECOVERED!!!" On my copy, there is also a line between Chapter III and Chapter IV that says "me on October 31, 2013". When I hit the POST button on Facebook on New Year's Eve announcing my website and blog, I chose to walk down another street. I cannot wait to start living Chaper V!
I have spent most of my life avoiding being in pictures. Conveniently, I took up photography and have always been the one behind the lens. People with eating disorders and body image issues have a hard time looking at themselves, even in the mirror. For me, the self-talk would quickly escalate from "that's not too bad" to "oh, who am I kidding, I look awful" to "what can I do to make sure no one ever sees this!"
Last spring, I did something really, really brave. I voluntarily showed up to have my picture taken for my yoga teacher's facebook page. She knew what a big deal this was. My closest friends understood the magnitude. The picture above is one from that day (I am on the right, my teacher on the left). This photograph makes me sooooo happy! I can honestly look at it and say I am beautiful. And that, my friends, is a big step in recovery. My dear yoga teacher took this picture and added the text you see today when I announced my new blog. I am so grateful to call her my friend.
So today when I woke up to a snow storm, I took the selfie above to let my teacher know that no snow was going to keep me from yoga class. And then we took the other picture together at the end of class...without a hesitation, without a look in the mirror first, without wiping away the sweat. And it is perfect, just the way it is....and so am I.