There are days when I wish I could do it all - put on that superwoman cape and please everyone, doing every task perfectly, while being in 10 different places at once. And then I realize that it is on those very same days that I crumble. My anxiety is high, my emotions raw, my patience nonexistent. I try so hard to convince myself that if I just push a little harder I can keep all of these balls in the air. I believe this until the exact moment they all come crashing down on my head.
My perfectionistic, people-pleasing personality shifts into overdrive and I ride the high for a brief moment in time and then I am left facing the reality. I cannot do it all. I cannot please everyone. I cannot be in 10 different places at once. And attempting to accomplish these unrealistic goals does nothing but leave me feeling empty. The overwhelm leads to anxiety and the anxiety is a trigger for my eating disorder. Triggering my eating disorder is not an option. Therefore anxiety is not an option. Therefore overwhelm is not an option.
My therapist once told me “Balance is a myth.” She said this after my five-minute speech on my overwhelm and how I just needed to find balance to get through this. Two days later in a yoga workshop, the teacher said that the latin word for balance is to dance…that balance is finding your center among the chaos.
As a people-pleaser, one of the most difficult words for me to utter is “no.” As a person in recovery, it is the most essential word in my vocabulary.
I don’t need balance as much as I need boundaries. Letting go of the guilt I feel when saying “no” is still the greatest struggle, but the guilt certainly outweighs the misery of letting the eating disorder win. I know this journey of recovery will be life-long. I must remember to find the lessons in each test. And I must remember to celebrate each and every little victory. Each honest answer when a friend asks if I’m ok. Each phone call I make, hands and voice trembling, telling the truth about how I am feeling. I know if I follow my heart, I cannot go wrong. My intuition, that was silenced for so many years by my eating disorder, is starting to speak louder and clearer and I don’t want to do anything to quiet her wisdom. She has taught me volumes already.
"Difficulties come when you don't pay attention to life's whispers. Life always whispers to you first, but if you ignore the whisper, sooner or later you'll get a scream." - Oprah Winfrey
Simply going through the motions is not enough. A yoga class will not do the trick if you are constantly judging yourself in the mirror. Handing out great advice to others will not be enough if you are speaking to yourself in an entirely different tone. There are times when you can convince yourself that you are doing all of the right things because on the surface you are, but surface level is just that. It's what is going on in the deep that matters.
This week I have been going through the motions and forgot one of my biggest rules - listen to your body! My back was tender...I went a little slower at yoga. My back tightened up...I thought, "maybe it's more yoga that I need." My back really started hurting...I started modifying my yoga postures again. And then came the scream, after I had ignored every whisper. It took a doctor telling me that I needed to step away from yoga for me to listen.
I felt lost. I depend on yoga and the people in those classes. The idea of stepping away, even for a short time, makes me anxious and, quite frankly, sad. So I sat down this morning to regroup (which is what journaling does for me) and this is what I have decided: my body, and my heart, need me to learn how to do this on my own. This is not to say that I won't go running back to yoga and my friends on that mat as fast as I can, but it is to say that I will take this time to be still, to listen and to learn.
The path to recovery cannot be dependent upon one tool. It requires an entire toolbox full of options. Yoga and my friends there are my go-to tools, but I need to have other options when they are not available.
My auto-pilot mode, which I have mentioned before, wants me to take the time and fill it with to-do lists so at least I feel productive. For me, busyness breeds madness. When coupled with exhaustion, chaos ensues. So today I will rest. I will honor my body as the temple it is. I hope you will listen to your body today and give it exactly what it needs.
"Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it." - Eckhart Tolle