There are days that are pivotal. You wake up one person and go to bed another. You start the day doubting yourself and your decisions and fall asleep completely content with who you are. Yesterday was one of those days for me.
Several months ago, I bought a ticket to attend the 2014 Celebration of Life Gala and Auction hosted by The Kirsten Haglund Foundation. The event raises funds to provide eating disorder treatment to those who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Tonight they honored Jenni Schaefer with the 2014 Advocacy Award. Jenni is an amazing author, speaker and singer/songwriter who has helped countless people in recovery by sharing her story. I am one of those people. Her book Life Without Ed quite literally changed my life. As I read her words, I felt like someone understood me for the very first time. It was as if she had crawled inside my mind. When you are in recovery, there is no greater gift than that of understanding. So when I heard that Jenni would be so close, I had to seize the opportunity to be able to thank her in person. Yesterday afternoon, I hopped in the car and drove an hour and a half to Ann Arbor, Michigan. This is where it gets very “your life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
So here I was alone in a hotel room in a town I’d never been in before getting ready for a gala where I would not know a soul. I had to pause to acknowledge what a big moment this was for me. Sure, I was nervous, but not anxiety ridden. This, in itself, was a huge mark of improvement. In the new Tenth Anniversary Edition of Life Without Ed, Jenni quotes Amelia Earhart in the afterword: “The best way to do it is to do it.” She goes on to explain that “sometimes, what we really need to do is let go, stop thinking so much, and take that step - right off the trapeze platform - into freedom.” I took a deep breath and walked out the door.
The event was wonderful. The stories of hope and recovery were uplifting and inspirational. Jenni’s words were so full of hope. As the evening came to a close, I found myself getting emotional. Back in my hotel room, I sat down to send my hubby an email about the night and the emotion hit me full force as I wrote:
I am just really proud of myself right now. I'm in tears because I am realizing how far I have come. I walked around that room tonight, not knowing a soul, and told people I was in recovery and talked very openly about it. I sat with two young girls and had a great time hearing their stories and their dreams of making a difference. Meeting Jenni was so wonderful. She knew exactly who I was and was so thankful that I had come and was genuinely happy to meet me. I mean, can you even believe that I (of my own free will) bought a ticket to this and came all this way and marched right into that room with confidence? This was just one of those days that I will never forget. I might stay up and do some writing. Kind of feel like I could conquer the world right now. And I couldn't do it without you by my side!
And so, here I sit. I am acutely aware of a shift happening inside me. I have jumped up another rung on the ladder of recovery and I can see the top...blue skies, sun shining, birds flying freely...I can feel my wings sprouting.