Sometimes I look back with awe – and, frankly, horror – to remember all the years I spent “waiting.”
I was waiting to recover later (after the eating disorder had delivered on all of its [false] promises).
I was waiting until I had more friends, a better personality, more money, a boyfriend.
I used to go out shopping, buying clothes for a person I wasn’t who had a life I didn’t have.
I would think “Well, I’d better buy this bikini/party dress/lingerie set – just in case.”
Finally, one day I asked myself, “Just in case of WHAT?”
So we are well into the first month of January 2015!
How is it going so far?
For me, it is quite exciting!
But then again, that is because these days, I find the unknown, the unexpected, the un-plannable, energizing and fun.
When I was sick with an eating disorder, this was NOT the case.
I have had to learn that (as one of my favorite mentors, Byron Katie, often says):
“This is a friendly universe.”
But her words alone didn’t convince me – oh no.
Well here we are – once again, it is nearly time for a brand new year to launch!
I always get so excited when a new year arrives.
It feels like encountering a giant blank chalkboard, complete with the most marvelous array of colored chalk.
The chalkboard is all mine – as is the chalk. Whatever I draw on the chalkboard is what will unfold in the year to come.
(By the way, I actually do this at home – I have a big wall-sized chalkboard and lots of colored chalk, and all year long I continue editing and adding new dreams to my chalk board).
I can thank my ongoing recovery journey for this wonderful way of welcoming a new year.
I used to dread the month of November.
And not just because of all the scary F.O.O.D.
I dreaded it because November is the “month of gratitude.”
I so wanted to be grateful – to feel grateful – to feel _genuinely_ grateful (as opposed to “faking it until you make it” grateful).
I wanted to be that kind of good person who could feel totally, deeply grateful for life’s blessings….without simultaneously wishing for so much more than what I had.
For instance – I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to have friends (besides my eating disorder, that is!).
I wanted to be able to sit down and enjoy a festive meal with loved ones free from fear.
I wanted to like what I saw in the mirror.
I wanted to love and be loved – to fall in love – to have romance and peace and joy and fulfillment in my life.
So I would start listing out the things I was grateful for, only to be confronted by this other list of all the things I felt I desperately wanted and needed that would never be mine.
In a word….PAIN.
I was in my late 20’s, and well into my struggles with anorexia and bulimia, before I began to perceive a tangible difference between “my body” and “me.”
After so many years of casually speaking about “my body,” “my mind,” “my heart,” “my spirit,” I finally started to wonder just who the “my” was who claimed all of these things.
Who owned “my body?”
Who was in charge of “my mind?”
Who sensed the presence of “my heart?”
Who was it who spoke of “my spirit” with such confidence?
Well, it must be …. “me.”
All at once, I became deeply curious about just who this “me” was who rated a body, a mind, a heart, a spirit all her own.
The other day, a friend said to me, “We are all in recovery from something.”
I deeply resonated with her statement.
For instance, while I no longer struggle to nourish my body appropriately, I am still working hard to reprogram old tapes in my brain that speak to me, saying, “your body should look different.”
This morning I caught myself looking in the mirror as a way to settle this exact type of dilemma.
Did I hate my curves or like them? I couldn’t decide.
In that instant, I realized the solution comes down to one of permission.
I have to decide – I GET to decide.
Do I like my curves? Or do I hate them?
Do I see beauty when I look in the mirror? Or do I see a shape and form that causes me pain?
If, in a flash, I catch myself thinking, “Wow – I look good today!,” do I allow myself to own and enjoy that sentiment?
Everywhere, all around us, people are fighting.
They are surviving the un-survivable.
They are choosing to find that one tiny ray of hope in the hopeless.
They are creating a path to make the un-workable work.
They are inspiring others (like me) without even wanting, trying, or meaning to!
You are too.
Every time I sit down to write this monthly e-newsletter, I think of each of you who are receiving it.
I realize there is so much struggle – so many trials – so much pain and challenge in the world.
The other day I caught myself saying these words out loud:
Today, I am so much closer than I ever have been before to becoming the person I want to be.
I seriously impressed myself.
Not just for having the guts and the honesty to state my truth, but also for recognizing that this IS the truth, and for being able to look at the past-present picture of me and predict such a positive future for myself.
I was all kinds of proud of myself for that.
But the real truth is, I can still remember a time in my life – many years in fact – when I honestly hated who I was.
I didn’t think I would ever turn out to be anybody worth being.
I looked for ways to help others to justify the space I took up….somehow assuming that if I didn’t “pay rent” on my life, it would be taken away and given to someone much more deserving.
Today I know that the real me – the me I thought I would never be able to be – has been inside me all along.
I wish I had known that earlier.
I wish I had known I would someday be proud to be who I am becoming.
I wish I had known I have had it in me all along.
So I am telling you now, here, just in case you don’t know this yet either.
Not that you asked, but my mom had me by c-section.
So – without even the courtesy of a minute to prepare – I was literally infant-jacked from my nice, warm, dark, solitary shelter and summarily thrust into the “real world.”
I know you will think I’m crazy (sometimes I can’t help but agree) but I still totally remember that day.
I remember the glaring high beam headlights, the unwarranted whack on my sensitive booty, that awful siren sound (which I now suspect was my own wailing), and one solitary repeating thought:
Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! Who signed me up for THIS?!?
Somehow I made it through that day….the day I still consider to be the most challenging, terrifying, incomprehensible day of my whole life.
I also made it through 5,475 later days (or approximately 15 years) of battling my eating disorder before I started to gain a toehold onto recovery.
And (more recently) I survived the first few days of my young tortoise’s life – but it was touch-and-go there for awhile for this new turtle mama.
I’ve survived breakups and makeups, the dissolution of dreams, friendships, and whole careers, a grueling six months in India (which included both the “hot season” and the “monsoon” season – whew!), an unexpected side trip to Serbia during the Gulf War Crisis (which is why you really want to make sure you get on the right train when you’re traveling)…..
I’ve survived a lot of very bad days.
I’ve also survived a lot of very good days.
Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ve always felt the same about myself.
For many years I felt like two people – the gentle, appreciative nature-lover who would melt at the sight of a fledgling songbird….and the terrifying tormenter within who raged against even a glimpse of her own reflection.
Finally, I had simply had it. I was dying and I knew it – if not yet in body, then most certainly in spirit.
I also knew my only option – if I wanted to survive – was to live the life I’d been given as “me.”
So I started wriggling and wrangling and twisting and turning, trying in every which way to find something to enjoy about being me.