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.
You may not think this statement is true.
I know I didn’t for many, many, MANY years.
This is because, while it is happening, time appears to move ohhhhh sooooo slowly.
This is a problem because, when we are in pain, we want healing NOW.
Like what the &$*! is taking so long?!
I know I personally never felt content to sit back and wait for the healing to happen. No way. It had to happen NOW. NOW was the only time. It was NOW or NEVER.
Yet as I look back now over the decades I struggled to heal from an eating disorder, I see that time itself was perhaps my greatest healer.
Time is simply amazing.
Time doesn’t care about terms like “now” and “never” – it is not at all intimidated by scare tactics, insults, or disbelief. It won’t cut corners and it is impervious to peer pressure.
Even today, having witnessed its power firsthand, I honestly have no idea how time does what it does. But I do know that, whether it is a broken bone or a broken heart, given enough time, both will heal in full.
Time works miracles.
Time can turn the impossible into the possible and the actual.
Time is the cheerleader we often don’t hear screaming itself hoarse from the sidelines of our lives.
When I was young, I was in love with Luke Skywalker.
I was also sure that, if offered the option, I would not have struggled one bit to choose between Jedi-dom and “the Dark Side.”
Yet, given my own mind’s long and well-documented affinity for negative thinking, perhaps my youthful confidence was a tad premature.
The “dark side” is fueled by anger, regret, pain.
For many years, I, too, was fueled by the same.
I’m in my 40′s now, and am just now learning how to teach my mind to seek – and like – and trust – the light.
It is still all too tempting for us to dive into darkness, depression, despair. But when we can resist, not only do the fears driving them ease, but their dire outcomes fail to materialize!
The truth is, I am discovering that most – perhaps all – of the power I need to change my life for the better resides right within my own mind.
As I think, so I live.
There is nothing like taking 43 years to figure this out.
But I will be honest – it wasn’t until just this month – and just a few days ago, in fact, that I finally convinced myself to stop worrying so much about whether who I am, how I act, what I prefer, and how I live is the “right” way to be.
Can you relate?
For 43 years, I have logged daily high quality time lecturing myself about how I need to do more of this, less of that, adjust my preferences or habits “or else”…..and yet after all those years of well-meaning and well-composed self-lectures, here I am.
I am still me. I am still the same me. I still act the way I act and think the way I think. I still have certain preferences and other aversions. I still live the way I live, and no amount of lecturing or motivational speeches or dire predictions can sway me from it.
Then it finally occurred to me – mid-way through this second month of my 43rd year – that maybe there is a reason for it.
I live in a neighborhood with lots of growing pains.
Because of this, I now know it takes two full days (if they start early on the morning of the 1st day) to tear a whole house down and cart it away.
Since they are hard at work putting up six new houses on my street alone, I will soon find out approximately how long it takes to build a new house where the old house used to be.
But what I already know is that it makes quite a racket while they are doing it!
There are the ground smoothers. And the concrete pourers. And the wood haulers. And the paint sprayers. And of course the loud (blaring) tunes from somebody’s boom box (apparently this is a required part of every “new home building” process).
While it is happening it is irritating, messy, lengthy, erratic, and seemingly endless.
But when the process finally does conclude, there is a beautiful shiny new HOME where a flimsy condemned shack used to stand.
Life is like this (or at least I think it is – usually I’m too busy complaining during the “growing pains” phases to really bookmark the actual specifics).
We endure the growing pains – somehow – and then, one day and just when we least expect it, voila!
Lovely, new, shining, and oh-so-proud – we behold ourselves.
Just like that, we have triumphed over even the worst of our own growing pains, and boy-oh-boy is it ever worth it!
Today’s Takeaway: What is your typical reaction during “growing pains” periods of your life? Do you complain (like I often do)? Do you make a conscious effort to step back and look at the bigger picture to see a transformation in process? Some other way? What helps you most to endure during the “tearing down” and then the “building process”?
p.s. This post is from January’s “Good News for Eating Disorders Recovery” ezine. To read the full edition click HERE
Home construction image available from Shutterstock.
I turned 43 this month.
Every year right around this time I do an “annual yearly review.” I think through what I’ve learned, what I haven’t learned, where I’ve made progress, where I haven’t yet made progress – all that good stuff.
In this year’s process, it occurred me that I have changed my mind a tremendous number of times in the last 43 years.
For instance, at first I was sure I didn’t have an eating disorder.
Then I was sure I wasn’t sick enough to do anything about the eating disorder I knew I had.
Then I decided I really wanted to do something about my eating disorder but was positive I couldn’t recover.
Then I changed my mind again and determined I would recover or die trying (because anything was better than waking up to my own self-hatred for even one. more. day).
Then one day I woke up and realized I was really DOING IT – RECOVERING – and I set my mind to KEEP GOING….
It has been nearly 43 years now, and in my ongoing debate with myself, I still have not decided whether a) life keeps handing me unfairly difficult challenges or b) I am just too high strung.
This is probably why I find myself writing about anxiety a lot.
But looking back over my almost 43 years to date, I can also clearly see I have successfully survived my own anxiety thus far.
I am still here, still improving myself, still learning about what is possible and what I’m made of (even if sometimes I would rather not know).
All of those challenges where I have said, “Oh no – anything but that! I’ll never survive/succeed at that one!” and yet here I am. I’ve survived them all.
It is easy to let the voices get to you.
Sometimes the voices come from others. “You will probably always struggle.” “We’ve never seen a case this severe before.” “Why can’t you just ‘get over it’?”
Sometimes the voices come from within. “You are such a loser.” “There is a reason you are lonely.” “Everyone feels sorry for you.”
To the outer voices, you can say, “You don’t know me – you don’t know what I am capable of. You have no idea what I have already overcome and how strong I really am. I will show you – just wait and see.”
To the inner voices you can simply say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, SHUT UP.”
You are NOT a victim.
Not unless you insist on it.