I have discovered many things in my post-recovered years (that is, in the years since my dependence on my eating disordered thoughts and behaviors subsided for a sustained period of time).

For instance, I have discovered that sometimes we just hurt.

Sometimes we just feel sad.

Sometimes we just wake up on the wrong side of not just our own bed, but of the world as well.

Where did we ever get the idea that shifting sands means something is going wrong - or right?

As author Pema Chodron writes in her book, “When Things Fall Apart,” “We’re always in some kind of mood. It might be sadness, it might be anger, it might not be much of anything, just a kind of blur. It might be humor or contentment. In any case, whatever it is, that’s the path.”

It took me a long, long time to start seeing those shifting-sands moods as anything other than the dangerous possibility of relapse, the result of something I must still be doing wrong, or an indication that I am never going to get “there” – to that place of no more shifting sands.

In other words, I was confusing recovery with life.

As it turned out, my eating disorder to date has never returned, but the shifting sands continue. Some days I wake up and it can be raining and thundering and I can have the most boring tasks ahead of me, but I feel happy and peaceful inside.

Other days no amount of sunshine can lift my spirits and I don’t know why. It is just what my day has brought me. It is my path.

I have also found that we are (or at least I am) so quick to try to categorize these shifting sands into “causes” – such as hormones, depression, falling in love, or other circumstances. When we are up, we will place the shifting sands into a positive category. When we are down, we will look around for a less desirable cause to blame it on.

But underneath it all, the shifting sands will continue to refuse categorization. This is because, once they submit to being neatly categorized and tucked away, we have exempted ourselves from any opportunity to learn from that day’s lessons.

If the shifting sands did not resist categorization so strongly, how would we ever learn that the valleys do not mean we have corrective action to take, and the peaks do not mean we have finally won the life choices jackpot.

In this way, I have come to see the shifting sands as a mentor of sorts, a teacher whose methods I rarely understand but from whom I never fail to learn.

Today’s Takeaway: Where have you been seeing the ups and downs, the moods and shifting sands, in your life as cause for self-blame or even self-condemnation? Where have you been attempting to take corrective action that may not be necessary? What might you learn from the at times unfathomable shifts and twists that your own life greets you with throughout the day, if only you weren’t so busy trying to remodel your life to look more like what you think it should be?