RheasOfHope

one girl's thoughts on life, eating disorder, and self harm recovery and, above all, hope…with a healthy dose of fun and education on the side

When you play with magnetic poetry July 8, 2014

As the four kids I nanny were sitting at the kitchen bar eating their lunch, I absent-mindedly moved their magnetic poetry words around their refrigerator door; as I had done countless times before. The words had all come from a magnet from the adoption agency that facilitated their second youngest child’s adoption, so it had words that related to adoption. Between trips to refill milk cups, grab napkins, pushing the dog out of the kitchen, and handing out second helpings, I would move another word into the design. Here is my final product:

my "poem"

my “poem”

I have been struggling with my ed a little as of late, so I started with the phrase “embrace beautiful”; hoping that seeing it on the refrigerator would remind me to embrace my beauty. And I do not mean that in a vain sense. I feel embracing my beauty is more than my appearance; beauty is more than how I look. Beauty can be found in my attitude, how I allow others to treat me, my brain, how I treat others, what I say, how I act, and how I choose to see the world.  But, more so than embracing my beauty, I want to embrace the beauty around me; the dew on my car when I leave for work in the morning, the way the youngest child I nanny curls up in my lap and calls herself “Rachel’s girl”, the way the bats fly out of my neighbor’s trees at night, and so much more. Embracing beauty reminds me to be in the moment, to breathe and be present. We spend so much time going through the motions of life, that I truly do not think we stop to embrace the beauty in and around us as often as we should. It sounds cliché  to say to “stop and smell the roses”, but I think that is something we all need more practice with. 

 

The next words I chose to put into my word collage were love and hope. Hope has always been a favorite word of mine; I have it tattooed in Cherokee on my wrist. I think it was Brené Brown who said that hope is not a passive word, but an active one. We cannot sit around all day just waiting and hoping for things to happen, to get better, to work out, etc. We must put that hope into action; making a plan to accomplish what we hope for. We can have all the hope in the world for something, but until we set out to find it, nothing will ever happen. I chose the word love for multiple reasons. First being, I must remember to love others. I often get to caught up in caring for others and making sure their every need is met, I often forget to show the love that makes me do those things for them. They may know I love them, through the actions I do for them, but I seriously doubt they have ever heard an “I love you” from me. Second, and perhaps most importantly, I chose love to remember to love myself. Lucille Ball once said, “Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” This is probably one of the most accurate statements about love that I have ever heard. A huge part of recovery, for me, has been learning how to love myself and everything that comes with me. 

 

Support became my next word when I realized how huge of a role support has played in my recovery. No one can recover without support. For me, mentoring, therapy and understanding friends have served a key role in my support team. On days when I did not feel like staying on the path to recovery, I would say, “I’m doing recovery for so and so today, until I want it again for myself.” Eventually, “I’m recovering for so and so,” was replaced with, “I’m recovering for me.” Without support from others, there is no way I would be as far along in recovery as I am today. Asking for support takes a lot of strength and courage, but it is 100% worth it.

 

And speaking of worth, my next word in the collage was worth. All too often, my eating disorder convinced me to engage in thoughts and behaviors by telling me I had no worth…that I could never have worth. Ed persuaded me to believe that I could never be worthy because I was not thin enough, smart enough, nice enough, giving enough, tall enough, pretty enough, kind enough; to Ed I was never enough and could never gain worth. She lead me on a path of self-destruction in which she promised the elusive “worth” I wanted so desperately. She claimed I could only gain worth if I followed her every whim and direction; I wanted worthiness so much that I fell for that lie. The truth is, we are all worthy…just the way we are. We are worthy of love, life, good things, beauty, happiness, and everything else we desire. The myth of not being “enough” of something was designed by Ed to steal our worthiness. Don’t let her have it.

 

Wish was chosen for much the same reason as hope. I wish, one day, to be rid of this disease and for others to be free from Ed’s chains as well. Wish, however, is also an active–not passive–word. We can wish upon every star, make a wish at every 11:11, and snap all the wishbones we can find. However, until we put that wish into action using goal-setting, it will remain merely a wish. And while it is good to have wishes, it is also good to have those wishes come true. 

 

The next word moved into my collage was laugh. Laughter, I believe is an important part of recovery…of life.  I realized there is something very therapeutic about laughing. There is no law that states recovery must be this solemn undertaking in which no fun or laughter shall ever take place. In fact, I think not having laughter in our lives only keeps us stuck in Ed’s grasp. While I understand the need to put in hard work and be serious when setting/accomplishing goals, I am also aware of the need to let loose and be silly sometimes.

 

I then noticed the word son…it had been turned upside down by one of the kids. However, when the word son is turned upside down, it reads NOS–as in my diagnosis. I chose to put that on the bottom to show that my Ed has no place in my life; it is under everything else and will get buried by all the recovery-oriented choices I am putting into action.

 

Finally, I chose to put the words I belong at the top of my collage.  For a long time I have failed to believe that I am deserving of recovery (or even a diagnosis). By putting these words at the top of my word collage, I am ready to acknowledge that I do belong in this crazy place we call life; I am worthy, I can have hope, I can love, I can wish, I can laugh, I can ask for support, and I can embrace beauty. I belong, and so do you. 

 

Colossians 3:15-17

 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

  

 

When geocaching mirrors recovery June 6, 2014

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The rain pours as I tramp through the mud and high grass in my polka-dot rain boots; taking extra care to keep my long dress from getting snagged on the thorns surrounding me. As I smash the mosquitoes attempting to feast on my blood, I hear my friend shout, “I found it!” I look over to find her head-first in a honeysuckle bush—only her black boots visible.

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My friends braving the tall grass to find the cache

So what, you may ask, were four girls in their mid-twenties looking for in the woods in the pouring rain? We asked ourselves the same question multiple times that morning. With the help of our smart phones, we had set out that morning to go geocaching…in a city that three of us had never even been to. Prior to that morning, I had never experienced geocaching before. And, if you are like me, you will need a brief explanation on geocaching. First, someone with a lot of time on their hands creates, hides and records a “cache” on a geocaching app. A typical cache contains a log sheet (to record who found it) and some small trinkets (like stickers, kid’s toys, pins, etc); although some caches only contain logs. Once the cache creator has logged the coordinates of the cache in the app, people can go out to find it…which is what we were doing in the rain on a Monday morning.

 

As I think back to finding the ten caches we discovered, the fun I had trudging through the mud, the enjoyment I had with friends and the frustration I had at not being able to find the cache…it made me think of how similar geocaching is to recovery.

 

1)      The GPS/smart phone app can take you to the cache, but it cannot find it for you; it can only lead you to the area, you must do the work of finding the cache yourself. I remember standing in frustration in the middle of the woods repeating “It has to be here, the GPS said so” while I moved branches out of my way. But that was when I realized it was not the GPS’ job to find the cache, it was mine. The same is true about recovery. It is not my therapist’s job, my doctor’s job, my medication’s job or even my support people’s job to find my recovery; it’s mine. All of these people can help guide me to recovery, but if I really truly want recovery, I have to work for it. All of those people can want recovery for me, but until I put in the hard work to achieve it, nothing will happen. It is like saying you want to learn to ski, but do not want to be bothered by actually using skis; it will not work. Wanting recovery but not working towards it will not work either.

 

2)      While we are talking about finding caches, it is important to note that some caches are easy to find, some are difficult, and some are downright impossible. One of the caches we found was easy to spot nestled in a log. However, another was hidden inside a real mushroom and much harder to locate; I almost gave up on that one. Recovery is much the same way. Certain thoughts, behaviors, food rituals or other ED-associated actions may seem easy, difficult or impossible to overcome. The important thing is to continue to work hard towards recovery. The work will all be worth it when you are able to a live a life without ED. I cannot even recall the amount of times I told my therapist I could not stop taking laxatives or stop self-harming, but I did. I told her it was impossible for me to eat two meals a day, but I do. Do I still have a long way to go to get to recovery? Yes, but I know that I will get there if I just stay determined to win. Remember the cache I described looking for in the beginning? I was so furious looking for it. I was soaking wet, dodging thorns, muddy, hot and mad. Mad at the person who made it for making it so hard to find, mad at the weather for not cooperating, but I was the maddest at myself for not being able to find it. I cannot even begin to count the number of times I have been frustrated in recovery; I do not know if mathematicians have ever made a number that high. But I never gave in, and that is what matters. Recovery is all about hanging on when you feel like giving up. Once you string together a series of hanging ons, you will have recovery.

 

3)      Once you find the cache, it is ok to celebrate; you worked hard to find it. I mean, given the entire surface area of the earth, it is pretty mind-blowing that we can find the exact spot someone hid a cache. In fact, we may be walking past hidden caches every day not even realizing it. It is ok to feel pride, too, when finding a cache. If you are like me, you fought the rain, mud and thorns to find it…so proudly sign your name on the log and show everyone how proud you are of your hard work. In recovery, it is also important to recognize and celebrate achievements. Reward your hard work in recovery in body positive ways like getting a manicure, reading a book you have always wanted to read, take a nature walk, watch a movie, take a nap or do something crafty. Recovery is hard; it is not the butterflies and rainbows that lifetime movies or self-help books will lead you to believe. However, it is WORTH it. All the hard work and frustration will lead to a payoff greater than you would ever imagine…a life without ED.

 

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The abandoned building that was home to a cache

 

           2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

When ED stays at your house May 15, 2014

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In an effort for me to understand and simplify for myself how my eating disorder got me to where I am, I started writing…and writing…and when I had written so many words my head started to spin, it spun into this: my eating disorder is like an unwanted house guest who ended up taking my house. Hear me out on this one…

 

I live in the house of Rhea. It’s a cozy little house with a room for everything that makes me, me. There’s a library, a room for learning, a photography studio, a writing room, and countless other rooms. There is also a turret…because who doesn’t want a house with a turret? Then, one day, when my house was feeling kind of run down and shabby, ED showed up on my doorstep like an unwanted fourth cousin staying for the weekend. I did not really want to let her in, but, because she is distant family and I am a people pleaser, I felt guilted into it. Because she had so much baggage with her (literally and figuratively), I allowed her to put it all in one of the rooms that makes me, me. In a sense, I gave a piece of me to ED so she could come live with me. The ungrateful house guest that she is, ED snatched the Rhea room, took out all semblance of me, replaced it with all the stuff from her baggage, turned out the lights, shut the door, locked it, and hid the key. Suddenly realizing she had nowhere else to go, ED came to me and demanded another room in which to put all her baggage. Being the people pleaser that I am, I obliged and gave ED another room in my house; another piece of me. She repeated the same process of Rhea removal and ED installation in each room I had given her, and demanded she be given a new room. Typical reasons for needing a new room usually revolved around me being fat, stupid, unloveable or unworthy for her to stay in a given room…not that the bed was too comfortable, the reading room was full of too many good book, or the turret was just too awesome. No, her reasons for moving and remodeling rooms were based on her hatred of me. And yet, I still permitted her to stay with me.

 

Before too long, ED had destroyed, shut off, locked and abandoned every room in the Rhea house. However, she still wanted more. And me, being desperate for any sense of love and belonging, wanted to give ED what she wanted, despite there simply not being anything else I could possibly give her. Instead of giving up when I told ED there was nothing else to give, she tried to convince me I hadn’t ever given her any rooms in which to stay in the first place. In fact, she worked tirelessly to convince me she had never even been in my house before; this was the time in which I denied the existence of the disease in my life. Each time I challenged ED’s thoughts/ beliefs/behaviors or talked about recovery, ED labored arduously to persuade me into believing she had never visited my house; let alone that she even knew me. However, in the moments in which I agreed with ED, followed her commands, engaged in her behaviors, she was suddenly the long lost fourth cousin and best friend again…looking at me like I was crazy for not knowing who she was. There was no grey area with ED; only black and white. ED either ruled my life and my house, or denied ever knowing me or visiting my house.

 

But now, now I know she is in my life, in my house. I choose to work on recovery. It is like I am walking around the abandoned house of Rhea that was once controlled and destroyed by ED. I am searching for the hidden keys, unlocking doors, turning on the lights and discovering things once hidden, ignored, forgotten or demolished by ED. With each room I reopen and reclaim, revelations are made, questions are raised and I move closer to recovery. It is not just a recovery from my eating disorder (kicking that bitch out of my house and reclaiming it for me), but also a reclamation and recovery of the once forgotten Rhea that ED had kept in the abandoned house. For better or worse, I am willing to face the Rhea that I uncover as I move through the rooms of my house. I am ready to see myself without ED’s influence and behaviors, without self-harm, without shame and without self-hatred.

 

Are you ready to recover your life from ED? What are you most excited about finding or discovering about yourself?

 

 

1 Samuel 16:7

 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height… The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 

When you fight the media May 2, 2014

How about this for some scary statistics:

-42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).

-In elementary school fewer than 25% of girls diet regularly. Yet those who do know what dieting involves and can talk about calorie restriction and food choices for weight loss fairly effectively (Smolak, 2011; Wertheim et al., 2009).

-81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991).

-46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets, and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets (Gustafson-Larson & Terry, 1992).

-Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives (Neumark-Sztainer, 2005).

-By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life (Smolak, 2011).

 

But WHY? Why are these shocking statistics becoming more and more commonplace? Why is the million dollar question. While I may not have all the answers, I have a fairly good idea as to where the thoughts that lead to these alarming statistics may originate. The Media. Chances are you, yourself, have been the target of the media’s Thin Ideal. I doubt that any of us would want to wake up pursuing the Thin Ideal on our own; those thoughts have been implanted in our brain by the media from the moment we were born. Had the media decided that “the look” was a purple Mohawk and green skin, we might all fruitlessly chase that media ideal simply because it was forced upon us by the media consciously and unconsciously every single day.

 

After ripping through magazines, pointing out media agendas, and talking about how the Thin Ideal media affects our own eating disorder, the girls in my ED recovery support group, our therapist, and I had had enough. Each of us made a goal for the week on how we aim to ignore, fight or raise awareness on the ill effects of the media. I chose fight! I am going to expose these media messages for what they really are…crap.

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Are these the people we want to look up to?

The above magazine article was attempting to point out how we can be like our favorite celebrities by purchasing his or her favorite iPhone apps. Julianne Moore was quoted about this triggering app, “A makeup artist recommended this [the app] to me. You can log what you ate and how much you exercised. When I get bored on set, I can obsessively track my calorie intake.” Does this quote sound anyone else’s eating disorder alarm? I have heard from so many people in recovery whose eating disorder was able to completely take over their life because of this app; this app gives the illusion that it is normal to obsessively count calories, exercise, track eating trends, seek out smaller caloric intakes, and any other thoughts/behaviors that fuel ED’s fire. While I may not know about Ms. Moore’s personal views on eating disorders, I can say that this quote, could be very misinterpreted as a means to further an eating disorder.

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I found this bag of pita chips at my local Trader Joe’s.

I like pita chips. There I said it. And I actually enjoy eating them. Imagine my surprise when Trader Joe’s offered me a pita chip with “reduced guilt”. Oh, Trader Joe’s, how did you know? (sarcasm). As if ED wasn’t already laying on the guilt when I opened the bag, Trader Joe’s goes and adds some more. “Guilty pleasure” when and why does American culture ALWAYS associate this phrase  with food or use it to put themselves down in some way. Over the years I’ve learned food is food; there are no moral values attached to it (like good, bad, sinful, guilty) and, likewise, no emotional values (food is fuel and should not have the power to manipulate your emotions). Eating food should not lead one to feel guilty. Eating should lead one to feel nourished, alive and ready to face the day. We, as a culture of Americans, have become so accustomed to putting ourselves down at every opportunity, placing more importance on the size of clothes than the size of hearts, and tearing ourselves apart over every little thing that society deems unworthy. My guilty pleasure is allowing myself to feel worthy in a society in which everything else seems to scream I am not.

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Again with the guilt association…this time in the “comics”…as if we should laugh about it and encourage our girlfriends to work towards an ED

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But, if we do fall prey to the “Guilty Pleasure” phenomenon, this food company offers suggestions on how to counteract what we’ve eaten…just like ED does. ED is always worried about our caloric intake versus our exercise output, but now, thanks to this company, this box can serve as an aide to further ED’s message (sarcasm).

 

I will never purchase anything from this company again

I will never purchase anything from this company again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and how about this one that seems to be offering us suggestions on how to better listen to and agree with ED?

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Is this magazine promoting ED thoughts? Yes.

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This magazine is also offering ways to listen to ED. What the hell?

Oh, and lest the males feel that the Thin Ideal is only marketed to women, I present you with this “comic”. It appears to insinuate that the larger man needs to work out and stop eating in order to look like the smaller man…eating disordered thinking anyone?

 

 

 

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So, comics are typically directed to children. Do we want our children to think adults consistently skip meals to lose weight? Do we want them fat shaming others?

And here are some more for good measure

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Also, who sends weight loss encouragement cards with caloric information on them? Why don’t we send cards to each other to support recovery or body acceptance?

weightwatchers

I positively LOATHE this brainwashing company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, instead of letting these messages further ED’s conquest on my life, I am choosing to fight back. I am going to do what is right for me and my recovery. I will not be a pawn in the media’s Thin Ideal game. I encourage you to look through a magazine and destroy the messages that perpetuate ED’s lies. If looking at a magazine is too triggering for you right now, just speak up when people around you say things that promote ED’s lies. Nothing is too small when it comes to fighting the media, and especially when fighting ED.

 

All statistics taken from the National Eating Disorders Association website at: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-facts-eating-disorders 

 

Luke 11:33-36

 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

Philippians 4:8

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 

When you make realizations April 25, 2014

 

For the almost two years that I have had this blog, there has always been a thought nagging in the back of my mind. I have felt I have not been completely honest with those who read my blog, and I have to get it off my chest. Although I paint a very self-assured and recovery-oriented picture through my writing, have I struggled for the past five years to actually admit/accept the fact that I, Rachel King, actually have a clinically diagnosable eating disorder, and have had for more than half of my life. I would say, “I’m sick” or “I’m doing well in recovery” or even refuse to admit I had an eating disorder at all. However, I never actually knew what I was really saying. How was I expected to recover from a disease I refused to fully accept that I had? How could I fully immerse myself in recovery if I did not first admit that I had been fully immersed in my disease? Doesn’t everyone always say, “The first step in resolving a problem in our life is to first admit we have a problem”?

I have needed to admit and accept this fact for a long time, but my eating disorder kept telling me I was stupid for thinking that. I don’t think I was ever really ready to let ED go until Easter Sunday this year, when I reflected on the eating disordered thoughts and behaviors I had engaged in over the previous few days. I can’t explain it really, it’s just like, as I sat in my garage (after having engaged in behaviors)…it’s like I finally knew, this is ED. This is exactly what ED is: lies, secrecy, self-inflicted punishment, hiding, feeling unworthy, striving for unattainable perfection, hating that I do it but not being able to stop, false control, and pain…lots of pain.

ED was suddenly and simultaneously the best and worst defense mechanism in my life. It became a way to hide from the bullying I receive from others, by bringing the bullying on myself before they could get me; ED convinced me everyone was, indeed, out to bully me. ED rationalized that if I punished myself first, the pain of others wouldn’t hurt so much, because she knew I would punish myself worse than they could imagine (ED, cutting, exercise, etc). I wanted to hide inside ED because of the perceived safety she offered me; safety I didn’t have from my bullies. I wanted to hide inside her twisted love; love I felt I didn’t have from my family and didn’t deserve from others.   I wanted to do and be everything to everyone: teacher, nurturer, protector, the smart one, planner, volunteer, problem solver, etc. I wanted to be perfect, but, at the same time, was listening to ED tell me I would never be perfect. I wanted to be loved, and turned to Ed for that love because it was the first “safe” place I found “unconditional love”. I now realize that that what ED gave me was never love. ED was manipulation, lies, and destruction. As long as I kept myself within the confines of ED, I would never find the acceptance, love, and roles in life that I wanted so desperately…because ED was taking them all. ED was there to offer me everything I was craving out of life…and then, I was in too deep, she had me in her vice grip. I would never get from her all the things I wanted that she promised. She convinced me that me not attaining what I wanted out of life was my fault because she was never “really” in my life to begin with. She blamed all my life problems on me because “there’s no way I could possibly have an eating disorder” and my pain couldn’t have been caused by her because of that. I’m here now to say it was, all of it. I listened to her lies, false promises, saying she could offer all I wanted, and so much more. But it wasn’t true, none of it. I never got anything she said she would/could offer me if I just did every single thing she said. All I got was my own personal hell. A hell in which I punished myself for every perceived wrongdoing by restricting, purging, cutting, laxatives or over exercise. A hell that I wasn’t allowed to believe I was actually in, let alone tell anyone else about. A hell I thought was never ending. Until now. I fully realize I’m in ED’s little hell, and I know I’ll stay trapped here as long as I refuse to admit she has this power over me. Every time I acknowledge her presence in my life, she gets a little bit smaller and I am able to see what recovery oriented choices look like. It’s a slow and sometimes stumbling process, but I’m ready to get out of this hell.

I encourage everyone out there reading to get out of this hell with me and take our lives back.

 

Psalm 121

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore”

 

When students teach you… April 21, 2014

“Look Miss Rachel! Look at what I can do!” Lucas shouts as he hangs perilously by the trapeze bar on his play set. I watch nervously as his Spiderman shoe kicks over the bar and he hooks he knee over the top. I inch forward preparing myself to catch him when his 4-year-old strength inevitably gives out, and he plummets to the mulch roughly three feet below.

 

“Lucas, I don’t want you to fall. Please stop doing that; it isn’t safe” I shout while continuing to slyly move toward him. Undeterred, Lucas continues his trapeze bar conquest; flailing his legs over the bar while attempting to hang upside-down.

 

“But Miss Raaaachel. I HAVE to fall. That’s now you learn” he protests in one of the biggest cliché phrases I have ever heard.

 

A bit angry, I retort, “Lucas, you do not HAVE to fall to show me whatever it is you are trying to do. In fact, you do not have to do it at all if you think you are going to fall and hurt yourself. You can show me another time. Let’s just swing the normal way, and you can show me your trick later.”

 

“No, I want to show you now. I have to do it now. Just let me do it” he asserts a little overdramatically for a four-year-old.

 

“Do what you want Lucas, but I will be here to catch you if you do fall” I say, resigned to his stubbornness and need to show me his trick.

 

And, do you know what? He did it. He kicked his legs over the bar and hung upside down…without falling.

 

So what did Lucas’ pleading about “having to fall” teach me? He reminded me, in his own little way, that it is ok to fall and make mistakes. In fact, sometimes falling is the only way to learn. I tell my students all the time that mistakes are learning opportunities disguised as failures. Use your mistakes—because mistakes will inevitably occur—as fuel to motivate you. Mistakes are not the setbacks or failures society will lead us to believe. Thomas Edison is often quoted as saying, “I did not fail, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison’s attitude reminds us that mistakes are not irrevocable; mistakes are often a springboard for finding and implementing ideas that will work. Oftentimes the fear of perceived failure is enough to keep us from attempting something new, like recovery. How many of us learned to speak perfect English the first time we tried, or mastered the Viennese Waltz on the first attempt? I am willing to bet very few if any. However, there are many times in our lives we tried something even though we knew the risk of failure was high. The risk of failure is often lower than the prize of triumph.

 

Most days we need to be like Lucas: kick our legs over the bar, hope to be successful, be prepared to fall…but not let the fear of the fall or the fall itself stop us from doing what we want to do.  I fully expect to make mistakes in recovery and in life in general. Nevertheless I will never let those mistakes keep me from living a life free of my eating disorder. I will not let those mistakes allow ED to exert her control in my life and I will not let those mistakes keep me from my ultimate goal…LIFE.

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Lucas demonstrating his athletic prowess

 

Psalm 37:23-24

The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

 

 

When you gather seashells April 7, 2014

“Here’s a good one!” my sister exclaims as she bends down into the gulf water and pulls out a glistening white shell with purple streaks.

 

“But it is broken. Throw it back. We don’t want that one” I reply.

 

“No, look at the swirl pattern on the top. It’s really cool looking. I’m keeping it so I can use that pattern in my ceramics glaze.” she retorts as she gingerly places the broken shell in my shoe (our make-shift shell carrier).

 

This exchange got me thinking…what makes a shell a “good” shell; a shell worthy of toting 1,000 miles back to Cincinnati? Does it need to be fully intact, or is broken still beautiful? Does it have to be all one color, or can it be multi-hued? Does it have to be smooth, or can it have ridges? As it turns out, there are a lot of snap judgments being made about each shell as I carefully bend over to examine its worthiness to be extracted from the ocean and placed in my Toms.  This immediately led me to think about my recovery; as that has been a major concern on my mind lately.  The question, “What makes a shell worthy” became, “What makes a person worthy”. Is it their fully intact-ness, or is it their brokenness that makes them worthy? Does perfection make them worthy, or can they show flaws? Again, snap judgments come into play as we deem worthiness in ourselves.

 

To our eating disorders, worthiness is very clearly spelled out: one can only be worthy if they listen to exactly what the eating disorder tells them to do; worthiness is completely hingent upon following ED’s made up and completely nonsensical rules. Neither binging nor purging, neither restricting nor over-exercising, neither self-harm nor addiction can make a person worthy…despite what our eating disorder will try to tell us. Worthiness is found in one’s character and actions, not in their ability to excel in an eating disorder or other addiction. Worthiness is found in the size of one’s heart, not in the size of their jeans. Worthiness is found in one’s ability to care for themselves as much as they care for others, not in caring for others over themselves.  Worthiness is found in one’s ability to love themselves so much that they choose to ignore ED’s constant berating remarks. Worthiness is found in recovery. Worthiness is found in living a life in which our actions, our character and our heart show that we believe that we are worthy of a life without ED.  At first ED will tell us that we are completely unworthy for not following her every whim. However, as we break away from her choke hold, we will see other qualities in ourselves that make us worthy of love, happiness and life. Because, let me tell you, we are ALL worthy of that no matter what ED tries to say.

 

What qualities and characteristics about yourself make you worthy? It can be anything from your ability to nurture others or nurturing yourself when you know you need it. Your worthiness can be something like being a very good scheduler to something like being a wonderful listener. Worthiness, however, can only be found in recovery; worthiness is never found in ED.

 

Some of my sister's numerous shells

Some of my sister’s numerous shells

Zephaniah 3:15 and 17

The Lord has taken away your punishment,
he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.
The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

 

 
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