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 discover what is louder October 17, 2014

“You don’t have to get rid of your eating disorder voice in your head. In fact, you can’t” my head popped up from my fervent note-taking at that point in my Recovery Recharge Retreat with Thom Rutledge and Julie Merryman.

Then my thoughts started swimming, “I can’t get rid of my eating disorder voice?! Why the hell am I even hear if I can’t recover? Why did I pay all this money to hear Thom say I can’t get rid of my eating disorder voice?”

But, then (thankfully), Thom explained his previous statement, “You cannot get rid of the voice of the eating disorder, yes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t recover. You must make the voice of recovery louder. When you start recovery and even, sometimes, in continuing recovery, your eating disorder’s voice may be very loud in  your ear trying to get you to engage in behaviors for one reason or another. However, what you need to learn in recovery, is not how to get rid of that voice, but to make the voice of recovery louder so that it drowns out the voice of the eating disorder.”

Thom went on to explain that the brain cannot encode negative; meaning, the more we tell our brains not to focus on our eating-disordered the thoughts, the more we will think eating-disordered thoughts. The example he always uses is not to think of your left hand. Whatever you’re doing right now, don’t think of your left hand, or how it may feel different from your right hand. Don’t image it feeling like its getting lighter and lighter to the point that it’s lifting off the table. Now, don’t think of a pink elephant. How many of us, honestly, thought about our left and or a pink elephant despite being told not to? I’m willing to bet a majority of us–myself included. This is what Thom means when he says our brains cannot encode negative. By constantly reprimanding ourselves for having eating-disordered thoughts, we are  rehearsing the exact thoughts we want to be rid of. Instead, by acknowledging the eating-disordered thought for what it is, and then replacing it with a louder, recovery-oriented thought, we are rehearsing recovery and implementing recovery-oriented thoughts over the eating-disordered thoughts. The consistent rehearsing of the recovery thoughts will help reinforce the recovery thoughts as our default thoughts, until, eventually, the eating disordered thoughts don’t even come to mind. We do not have to focus on getting rid of the eating-disordered thoughts then; we must focus on adding recovery-oriented thoughts and the eating-disordered thoughts will disappear on their own.

In thinking about what should be louder in my recovery-oriented thoughts, I came up with these:

What is louder than my eating disorder:

Life: I plan to live a life of service, love, teaching, kindness, giving and of Christ-like actions

Hope: I have hope that I can live life ED-free (side note: Hope is my favorite word ie: Cherokee tattoo on my wrist. A word of caution though, Hope is an action word, not a passive word. We can hope and hope for recovery as much as we want, but unless we put the action of recovery-oriented choices behind that hope, nothing will happen)

Writing: With ED’s chokehold loosened on my life, I have been able to rediscover my love of writing. I have been featured on NEDA’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week’s blog roll twice and have recently learned that I have been selected for Melissa Fabello’s MarginalizED Voices Project (where I might actually be part of a published work!)

Photography: Much in the same respect as my writing, my creativity in photography has reemerged as ED has lessened. I’ve photographed weddings, babies, seniors, lots of nature scenes, cityscapes and  my cats

There are a LOT of other things I am discovering that are louder than my eating disorder voice…but, seeing as how I don’t have the time nor the energy to write them all (much like you don’t have the time, energy or desire to read them all), I decided to put my iPhone to work to speak for me.

 

Here are a few more things that are louder than eating disorders:

DREAMS FRIENDSHIP FUN happiness HEALTH HOPE
RECOVERYSELFCOMPASSON

 

LIFE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PEACE

 

Philippians 4:8-9

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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

When thighs get pinched September 30, 2014

“Enjoy those cute, little chubby thighs while you can Marina,” I looked up to see my co-worker taking a pinch of a one-year-old baby’s thigh between her thumb and forefinger while patting her own thigh with the other hand, “Those thighs are cute now. But, when you’re my age, not so much.” My co-worker then turned to me with a laugh and a look of approval seeking. She did not get my approval.

 

After I contained my immediate reaction of wanting to scream at this woman for what she said to this baby and wanting to protect the child from ever hearing a nonsensical comment like that ever again, I began to think about the rational behind why I had such a strong emotional reaction to the situation. I kept circling back to the same series of questions:  Why is Marina not allowed to enjoy her thighs beyond her first year of life? Why don’t women my co-worker’s age enjoy or accept their own thighs? Would Marina be able to enjoy her body despite living in a society of self-deprecation? Is there a time frame to loving your body—does that have an expiration date?

 

We live in a culture where children, especially females, are indoctrinated from the minute they are born with the idea that they will never be good enough the way they are…they must lose weight (thin is never thin enough, until it becomes too thin and then she is ostracized), dress in all the latest fashions, be intelligent (but not too intelligent so as to make those around you feel ignorant), have the chicest hairstyle, constantly be in a relationship (but not with many different men over the course of time or then she will be considered a “whore”), have a lot of money (but not too much, because then she will look arrogant)…and so much more I cannot even list them all. But why? Why are we constantly inundated with the “never good enough” message? And, more importantly, why do we listen?

 

It is easy for me to say, “Oh, you are good enough the way you are. You do not need to change a thing. Everyone around you is so insecure with their own lives that they get a thrill out of putting you down. These simple-minded people think that through revealing your weaknesses they will be made to feel better. You must have confidence in yourself and in your strengths to not let this affect you. You are enough—don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise” Simple, see? That was very easy for me to say. And I 100% believe what I just said to be true. HOWEVER, despite the fact that I know the above statements to be true, I have still fallen prey to the shaming “never good enough” message monsoon. I have felt the shame of not being thin enough, well dressed enough, smart enough but also too smart, having “bad” hair, never having had a boyfriend, not having enough money, etc…and I allowed that shame to negatively influence my life through a sub-zero level of self-esteem, an over 15 year battle with eating disorders, self-harm, a shield of sarcasm to defend myself from “never good enough”, depression at not achieving “good enough”, and anxiety from constantly striving (and failing) to gain “good enough”. It is at the juxtaposition of what I know to be true and how I live my life at which I currently find myself. But, it is at that paradox where recovery begins.

 

Recovery and self-acceptance begin the moment we realize that how we are currently living our lives may be contradictory to what we believe to be true—at least, I know this to be true about myself. By reframing my “I’m not good enough” thoughts to fit what I know to be true about myself, I am better able to tune out the negative voices in my head. Thought reframing is, by no means, easy to do. However, it is a necessary step towards living a life that is more congruent with our values and belief systems about ourselves and others. In a world in which not only society, but my own eating disorder, constantly gives me the message that I am not enough, I gain strength in reframing each of those thoughts/statements to promote my recovery. By practicing thought reframing over and over and over again, these negative messages will have less of an effect on me, as I now realize in what areas we excel and will no longer be ashamed areas in which I do not meet society’s unrealistic expectations. I will never be the societal ideal: tall, thin, blond, white and blue eyed. I am not my appearance, my socio-economic status, my clothing, my hairstyle, my relationship status, or any other “not good enough” measurement set forth by our appearance-based society.  I am so much more. YOU are more. Together, we will show the world that, not only that we are good enough, but that we are MORE.

 

I know I have put up this video before, but I really love the message and felt it deserved to to posted again.

 

Galatians 6:1-10

 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,  for each one should carry their own load.  Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. 

(bold italics are mine, not in the actual scripture)

 

When it is NEDA conference time September 19, 2014

San Antonio, Texas. October 16-18, 2014. National Eating Disorders Association Conference 2014. Be there or be square.

 

Ok, so I guess I am going to be a square seeing as how I am not actually going to be there myself. However, I DO want to encourage others to attend. This year’s theme is Share. Learn. Belong. “Thinking Big: uniting families and professionals in the fight against eating disorders”. I truly think that that is the goal of the conference regardless of theme. The conference is open to  “professionals, researchers, educators, individuals in recovery and their families”, according to the NEDA website as a means to, “connect and learn from one another in a warm, welcoming environment. This year’s theme, focusing on collaboration, will highlight the wealth of knowledge that comes from sharing our experiences and expertise to advance the understanding and treatment of eating disorders.” I stand firm in my belief that by raising awareness on eating disorders, sharing stories of recovery, loss, and simply existing with an eating disorder, networking with professionals to increase best practices of care, and impart knowledge on the disease itself we can decrease the stigma; thereby making seeking treatment at any level less shameful and more respected.

But don’t let me try to convince you, NEDA has created a convenient  top 10 list (much like David Letterman on his various late  night programs):

10) “The NEDA conference changed my life–the feeling of belonging was incredible”

9) Expand your knowledge of eating disorders and deepen your recovery.

8) Busy weekend? You can swing by for a single day.

7) Families and experts come together to learn from one another.

6) Expand your circle, make new friends, build your support network.

5) Share your personal expertise with the eating disorders community.

4) “I loved the general sessions. They were interesting, informative, relevant and challenging”

3) Hear a best-selling author discuss family relationships in the digital age.

2) Earn continuing education credits on the San Antonio Riverwalk.

1) Family-friendly event with family discount packages.

 

I think there are also 10 spiritual reasons to attend…in no particular order

10) Hebrews 3:13–But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

9) John 13:34–A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

8) Romans 12:16–Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

7) Romans 14:13–Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

6) 1 John 4:11–Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

5) 1 Peter 3:8–be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

4) Ephesians 4:32–Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

3) 1 John 3:11–For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another

2) Ephesians 4:2– Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love

1) Proverbs 19:8–The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.

 

NEDAConference_Reason9

 

When you must try again August 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 6:14 pm
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My mother grabbed my six-year-old hand and pulled me forward into the Earring Tree (a now defunct Clarie’s-esque store in our local mall), and shouted “Are you sure you’re going to do it this time? I don’t want to have to make any more trips down here to get your ears pierced without you getting them pierced. Are you doing to do it or not?”

 

I look down at my saddle shoes and then back up at her, “Yes. I am going to do it.”

 

“Good, now get in that chair and I will get the lady.”

 

I climbed up in the metal barstool chair, grabbed the purple stuffed hippo (who also had its ears pierced), and waited for what I already knew was coming. This was not my first trip, or even my second or third trip, to the Earring Tree to get my ears pierced. I had seen a girl in my gymnastics class wearing a pair of “diamond” studs a few weeks before, and had become obsessed with getting my ears pierced too. Miraculously, I had convinced my mother that getting my ears pierced as a first-grader was a good idea.

 

Our first trip to get my ears pierced, I saw another girl who was about four or five years older than me getting hers done. She was screaming, crying, and yelling about how much it hurt. I immediately turned my mother around and got the hell out of there. On our second trip, I climbed up in the chair, clutched the stuffed hippo within an inch of its life, and let the piercer put one purple dot on my ear. Nope. That was too scary, and out we went again. By my third trip, I could sense my mother’s irritation, but that did not abate my fear. I got two purple dots on my lobes on that third visit before I bolted out the door. On my fourth trip, I, again, mounted the barstool chair, squeezed the purple hippo, and got two purple dots on my ears. As the piercing gun got close to my ear, I hopped off that chair so fast you would think it was on fire…and that was the end of the fourth trip. On our fifth and final trip, I knew the routine: get on the chair, grab the hippo, get the dots, and leave. However, this time, they were ready for me. Before I could leap out of the chair, they had already pierced one of my ears. I wanted out of there. However, as my mother so kindly pointed out, if I left then, I would look like a pirate with one pierced ear. So, I got the second one pierced. When I was finished, I did not think about the five trips to the mall I had to take to finally get my ears pierced, I thought about how pretty the earrings looked and how cool I was going to be in my gymnastics class now.

 

My recovery has been a lot like my attempts at getting my ears pierced. Admittedly, it has taken me more than five tries to move towards recovery–a lot more, and it will take even more as I continue walking down the road to recovery. However, every time I thought recovery was too hard, too scary, too “out of control”, or too anything-else…I tried again, just like I did with getting my ears pierced.  And, I am here to say, it is not easy. I am not going to sugarcoat it and say every minute I have been on this road to recovery has been great, because it has not always felt that way. I simply remembered that I needed to keep trying, because the alternative to recovery and life is eating disorder and death, and I am choosing life. Any time ED told me I was not worthy of recovery, that I did not even have an eating disorder, or that I just could not do it, I tried again. Any time I fell hard on my ass during a relapse, I tried again. Any time I thought I messed up my recovery so I should not even keep trying, I tried again. There is ALWAYS one more thing to try.  When we think there is no hope for recovery, try again. There are individuals living fully recovered lives every day, so we know it is possible to recover. I know it sounds cliché, but that is because it is true, never never never give up. Never stop believing that there is something inside of us that wants recovery more than an eating disorder, that happiness more than darkness, and that wants life over death. Recovery will take multiple tries, I guarantee it–I am living it. However, all those attempts work to make a stronger recovery voice in our mind. When we feel like giving up, we must fight that voice (because it is ED’s voice) and remember to try again. We will not remember how many tries it took us to achieve recovery when we look back on our life, we will look around, see the beauty in and around us, and be thankful that we tried again, that we never gave up, and that we chose life.

 

 

Psalm 116:1-9

 

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

 

When it’s an anniversary August 15, 2014

Three hundred and sixty-five days…fifty-two weeks…or, as the cast of Rent puts it, “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.” Any way you want to measure it, it all adds up to one year. These numbers all also serve to represent that I have now lived an entire year without self-harm. 

Was it easy to stop? In a word, NO! There is still a very small voice that speaks to me any time I feel I am not in control that tells me it is okay to self-harm. I have learned, however, that that voice does not have to have power over my decisions…I do. In changing my relationship with the voice that tells me to self-harm, I was able to 1) disagree with what it had to say and 2) disobey what it was telling me.

Whenever the voice of self-harm speaks to me, urging me to engage in behaviors, I look for evidence of its truth. Spoiler alert! There is never evidence that the voice of self-harm is telling the truth. No matter what trickery, deceit, false promises or fake love the voice of self-harm uses to lure us into behaviors, it is important to know that it is simply not true. Self-harm is never a solution to problems. In fact, self-harm usually ends up creating bigger problems than the one it used to get us to engage in behaviors. It is important to tell the voice of self-harm, “I hear you. I know what you’re saying. But, I WILL NOT engage in the behaviors you are telling me.” Here is another spoiler alert: that will not be easy either. The voice of self-harm will come back with a million and one reasons that we, advocating for our health, are wrong. It is important to remember that no matter how loud, seductive, alluring, etc that voice is, the voice of health is always stronger, smarter and has our best interests at heart. The key to disagreeing with the voice of self-harm is to practice…and then practice…and when we think we are all practiced-out…practice some more. It may sound silly, but actually writing down a conversation between you and the voice of self-harm is very good practice for disagreeing and disobeying.

Recovery is not an “I tried and it didn’t work” kind of deal. Recovery is an “I tried and it didn’t work, so I tried again and again and again until I found something that did work.” That is the disobeying piece of recovery; telling the voice of self-harm that we will not do what it says. It was helpful for me to make a list of activities I could do when disobeying the voice of self-harm; activities that promoted wellness, health, fun and recovery. My list included: photography, writing, coloring (yes, it is perfectly acceptable for adults to use coloring books), taking a walk in the woods, showering, playing with my cats, reading, calling up a friend, or anything else that sounded better at the moment. When one item on my list did not stop the voice of self-harm, I tried another. If that did not stop the voice, I tried another. The very wise, Julie Merryman taught me that there is always one more thing to try; when you think you have exhausted all options and are tempted to give in, there is always one more thing to try. The list of self-harm alternatives is not concrete; it can expand or contract with recovery, interests, passions or anything. The key is to keep the alternatives recovery, health and wellness related…and not to stop when you think you have tried every alternative (there is always one more).

In disagreeing and disobeying the voice of self-harm, or eating disorders, or addiction or whatever voice in our head that does not promote health, happiness, love or acceptance, we are able to regain our lives. In disagreeing and disobeying we are able to take a stand for our recovery and our life. Recovery itself, to me, means life. In practicing and practicing disagreeing and disobeying, I am learning more about myself and regaining more of my life from the negative voices. You can do this too. It will be hard and you will feel as though there are no more options. I am here to tell you that there are. There are always more healthful and appropriate ways to disagree and disobey the voice of self-harm.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

 

When your car gets totaled July 30, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 6:49 pm
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“Um, Rachel? Can you come up here for a minute please?”

 

I set down the copy of The Velveteen Rabbit I had been reading with her daughter as part of her extended care, and walked cautiously up the carpeted basement steps.

 

“I don’t know how to tell you this, but I think someone hit your car” she said nervously as I stepped into the kitchen.

 

What?! My car was parked on the street in a quiet neighborhood not even ten miles from my house. What kind of a person flies out of their driveway so fast they cannot see my land-cruiser sized red Grand Prix parked on the side of the road? I felt the tears brim my eyes and my throat closing up as I numbly walked out the front door and into the blinding afternoon sun. As I shuffled through the plush grass of the front lawn, I noticed a middle-aged man and his wife were already taking iPhone photos of my, car and had their insurance card in their hand. I had not even seen Little Red yet, but I knew it would not be good. I crouched to my knees and put my hand on her damage; tracing the dent and wondering “why me?” How could he have hit a parked car so hard?

 

Only car on the whole street. How could you not see her?

Only car on the whole street. How could you not see her? Also, can you see her injury from here?

We exchanged information. The man kept saying, “I didn’t see it. I just was getting out of the house and I didn’t see you car sitting there.” I kept reassuring him that mistakes happen. However, inside my mind, I wanted to punch something, to yell at someone, to fix Little Red myself, to scream…and then ED started up (and, trust me, none of her suggestions are fit to print).   

 

After going back inside to finish my work with her daughter, I called the cops (the man and his wife had taken off immediately after we exchanged information…they did not even bother to turn their car off during this whole ordeal). This cop did not want to file a report because there were no injuries, the damage appeared to be less than $1,000, and there were no conflicting stories as to how the accident happened. As the cop pulled away from my still parked car, I got a call from the insurance of the man who hit me. The company assured me that, because the accident was not my fault in any possible way, they would take care of all the repairs to Little Red—and I believed them.

 

I took Little Red to their insurance’s approved body shop for an estimate. Three days later, I got the news that it would cost $1,898 to fix the dent in my door! AND to make matters worse, his insurance wants to total my car because they think the cost of repairs is more than the cost of the car (According to Kelley Blue Book, my car is worth $2,397 thank you very much). After speaking with my insurance agent, gathering all of Little Red’s maintenance records, and learning the laws of “proper indemnification”…I am ready to fight for what I deserve. I did not ask for my car to be hit. I’m not asking for a new one.  I am simply asking for my car to be repaired to the condition it was before the accident; no better, but certainly no worse. The man’s insurance, however, wants it totaled.

 Little Red

So now I am in a place where I constantly find myself; struggling to fight for what is mine.

I cannot believe how many times during my illness and during my recovery, experiences I have had with Little Red have mirrored what I was going through. This accident is no exception.

 

Little Red did not ask to be backed into at 1,000 miles per hour. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but the guy hit her pretty hard; hard enough to leave a Honda Odyssey-sized dent in the back door. Similarly, I did not ask to have a life-long battle with an eating disorder. However, both the accident and the eating disorder have happened, and it is up to me to do the next right thing that would allow for healing in each event—a repair for Little Red and recovery for me.

 

Little Red has survived a lot including: a 55 mile per hour collision with a Ford F-250 (again, not my fault), window motors burning out causing the windows to never come up (all were eventually replaced), break lines snapping, interior flooding, hauling garden equipment and compost, a small collision with my grandmother’s Buick, Ohio winters, Ohio summers and numerous other adventures. However, throughout all of that, I never gave up hope that there was a future for Little Red and continued to work towards repairing her.

 

I have survived many things as well: broken nose and arm, bullying, arthritis, self-harm, depression, more than half of my life with eating disorders, PRAXIS tests, illnesses and a lot of other events I cannot recall at the present. However, instead of treating myself as I did Little Red—repairing and never giving up hope that recuperation can happen—I self-destructed. I used those events as proof that I was unworthy as a human being and deserved everything that happened to me. I put more hope and trust into Little Red than I did myself; how completely backwards is that?

 

Now that I have started the process of recovery, I know that I deserve better than what I am currently doing to myself, and even better than I give Little Red. I deserve life—above all—hope, love, health, healing, friendship, the ability to allow myself to feel emotions, grace and everything else that comes with self-forgiveness and self-compassion.

 

Am I going to stand up and fight this insurance company to fix Little Red? You bet I am! Am I going to stand up and fight ED for my life? You bet your sweet ass I am! No matter what ED tells me, recovery reminds me that I am worthy, I am enough, and I am deserving of a life without her.

 

 

2 Samuel 22

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down—this leaning wall, this tottering fence? Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”

 

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.

  

 

 
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