As a licensed educator, I believe in “teachable moments”–those moments in which unintended yet valuable information is imparted; those moments in which my students finally “get it” and you can just see the light beaming from their faces because they finally made a personal connection to the material. I am reminded, this MLK day, of a day last year I spent working with my college students on a reflection activity after a day of service in his honor. I found myself having my own private “teachable moment” while trying to engage them in the reflection activity. The students were reading quotes from MLK, and determining what they meant to each them in terms of their service that day, as well as in their own lives. As I listened to these students, I couldn’t help but do the reflection activity along with them in my head. I had been having a rough couple of weeks with my ED, and this reflection activity was just what I needed. I thought I’d share a few quotes that we discussed that day, and what I thought about them… in the off chance that I could provide anyone else with a “teachable moment” (although, the Rev. Timothy Harris, who spoke to the students later that evening at our community “A Day On, Not a Day Off” celebration, said something to the effect of “people can only inspire you because they have awakened something that is already within you”. I hope to awaken that hope and motivation that lies within each and every one of you.)
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” MLK
I thought this quote was a direct relation to my experience with treatment. When I first started treatment, I had no idea where the journey would take me. I had no idea what to expect, what recovery entailed or just how hard every day was going to be. Essentially, I was stepping with reckless abandon onto a staircase enswathed in total darkness. However, I knew that if I just took that first step, that first step towards the rest of my life, despite the fact that I didn’t know what was coming or where I was going, I would be able to take it. And although the staircase is still dimly lit, there is a light. That light shines without regard to my EDs thoughts, is starting to revel its path to me. Each step I take, recovery is more and more lit. And, one day, maybe in the near future or maybe even in the distant future, I will reach the top of the staircase to achieve recovery.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear” MLK
This one is the quote that really resonated with me. In the face of all of his adversaries, violence from all sides, persecution and naysayers…Martin Luther King chose love. Love for himself, love for others and, most of all, love for those who didn’t love him. Hate was not in his vocabulary; neither in thought, nor action. It made me wonder, if a man with such odds stacked against him can choose love, why can’t I love myself? It’s simple enough, people do it everyday. However, I have been letting myself be burdened by hatred for so long, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to love myself, my body, my personality…the list is endless.
So today, I am taking Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s words…and I am choosing to keep taking steps in faith towards recovery no matter how dimly lit the staircase may be and I am choosing to love myself and to remove the hatred from my life. And perhaps, someday, with a lot of work and patience I may be “free at last” from my ED. Here are some things I have done since that day last year with my students:
This picture is of my recovery rings. They were gifts (albeit cheap ones–they’re both fake) to myself to celebrate specific milestones in my recovery. The one on the bottom is the one I got first, in December 2009, to stand as a promise to myself that I was going to fight for recovery. I purchased it shortly after I started talking to my mentor at the time at the possibility of beginning counseling at my college. It is a twisted ring that reads “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. I thought that was a perfect representation of my recovery; all it takes is one step to get started on the path to recovery. One positive step each day and recovery will be soon within my reach. The second ring, I purchased last night. It is symbolic of my first full year of recovery; it has been just over a year since I got a diagnosis, got serious about therapy and started working toward recovery. These rings, along with my recovery tattoos, serve as a constant and daily reminder to keep living, keep fighting, keep breathing and keep working towards recovery.
And, yes, I am very pale…I have the flu, what do you expect?