After scaling the highest mountains and wading in the warmest oceans, I’ve made up my mind about how to keep moving forward in my recovery: one step at a time.
My recent past has been one for the record books. Career changes, continuing family quarrels, graduate school stress, and past and present relationship woes have woven themselves into the very ailment I’ve been fighting now for nearly six years; and it’s made my opponent much more talented in its attempt to distract me from enjoying the life I’ve earned back. Although, as every passing storm delivers nourishment for the landscape it ravishes, so to, will I benefit by finding and developing strengths I didn’t know I possessed.
Since my last entry, I’ve enjoyed my time at two different conferences in opposite parts of the country. One location provided a difficult, frustrating, and long journey to a rewarding and remarkable view, and the other delivered easy-access to endless white sands bordering the cascading turquois sea.
This comparison brings me to the core of my entry. I mentioned that I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to approach my recovery one step at a time, and that absolutely remains my goal. Needless to say, this objective was in-place from the beginning; but given my perfectionistic disposition, I’ve slowly allowed for a distorted view of my expectations and ambitions, and those confidences have now become too large to remain in my individual life’s frame.
The clouds come rolling in …
Disappointment engrossed my thoughts the hours following two family encounters in recent weeks. I haven’t seen either members of my family for nearly nine-months. The reasons behind the disconnect stem from bitterness, anger, and varied expectations of “how” the illness made me act in the past and how I am recovering in the present. In any case, my expectations of their reaction were “less than picture-perfect.”
Throughout my recovery, advocacy and bringing awareness to the disease that nearly ended my (and millions of others, too) existence has rooted itself into a life-driven purpose. Reaching-out to media, speaking, emailing, lobbying, writing, consulting, etc., and all other distinct cries, to me, has essentially fallen on deaf ears. I’ve found that being so emotionally-invested in a cause brings about joy in an immeasurable way; but it also brings about terrible disappointment if you allow for “black and white” thoughts to settle in your mind.
I’m finding myself edging towards not identifying certain emotions and disconnecting from my body. I was jogging a few weeks back reflecting on current projects I was excited about pursuing. Out of nowhere, I stopped, thought about past therapy and realized I was again “training” my body to connect positive thoughts only with exercise; and I wasn’t allowing myself to capitalize on that joy in other, healthier ways. Even after taking video of my recent travels, I’ve hesitated to look at the footage, in fear of what I may perceive. However, reflection on and testing of my fears is the only way to move forward.
I have to laugh when I reflect on the relationship side of my life. More often than not, I feel mature beyond my years and as if I’ve lived several lives already; yet, life seems to be passing me by faster than it should be, too. Emotional investment is such an integral part of what makes a relationship work; but by allowing the “what if’s” and others perceptions carve-out my reactions, I dismantle my ability to be myself.
After a storm comes calm …
In looking back on my recent family encounter, I can pull positives away from the experience. I was able to see someone I haven’t seen in almost a year, re-connect, and start the healing process on the right footing. In terms of my personal advocacy and the greater cause of eating disorder awareness, a few battles may have been lost, but the war is far from over. It is said that sometimes you never hear the message of where you are to go loud and clear; the meaning often comes in a whisper. Perhaps I need to begin listening to ensure I receive the right direction.
Recognizing when I am not listening to my body and mind in the proper form shows that I’ve come a long way in my recovery, and as long as I am able to recognize the lapse, I know I’m still moving forward. I’ll never regret putting my heart on my sleeve, nor will I feel shame when I express my emotions in an “un-manly” way. Heck, there isn’t a “way” to show emotion, for either gender. Why? Because it’s the human response and instinct to express how we feel.
Earlier, when I stated the easily-accessible view of the ocean with the warm sand and water, I didn’t mention that while the view was magnificent, the end-result didn’t necessarily make me happy. The weather was overcast and dreary. When we are complacent in our recovery, we will often find ourselves “letting go” of the tools we need to move forward. When we become comfortable, we stall in our advance to a life we deserve.
When I referred to the remarkable view in the beginning of my entry, I was speaking of the climb of a mountain in Montana. The trail to the top, though long, rough, and tiresome, provided me the most amazing outlook I’ve had in years. I reflected on past trials (changes, quarrels, school, and relationships), and realized, though I will continue to encounter distress, I must focus on what has helped me get where I am.
There are peers in my life, three to be exact (J.Q.J.), I’ve met over the past year and a half that have guided me through my “interesting” ride. I’ve always believed God puts people in your life for a reason and these individuals are no exception. The Lord knows how much of an impact music is in my life; and “Q” happens to have the vocal ability of an angel, so He knew where she fit in my life. Not to mention, she is hilarious and makes me smile incessantly. Both “J’s” know part of what I am going through and offer sound advice through each and every trial. They make a point to remove the chip from my shoulder when needed, and more importantly, remind me that they believe in me when I have stopped believing in myself.
Don’t stop taking those steps in your recovery, no matter how big or small. I encourage you to fight and never give in, because you are stronger and better than the alternative. We have talents to share, a story to tell and we must take the challenges life offers in the hope that we’ll find out who we truly are.