Posted the following message on Instagram, but felt like sharing here:
Had one of those nights last night where I had to sit at my kitchen table, moments before heading to the hot tub, and remind myself that damnit, it’s not your “back fat” you’re worried about – it’s the Denver NEDA walk speech you’re giving on Sunday.
It’s not your lack of working out this week – it’s the expectation that you would, and didn’t.
It’s not that you ate Qdoba for lunch and – OH CHRIST – the calories from a salad bowl () – it’s that my ex read my blog post the other day about relationships, and was hurt. And now I’ve sat here the past 72 hours trying to reconcile the pain I’ve caused him for my misguided – at times – interpretations online. I’m dealing with guilt and a facepalm to my own face.
This is what’s going on in real life – not eating disorder land. But damn, isn’t eating disorder world easy to slide into?
Don’t wanna feel something? “I HAVE BACK FAT, THAT’S THE PROBLEM!!!”
Nope. It’s not.
At the end of the day, it’s not the shape of my body I’m concerned about truly, but it feels that way – and bloody hell, isn’t that a hard tick to navigate?
Recovery is such a battle to be present instead of avoidant.
I don’t like guilt and I don’t deal with stress – avoiding it consistently with impulsive decisions and immediate gratification.
This has been my coping skill and way of life for a long time.
And this is a truth about life in recovery.
It’s great, yeah. This recovery shiz.
But, this is the flexibly “okay” life you choose when you’re in it.
What we ultimately learn is how and what to think about again – learning how to navigate our thoughts without the ED voice, and how to look at the multifaceted angles of our eating disorder, and stay on the outside of it instead of being hypnotized by the allure of its constant monologue inside our heads.
It’s relearning how to think. It’s learning how to live in that hazy grey of “flexible” okay – and truly exist in spite of it, feeling all the shit that comes along with it.
Been working on my speech for Sunday. P.S. if you’re in the Denver, Colorado area – I’d love to see your bright, shining face Sunday at The Great Lawn Park in Denver at 9:00am. I’ll be sure to flail my arms around when I meet you and hug ferociously. You can register here.
Anyway, I’m nervous. I want to relate. I want to be authentic and give this speech in a voice that sounds strong – and not shaky.
On Facebook (feel free to add me BTW if you want – I love all my FB connections), I asked people what they would like to hear from a ‘recovery’ speech.
In turn, I hopefully have crafted something that is meaningful. Thought I’d share it here so that I can hear any of your voices as well. Feel free to send any comments or edits my way. I’d love to hear them all as we’re all in this together. <3
NEDA DENVER SPEECH
September 24, 2017
What an honor to be here today, in front of so many of you that are brave enough to come out and publicly support the awareness of an illness that plagues many in this country – and likely, many of you.
I wanted to open this up with a personal share:
The other day, I went to post an Instagram picture on my recovery account. I was by the pool. My swimsuit perfectly positioned – the light-infused filter that caused me to look tanner – and I had my caption ready to go.
“Soaking up the rays– living my best recovery life.” I planned to write to my followers.
Living my best recovery life, I repeat.
As I went to post, eagerly awaiting any likes and comments– something struck me as quite disingenuous about that statement.
“What is living a best recovery life?” I had to ask myself before I posted. Does such a thing exist?
I realized that once again – I was choosing to present myself in a perfect light – in that easy way that social media (and eating disorders) beg us to do.
But, what a silly statement that hardly captures the art of recovery, and most certainly does not present the reality of life with an eating disorder.
I changed the text –
I am living a life, I decided to post. And this bikini feels comfortable and not comfortable. And I am free and learning how to be free.
I did not include superlatives. No grand statements. I am merely living a life in recovery – and it is positive, but hard – and I exist always in a flexible definition of ‘okay’.
I know I am up here today to talk about the superlatives of recovery. How it’s “the greatest” – how “much more” beautiful the world looks through my rose-tinted glasses.
It is. But, I don’t need to remind you of that.
At the end of the day, the truth is I’m just like so many of you – and my story, no different.
I have been in recovery for 3 ½ years from a life long struggle with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. And, like many of you, I live in a state where I often have to remind myself what makes life in recovery meaningful enough to go on living it.
I know that eating disorders are appealing at times; appealing in their control, controlling in their fear, and seductive in their immediate gratification.
And perhaps I’m standing here today to remind you that It is true that the quote “allure” of your eating disorder will likely hiss in your ear for the rest of your life once you start down the recovery road.
So, I suppose I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
However, I am here to represent the existing proof that you are capable of living with that hiss in your ear– and still recover, and be content.
Regardless of “which” eating disorder or how long you’ve struggled, you are capable of it – and there is a day that you can stop comparing calories – and start comparing the difference between your “eating disorder world” and your “recovery world” and perhaps, then, you will be reminded that the recovery world you create is more alive; more vibrant – than the one you think you’ve created in your eating disorder.
I realized, while drafting this speech, that all I can ever hope to do as a writer is make a momentary impact. I am not arrogant enough to think I can change the intimate, personal world of someone’s eating disorder. I know its grasp all too well.
However, what I hope to do today is remind all of you struggling or recovering – that ultimately, we as humans are all a series of choices. And our choices do not have to define us.
I am the first to admit that I make productive and also withholding recovery choices daily. I make choices that I am proud of, and ones that, seemingly, as I make them, l whisper “walk away from this choice” and don’t.
This is the reality of being human – not just recovery.
Throughout life, you are never not going to be faced with a choice to go back to your eating disorder. You will have that choice every day in the shape of three meals and however many snacks, indulgences and holidays and buffets and the likes.
It will be statically impossible to make the “right” one always.
So, I think what recovery is at the end of the day, is learning how to live in a world where your life is a flexible definition of ‘okay.’ To live in the hazy grey of the nonblack and white life you’ve chosen through recovery.
Let me repeat: recovery is a life with a flexible definition of ‘okay’.
In it, we are learning how and what to think about again – learning how to navigate our thoughts without the ED voice – and how to look at the multifaceted angles of our eating disorder, and stay on the outside of it instead of being hypnotized by the allure of its constant monologue inside our heads.
What we ultimately learn is not only how exciting the world can be, how unpredictable and spontaneous and intimate life is – but how to think and stay conscious and alert to the triggers our world pushes at us.
Ultimately, my hope for you is that you will find your version of the flexibly okay life, and be proud you found that place at all –
And that you will base your successes off the days you listen to your body and mind –
And be gentle on the days you’ve forgotten.
That is the real freedom that people in recovery talk about. Wearing a bikini at a pool is often a “freedom” of an eating disorder – it can be a definitive checkmark for some.
But, learning how live flexibly – and in tandem with your eating disorder and recovery – that is how we ever move on, choosing what and how to think so we can stay engaged and present in this lovely little life.
Thanks for having me up here today. I wish you all peace and oh so much love.