A big smile spread across my face, accompanied by a quiet chuckle that was inaudible to anyone but me.
It’s The Small Things
This was partly due to the fact that my child-like grin kept my lips closed and partly because I was in a noisy parking garage. The source of my joy was unexpected and a wonderful secret, at least until moments ago when I decided to share it with you.
Standing alone behind my car, I glanced one more time at the folded up empty shopping bags in the trunk of my car, and felt a shift in the emotions I was experiencing. As the glee transformed to pride, I closed the trunk and started back toward the hotel entrance.
As I walked, I was conscious of the weight of the shopping bag in my hand. It was a small but substantial weight that suddenly represented something very important to me. It was also representative of something that, until only moments ago while looking into the trunk of my car, I hadn’t thought about for years.
You see, the contents of my shopping bag were the results of my impromptu clothes shopping adventure earlier that day. When I returned to my hotel at the end of the day, I opened my trunk to retrieve the bag and noticed the folded up reusable shopping bags laying in the trunk.
This time, they were there for grocery shopping. But I was reminded of a time in my life when I used plastic grocery store bags to hide the fact that I bought my clothes from the plus size clothing store. I had completely forgotten about this!
Shame Comes In Many Forms
I was so ashamed of my body in that time of my life.
I was absolutely certain that others were constantly judging me based on what my body looked like and was terrified that if they knew that I shopped at the plus sized stores, that would somehow justify this imaginary judgement.
So, standing at the cash register in the clothes store, I would whip out a wrinkly, beat up plastic Safeway shopping bag (or two) from my purse and insist that the woman serving me put my new clothes into that rather than a bag from under her counter.
Working through shame? Check out helpful classes and support at the School of Recovery! ✨
Keep in mind that this was before the days that we all carried bags to use in an attempt to save our planet instead of getting a new one everywhere we went. That might explain why the service person always gave me a quizzical look that bordered on complete disbelief before humoring me and stuffing my purchases into the bag I’d provided.
You Have To Laugh
I laugh at myself today for having done that, but the laughter isn’t because I think it’s comical. It’s because in this moment, I feel so liberated by the simple act of carrying my clothing purchases across the parking lot, into the elevator, across the lobby and upstairs to my room with the store logo boldly plastered all over the bag. For fun, I even swung the bag back and forth in my hand as I went, just because it felt good.
It’s incredible that this person I have become in recovery can own who she is and has confidence that the person she is becoming is far more interesting than where her clothes come from. Unless, of course, that interest is in finding out where I got today’s cute outfit from so you can shop there, too!
The process of recovering from an eating disorder is so much more than learning to nourish, accept and appreciate your body. It’s more than understanding how your mind became ill and figuring out how to repair the damage your illness has caused. It’s more than using positivity and affirmations to encourage the development of new ways to think and behave.
Recovery has been life changing for me because I have also allowed it to be about learning to let my expanding understanding of myself teach me things that I didn’t know yesterday or a week or a month ago. It’s about allowing myself to feel the emotions that arise from every day activities and get curious about where those emotions are coming from. And understanding this is such a beautiful gift that I couldn’t have received from anyone or anything else.
Slowing down my thoughts has been key to me in learning how to be aware of moments like these. Practicing meditation, yoga and journaling have given me the tools I need to step through the experiences in my every day life, and question things that I would have glossed over or ignored altogether in the past.
When I sit with my journal every day, I choose one incident, emotion or challenge that I experienced in the past day or two and intentionally get curious about it. I question the thoughts and emotions around the experience and without judgement, I allow myself to wonder why I reacted the way that I did.
Growing into the person you are becoming doesn’t happen by staring at the road ahead with blinders on, and it doesn’t happen by avoiding the view out the windshield while staring into the rear view mirror. It happens when we keep our focus on what lies on the road ahead, while consciously glancing into the rear view mirror from time to time, to make sure that what’s already behind us isn’t creeping up to cause trouble.
Find The Gift
It’s amazing how simple moments that could so easily be ignored or classified as unimportant can hold such powerful lessons and realizations of our growth when we choose to acknowledge and celebrate them rather than pushing them aside.