This Happens When You Stop Worrying About What Other People Think

2016-06-08

Embrace celebration, abandon control

This past weekend, I traveled to Boston for my college roommate’s wedding. (I still can’t believe she’s married!) In the days and weeks leading up to my trip, I was nervous. As usual, I was nervous about traveling, about breaking my routines and abandoning my usual weekend to-dos. But strangely – and I say this because I am not a socially anxious person – I was also anxious about seeing people. Specifically, people who knew my history.

Now, that may seem strange, given how much my life has changed for the better. In every way, my physical and mental health have improved since those college days. I am less controlling, more accepting and flexible, and if you ask me, more fun to be around. For what it’s worth, people would say I look healthier. I sure feel healthier.

So why did I have this anxiety?

I felt anxiety because I had projected onto these people my own tendency toward rigidity. I assumed their narratives about me – whatever they had been – were forever etched into their memories. “Oh, that’s her roommate, Clare, and she…” I assumed they expected things would stay the same, eight years later (Again, what?!?! How fast does time fly?!), and therefore I would forever be assigned one label and one label only.

I was, in particular, nervous about one man, a friend of my roommate, who had gone to school with us. Soon after moving into our dorm room, this man told my roommate that I might need help, that something was amiss. I knew he would be at the wedding, and I wondered what he’d think of me.

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My boyfriend and I arrived at the wedding just before 5 p.m., and I found another former roommate of mine. We hugged excitedly and caught up on each other’s lives. We laughed and reminisced. We talked about whether we would cry during the ceremony (yes).

Before the reception, I ran into another friend from college, and the exchange was very much the same. All love, all fun and all celebration. There was not a twinge of judgment on either end — just a happiness to celebrate our friend and her now husband.

So what of the man I worried about seeing? Yep, he was there. And it was… so. not. a. thing. We didn’t talk about years ago – we merely smiled as we passed each other on the dance floor.  I didn’t feel critiqued. I didn’t feel labelled.

All I felt was happiness for my friend Julia.

Amazing things can happen when we plunge through our worries in the name of living our lives. When we say “to hell with that,” and go do what WE, and not our inner critic or saboteur, wants to do. When we accept that we are more than our struggles, and we deserve to share and give love just like everyone else.

Years ago, I may not have had the guts to travel to Boston. I may not have had the confidence to say, “a friend I love met the man of her dreams, and that’s what matters most here.” I may have missed out on this huge milestone in order to buy into some illusion of control–of not only my surroundings but others’ opinions of me.

One of the most magical parts of recovery for me is the ability to fully live life. That is what I experienced last weekend. I may have worried about what others might have said or done, but ultimately, I lived my life. I cried with my roommate as Julia walked down the aisle. I danced without regard for how my arms/hips/eyes/feet looked. I had cake with my boyfriend, standing just outside the dance floor, watching Julia smile harder than I’d ever seen.

You are not your eating disorder. And there is so much life awaiting you in recovery.

Image Source: Flickr

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