Today I feel good. I hesitate to even say… happy. Happy is a word I feared in case it was jinxed. Yet today – today I am brave enough to say, I am happy.
Warrior: (noun) a brave or experienced soldier or fighter
Why is this so?
This is so because I have the heart of a warrior. I am a brave and experienced soldier, fighting a war with myself.
To those on the outside looking in, perhaps this war seems absurd. Perhaps it seems self-absorbed, weak and foolish. Believe me, I wonder the same.
At 51 years old, I remain remain obsessed with body image, fraught with anxiety, and crippled with eating disorders behaviors. I oscillate wildly between restriction, bingeing and purging. I’ve dabbled in the self-harm waters.
It would be immeasurably wiser to use my time, energy and financial resources in another way.
Yet day in, day out, it’s same.
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Only it’s not.
Do you know why? Because I AM a warrior. I am fighting this eating disorder. I didn’t choose to become obsessed with every morsel of food that passed my lips as a toddler. And I didn’t want to develop mortifying shame around every ounce of my physical being.
These things happened.
Without casting blame, nature and nurture landed me where I am now. But neither nature nor nurture will pull me out if I don’t stand and fight. So here I stand – my trusty sword in one hand and shield in the other.
A shield crafted from the gentle words of my ever-patient psychologist, the undying loyalty and belief of my beautiful friends, and the relentless patience of my fearlessly loving husband.
A sword molded from courses, clinics, reading and writing.
I have the tools, I fight the battle.
The long road
This battle is a long road. Quicker for some, slower for others. But it has never been a race.
I am not competing with anyone. So, I cheer those I meet along the road – whether they pass me, I pass them, or we travel together for a while. We are not fighting each other.
Want to know the most surprising thing about this recovery road? It’s doesn’t have a single destination. I am not going to, The Place of Recovery – no such place exists.
Rather, I’m simply traveling the road of life. I have been blessed with many amazing graces upon this road, but I also have some burdens to shed and lightness to gather. And do you know what? While I feel my burdens are wearisome and relentless, I also notice many are now shed. Because of that, much lightness has gathered.
I still have awful stuff thrown at me in life. Who doesn’t? Where once I would cower in shame and silence, now I speak out. I no longer allow myself to stay silent. Instead, I share my woes with willing ears. Lo and behold, my burden is instantly lessened.
Silence = Shame. I cannot repeat this sentence enough. Silence = Shame
Fighting the enemy
Shame is the enemy of recovery. I cannot find recovery while feeling shame and staying silent. I must speak my truths to those I trust and muddle through solutions. As a result, I am truly lighter and brighter.
In this war I fight, there are many battles – some I have won:
- I am no longer silent with my troubles
- Now I trust the wisdom of my nearest and dearest
- I eat food – every day
- I have demonstrated (to myself) an ability to calm my anxiety in healthy ways
- Finally, I have thrown away the scales of justice
And many are yet to be faced:
- Sometimes I still fear food
- I remain concerned with my physical appearance
- Effectively manage difficult emotions is still hard
- I continue to struggle with purpose in my existence
- I vacillate between hope and despair
But do you know what I also see in this list of battles? They are half won. I am halfway through.
I have relentlessly, stubbornly, uncompromisingly, persistently and single-mindedly, pursued recovery for years – and I will never, ever, ever give up.
Yet I will fall over again – of that I have absolutely no doubt.
But every time I fall, I get up. I have proven that time and time again. And each time, I rise a little quicker than the last. Success breeds success. I am finding hope and belief. I am achieving happiness.