I know a young woman who recently decided to admit herself into another treatment center. She is allowed to have internet access and has been posting photos and comments throughout her journey. These words and images evoke a feeling of summer camp. It looks fun. She seems happy, like she has found her sisters. Seeing her posts make me a little sad. I am happy that she is healing, but I am concerned that she has turned treatment centers into her place of refuge.
I get it.
The first time that I went inpatient I had the blessing of parents who could afford to keep paying for my treatment as long as it was needed. So I was at the center for a long time. It was hard in many ways, for sure. We were under close watch and being asked to change our behaviors and challenge our beliefs.
To be honest, it was also fun. My roommate and I organized pranks on the staff all the time. The extended care wing felt a lot like a college dorm. It was like a prolonged slumber party at night and on the weekends when we had less therapy appointments and group meetings.
It was amazing to feel like a part of a group. We were all in the process of recovery together.
Those of us that were there for awhile became like a sisterhood. We helped the new patients adjust when they arrived and we were excited for those that discharged back into real life. Although also sad to see them go.
Eventually, I completed my treatment program. I left the center and just as most of those who had gone before me I lost touch with my recovery friends. A year or so later I found myself in a town I hated. And in a relationship that I didn’t want to be in.
I relapsed fast and found refuge in going back to treatment. It was an escape. It felt like going home.
Back in treatment
Thankfully, that feeling was terrifying.
Some part of me realized that I did not want a treatment center to be the place that I felt most comfortable. I had met so many women who had bounced from treatment center to treatment center. They talked about them like resorts or sororities.
I knew that I did not want that to be my path.
That realization inspired a passionate drive inside to find myself and my place in the world.
I chose to do whatever it took to create a new life. A life that was not the one I was fleeing from or the one that centered around my eating disorder. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew what I didn’t want.
For me, that was enough to take action. I moved, I left that relationship. I made a few good lifestyle choices. I made a few bad ones. Eventually I started to make more wise choices and less destructive ones. I started to know myself.
I created a life based on loving life and enjoying it.
More than a decade later I have been happy for a long time.
I have a really amazing life full of people and activities that I love. I am inspired daily by my boyfriend and our son. My work is an extension of my heart and I am honored to be able to do it. I have a mix of phenomenal women in my life.
That part was the most difficult for me. It took me a long time to find a community of women that I felt a healthy sisterhood with. It turns out that the sisterhood part of the treatment center was the feeling that I kept gravitating toward.
Finding My Sisters
I eventually realized that female friendship were missing from my life and again I took action. Slowly, one day at a time I began to connect with women who I found inspiring, honest, open, fun, healthy and real.
Over the years we have supported each other through heartbreaks, family drama, business losses, and divorce. We have celebrated births, marriages, new careers and new opportunities.
My group is diverse. Some of the women know and love each other and some have never met. Regardless they are part of my Satsang.
Having a Satsang – a community of like minded individuals – is transformative. Sharon Gannon and David Life, the cofounders of Jivamukti Yoga and my teachers, say that Satsang is the most important practice of our time.
When we surround ourselves with people who are committed to lifting up themselves and those around them, we will rise up. We will lift up others.
When Sisters Come Together
As women bring their beautiful unique selves into a community with others they create a community that is endlessly powerful. Everyone benefits.
In my work I have come across so many other women who are searching for sisters. So often we close ourselves off from potential female friendships because we have been hurt in the past.
It doesn’t have to be that way.