A big smile spread across my face, accompanied by a quiet chuckle that was inaudible to anyone but me. All because of some little victories.
It’s The Small Things
It 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.
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 into 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 also represented something that, until only moments ago, 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. Suddenly I 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 they weren’t for groceries. Once upon a time, I used them to hide the fact that I shopped at 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 others were constantly judging me based on what my body looked like. And I was terrified if they knew where I shopped, that would somehow justify this imaginary judgment.
Any time I stood at the cash register in the clothes store, I’d whip out a wrinkly, beat-up plastic Safeway shopping bag. I insisted the woman put my new clothes into that rather than a bag from under her counter.
This was before the days we all carried bags to use in an attempt to save our planet. Maybe that explains the quizzical looks the service person typically gave me. They bordered on complete disbelief before humoring me and stuffing my purchases into the bag I’d provided.
Freeing Yourself with Little Victories
I laugh at myself today for having done that. But the laughter isn’t because I think it’s comical. It’s because suddenly I feel so liberated by the simple act of carrying my clothing purchases across the parking lot.
Walking with the store logo boldly plastered all over the bag was freeing. 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. Now I have confidence that the person I am becoming is far more interesting than where my clothes come from. Unless that interest is in where I got today’s cute outfit from so you can shop there, too!
It is in the Little Victories
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. It is not just figuring out how to repair the damage your illness has caused. And it is much more than using positive thinking and affirmations to encourage the development of new ways to think and behave.
My recovery has been life-changing because I have opened myself up to lessons I did not know yesterday or a week or a month ago. I now allow myself to expand.
Recovery is about allowing myself to feel the emotions that arise from everyday activities.
And getting curious about where those emotions come from. Understanding this is such a beautiful gift that I couldn’t have received from anyone or anything else.
Slowing down my thoughts has been another key to becoming aware in small moments like these. Practicing meditation, yoga and journaling have given me the tools I need to step through the experiences in my everyday life. Now I question things 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. Intentionally I get curious about it. And I question the thoughts and emotions around the experience without judgment. Allowing myself to wonder why I reacted the way that I did is the first step.
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 rearview mirror. Growth happens when we keep our focus on what lies on the road ahead. While consciously glancing into the rearview mirror from time to time, we can make sure what’s behind us isn’t creeping up to cause trouble.
Find The Gift in the Small Victories
It’s amazing how simple moments that could so easily be ignored or classified as unimportant can hold such powerful lessons. Our growth occurs when we choose to acknowledge and celebrate them rather than pushing them aside.