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.
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
A Warrior 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.
Because I am a warrior.
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.