“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” ~Buddha
One of the most valuable phrases I took away from all of my treatment came from a wonderful therapist in Arizona, while I was in a ‘last ditch’ alternative treatment program where I would do two stints. I sat in daily group therapy one particular morning, the most dreaded time of the day where vulnerability in front of one’s peers was of its retching essence as the therapists thrived on getting this vulnerability out onto the surface for all to witness determined it was the way towards healing, which indeed was true.
While we were sharing our experiences of despair around the room, she stopped me mid-sentence during one of my ‘poor me’ rants that I perfected by now, in order to challenge said truths I proclaimed and had owned so honorably within my eating disorder voice for over 10 years at this point. These truths I was certain people had thought about me for as long as they had known me, forming opinions about me whether I asked for them or not. She then proceeded to pause me in this thinking and challenged me to ask three words…
‘Is it true?’
‘Seriously?! What?! Is it true? Of course it’s true! I know what people are thinking all the time about me! How do you think I ended up as sick as I am if it weren’t true?!?!’ I ranted in my head as I stared her down in a dead quiet silence that filled the room. How dare she question my solid belief system I had in place in order to stay sick?!
Yet, that which was so simple to her was extraordinarily challenging for me since she was right on in her thinking, and the six of us all knew it as we sat in a circle contemplating the determined answer. I would
spend hours upon hours and days upon days obsessing over what everyone thought about me, in part to the eating disorders malicious mind games and control. As long as I could put the blame somewhere else, I wouldn’t have to take an honest look at myself. I couldn’t bear to stop to truly define my own fears and struggles within my soul. I didn’t want to face realities which would challenge myself to be well. Rather I wanted to just live within the safety blanket confines of the eating disorder. After all, I believe I thrived in dis-ease. I had never succeeded at wellness or happy. Is it true?
Once I took her challenge, it admittedly brought a difficult yet welcoming new light and perspective to every other ‘voice’ I had heard along the way. Three little words set me free in the simplest of ways that I would not have been able to see at any other time along the journey, for I truly believe certain pieces of recovery come when you are ready to hear and embrace them. Rushing to health only ever ends in relapse, for we inevitably miss something along the way that needs to be taken care of before we can be set free.
If I never released my fears to even take the challenge, I could still be stuck within that destructive thinking today. It began so easily by putting truth to my thoughts, at the time an enormous idea that turned out to be quite simple once initiated. If I ate a piece of fruit, would I really gain five pounds? Could you really see that one piece of fruit on my body? No, plain and simple.
I remember after this particular session in which she challenged every last belief system I held close to my heart and to my eating disorder, I kept going over all these false beliefs I had about myself as I reflected on my actual existence. It was a few days after this revelation, late in the afternoon when I simply stopped in the middle of a body image group. I took a long pause as I looked around the room surrounded by clearly amazing women on the healing journey with me. I glanced up at this therapist as if I had an epiphany and simply said with a matter fact tone in my strengthening voice…
‘You know? I’m not half bad?’
The room instantly erupted in a loud thunderous uncontrollable laughter as tears streamed down our faces. Laughter filled with tears of joy, self-discovery, acceptance and love consumed the whole group as we all took in this simple not so little truth about ourselves. At that point through the desolate years of pain, I couldn’t remember when the last time it was I laughed so hard, but it was a brilliant moment I smile at today and every day I reflect on this story. A daily reminder for myself if I every stop to doubt the gift of life I have been given. Gratitude.
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