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Friday, February 25, 2011

The Labyrinth

I had an opportunity this week to go on a one day spiritual retreat. As we all know, the hustle and bustle of every day life is known to, at times, get the best of us; I was feeling the need to get away.  I have learned in my process of recovery, and in life, that scheduling "me" time, to just "be", is an essential part of my own self care. Even if just for an hour. I was lucky to get 7 consecutive hours on this retreat.  

At this particular retreat center, there is a walking labyrinth.  If you are not familiar with walking labyrinths, I invite you to do some research on them.  They can be wonderfully meditative. 

As I approached this labyrinth, I took a moment to study it. I had walked it twice before - both times not getting much out of it, and it leaving much to be desired.  I noticed the intricate spirals, and immediately found myself wanting to get to the middle of the labyrinth. It dawned on me that's the way I am with life - wanting to get in the middle of it.  Interesting, because when I was in my eating disorder I wanted to be anything but in the middle of life. I began my walk through the labyrinth, noticing the red brick stepping stones that outlined its path. And while, there was a clear path, and a clear middle, the stepping stones too were obviously their own entity and part of a bigger whole.

It seemed to take quite a bit of twists and turns to get in the middle of the labyrinth.  And as I found myself trying to rush through those twists and turns, I stopped and took things a bit slower.  Eventually, I got there, only to find myself wanting to get out of the middle and start walking again. 

How symbolic this is of the process of recovery, and the process of life. In recovery, I wanted to just get there already.  I wanted to get to this place of  "recovered", this place where things just magically fell together and I no longer had an eating disorder. In my own process, I thought that once the eating disorder was gone, then life would "fit". Much like in the eating disorder, I thought that once I got to a certain size or weight,  or if I found some "magic formula", things too would then come together.  In both circumstances, I have experienced this was not the case.  I am learning that balance is the key.

As I reflect on walking that labyrinth, I am grateful for the experience I had. I am sure that when I walk it again, I may have an entirely different experience.  And further on, another different experience.  Or perhaps, no notable experience at all.  That, in and of itself, is an experience. 

That is not only the beauty of symbolic experiences, but concrete life experiences as well.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A reflection of change & loss and Eating Disorders

hello again:  My friend and co-author of this blog recently experienced an unexpected and disturbing death.  Although she was not close to this person, she experienced the loss and grieved over the end of a life.  She expressed her grief to me by saying "It seems life just kept going on afterwards, as if nothing had changed."  There was sadness in that statement.  The end of something, or rather, someone, with few noticing.  It does seem that way in life.  That although it was then end of THAT particular life, that a LIFE continues on.  As we discussed this revelation subsequent disappointment, I was reminded of how I used my Eating Disorder to help me cope with disappointment, confusion around the reality of loss.  I resisted accepting loss. Anorexia allowed me to keep things (or myself, in particular) constant in the midst of the storm of change.  Although now, upon reflection, I realize change occured anyway, it seemed to be happening all around me and I had no power or influence it to stop or even slow down.  I desperately attempted to stop it from happening.  I couldn't adapt to it, so my choice (or so I thought) was to prevent myself from changing and then everything around me might feel as if it wasn't changing either.  It was a deception that almost killed me.  All in an attempt to prevent or save myself from loss.  I was willing to sacrifice my own loss in my attempt to prevent other losses.  It was difficult for me to adjust, I didn't have the understanding or the ability to change as life changed, and I felt unable to cope with disappointment, especially my own.  I felt I had never been taught these skills.  But, again, in hindsight, I merely resisted it all, I never really controlled any of it.  My mode of operation was resistance not accomodate.  As Dr. Phil is so notoriously known for saying..."how is that working for you?"  Obviously, it didn't work for long.  I didn't really stop any pain associated with change, I merely transferred it.  If I could have just asked, knew of someone I could ask, to help me cope. But noone I knew seemed able to cope with change well either.  They all appeared to resist it in their own ways too, depression, anger, isolation, blame, avoidance, drugs, alcohol, the ever present diagnosis of "business".  But noone seemed to understand it or able to accept it.   I struggled with this for a long time.  Punishing myself, my body, both from a position of resistance and out of desperation to survive it.  The storm of change and loss.   I have now learned that change is not ALL bad that it can be good too.  It is not something to fear, with it's inevitability comes a sense of healing and peace and submission.  New opportunities for self and life understanding.  THAT life, that my friend experienced, represents something so much bigger than himself, through that tragedy and through his life (in essense), my friend changes, I am changed, and our relationship with each other changed.  Would we prefer it to be different, YES! Can we MAKE it so, NO.  The choice that we do have is to honor his life, and the change his life, his tragedy has on us.  I honor what my Eating Disorder has change in me.  Thank  you change. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hello World

We are two friends who originally wanted to write a book about our experiences recovering from eating disorders. With that said, the book didn't get written because we came to realize that our recovery is evolutionary, always changing. A book felt too finite. So we decided to create a blog, to share about our insights and reflections on a weekly basis, rather than a book that seems stuck in time.  If you've experienced recovery from anything, we are sure you'll relate, as both life and recovery seem to be ever changing. 

Welcome to our blog, and our reflections on not only recovery but life. Each week, we will alternately post various insights that we've had throughout the week about our life and our recovery from our eating disorder.