Honesty 2016

At the beginning of this year, I skipped the typical resolutions and, instead, decided to choose a word I wanted to live by for 2016.

I wound up on "honesty"a supremely challenging word for me but which, as I look back on now, was far more beneficial than I could have imagined.  

I learned many things along the way, but the most poignant was how being honest forced me to live and be an honest version of myself.  This, of course, is not to say I have been lying about who I am. Rather that (as I think everybody tends to do to some extent) I edit bits and parts of myself depending upon to whom I speak.  

But I stopped doing that in a number of big ways this year, and while it was terrifying and difficult, the results I encountered have been something I've been reflecting on for some time.

It started just being more honest about "little" things: if I had to back out of a planned outing, saying it was due to my chronic illness or not feeling well, instead of covering up for it in some way or another. I worked on being more open with people close to me, trying to express a little bit more of my thoughts and my self than I normally would. I no longer said "I'm fine" if I wasn't, worked very hard not to say "That's okay" if it isn't, and generally tried to be more forthcoming.

As this progressed, and I grew more familiar with living more honestly, I realized it was about far more than being honest for/to other people. I had thought being honest would only be a pathway for people to get to know be better, understand more things. And while it most certainly was, the biggest thing I took away from it was the freedom it gave to myself. Being open and vulnerable showed me exactly how "comfortably" I had lived for so longwhich isn't a bad thing. It is self-survival and protection, an absolutely necessary for all people and me during that time. Before this year, I did not have the skills and the growth and the support which allowed me to jump into all of this; I have been working toward this for years. 

I thought, by the end of the year, maybe I'd be less afraid of being vulnerable and have a desire to be more honest with people. This might be true to some degree; I want to continue trying to be honest and it is still more terrifying than not. But what I never expected was to be more OK with me. Yes, most people accepted me and it feels AMAZING and, yes, some didn't really and that hurts--but, regardless of these outcomes, I had begun to live a truer version of myself. And, in doing so, I have found more peace within myselfwith who I amthan I could have ever expected. 

It's like it removed the question of it all. Can I still be loved if I am still me? If I say what I think and feel? And this is the answer: yes. And, also: no. Other peoples' love and acceptance has given me so much, but there are some who have had trouble accepting who I've become and what I believe. But now I don't have to be curious about them anymore, I don't have to wonder. It feels backwards but living honestly has helped me to  see how sad it ishow it is about them and not me. I has made me less afraid of myself and more capable of telling them I am proud of who I have become.

This little word has set me free in many ways, many of which I had absolutely no idea how, or to the extent, it could. But credit does also go to those who have not only let me speak, but also heard me. Who have understood my fear. Who saw my vulnerability under comments/texts/words that  most people would not realize were so fragile and connected to me, and met them with caring hands. It's because of your love, which continues to helps teach me to love myself, that I have the courage to keep living an honest life long past 2016.

Thoughts on Therapy

Sometimes, this is what recovery/being recovered looks like for me:

I have to take extra care that all the nutritional labels are either directed to the back of the pantry, or upsidown and against the cabinet shelves. 

I have to actively tell myself that my pants aren't smaller. And even if they are, I could stand to gain some weight. And even if I have gained weight, it's ok. 

I have to decipher whether I would normally have that FOOD if that part of my brain wasn't so heightened and, if so, still eat it if it sounds good.

***

I have always felt that when my mind kicks up, it's for a reason. Something going on in my life, feelings I haven't processed, etc. When it does, the first thing I always try to do is figure out where it's coming from.  

This is rarely easy or straight-forward. And I'm aware that, sometimes, it might just be chemical/brain-based— that, for whatever reason, that day everything-about-me-which-can-short-circuit does. These days days are very difficult for me to handle and accept, because there is little I can do. If I can't figure out a probable cause, I can't examine it and feel like I'm DOING something. I know I am not the only one who struggles with needing to "actively do something"; it is a large contributor to my actions and tendencies. And it requires continual practice on my part to understand that, sometimes, not doing anything is doing something.

Regardless, lately I've been starting to dig into some deep down stuff. Therapy can be such a process; I've had to start at the top of the muck and keep digging away and away, like an archaeologist. And only recently have I started to get to some things that are ingrained. Things that didn't happen and I needed them to. I have had an inkling of an understanding regarding these Things for a while, but had never determined what looking more closely at it all would do. I am aware of it enough, I'd think. And nothing now could change it. But I don't know. I suppose if I poke at it, like I'm beginning to do, and it still bleeds, then it's still something I need examine. If it's not scarred over, or fully healed, and it still can turn on that part of my brain, then it's still unresolved. And it's just like anything else I've ever done in all this—no promise that rummaging through painful self-reflection will feed any benefits, that nothing will come from it other than more pain and more days where I have to be even more careful with nutritional labels than usual. That I could very well slip after nine years of steadiness. 

But there has never been any promise, has there? Just the closing of my eyes and sheer god damn stubbornness.

And yet here I am— in all my fight and floundering— and I will keep doing that which scares me.

What Does National Eating Disorder Awareness Week Mean?

In addition to reflecting on what National Eating Disorder Awareness Week represents to me (awareness, of course. But also advocacy? Ending stigma?), I have been considering trying to write a blog post of some kind every day during #NEDAW (Feb. 21 - 27th). Which is a big thing considering I'm actually making a structured goal, let alone one that requires consistency.

I know all two of you must be asking, Who are you and what have you done with, Sarah?! But she's still here, as demonstrated by how I've spent the entire day thinking, "Well, do I really have anything to say about eating disorders? What if I've already said all the stuff I can speak to ?"

I have my personal experiences which are, of course, extremely important. I have ideas and opinions I've gleaned from reading, listening, learning, and reflecting. But I am not the most structured, factually focused person out there. Also, I've never really aligned myself with 'advocacy'; not because I have anything against it, but that I approach things with the viewpoint of writing what I know and if someone gets something from it, all the better! Lastly, there are many extremely intelligent people I follow on Twitter who have done their research, remembered their research, and can translate that research into something streamlined and accessible (i.e. Andrea LaMarre is brilliant!)

That's not me, though. That isn't how my mind operates. And the majority of the time I'm OK with that, but as I was reading through post after post of great information today that I am thrilled is getting out there, it was difficult not to look at my blank little blog page and think, "Well, what am I going to write about that hasn't already been written about, and written better?"

Honestly, I still don't know for sure. But I spent last week searching for people who would want to share their experiences with eating disorders. I can only speak to what I went through, but eating disorders are vast, in addition to anorexia and bulimia (which are only recently beginning to be talked about) there is EDNOS (Eating disorder not otherwise specified)/OSFED (Other specified feeding or eating disorder), BDD (body dysmorphic disorder), BED (binge eating disorder), among others. And I feel it is vital that every narrative about EDs are heard. Disordered eating included, as it is a huge stepping stone toward the previously mentioned illnesses.

The awesome Eye Still Brave contacted me to share, for which I am excited! But no one else responded. Which is completely fine, of course, but it got me wondering why that was. I know EDs thrive on isolation, guilt, shame, and silence. Speaking up, about anything, is hard—especially regarding something as personal and difficult as an eating disorder. And I understand people not being ready or not even wanting to share experiences.

But it got me thinking that even IF everything about eating disorders has already been written (unlikely) or the things I'm trying to say have been expressed better/differently (possibly (with also a nod to the fact this might be perfectionism trying to sneak in)), I probably still ought to keep shouting into the void anyway. Because I can't tell everyone else his/her/their experience is valid and worth telling (which I truly believe, through and through) if I think I've written all I can write about my experiences/thoughts about eating disorders.

So, in short, I've decided that to me National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is about speaking up. Even—especially—when I think it's already been better said. Because 1) that kinda sounds like something the ED voice in my head would want me to believe and 2) really, even if it has already been said, that doesn't mean it any less important or tru

So, we will see how this blog-a-day goal works with my here-to-there self (and the acceptance, of course, if it doesn't work!).  But in the meantime, if you're ready—and no matter what it is that might make you hesitate— speak boldly, my friends!

- Sarah

 

Also, if you want to speak up and don't have a platform, or would like to share your blog regarding eating disorder (I don't post anything with numbers), then don't hesitate to leave me a comment or shoot me a message!