“No Mud, No Lotus.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
I find it hard to believe it has been a month since my last post and so many changes have occurred in such time that it was hard to find time to sit down to write! I will try to condense them all into one post…but we all know I can be long-winded!
I love a good challenge (always have) and the last month has been chock full of them! I’ve knocked a good three off my previous challenge list and even added an additional one. As some of you more consistent readers may recall, I posted a list of challenges a few months ago that included things that are considered taboo for plus size people. Well, I took three of those and turned them into positives. While visiting Charleston, SC a few weeks ago I arrived wearing a tight fitting skirt, something I have never done. It was certainly challenging, and I really like the skirt, but I have also realized it isn’t really my thing so I don’t know how often I will wear it but nevertheless, I did it and I survived. I also wore bright patterned leggings not only out in public (challenge #5) but to a group workout class at Studio Barre (challenge #14)! By the way, I LOVED Studio Barre! Having a ballet and dance background (way back in the day) the elements of ballet combined with strengthening and conditioning really appealed to me, so when my sister-in-law invited me along I jumped at the chance. At first my body image and eating disordered brain were definitely challenged, as the room has several floor to ceiling mirrors, but after using the wise-mind skills to talk myself through it I came to several very positive conclusions. I didn’t need to stare in the mirror and compare myself to the other women in the room. We were all there to better ourselves and the only real competition we have is within. For me, the competition was to keep my focus during the class and challenge my body to use muscles I don’t use on a daily basis (boy, did I ever). My secondary challenge was to not spend time focusing on my body, or that I was the only plus size woman in the room, but rather focus on my strengths. Thanks to my yoga practice, I discovered I am actually quite flexible and I also realized my muscles are already pretty strong just from going about my daily life and incorporating a yoga practice. I was really pleased with myself for going to the class and focusing on the positive aspects of my time there rather than paying attention to the nagging, doubting, and overly critical voice that comes with the eating disordered brain.
Now, it has been a month since my post about mirrors. I realized part of my body image issues stemmed from constantly looking in the mirror and picking apart the image before me. This challenge has been a bit more… challenging… than anticipated. I did not realize just how much the eating disorder played a role in my nagging obsession to look in every reflective surface. Giving up the mirror cold turkey proved to be a bit more than I could handle for the time being. Quite honestly, for the first week it threw me for such a loop that I could feel a rising urge to engage in eating disordered behaviors in order to cope with “losing” the mirror. As a result, I lessened the challenge for myself and decided I would look in the mirror as little as possible for 30 days. Well, the 30 days are now over and I can honestly say it hasn’t been easy! No, I do not look in the mirror multiple times a day; in fact, sometimes I look only once or not at all. I have definitely become more aware of the amount of time I spend looking at my reflection and even more aware of the time I spend picking it apart. Therefore, I am continuing with this challenge until I no longer feel the “pull” to look in the mirror at all. This is definitely going to be a work in progress for me…
In the past I have not handled changes, and the stress that typically accompanies them, very well. My default coping mechanism has always been to restrict food or engage in other eating disordered behaviors. This time has been markedly different. We are preparing to move THIS. WEEK. and here is the real kicker–we are moving to a new state and don’t exactly have a place to live lined up. Sounds ridiculous, right? It is…just a little… BUT I’ve been relatively calm about it. In my recovery life I’ve become very much “go with the flow” and significantly less “plan to make a plan…and multiple backup plans”. While I still have moments where the uncertainty causes me to have some anxiety, I know it is in God’s hands and will all get figured out once we arrive. We do have a place to say when we get there so I’m sure that plays into my ability to be more “go with the flow” about not having our new home figured out.
Along with the changes that come with moving to a new state come the conclusions in our current place. Some of the conclusions are cause for celebration and some are definitely bittersweet. First of all, in case you don’t follow the BBA Facebook page, I have completely finished my outpatient eating disorder treatment!! This is ABSOLUTELY cause for celebration, as it has been a long 18 months of hard work, but it is also bittersweet. I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with an EXCELLENT treatment team and network of supporters, and some have filled both roles. My husband, on whom I often brag, was my number one supporter through it all and the first to rejoice with me over the ending of treatment. He was always there for me, even when he was far away for work, and took time to try to really understand what I was going through. I could not have been blessed with a better partner for life. He is an amazing and selfless man.
Aside from my husband, one of my biggest supporters and someone who I consider to be my biggest professional advocate on my treatment team, is where the seriously bittersweet part of this comes into play: my dietician, Anne. I couldn’t have been more blessed to randomly find her on the internet when I finally made the decision to add a dietician to my team. Even though I made the first appointment and I went willingly, the eating disordered part of me was still VERY reluctant. Anne recognized this and worked with me very gently so I wouldn’t get spooked and take off; giving up on the nutritional portion of treatment. She walked me though difficult days with a kindness and caring I had never experienced from someone who wasn’t family. Countless hours in her office, at least 100 (seriously) e-mails, and many, many tears later I concluded my time of treatment with her last week. It was hard, it was rewarding, but most of all it was bittersweet. I’ve poured out much of my heart and soul to her over the last 18 months and she has listened to me without judgement. She has guided me nutritionally and taught me weight is not indicative of health or worth. I’m a beautiful, healthy, and wonderful woman regardless of body size or any stupid number on the scale. I couldn’t be more thankful our paths crossed.
In order to celebrate all the changes and conclusions happening in my life, a friend gave me a bracelet with the quotation at the top of this page stamped on it: “No Mud, No Lotus”. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE bracelets and this one has become a daily addition to my wrist; a constant reminder that I am like the lotus–beautiful and still opening–but I needed to get through the dark mud at the bottom before I could really bloom.
I’m still blooming.
I’m still finding mud to go through, but at least now I know I can get through the mud and become something beautiful because of it.
With Body Love,