The other morning, I went to an early yoga class at my local yoga studio. I arrived, lay out my mat, and then sat down in a comfortable position. As I began to sink into my mat, and allow myself to get lost in the instrumental music softly playing in the background, I began to cry.
Now, if there is one thing you should know about me, I don’t cry easily. Actually, let me correct myself- I USED to not cry easily. These days, I find myself in tears at least once a day! There are tears of joy, tears of sadness and grief, and tears of fear of the unknown. And that’s not a bad thing- I am learning to truly feel!
I immediately did that thing where you hold your breath and try to roll your eyes back as far as they can go, in hopes that your tears will “somehow” retract into your eyes (for those of you who know what I’m talking about… I think we can agree, it just doesn’t work…). I worried of the possible chance someone might ask me what was wrong, when I-myself- had no idea why I was crying.
So, I made a decision. I allowed myself to feel. I let the floodgates open, put my face in my hands, and just sobbed. After all, this is something I have been working on for the past year- allowing myself to truly feel! Whether it is anger, sadness, or fear, I have been consciously working on expressing my emotions, regardless of the situation.
It then dawned on me. I have never been as happy as I am, now. Actually, I never thought it was possible to feel this way. I genuinely felt freedom. I feel like a new person. I felt alive.
This is not to say I don’t struggle. I have days where I am overwhelmed, and dread the unknown. I have days where I feel so passionately about something, that the idea of fighting for that passion/belief becomes clouded over by the immense fear of failure. But now, I respond differently. Rather than engaging in my Eating Disorder, I say a little something like this:
“Thank you Eating Disorder. I know that you are there for me when life becomes overwhelming; however, I no longer need you. Although you protected me in the past, I now have a far superior set of tools to use as coping mechanisms. I have a life so much better than I could have ever imagined- so, no thank you. I don’t need you anymore.”
Now, let me get something straight. I am not saying that I ‘enjoyed’ being sick, or that I would wish this illness upon anyone.
My Eating Disorder gave me the opportunity to evaluate my life, and to find a purpose. My Eating Disorder allowed me to open up, and face all of the past hurt, pain, and suffering, and create a new identity. My Eating Disorder forced my family to work through actions and events that had distanced us as a whole.
Before Anorexia, I was living a false Identity. Most of my day-to-day life was fueled by my desire to be seen as ‘perfect’ by my peers, and by society. My goals and intentions were set purely with the objective of receiving praise, and being seen as accomplished.
We were a family, but we didn’t act like one. We rarely saw each other, sat down for meals, or did things together. We were “too busy.” When I was stuck in my illness, nothing mattered. I was so focused on being someone I wasn’t. I tried to please everyone else, in every aspect of my life. I lost my sense of self, and my sense of identity.
Now, my family is closer than ever. We sit down, and often enjoy suppers every night together. My relationships with my parents are better than ever. I understand them, and they understand me. My mom and I enjoy going out and trying little cafes, while my dad and I go for a weekly walk, where we take turns picking a new area of Vancouver to explore.
I have weeded out negative and toxic friendships- something I have needed to do for years. I have also welcomed incredible friends into my life, who build me up, support me, and share a deeper passion for life.
I am pursuing passions that I-Sierra- wants to do. I am learning to say no, and speak up when I feel uncomfortable with a situation or a request. I have learned how to prioritize my well being, rather than focusing on solving everyone else’s problems except mine.
I am happy.
I don’t think my family would be as close as it now is, if we didn’t have to come together to evaluate our home life and interpersonal dynamics. I think I would still be pursing a career that I thought would deem me as successful and accomplished. I would still be trying to be someone who I wasn’t. I wouldn’t be the new ME without having entered recovery from my Eating Disorder.
So yes, I am thankful for my Eating Disorder. The pain and suffering was hard, but I am a new person because of it. I am thankful for all of the life lessons and the discoveries. Most importantly, I am thankful that I got to find myself.
Sierra is a 21 year old female born, raised, and living in Vancouver, BC. She is currently navigating her way through her recovery from Anorexia, and in a stronger place in her journey to freedom than she has ever been before. Sierra spends much of her time volunteering for local Eating Disorder awareness programs, in addition to pursing her dreams of giving back to this community. You can also find her exploring some of Vancouver’s ‘fun’ coffee shops, always asking for a special latte-art design in her mug.