What Freedom From Disordered Eating Issues Would Look Like in My Life
I have been challenged to write about freedom. To visualize what freedom from disordered eating and body image issues will look like. This is a big ask… Because I actually have no idea. No reference point. But in order to actually reach a destination, you have to know where it is. Or at least have a vague idea! If recovery is east, and I’m heading west, I’m never gonna make it!
I think this is how freedom from food obsession might look in my world.
I live in a house, surrounded by nature. I sit in bed each morning, watching native birds sing in the tree outside my bedroom window. I can see the water. I can hear the waves. I can watch the sunrise. These things are always here. They always have been. I’ve lived in this house for 16 years.
In a world free from food obsession, the bird’s songs brings me peace. The sunrise heralds a new dawn — a new day with fresh beginnings and all the possibilities every new day brings. There are no rainbows and unicorns. This is the real world. It isn’t sprinkled with magic wands, fairy wings and pixie dust. It’s filled with fortune and favor, trials and tribulations, love and loss. My world is filled with all the things that are.
In my freedom, I can soak up love and energy, gifts and privilege, when they are sent my way. I can appreciate the moments of happiness, contentment, peace and joy I am blessed with. My spirit will be filled. My soul rested. I will practice acceptance — acceptance of what is. I will practice courage — courage for what could be. I will have serenity, for I believe that is the reward of acceptance and courage.
In my freedom, I will have the strength to conquer the trials I must inevitably face. I will accept what cannot be changed. I will grieve for that which is gone. I will cry with sadness, and give voice to my frustrations. Because I am human. I belong to humanity and we all have the capacity and need to explore the full range of human emotions. I have the right to express emotions. All of them. All pain is dealt with — whether or not it is dealt with productively will be the choice I make.
In my freedom, I can acknowledge my choices. I can choose to eat well. Or not. I can choose to have a treat. Or not. I can choose to think and to dream, and to believe in every possibility for my life and future. I can believe in the lives and futures of everyone I am touched by. In a world free from food obsession, where my personal worth is founded on my actions and beliefs — not my physical appearance — I can focus entirely on being the best person I can be. I can explore my talents without fear of judgment — internally or externally. I can try my hardest and know it is enough. In a world free from negative body image, I am enough. I am enough as is. Not in a day or a week or a year. Not when I am a number on a scale or a certain dress size. I. Am. Enough.
In this free world, I can express love and gratitude openly in my relationships — my close personal relationships and my collegial working relationships. I can express my frustrations, concerns and upsets without fear of retribution. I can be whole. I can give and I can take. I can continue to care for others and show the depths of kindness and empathy I have always given. But also freely accept my limits, and accept the gifts of kindness, care and empathy when they are offered to me.
In this free world, I will exercise because I love how it makes my body feel — strong, powerful, alive and cared for. I will eat because food nourishes every ounce of my being. I will eat because food brings people together and a shared meal is shared love. I will be free from incessant food thoughts, and instead fill my mind with the wonders of the world in which I live — the people, the places and the passions I love. I will be free from the necessity to eat for punishment, shame or to numb myself.
Punishment is replaced with observation. Take note of what happened — we all make mistakes. It’s OK. Take a deep breath, learn, move on.
Shame is replaced with self-compassion. Treat myself with the care and love I would anyone else. It is not selfish. It is not narcissistic. It is necessary. If it is necessary for everyone else, I am no exception. I am not special. I am normal. I need self compassion. It is the antidote to shame.
Numbing myself is replaced with acceptance. Sit with emotions — they won’t kill me. It might be uncomfortable and that is OK. Live in a 3D world, where both sides of the emotional coin are experienced. This too shall pass. It is OK. You will be OK.
This world of freedom is not glowing angelically. It is filled with all the darkness and light that my world, and everyone’s world is always filled with. But with my spirit freed from the hard shell it was encased in, the soft glow from my freshly unfurled wings will light the way on the darkest of days. This is how freedom will look for me.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
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Thinkstock photo via ARTQU.