I have a funny story to tell you. I was walking out of yoga after a class. There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground, residual from a storm the day before. An acquaintance headed over to the bike rack, where he began unlocking his bike.
"You're riding your bike in the snow?" I said, incredulous.
"Yeah, I just stay on the roads, it's fine," he replied.
"But isn't that hard?" I said. And here comes the best part of the story.
"Well, a few years ago I decided that everything was easy, and everything pretty much has been since then."
I couldn't help a smile then. Everything is easy! What a simple but genius concept!
Of course, it's not that easy. Or is it?
For instance, what if--just like that--I stopped being someone with an eating disorder, and just decided to be someone with a not-eating disorder who happens to be going through something weird with food at the moment? To shift from someone with a chronic disease to someone who is just dealing with a cold that they know will pass?
How easy could life be if I knew that my eating disorder's hold on me was over? When I imagine it, my life would be super easy. I would walk through life like an actress in a montage, trying on outfits, getting tangled up in dog leashes, laughing all the time with my perfect teeth exposed. It would be perfect.
There is a quote that goes something like "Life is simple, people are complicated." I think that is true. Because in a practical sense, letting go of the eating disorder is easy. But in a day to day life way...what on earth would I do without it?
That is actually about where I am with my recovery. The actual food behaviors are less of a factor in my life, but it's more about dealing with the me that has been underneath the disorder for all this time. Do I even know this person? Do I even like her?
Navigating through life as me, actual me, and not me with the warm bubble and buffer of my eating disorder, has been exquisitely hard. I have closed my heart in other ways to protect myself, I have been hurt over and over by the prickly edges of everyday life. Rejection hurts more. Love hurts more. Everything hurts more when you actually feel it, and that's what you start doing when your eating disorder starts losing the battle.
Here's the thing. The me that I have found underneath the eating disorder can seem foreign. She can seem crazy, weepy, emotional, ridiculous. Who is this person?
But then again, even through the crazy emotions, this Me was able to break free from the dysfunctional relationship she was in with an eating disorder, so maybe she is stronger than I think. Maybe I am stronger than I think.
Even though it has been extremely hard, I have made a choice to keep pursuing the scary world of opening my heart. I'm doing this in a few ways, but primarily these:
1. Connecting with other people in the world.
Talking with them. Accepting invitations to socialize with them. Being curious about them. I have noticed that after I interact with someone, whether it's the person next to me at yoga or the cashier at Greenlife, I have a little bit of a sparkle. More connection is like more power to ignite the spark that keeps me vital throughout the day (and my life).
2. Connecting with loved ones.
Sometimes, the ones closest to you are the ones who feel furthest away. Even when they are in the same room. So I have been trying to look them in the eye. To listen to them. To really be with them when I a with them. Not to be physically with them but all over my phone, for instance.
Backbends, core work, and yin yoga poses in particular. Let me stress that while this is physical, yoga is not a workout thing for me - or not completely a workout thing. There are certain poses that can make me feel so cut open it's like a stiff wind would stab my heart, I am so exposed. While the temptation is to pull back, I have been going further. When a backbend makes me want to cry and feel emotional, I don't only not stop, I do another one. It's scary, but it is exhilarating.
Letting myself eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. And listening to what I want. I still have trouble with being strict about meal times, but I am getting better at being honest with myself about what I want to eat.
It is all very easy. What's hard is how it feels. It's hard to keep on doing it and stay on my path, but it's worth it. I would rather be hurt while feeling the world than feel nothing at all and live as if I'm half-dead already.