Sunday, November 14, 2010

strong enough to feel.

on November 20, 2009, i wrote in my journal, "i'm beginning to lose my passions and loves. all i can think of is this. i used to care for so much, but it's all been replaced by emptiness".

i was fully engaged in my relapse and i knew it, but i cared so deeply for my eating disorder and all it entailed that it would be another two months before i would make the decision to let go.

"to let go" sounds like an instantaneous effort- one fell swoop that clears it all out and lays the open ground for something new.

but in this case, "to let go" has been months worth of minute-by-minute picking apart of the tightly woven intricacies that filled my heart and mind, disguising themselves as who i was.

as old habits and ways of thinking have slowly but surely unraveled, the cares and strongholds behind them have certainly weakened, but continued to occupy significant space and strength in my soul for a good while.

even as i've lived recovery i've found myself feeling invincible- as if nothing nor anyone could hurt me. this is because the vast majority of pain that i've felt over the past year has been directly tied to my eating disorder. it was the supreme priority for which i cared so much for so long, and i think that i forgot what it was like to hurt or to ache for anything else.

the reason i (or anyone else for that matter) had an eating disorder in the first place was to protect and validate me against pain and fear and uncertainty that naturally occur when we live. in other words, i used my disorder to block out the emotions i was too afraid to feel- i placed my weight and my food intake at a place of such importance, that all else became worthless, thereby eliminating the ability of any entity outside of myself to affect or control my emotions.

i thought i was stronger and better and tougher and more capable than people who cried because of other people and got themselves caught up in life's cuts and scrapes. i thought i would be more successful in the working world and the world in general because i was too strong to let silly emotions affect me- too special and too different to get upset the way others did.

over the past months, my heart has finally found the space and the capacity to care for other things. it's been liberating, humanizing, exciting and's been fun.

recently, i've become so enthralled with living and loving to God's melodic freedom that i've allowed the last of my protective outer shell to slip away. constant thoughts of my body and of heath-consciousness and grams of carbs and amounts of exercise have grown sparse and the things of life--things that are natural and beautiful and fiercely uncontrollable, things that are the prize of vulnerability-- have replaced them.

i've suddenly found myself fearful of this newfound vulnerability- of life outside the protection of my eating disorder (or even of it's remnants)- although true joy and peace reclaimed their place in my heart soon into recovery, it's been recent weeks in which i've found i am no longer exempt from the aches and stings of life's hurts- things that i thought i was too tough to feel.

i was recently in a car full of friends when i broke down and cried in front them about something completely unrelated to my disorder for the first time. "This is so dumb," i said over and over. I couldn't believe i was actually upset about something so seemingly trivial. i felt weak and honestly silly that i'd allowed tears of such a nature to leave my eyes.

but thanks to the strongest women i know, i sat and i cried for as long as i needed. and afterwards we celebrated that i was actually feeling and caring for something for which my eating disorder had zero regard, but for which my heart in its independent state finds much meaning and importance.

i realized that the times in which i did not feel were not my strongest times at all, but my very weakest. anyone can put on a mask of pseudo-strength in the face of numbness, but true strength, HIS strength, is what enables us to walk through the pain and anguish and hurt we are promised and to let ourselves feel them and cry over them, to swallow forced smiles or fake hello's, to just keep going and to let our trials make us who we are.

"...My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness..."
2 Corinthians 12:9



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