I have a confession.
This confession starts by telling you that I’m going to be a part of a really great program called Eat Breathe Thrive. It’s a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting people with body image issues and disordered eating through yoga. A friend of mine, and a fellow teacher in our YTT group, took the training and is now facilitating her own workshop in the Kansas City area. She needed a co-facilitator, and I jumped at the opportunity.
I was – and am – super excited about the opportunity. Having spent over a decade of my life involved in some type of eating disorder, I’ve felt the pain and the shame that comes along with it. Yoga was the last piece of the puzzle that put it all together for me, and allowed me to fully heal. I am so so passionate about the transformative powers of yoga, largely due to this reason.
Except now, I’m getting a bit nervous. Okay, that’s an understatement. I have a gigantic pit in my stomach thinking about what’s coming up ahead.
The thing is, I’ve never really talked about my eating disorders. I mean, I have, a little. I’ve talked to my husband, and I’ve talked to close friends. I’ve talked to others who have confided similar things. I have spoke about it on my blog and mentioned it off-handed to people, always making sure to put it in the past tense, making sure all knew that I’m over it, that was me but now it’s not, don’t define me by this confession.
Except, by being a leader in this program, I am taking a huge step. I will be willingly stepping in front of a group of people, to say, “Hi, yes I struggled for ten years with an eating disorder.” A group of people I don’t know, who are coming to this program that I am co-facilitating for help. We are cultivating a nurturing environment. We are making it okay for people to talk, and to get support. We are promoting non-judgement and loving and caring towards all, and, more importantly, towards yourself.
And I am, honestly, fully recovered from my disordered eating. I don’t count calories. I don’t weigh myself. I don’t worry over each little bite of food I consume. I am, overall, happy with my body. I like that it lets me move. I like that it lets me experience life. I like that it allows me to live.
So, what is wrong with me? Why am I so anxious about doing this?
I noticed I was grinding my teeth while I was cooking lunch today, mulling this over in my brain.
I suppose I still feel a lot of shame. It always feels like it should happen to someone else. It feels like it’s not a big deal. Millions of other problems are worse than my former tumultuous relationship to food. And anyway, what makes me an authority on this subject?
Except I made it out.
I’m not tortured anymore. I don’t struggle anymore. And for a long time, I wanted to just move past it, like it never happened.
Except it did. I never went to counseling about this, I never was hospitalized, I was never even formally diagnosed. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, and that doesn’t mean that now I’m not recovered.
But then, if I take this on, if I come so out in the public, if I make that part of my definition, does it define me? I don’t want the limitations of a former condition to be how people pidgeon-hole me, to give them the power to judge me in a particular way. I don’t talk about the past because it’s not me anymore. I am not my story. I cannot be judged on how I acted yesterday or last week or ten years ago.
But people will judge how they will judge. And if I don’t define myself by those parameters, then that’s all that really matters. I can help others heal in a way that I have without making that my sole definition. It can be a part of me, it can be a part of what I do, but I am so much more than this former disease. I am out. I am free, and I’m living my life, and there’s no chains on me now, baby.
And even after all of this, I debated posting on this subject, because what if someone reads it? What if someone who comes to the program reads it, and instead of seeing me as an authority on the subject, instead of seeing me perfectly, what if they come and they know that I’m flawed? That I’m not perfect? That I’m just as anxious, if not more so, than they are?
And that’s when I knew I should post it.