While furiously sending out emails and making contact calls this past month, I could literally see the finish line. The numbers streaming-in were in our favor: 5-0, 11-0 and 45-0. Nothing would be able to stop the monumental step towards the hope and healing process for thousands of individuals and their families across North Dakota. Comparing this to a track-running event, we were in “perfect” position to take-home the gold.
Suddenly, reality checked shattered the momentum! Life, reality, recovery and other seemingly “no-brainers” more often than not find a way to stop our progress, no matter how far we had come, dead in its tracks.
Since the beginning of January, 2011, many counterparts and I have been researching, investing, hoping, crying-out and fighting for a turning-point in the war on eating disorders and exercise addiction in our state. Our battle seemed so close to victory, yet it became anything but victory. The entire process and defeat rang true to the unhealthy thinking which haunted me in my race against in my illness: “you are not good enough,” “your efforts were not good enough” and “you cannot become good enough to beat me.”
I shrugged off the disappointment as nothing more than, “We’ll simply try again next time.” Hidden beneath the optimistic façade I shared with the world, deep down, I felt angry, defeated, cheated and wronged. Now, I know there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling any emotion constructed in human understanding, but the problem with my emotions were that they weren’t and aren’t about me. I had allowed my unhealthy thinking MAKE it about me; I was horribly wrong in my self-centered thought. This battle was fought for the thousands of people, families, friends and colleagues who find themselves lost in an illness that is despicable and all-consuming obstacle. I allowed myself to fall into the emotional pitfalls of my disorder and begin to wallow in my own self-created defeat. I began practicing what I once rightly told myself I would never immerse myself in again.
It is true that emotionally this has taken its toll, and I have become afraid of losing the vision I have had and the dreams I have imagined for awareness and advocacy.
In a world so obsessed with physical worth, our bodies have become the ultimate point of control for our emotional outlets. If someone can conquer his or her body, he/she can make his/her way in the world. We’re educated to live our lives viewing it from the outside first, and the most important part, the inside, second. Sadly, in this illness, the definition of success is addiction to the body. When we’re addicted to our bodies, we discover that it will never be “good enough” for those around us. In the course of our struggle with the disease, anger and frustration come to head when this obsession is viewed by society as an amazing show of will-power.
Throughout my recovery, I have constantly stated that through my writing I would remain honest and accountable in terms of how I am doing. Well, I know recovery is never “perfect” and I am not “perfect,” either. The disregard for my emotion leads me down a path of utilizing harmful behaviors of the past.
By indulging and obsessing about this particular journey in advocacy, where it could have gone and where it actually ended, I soon became immersed in the old unhealthy-thinking process. This obsessive thinking is another way I redirect and protect against direct-experience of the process of feeling and owning my emotions.
In choosing not to “accept the things I cannot change,” I deprived myself of moments to inspire, empower, and plant seeds to different points of view. I live life how I see it. I experience what I am able to recognize. The mindset of disappointment led me into my own unhappy reality, and the longer I remain unhappy or resentful, the stronger and deeper that resentment and tendency for unhealthy behavior grows inside me.
In any case, there is no logic in giving up or giving in to things of the past or present. I will overcome and have found great support from examining others who have equally “fallen short” in many life campaigns. But, I must remember that they chose to stay in-tune with their recovery. I have to make the choice that I will not give up hope, and I will not discontinue the incredible trip I have been blessed to embark on in my life. There will always be another chance, there will always be a tomorrow and there will always be a reason to keep going. We just have to be honest enough to admit, we will prevail. I will never, and any effort I put forth will never be labeled, a “failure.” Life is not over, and I am not dead, yet. We must twist the world-view of an obsession with victims of this disease to a strong, undeniable reverence for those that choose to survive.
Advocacy and this process has been a small, first-step in our journey. The smallest steps, however difficult, often make the largest difference. The final score for this match: 31-57. This fight is not over and progress is being made, slow and steady, and we are just getting started.