"If you spend too much time polishing your image, you’ll eventually tarnish your character and be an unhappy man.” – Coach Dale Brown
I’ve informed all of you of this before; I am, as well as many of you are, forever climbing an endless ladder toward ‘ultimate success,’ whatever that may be. It is difficult and emotionally consuming to chase something you know in your heart is unattainable. The truth of the matter is, I feel as if I’ve constantly worn a different disguise during various phases of my life. Even now in recovery (and still struggling), it is incredibly baffling that I am still unable to maneuver myself away from doing that. Now, I never implied that I (or some of you) have ‘failed’ because this continues to be a struggle; it’s something we simply will continue to tackle in our route to life again.
The media, as well as other entities, persistently seem to overflow with a message that states the ever-young, rich, accomplished and beautiful make the world go round. And the connotation has always been that unless you stomach that message or emulate that reflection, you aren’t worthy of the essentials you not only need, but deserve. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it; we cannot attain the unattainable. Besides, who would want to take away from the characteristics that make this world inimitable anyway?
All of the physical, emotional and accomplishment-based characteristics that countless opponents push us to reach are exceedingly brief. Why is it that we can’t accept each other based on our QUALITY instead of our QUANTITY? Believe it: youth, fame, amazing deeds, finances, fit physiques and beauty are purely temporary. It is the individuality we resist that in fact remains constant throughout our lives, and inevitably, makes us who we are.
It isn’t atypical for those with eating disorders and other illnesses to be overly concerned about pleasing others and grasping for the ‘unattainable.’ In some way, the concern about satisfying others may have added to the onset of the eating disorder. You (I know I did) possibly ignored your (my) own needs and feelings so much that you (I) still have setbacks that are difficult to get through. In addition, we may find ourselves stuck in eating disorder behaviors if we’re too focused on being what others expect us to be instead of concentrating on the people we genuinely are.
It’s okay to have your own thoughts and opinions. You don’t have to conform to the views of everyone else. We must track our own somebody and choose to guide ourselves away from a false, unhealthy ‘reflection’ and instead select the path of independence.
Isn’t it ironic how intellectually we all know what we need to do, but nevertheless we find ourselves lost in the same ‘maze’ several times over in recovery? The ‘million-dollar’ question is realizing how to utilize that awareness and authentically recognize that we ‘are worth it.’ This, my friends, ought to be at the heart of our recovery.
Here are a few things I know are essential to stay in recovery. And you know, finding the strength of character to continue your journey at times may seem unfeasible and hopeless; but we have to dig within ourselves and navigate our way through the haze of our illness.
1. Our thoughts and beliefs are important! It isn’t necessary to revise our feelings in an aim to please others. We cannot contradict, conceal or downplay our feelings if we wish to move forward against our enemy. We often think of feelings as “good” or “bad” when they purely ‘are what they are.’
2. There’s nothing immoral with allowing your needs to take precedence. You may think you are weak with the very thought of ‘your needs.’ Having needs merely means that you’re human. ‘Realize it, accept it and let it go.’
3. It is impossible to please everyone. Do your best to accept that and prioritize yourself to be YOU. Finding out who you are is difficult, but you will prevail. When you reach that summit, your true self will add to other’s lives in ways you cannot imagine. Remember, you aren’t responsible for other’s expectations, thoughts or feelings.
4. Reflect on this question: ‘Do we perceive that others have higher expectations of us than they actually do?’ Our belief of their higher expectations isn’t always the case.
5. We’ve worked so hard at pleasing others that we aren’t sure of who we are. It will take time to look inside and see our own thoughts and feelings for what they really are.
6. Where your faith is concerned, remember that even God doesn’t expect perfection. He knows we will make mistakes. Everything He has made (i.e. you) was flawlessly constructed.
Knowing yourself is one of the hardest things in the world to figure out. Who am I? Where am I going? What do I want from life? George Bernard Shaw said, “People are one of three things: ‘what they think they are,’ ‘what others think they are’ and ‘what they really are.’” When we really know ourselves, we begin to develop. Real confidence comes from knowing and accepting ourselves, knowing our strengths and limitations as opposed to depending upon affirmation from others. The beginning of wisdom happens when we are honest with ourselves.
In the continuing battle with this particular illness, no matter the category, motives for continued improvement and hope often come in unrelated places. I’ve forever believed that life’s events happen for a reason, positive or negative. All through my journey I’ve found that losing loved ones, friends (who’ve battled the same disease) and various support structures can actually enhance the strength to hold on. No matter what your reason to continue on is, whether it’s to carry on their mission in battling the illness, releasing the hurt their loss has caused you or if it’s motivation to conquer personal demons; own your recovery! Find your way through the ‘maze’ and keep giving recovery the opportunity to cultivate permanently in your life.
“This entry is on behalf of three individuals who have unquestionably enhanced my recovery and life. I wouldn’t be here without your love and support.”
(Great-Grandma H., J.G. & Faith)