I tend to be a very warm person. I like to think the best of people. Perhaps it’s how I grew up, in a small town in Idaho with a wonderful family, safe from danger and protected from most cruelty (except, of course, middle school girl cruelty and the cruelty of my own brain). And perhaps part of it is because I have struggled so much, I feel great compassion for those who are struggling too. That’s part of the reason I read blogs of those who have EDs, depression, other struggles that I have experienced. I feel enormous empathy.
It’s not sympathy. I don’t feel pity for others. I don’t look down from a place on high and think, “oh, you poor dears, you are struggling so, so much. I pity you.” Frankly, most of the time I don’t have much to say but “Yep. That shit SUCKS. I have been there too. Sorry you feel like that now.”
I honestly think the most deep part of the recovery process of my own struggle with an ED was to give myself empathy, compassion. When I fuck up, my usual response is self-loathing, anger, sadness. This has been my pattern since I was ten years old, and after acting out towards my parents, would be sent to my room and would pound my head against my pastel-painted wall to punish myself. I once dressed in shorts and a tank top and climbed out my window, barefoot, onto the roof of the garage, and stood ankle-deep in the show until my parents noticed and secured a ladder to get me down.
That doesn’t work for recovery, at least for me. I remind myself every single day that recovery is NOT “fixing it,” but rather “failing less.” That sounds tragic, but if I think of it like that, then look at my success!! Over the last three years, my greatest struggle has not been to change the eating behavior, but rather to change how I treat myself about it when it flares up. It’s not that I don’t hold myself accountable, but I allow myself room to mess up sometimes. I give myself the same empathy I give to everyone I meet.
This is not a finished struggle. It’s not something I’m even that good at. But it has changed the way I see myself totally. I am still a hard, hard worker. Still dedicated and strong. Still a good friend and an excellent actor. But I now have many colors, not just “perfect” and “not perfect.” I have the power to change my outlook, to discover what I really want and pursue it. I trust myself. I don’t feel like the world is out to get me (most of the time :)).
I slept in today because I get tired when I’m on my period. And instead of saying to myself, “What the fuck! Why are you sleeping in?! You should have been awake an hour ago!” I breathe, get up, stop worrying, and start my day. “It’s okay. It’s your body saying you need more. And you’re not breaking any plans. It’s fine. You’re awake now. Take your day. Have a great one.”