Learning to love and accept my body has got to be one of the harder aspects of my recovery. I've been able to conclude this because its something that I struggle with to this very second. But even though I'm admitting that this is a current struggle, I still believe I am capable of offering a little help to others.
One of the earlier assignments that I was asked to do while in treatment was to write a letter of gratitude to my body. At first I thought it would be impossible to write a letter such as this, especially given that I wasn't at all happy with the way I looked. How could I be grateful for something that I was so displeased with? I really didn't think I could to be honest, so my plan was to completely B.S. the letter just so I could check it off of my list.
Prior to starting the letter, I had an experience that sparked a change in how I felt about my body.
It was a Saturday morning and I got checked out of treatment for the day to go the tulip festival with my boyfriends family.
side note: If you have never been to the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point, put it on your to do list for next spring. I'm serious. From the name, you might imagine it to be something bland, but I'm telling you, it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. GO!!!
The festival itself was a serene experience, but the tranquility I was able to find within myself that day was the highlight. As we walked through all of the different gardens, my boyfriends little niece asked me if I would hold her. Though it was hot and I found myself to be exhausted, I loved that she asked this of me so I didn't hesitate to pick her up. It was in that moment that I was grateful for healthy arms and it was then that I realized that I am capable of having gratitude for my body despite the fact that I don't absolutely love the way it looks.
That night when I got back to treatment, not only was I able to write an honest letter of gratitude for my body, but I was elated to do it. And I would like to share that letter with all of you with crossed fingers that you guys might be able to find things about your bodies to celebrate.
Dear Body of mine,
Initially I was only going to write this letter because it was a required assignment, but as i began thinking about what I should write, I realized that I truly do have so much gratitude for you. I may not be able to say that I love the way you look yet, but what you can do and have done for me is much more meaningful than your shape.
Thank you for my eyes. They have allowed me to see God's amazing creations. Had it not been for my eyes, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the beauty of the many places I have traveled. And as I sit in treatment unable to visit the beautiful mountains that surround me, I am thankful to be able to sit by the window and soak in their wonder through my eyes alone.
Thank you for my voice and my mouth through which it is amplified. Because of this, I have been able to inspire others, connect with them, bring them comfort, ask them for help, and make them laugh all through my words. And when I am unable to find the right words, my mouth can simply give a smile or even a kiss.
Thank you for my arms. Today, Autumn asked me to hold her, and although i tend to despise these arms and wish they looked different, they allowed me to pick her up and hold her close to me. In that moment, I couldn't help but feel grateful for them. I can't wait until I get to cradle and embrace my own children someday. And when thinking about my future children, I am inclined to express gratitude for my stomach that i am constantly criticizing. Without it, I won't have a place for my babies to grow. And while they are developing, I know they will be thankful for the layer of protective fat that I am always trying to get rid of.
Thank you for my legs. This is by far my most hated body part, yet as I reflect back on my proudest moments, I can see that none of them would have been possible without these legs. With these legs I have been able to express myself through dance. With these legs I have earned a state title in the long jump. With these legs I have excelled in power tumbling and have had the privilege of entertaining thousands of fans. With these legs I have been able to enjoy running, long boarding, mountain biking, skiing, and hiking. And with these legs I will be able to dance with my husband at our wedding.
The last thing I want to thank you for are my hands. Not only do they make all of my everyday tasks possible, but they have also allowed me to write this letter to you that I will be able to look back on as I journey through recovery.
The idea of writing a letter to your body probably sounds a little strange (and lets be honest, it really is strange), so I'm not challenging any of you to actually do it. However, I am challenging all of you to take even the smallest break from the incessant judgments we impose on our bodies and take a moment to be grateful for it and all that it does for you. And to take it a step further, I would suggest that you take a few minutes to write these down in your journal. (..oh you don't really keep a journal? well maybe I will have to dedicate a whole post to how helpful its been for me to keep a journal!)
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Monday, July 8, 2013
Upon entering treatment I could have sworn that all I needed to fix was my relationship with food. While this was very true, that problem did not stand alone. Along with needing to fix a formerly abusive relationship with food, I also needed to heal relationships with my friends/family, my Heavenly Father, and the most wounded relationship of all--my relationship with MYSELF.
For now I just want to touch on how I'm working to restore my relationship with myself. I haven't gotten it all figured out yet, but a few days ago I made a discovery that will play a key role in my journey to recovery and finding myself again.
In a therapy session I was asked what I wanted for myself. I had to pause for a minute to think about this because there are about a million things I could have glued to the end of that question. But then a few words sort of illuminated in my mind and I instinctively grabbed hold of them. CONFIDENCE and SELF-WORTH. Those are the two words that escaped my mouth.
I was sort of taken back by my own response and if you know me at all then you're probably just as surprised.
I think most people would consider me to be a pretty confident person. And on the outside I can see where that assumption would come from. I've excelled in dancing and tumbling, I'm a cheerleader at a D1 college, I'm fairly athletic, I have a large circle of friends, and I'm never deprived of compliments on my body and/or appearance. (Despite the impression you're probably getting right now, I can assure you that I'm not saying any of this in a boastful way. If you can bear with me for just a sec, I'll actually show you how I've let all of this work against me).
Sure, all of those things I just mentioned are things I should find joy in. And joy I did find. But I made a terrible mistake when I let all of those things define who I was. I rooted all of my confidence and worth into these fleeting aspects of life. That's not to say that I shouldn't have been proud of these things or that they shouldn't have boosted my confidence or been apart of who I was, but when that's all I see myself as or when I honestly let myself believe that that is all others see when they look at me, thats where the problem gets created. What happens when those things are gone? Who am I when I'm no longer that cheerleader? Who am I when my body changes--because inevitably it will--? Who am I when my body no longer allows me to do all those cool flips? Who am I without the cute clothes? I'll tell you who I'll be. (Well first off, I'd be naked without the clothes, but thats not my point). I'll be a nobody. I'll be a nobody if I continue to find my confidence and worth on such a surfaced level. Those things are a part of me but they are not WHO I AM.
So now I'm left with a question. Who am I ? And better yet, who do I want to be?
I'll tell what I know as of now. I am Taylor. A girl who loves to make people laugh, a girl who would spare anyone from the pain shes experienced if she could, a girl who will find optimism in a considerably bad situation, a girl who has an undaunted desire to help others, a girl who finds herself so perplexed by the problems of the world that she can't watch the news, and a girl who is complex. Complex is the key because it says that there is so much more to her that she, or those around her have yet to discover. But those things will remain undiscovered if she continues to think that all she has to offer the world are her visible or outside qualities.
And now, who do I want to be? Well I want to be refreshingly honest. Fearlessly loyal. And constantly humble. (Things I lacked as I got deeper into my eating disorder). But I also want to be a good mother, a loving wife, and a sincere disciple of Christ.
All of these characteristics that I have and want, have nothing to do with my physicality or the things that I have, so why have I let those become my identity?? It's so frustrating. But the awareness I now have is what's going to change all of this. And I'm hoping that I've raised some awareness for all of you as well.
What shallow things have become your identity? Where do you get your confidence and your worth? Ask yourself these questions. And then dig deeper and start to discover who it is that you really are and who is it that you want to be. That's where you will find true and lasting confidence and worth.
The coolest part about asking ourselves who we are is that its a question that will span out across the rest of our lives, so it's not like we need to feel pressured to figure it all out today. But it is something we should start thinking about.
**I don't claim to be an artist, but we do a lot of art therapy in treatment so sometimes I get to pretend to be one :)
This is a flower I painted. The petals represent the things about me that could get taken away from me, or "plucked off" if you will. And the center represents the core of who I am, or things that I would still have even if I was plucked of all the other things. This project taught me that when combined, all of these things can make a truly beautiful creation.