I guess to start I need to apologize for my absence. A lot has happened over the past while and so much has changed. When I began writing this blog, I wanted to expose my eating disorder. I never wanted my presence in triathlon to be mistaken for anything other than what it was; a sick girl who used her love of triathlon to train both her mind and her body. Sometimes she abused this love when life became difficult. However, she felt she could always turn to her sport when she needed an outlet, and used it to explain to others the difficulties presented to individuals overcoming an eating disorder.
Today, I went on a long run. My Garmin battery died, but truthfully I had stopped looking at my pace long before it died. Sunday, at least for the past few weeks, has been my hard run day. But not this week. I could try and explain why I didn’t run above threshold today. Maybe it was the late nights this week? Maybe it was fatigue? Or maybe it was my lack of motivation? Whatever the cause, I listened to my body. And you know what? I don’t regret it. It was an absolute treasure of a run. Filled with little adventures along a path I have run many days prior; but one that never grows old. Afterwards, I was supposed to swim. Well, in truth I meant to swim at 6am. But again for whatever reason, I slept in today. I rescheduled the swim to 11am, and then to 3pm. I can’t say I always have or always will have, the luxury of a flexible schedule. But while I do; I will take full advantage of it. I know there will come a day when I won’t have this flexibility. I know there will be workouts where I will need to swim/bike/run past my limits. I know there will be days when I am exhausted, and will still have to hustle. But not today. Today, I am taking that step back and re-filling the tank.
Over this past year, I’ve learned to accept the downtime as a necessity. How can I give when I never take? How can I push hard if I’ve exhausted all of my energy? There are many right now who are knee deep in work, knee deep in hard sessions, and knee deep in emotionally draining situations; but I am not one of them. I feel a bit strange, almost a lack of accomplishment if I’m not the one who is working the longest hours, pushing themselves far beyond their manageable limit. This year and this new phase in my training has taught me to accept that it is ok to not be on the verge of breaking all of the time. Pushing yourself to your breaking point is not always commendable, just as holding yourself back is not always commendable. It is the timing of these actions. Periodization is not only something to be desired if you want to work optimally at specific moments; periodization is required.
I guess this blog post is proof of just how effective ED recovery can be if you allow it to be. This journey goes well beyond maintaining a specific weight. I think if I’m being honest, this whole process of losing myself (both figuratively and literally) and finding my way “back to health”, has been more than just getting back to physical health. This journey has been about coming to a field where both peace and acceptance grow wild and forming my own path. The longer I walk this path, the more I begin to realize that this journey will never be just about my physical body. Along this journey, I’ve also come to see that the more fuel I give to the fire that heats my life with passion, love, and acceptance; the less the expectations that society places on me seem to matter. The less attention I give to pleasing others, to moulding myself into what I think others will perceive as “perfection” or “wonderful” or “intelligent”, the more I feel whole. So much of my disorder came from a lack of control. My fears came from traumatic experiences and realizing I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to be. Most of all, this disorder grew out of a lack of acceptance; both of myself and my circumstances. My life may have deviated from the path I though I saw myself walking, but that never meant that I could not walk in another direction.
I read a really great quote the other day from TLC’s: What NOT To Wear host Stacy London. She said, “At 47, I’m finding my trouser pockets are filled with fewer and fewer f**ks”. I feel nothing could be closer to my truth. The less I care about what others believe to be true about my life, the more I am able to live my own life. Nothing has made me happier than to live my life how I see fit. I think so often people feel committed to holding onto labels and roles. External pressures feel so overpowering and we accept these pressures as truth, regardless of whether or not they are our truth. We are in no way obligated to be the same people we were five minutes ago; nor are we obligated to live our lives for other people. I say, give yourself the freedom and the love to grow into the person you desire to be. Giving your time and energy into someone else’s dream is draining, and eventually that drain will empty you completely.
Let me throw out an analogy. You are going to a dinner party, and the host asks you to bring homemade bread. However, you have no flour. Now let’s substitute money for acceptance, the flour as self-love and the bread as being the love you can express to others. To bring positive energy and show love for others, you have to first love yourself. But the only way to even start loving who you are is accepting yourself in the present moment and accepting your past decisions. Acceptance does not mean repetition; it means acceptance. Rejecting our authentic self and playing roles we never desired to play does not foster self-love and it certainly doesn’t foster self-acceptance. Instead, it fosters a false sense of acceptance and burdens us with heavy layers. Layers which we feel must be maintained for fear of exposing our naked and authentic self.
This brings me to me next topic: self-love. Self-deprecating humour is always my go-to humour, especially when I feel uncomfortable or quite simply because I never take myself too seriously. However, I have come to realize that there is a line that divides self-deprecation and self-loathing, and I dare not cross it again. I view my body like I view my family. I don’t always have to like them, but I will always love them. Always. Similarly, I will always love myself. I have softer edges, less-than-smooth skin, weird fingers and toes and I would love to be better in every discipline I train. I have yet to be the most intelligent person in a room, and I take far too long to understand academic questions. I also talk; a lot, and I really don’t like my voice. I make really weird faces. Speaking of my face, I can’t play poker effectively to save my life. But with all of these self-described “flaws”, I know these things are what I am. I am perfectly imperfect, and that is just how it needs to be. I don’t need to be perfect to deserve a rest or deserve to have fun. I don’t need to be anything other than myself to deserve my own love. As long as I am striving to be compassionate, empathetic and kind; I do not see any other conditions from which self-love should stem. I have yet to find another realization more freeing.
This leads me to my last message. I am finally free. After so much searching, I have found the key to freeing myself from the prison I was in. I have come to realize that there is no key, nor was there ever a key. I could always get up and leave the self-imposed prison, and I will always be free to leave that prison at anytime if I find myself back in that cell. That doesn’t mean that leaving this prison was or ever will be close to easy. In fact, it is really f**king hard. If I’m being honest, I doubt there will ever be another experience more taxing on the mind or the body. I can’t say I don’t struggle some days to free myself of my own chains. However, I am so lucky to have the support that I do. People who remind me to look for the best in others and myself. In heart-wrenching moments, these people remind me to look for the the lessons beneath all of the negative emotions. Pain, anger, and sadness are heavy memories to carry. But hope, happiness, and love; these are light memories. Lessons learned will always be lighter weights to carry through life than the pain which might have originally packaged them.
Thank you, for following along. I’m not advocating that my life or my recovery is how all recovery is, should be or needs to be. I am only shining light upon one story; my story. I hope if you’re struggling, my story has helped you to realize that you are not the only one and you are not alone. This will be my last post; at least for a long while. I don’t know where I’m going to go from here. Perhaps I’ll continue with academia or maybe I will grow further in the sport of triathlon. Perhaps I will stop both or maybe I will come back to this place of writing about life and finding funny gifs. But no matter where I go, I know that I am always growing and that I cannot give to others if I never allow myself to receive. I need to love myself before I begin to love anyone else. From this place of peace and acceptance, happiness and love can grow. So, in a super long-winded way (some things never change), I want to say I wish you peace and love, and remind you that you are never alone. I will still have my Instagram and my Twitter; feel free to follow or reach out if you ever find you are struggling, feeling alone or need someone to talk to.
Before I sign of, please remember:
You are you, that is true-er than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you. So love yourself, and cherish yourself. No matter where you find yourself in this crazy world, know that you are always enough; always.