We’ve been told the truth will set us free and we cheer on those who bravely seek it out. The truth is seen as the ultimate reward. But the truth can be messy and sometimes it can turn your entire world upside down. Uncovering my truth has been a lifetime in the making and at times it’s been elusive and impossible to understand. But what I’ve learned from the endless hours of therapy, emotional calls with mentors and coaches, a multitude of powerful books and the practice of yoga, is that the truth always lives inside our body. And even if our truth is flooded with sorrow or shame, our heart will still feel at peace when we live our life from a place of authenticity and truth.
Since beginning my path of recovery from an eating disorder over 10 years ago I thought I had my story and my truth figured out; why I developed an eating disorder and how I could use my experience to help others. I thought I had done all the work and that chapter was complete. Having spent nearly 20 years in therapy, I had the story of my eating disorder clearly printed in my mind and had worked hard to rewrite the meaning of it to serve as something purposeful and empowering in my life and in others. I was willing to accept and live this truth, which I had tediously composed. But this was the glaring problem; you cannot compose your own truth no matter how many retreats or seminars you attend, self help books you read, or hours you spend talking with a therapist.
Back in college while I was still deep in the clutches of my eating disorder, I was accepted into the prestigious and exclusive Bachelor of Fine Arts program for Musical Theater. When the eating disorder suddenly sparked my obsession with exercise there was no more room for what was once my passion of singing and performing. I changed my major from musical theater to Kinesiology, the study of exercise and movement science. I stopped auditioning for shows and began working as a personal trainer to mask the destructive behaviors of my eating disorder. Flash forward to 6 years later, I had graduated college with a BS in Kinesiology, had been in and out of another treatment center, and had started to truly recover from my eating disorder, and yet I still pressed on with the decision my eating disorder had made; to work in the exercise industry and abandon my dream of performing in musical theater. Pilates, fitness and yoga were my new, all be it fabricated truth.
I eventually started my own fitness business with the goal of helping others who were moving through their own eating disorder recovery heal their relationship with their body and movement. This was what I believed was my grace. I had found meaning and justification for what had torn my life apart. Business was challenging but incredibly rewarding. Knowing that I could create something out of nothing and make it my livelihood is a feeling like no other. I felt strong and capable. So I eagerly moved forward, welcoming all the new challenges and freedoms that came with being an entrepreneur. I thought I had found my truth and my purpose. Life was finally beginning to make sense. That was until I found myself completely breaking down on my yoga mat at a women’s summit.
We were in the middle of a yoga/dance session and we were chanting the phrase, “May we remember who we really are”. As the words became louder and stronger, I felt an overwhelming sadness begin to move through my body and flood my heart. I kept my tear-soaked eyes closed in attempts to protect myself from being noticed. I tried pulling myself together but it was impossible. Where was this deep sorrow coming from? Why now? Looking back at my story, I had nothing but gratitude; Gratitude for my incredible life free from my eating disorder, my children, my husband and my work. I had experienced similar sadness when I thought about all the things the eating disorder had taken from me: performing, relationships, and a decade of my life. But this was different. This felt deep and hidden, like it existed only in shadows.
My inescapable truth was calling me out and I had no idea how or where to begin excavating it. I felt lost and often found myself pushing this murky discomfort aside in attempts to believe that if I ignored it long enough it might just go away. It didn’t. I wasn’t surprised. Living in congruency with my heart, body and mind is something I have valued since beginning my recovery and something felt sharply out of alignment. Although I was still seeing my therapist and practiced yoga regularly, I knew I needed something more. Lucky for me the universe loves being perfectly on time.
Navigating the Murky Waters of Body Positivity, Thin-Privilege and Eating Disorder Recovery: Part Two