i've honestly been trying to write this for two years now. every time I've tried to get it out of my head, it just hasn't felt right. it just never seems to come out faithful to what it looks like inside my head. this morning i was supposed to be packing but i guess today was the day it wanted to get out of my skull and onto the page. so here goes.
there's a lot out there about anorexia/eating disorders/whatever label you want to give this unhealthy, self-destructive lifestyle. I didn't want to just come to the table that is the interwebz with yet another post about how I went through that and what it was like... i wanted to share that, but yet i didn't. it makes me feel extremely vulnerable to talk about it period. it's taken me almost two years to be able write something remotely coherent. but you know what makes me feel not-vulnerable, and not alone, and not isolated? when other people are honest, and open, and vulnerable. and i guess i've decided over the past few messy years that i want to be that person who is honest, and hopefully maybe, in that honesty, i say something that runs a wrecking ball through someone else's isolation.
still, i wanted to share from a place of healing-- rescue, increasing-healthiness. day-by-day getting better, happier. working on it. not from a place of darkness, where i was still lost and wandering. that was a season for feeding on other's words, and on His word. which has honestly become deeper a way of life. it's become my salvation.
i can't speak for everyone, i can only speak for me. but i know that my case was not unlike thousands and thousands of others. it's a big, deep, messy, complex, sick, confusing subject. it is a hell that you, on some level, consent to live in. you make it for yourself and you convince yourself to stay.
i stayed too long.
i ate the food.
the food was poison.
it made me not want to eat anymore food because it made me believe that i was
a mess up.
never mind masterpiece, i was
the eraser smudge.
not good enough.
i wasn't a flesh-blood-bone girl, i was a controller of a body that i compartmentalized. i was sick. i was dancing with darkness, i was deeply unhappy. everyday was a weight on my heavy eyelids in the morning. it was burden to get out of bed, because my feet would hit the ground running; obsessively. running scared of what? of beauty, of peace, of that glorious avalanche that is life; rolling, rolling. i was scared of all that goodness because i wasn't good. no, I was chronically not good enough. the world told me i had to be x y z and i didn't feel like i was x y z yet, so i fought for that paper-thin cause; meaningless flag hoisted, charging into a battle that could only end it fatality.
i am convinced that i wouldn't have made it out alive if it weren't for the fact that someone made me and bled out for me and dove in after me, and dragged me to the surface for air. i wouldn't have made it out without Papa. He is the only reason i am here. my life, my heart, my lungs, my air, my head, my sometimes air-head, it's all his his his. he saved it, and he saves it everyday from the madness it tries to resurrect. and i wouldn't have made it out without so much love love from my parents, who are basically my lifeline. and i can't even put into words without crying what they mean and what they've done to keep me here. they are superheroes, loves of my life. my sister, a fighter herself, my better half. i needed them.
but there was one thing that i did for myself, it was really one of the only things that i personally took the initiative to do that really helped me. i've been doing yoga for about two years now, and almost every time i do it, i think about how much i want to share it with you guys. because i know that some of you are fighters, reading and commenting. and if i could give you one thing as a gift, to help you make it through the day, one thing you could actively do, it would be yoga. and here's why.
1 - you're making a decision. you are doing a thing.
there's this violent cycle of go, go, go, do, do, do. so you can be better, so you can be better, so you can be better. you're not good already, you're not pretty already, no. you have this massive list of things you have to do, non-stop all day in order to obtain any feeling of validation by the end of it. you are literally validating your life by this messed-up list. you are measuring your life by how far you can run, how many reps you can do, how little food you can fuel yourself on. you're super woman. unless well, you can't accomplish all those things on that list-- accomplish MORE than yesterday. in that case? scratch those superpowers. you are an actual failure. you ate a slice of actual bread? you only ran four miles, not five? your validation, your esteem, your sanity? it's gone.
it's like quicksand, this kind of thinking. it's a disease. a real, actual disease. through this, yoga was an active thing that i made a daily decision to do that helped tug me loose from the death grip. yoga breaks the cycle. or at least i've found that it can help. it's this designated quiet time, alone with you and your coach (mine was on youtube). you're forcing yourself to STOP. even if only temporary at first, all this schizophrenia comes to a grinding halt. you're giving your body, your soul, your dizzy brain a break. even if only for a half an hour or so at first? it's pressing 'pause' on all this madness.
2 - you are thinking about breathing. you are not thinking about everything. you are not thinking about yourself.
you're consciously keeping your focus on your breath, on your movements, on your posture. you're paying attention. you're listening carefully to the instructions, and you're consciously making the decision to be an observer of your practice. not a critic.
you're not thinking about the work you have to do, or how little you've eaten, or how you will proceed further into this abusive hurricane you're spinning around yourself. no, you're thinking about your next inhale... your next exhale. your movements. your limbs and ligaments, tendons slowly growing stronger each day. growing under your skin, like you are your own child. you are outside of yourself, looking in....and after awhile it becomes harder and harder to keep feeding that self-loathing animal living behind your skull bone. i've broken down crying on my mat before. i've cried because i've felt the ability to hate myself and hate my body being tugged gently from my white knuckled grip. i've heard a voice that says, soft at first, then louder as time goes on, "let go, love."
3 - it's not about reps, bikini bodies, or who can twist themselves into the most complicated pretzel. it's about who can breathe; who can stretch and feel good.
"it's never about how deep you can get into a pose... it's just about feeling a stretch."**
the beauty is that you are not flexible..not at first. in fact you are inflexible in every way. you refuse to let anything move you. you will not be moved. YOU are in control. YOU. you control your body and how much food you eat and how much exercise you do. you control it-- YOU. I can't even express how tight my hips and joints were... don't think your body doesn't hear all these cutting words your eyes (and maybe lips) tell it's reflection.
it's not about the pose. it's about the stretch. the stretch in those tight joints, and the stretch out of that dark comfort zone your unhealthy thoughts have created.
4 - yoga is not just exercise. it's the no violence/self-respect zone.
if something hurts, you don't do it. it's a hard concept to swallow when normal life has become this repetition of intentionally doing things that you know are hurting you. don't do something if it hurts you?? why?? i do that all the time. i do that everyday.
it's a new concept. it's a bold objection to the destructive, loveless way you are treating yourself. it's an echo of respect, of honor, of tenderness in your hollow, hungry mind. the dark places where you chain yourself and deprive yourself. it's a contradiction to the hate. it's a bullhorn through which someone's screaming about love love love.
5 - you are already beautiful, love.
yoga is a reminder of the fact that you don't have to look like the girl on the cover of the magazine. in fact you never will because guess what??? you are two different people. and people were not made to try to look exactly like one another. you don't have to look like her. you were not made to look like her. guess what, love? you were made to look like y o u . beautiful, beautiful y o u , with skin, blood, bone, ligaments, tendons, and an amount of body fat that is healthy for your specific, unique body. you are beautiful. you are necessary. you are not silicone. you do not exist to look a certain way, no, your purpose is waaaay bigger and better and far more important than that lion-heart. you are bigger than the numbers on the scale, the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the amount of exercise you do. no, you know what you were made for?
massive, freaking huge amounts of, dancing, twisting, late night drives, lip balming, ice creaming, singing punk rock songs really loudly, re-watching disney movies, wearing concert tees, getting pink milk from convenience stores, licking the beaters, laying on the floor and playing with your dog, watching the deep sky, picking out shooting stars, picking out bright coloured shoes, learning how to skateboard, or how to dance, or how to play the ukulele, going for runs, doing healthy, body-friendly workouts, smiling at yourself in the mirror, love, love, loving you and spreading that love love love to the person next to you on the bus, at the concert, in the class, at the kitchen table. you were made for so much j o y , love. joy.
"...I have yet to see a scale that can tell you how enchanting your eyes are. I have yet to see a scale that can show you how wonderful your hair looks when the sun shines its glorious rays on it. I have yet to see a scale that can thank you for your compassion, sense of humor, and contagious smile. Get off the scale because I have yet to see one that can admire you for your perseverance when challenged in life..."**
and so i come to this topic hesitant and fumbling; still wrestling. I feel awkward writing this, but i also feel awkward sometimes at checkout counters, and i still do that. so i guess i can do this too. this may be something i write more about, or write less about, or never write about again. but i wanted to share one of the bright patches. yoga is something that helped me and continues to help me so much, and if i can share that balm with someone else with a sore soul, it would make me happier than i can articulate.
i love you guys so much i could have a seizure over it.
know that i'm always here, okay?
/tiny reference area/
this is the yoga channel i use here. i practice at home. on a side note, none of this refers to specific religious aspects some incorporate into yoga. i am talking exclusively about breath/movement/and whatever restful or meditative qualities you personally incorporate yourself based on respect for your own beliefs. :)
quote 1, Lesley Fightmaster.