As another school year comes to a close I realized that many things are about to change. I am starting to pack up my room and to move my items out because I realize that I won’t be back here next year. I don’t think it has really hit me yet, and when it does, I think it will be like it was in college – it will hit me when I drive away with a car full of items that made that place home.
The furlough happened. Change happens. I have no choice but to accept it. It’s right there and it won’t go away. As the students are planning for finals and signing yearbooks, they are talking about next year and the sad reality is that I won’t be here next year. I have to sit with these feelings that my therapist talks about and I don’t want to. I don’t have a choice. I don’t have a choice because they keep showing up. I don’t want to sit with them, but they just won’t go away. Each time students come to say goodbye, I have to confront them all over again.
As upset as I am about all of this change happening around me (that I have NO CONTROL OVER), I realize that I can let it eat me alive, or I can work to try to learn from it and move on. I’m not saying it’s easy… it is NOT easy. I am writing what I want to do in a dream world, and I’m not living in that world yet!!! 🙂 I’m working to get in that world, and I believe that I’ll get there, but I’m not there yet.
I’m finding that although this door is closing – or pushing me out and hitting me in the ass on my way out – another one will be opening. It might not open right away, but I believe one will open up. It’s hard to hear that, and believe it… but I do think it’s true. It’s hard to know that something else will happen that is better because we think that what is in front of us is right at the current time. That’s not always the case. I think we have to have hope and belive, because hope is the only thing that is stronger than fear. If we lose hope, we’ve lost it all.
We are young, we can choose to change. We can choose how to live our life – we don’t have to live it in any one way, nor does it have to stay the same. As much as change scares us, we can always start over, at any moment; we can always do anything. We always have a choice and that is something that we can’t forget. It’s hard to think and know that, but we do have a choice! The choice can feel scary, and that’s okay… but the choice is ours!
Our choice can be anything! It can be a job change, to get a dog, to start a family, to start being healthy and running, a New Year’s resolution, to become a better person, or even recovery —- no matter what the change is…. It’s our choice. We can change professions – there is so much time left in our life. We can get a new degree. We can volunteer. We can go back to school. We can start our own business. Really, no matter how old you are, we are all still so young and we can do anything!
So often, I thought I was going nowhere in recovery because of mistakes I was making. In truth, we are all humans, we all make mistakes!!! It’s a given! As I met with Beth, my dietitian, and I felt like I wasn’t making progress she pointed out a lot of the progress that I’ve made, and much of it I just didn’t see. I think we sometimes focus on the mistakes in our lives that we forget to see what we accomplish and how far we’ve come. I’m lucky to have her to show me how much I’ve improved (wait… did I just say I was thankful for my dietitian… oh gosh… something has happened to me, and I don’t know what it is!). 🙂 Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not walking out of her office hugging sandwiches, but I am walking out understanding how I deserve to eat and how I deserve to be nourished. I do deserve. We all do.
I think the measure of our success in life is how adaptable we are willing to be in this world. It is always changing, and if we are unwilling to change with it, we are going to be left behind, and be left with hurt or negative feelings, or even worse…. alone. The more we can learn from experiences and change for the better, the greater things we will see in life! The more we adapt, the greater and happier moments we will have.
Sometimes I think back to college — I remember those nights sitting at the computer at 2a.m. in tears thinking that my world was crashing down because I was sure that my paper was not going to be finished in time! I remember thinking that life was over (was it really??). In that moment, it felt like it was over… but it wasn’t… I’m still here… I survived! 🙂 I think we forget that, in these moments, life feels so big and like we can’t handle it, but we really can. We got the papers in to our professors, and we still made it out for that celebratory beer. Our decision to pack up our books and head to the bar instead of study for that exam wasn’t the worst decision we could have made in our life…. We may have had the worst testing experience ever, but we passed the test, graduated and lightening did not strike us down for that decision (and we probably got a few hilarious stories out of that bar visit too). I think back and sometimes say, “life was so easy in college… I wish I could just go back, I would have less to worry about.” Truthfully, it wasn’t easier; the stress was just different. Wishing to be in a different place doesn’t make it easier, because you would still be as stressed in some other way in that different place. Everything has its own stress. It comes down to giving yourself a break and letting yourself choose things, and ways to deal with it and offering yourself a break.
We aren’t perfect. We never will be…. What’s the point in striving for perfection? Where will that get us? Let’s say there is this elusive perfection and we get it…. the Heavens open up, and light shines down and we hit PERFECTION!!!! WOOO HOOO….. Who fucking cares?!! Nobody! Nobody will know when you hit this “perfection”… you hit it and then just stand there thinking, “well that’s not good enough”…. You aren’t getting a medal or anything. What do you do now? You have strived for so long and you got it…. Do you slide down and turn into a loser? What’s left? I’ll tell you what’s left …. Nothing…. Boring! (sorry, some people may not have realized that I’m quite blunt! It works for me).
I have a suggestion – why don’t we strive for happiness! Strive for what makes us happy. Think about it. What makes you happy? What will make you happy? – and then work for it. Once you hit that goal… what is the next thing that will make you happy?…. then work for that. You never hit this end wall of “all done.” There is always something to work for and the end result is always awesome! For me, as hard as it is to fight the eating disorder, I know it does NOT make me happy! I know that being sick is not a happy place to be. I was not happy at my lowest weight and as much as Ed is telling me now how I’ll be happy, this time, if I get back there, I know it’s not true. I know that Ed is only full of sadness, frustration, inadequacies, anxiety and any other negative word you can come up with. So, in looking for happiness, I might not know what it IS, but I know what it’s NOT, and that counts for something!
I learned from Val at skinny camp that sometimes we have too many expectations. My body is really trying to recover from what I’ve done to it (I think it’s really mad at me from all those years of starvation! If it could talk it would say, “Rach, you suck, I’m so pissed I’m turning this off so haha… take that!”). We are both really struggling with running – seriously, to the point where we run for 2 minutes and then feel like our legs just won’t go anymore — and we used to be very competitive runners (this came out of nowhere, by the way). So, she taught me to run without expectations. That has made her a happier runner. I ran a 5k today and I decided to try it – I turned off my pacer and decided to just listen to my body and if I had to stop and walk, I would. I did stop and walk once or twice, and I didn’t want to know my time, but shockingly my time wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t a PR, but running for fun, and without expectations wasn’t so awful, I actually enjoyed the run and had a good time. So, maybe I have to choose to give up competitive running for a season and run for the fun of it in order to stay happy with recovery. It’s a choice I can make.
No matter what happens in our life, there is a choice we can make, even when it seems like there is no option. There is an option…. to fight or give up. Everything that happens in our life is a result of the previous decisions we have made. We do have control, even when we feel like we don’t. Sometimes we feel like we struggle to keep that control, but we can take it back.
A few anonymous quotes that seemed fitting:
“Whatever you choose, you might as well enjoy it – it’s your choice!”
“No one else can ever make your choices for you. Your choices are yours alone. They are as much a part of you as every breath you will take, every moment of your life.”
“You may think that in life, a lot of things happen to you along the way. The truth is, in life, you happen to a lot of things along the way.”
“Choosing to live your life by your own choice is the greatest freedom you will ever have.”
“It is only when you exercise your right to choose that you can also exercise your right to change.”
“It is your programming that has created your choices in the past. It is the choices you make today that are creating the programs of your future.”
“If you were given only one choice: To choose or not to choose, which would you choose?”
So, if we have no expectations and we are striving for what makes us happy — if you can take this challenge with me (which, by the way, you don’t have to), think about what makes you happy. Instead of worrying about reaching perfection in cleaning the house, or getting work done on time, or working on a project…. How about perfection in the next goal to make yourself happy? What would that goal look like? What would it be? What would your short-term goal to choose to make yourself happy, with or without mistakes, be? What are you choosing to do when nobody is watching?
for Julie… because she’s strong and has a choice.