Getting Joy Back

I was barely four when I noticed the other girls in my ballet class. I remember distinctly my friend who had long, dark, flowing hair and was tall, at least tall for a four year old and had a thin build. I on the other hand was a normally sized not tall but not short, not large but not incredibly tiny either four year old.  However, all I knew was I didn’t look like my friend who I thought was beautiful. And all I wanted was to look as beautiful as I thought she was and whether I realized it or not it changed the way I danced and acted in the class because I didn’t see myself as good as she was. Theodore Roosevelt once stated, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” At four years old I learned what it was like to have joy stolen because of comparing myself to someone else. I may not remember that friend’s name but the lesson she taught me will forever be imprinted on my heart…

Today I had ballet, and as a twenty two year old I could  have reverted back to my four year old self in dance class.  I was reminded in class how easy it is to revert back to those thoughts and that attitude of comparison. Here we are college women  in unflattering leotards and tights standing in front of a full length mirror taking up the whole side of the room. Even more it’s a class where you are constantly required to look at yourself in the mirror to make sure you are doing the right dance moves. Let me be really honest here and add to that of list of things  and say that I am in no manner the most skilful ballet dancer. I may have had times in my life where dance was an important part of my life and I was a decent dancer but that is not now and my ballet skills now are definitely less than great.:)

For years Ed tortured my thoughts in everything from ballet to clothes shopping. I constantly compared myself to the models in magazines, to women I passed in stores, and even my best friends. I was never pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, fashionable enough, good enough, to name just a few. Today I looked at the girl in the mirror, the one who got ready for class in less than ten min, hair in a messy bun, no make up, in the not so flattering leotard, the girl who wasn’t quite keeping up with all the steps, and I smiled at her. I even laughed a little to myself, because I like that girl, in fact I love her. She is real. She is messy. She is completely imperfect. She may not be the best dancer or look incredible in that leotard but she is beautiful inside and out.

If I let myself I could compare myself to the beautiful people around me in the ballet class and otherwise…it would be so easy to do that. However, they aren’t me and I am not them. We don’t share the same stories, struggles, passions, and desires that make us who we really are, so why would I compare myself to someone who I am not? If I have learned anything in my relationship with Ed it is that he uses lies to tell you, that you aren’t worth it etc. and that so and so over there is better and if you looked and acted like she did you would be better. I spent years and years in this desperate trap and ended with up with nothing but despair. Comparing yourself does nothing but as Roosevelt says steal your joy. And steal my joy it did for so many years, but not anymore!

I would be lying if I said at times it wasn’t difficult to compare myself to someone else, not just in looks but in their life in general. It’s easier to do than we might think and it takes guarding your thoughts to learn not to succumb to such lies of comparison. However, it is so worth it!! When I spend less time looking at others lives and comparing them to mine then I have more time to see the blessings and joy mine is filled with. There is so many wonderful blessings in our life that we often never see when we spend time focusing on the things we don’t have. Believe me it is still a lesson I am learning. However, it is a lesson I couldn’t have learned with Ed’s lies still swimming in my head but when they went away it was easy for the comparison to go too.

Friend, maybe you hear those lies and they cause you to compare yourself with others. Maybe you are desperate because your joy is being stolen. Maybe you don’t have an Ed but you have something else in your life that causes you to compare yourself with others. Let me say this loud and clear…IT IS NOT WORTH IT!  I say that with so much love and compassion because I know how difficult it can be to realize this and let go of  what is stealing your joy but you CAN do it! I want you to realize that only YOU can be the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful, wise version of you, no one else can do that, so why compare yourself with someone who can NEVER be you?! Know that comparison only steals your joy and I want your life to be filled with joy!! And may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH IT!!

<3MK

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Scary but NOT Impossible

There is a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” I feel as if this has been the mantra of my life the last few weeks. Now if I am being honest, I did not set out for this to become the motto of my current life. However, I am also not so opposed to it after I have lived out the last few weeks and they have turned out incredible. You see if I were to describe myself even six months ago, fearful was something I fully embodied. Ed loved the fearful MK, she was obedient to her relationship with him and she would do anything for fear of losing that. Well this MK doesn’t live that life anymore and let’s just say the last few weeks have been all about being fearless, not fearful…

There are a lot of things that make me cringe and standing on a scale is one of them. In the last year, my treatment team and I made the decision for me to not know my weight and to this day I still don’t. The only time I step on the scale is when I go to the doctor and even then I have some incredible doctors who have techniques to make sure I never see or find out my weight. However, just the anticipation of stepping on the scale this week brought me into a panic. Even though I knew I would never see the number and no one would let me know my weight I still didn’t want to do it. That number used to hold so much power over me and the action of stepping on the scale has always brought back that same sinking feeling it did for so many years. This week though it didn’t. I went to the doctor, stepped on the scale, and stepped off it. Nothing happened. No fireworks, no fainting, nothing. I didn’t see the number and I didn’t think twice about it. In fact, my doctor and I didn’t talk about my actual weight at all. For once, I didn’t care about the number I didn’t care that other people in the office knew the number. While even as I type this it sounds crazy thinking about my former life, for once the scale didn’t hold the same power. Because for once in my life, I finally believe that I am not defined by that number. In truth that number means nothing. And not only did I conquer a huge fear in that realization but it also showed me how Ed doesn’t dictate my life anymore.

While we are on the subject of things that make MK cringe, another thing that has always made me cringe is form fitting clothing. And when I say form fitting, I mean leotard tight fitting clothing. The kind of clothing one might wear to dance or work out in. I have always felt incredibly self-conscious in any type of clothing that even slightly revealed my shape but especially in a dance/workout leotard type outfit. It brings me right back to my days of dance as a three year old, when I sadly was aware and focused on whether I was smaller or bigger than the other girls in the room. So what did I do this semester? I signed up for Ballet. Now this is in no way because I was itching to conquer my fear of leotards and mostly focused around the fact that in the last semester of my senior year I wanted to take a class that I loved. While I may have always hated leotards I have always loved dance. When I showed up for my first day of Ballet I was not altogether shocked that leotards and tights were the required attire. However, I was shocked when I went and bought my new dance attire and didn’t have a breakdown in the dressing room. Even more, I was severely shocked when I went to Ballet the next day wearing my mandatory leotard and tights and I felt fine. I even felt more than fine. In fact, I felt normal. I didn’t freak out, I didn’t have a melt down, I didn’t stare at my self in the mirror criticizing every part of my body,I just danced and I loved it! For the first time ever, I didn’t worry about how I looked in something or how other people thought I looked, I just enjoyed dancing.

And if conquering my leotard fears weren’t enough I decided I would conquer my other exercise fears as well. Part of my Anorexia revolved around my obsession to run and the over exercising I did only furthered my disorder. When I started treatment, I wasn’t allowed to exercise. In fact, I was forbidden from even going on a walk. That was how much my body needed to recover from all the damage that I did to it through exercise. I needed to rest and rest I did. This summer I started back to exercise in moderation but I knew I needed a little more support than solo exercising. So once again, I signed up for a fun class, jogging. And much to my surprise I have loved it. Because deep down MK loves exercise, it was Ed who warped her mind and made it torture. Even after class on Tuesday, when I learned that every machine in the rec shows how many calories you burn (Side note: This truly enraged me as I don’t think anyone needs to knows this info and it only furthers Ed’s lies.), I didn’t freak out. I found a way to use something to cover that part of the machine and moved on with my workout. I truly loved my workouts during my class and am looking forward to more. It’s not about the exercise anymore it’s about being able to feel my body move and even take time to think and clear my head. I wanted to reaffirm to myself that exercise in itself wasn’t awful but the way I had used it in the past certainly was, and even more that I was no longer that girl anymore.

So maybe you just read some of my accomplishments this past week and you are laughing to yourself because in the scheme of things these are all pretty minute accomplishments. And I totally understand that but for me they were all pretty huge deals and I think I speak for most with a relationship with Ed, when I say that these are just a few things at the core that we struggle with. For me the last week was spent doing things that scared me and learning that my life didn’t come crashing down when I did them and even more that I was not the same girl I used to be.

Now I don’t want to paint the rosy picture that none of these were hard to do. My best friends can tell you that I had quite a few panic sessions before I accomplished any of them and that everyday is not a great day and even more that I am in no way perfect in my recovery. However, the point is I accomplished them and learned to face my fears, some of my biggest fears. My eating disorder was about so much more than just food and control over my food. My relationship with Ed, encompassed much more, including: my relationship with my body, my body image, my weight, my exercise habits, my wardrobe and on and on, but my life isn’t dictated by any of those things anymore.

My point in writing this post is not to receive a pat on the back or a compliment on how great doing all these things are, while those are all very sweet things it’s not what I want. The purpose in this blog has always been to encourage others who are struggling with Ed and provide hope. Hope that there is life after Ed and that this life without Ed, is a beautiful life. So when you read this I want you to know that you too can do it. You too can accomplish all these things and more. I want you to know that recovery is possible and oh so worth it. Just reread what I just accomplished this week. MK with Ed could have never accomplished any of those things but MK without Ed sure can and has and even more she knows that this is just the beginning of a life without fear! Be encouraged my friend all this and more is possible for you too and always, ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

<3MK