February 22nd marked the first day of the National Eating Disorder Awareness week. Each year that passes, the meaning that this week has for me grows. It marks another year when I can say that “I made it”. Although there are still times when I struggle, I know that I am “on the other side” of my eating disorder. Sometimes, I still hear that disordered voice in my head – however, I am now able to listen to it, acknowledge that it’s there and then let it go. It’s not my -TRUTH- anymore. I’ve learned to detach from it and come back to myself.
About a month ago I met Jessica Raymond. She is the face behind Recovery Warriors, a site with tools that help girls during their recovery from eating disorders. She also lives in San Diego and it was great to connect with someone else who fought her eating disorder and is now giving back to society and the community. I heard her say that recovery is like surfing. You can have periods of time where you are just patiently sitting on your board, waiting for the waves in peace. A period of time where everything feels steady. Then there’s times when the waves hit you and you just have to ride them, not knowing the outcome, unaware if you’re going to make it out “alive”. She said she’s learned to treat emotions like waves. You have to acknowledge that they are there, you have to ride them to realize that they are fleeting. That they are not permanent. That they will pass. If you think about it we all pretty much go through a sort of “surf recovery”.. our lives are filled with steady moments that sometimes change into a set of crazy waves.
I know that sometimes it’s hard for people to talk or think about eating disorders. I also know that more people than you think you know, struggle with them. So I don’t think that talking about them is in vain. Now that I have a daughter my priority is to raise her with a high self esteem and self love. I want to celebrate her for who she is. I know that a big part of this is the example that I set for her, in how I treat myself and how I treat others.
This year for NEDA week my goal is to celebrate people and I want to invite you all to do the same.
I come from a family where friendly “banter” is part of the dynamic. Mexicans love speaking their minds and although the intentions are never hurtful I’ve noticed it’s easier to laugh at people than to compliment them. We love instant gratification and it takes way less time to find something on the outside of people that you can talk about than actually taking time in getting to know people, asking the right questions and finding something lovable/admirable inside of them. It takes work. It takes dealing with feeling vulnerable.
We reap what we sow. This is what I want to teach my daughter.
Find time. Learn to love people for who they are. Don’t be quick to judge strangers. Know that how you treat other people is only a reflection of what is inside of you. Love yourself. Ride the wave. And to all my fellow recovery warriors: I love you all! We are doing this – we are living life freely!