This holiday season I am going to make peace with me. I talk a lot about making peace with my plate and my body, but little or nothing about making peace with myself. I have been beating myself up emotionally—a lot. Somewhere I was taught that who I am would never be enough. It used to be about my body; now it’s about success, motherhood, my personality, and anything else that I can use as a cat-o’-nine-tails to mercilessly flog myself into submission.
Last night was a sleepless, teeth-grinding night with my eldest daughter’s foot in my face (that’s another story). With each sleepless toss, I contemplated what I am doing wrong and then made up stories about how people must perceive me and my glaring frailties. Today, however, after many tears on my husband’s chest, I am realizing that defining me through fear and judgment only seems to breed more fear and judgment—and this way isn’t motivating at all. (Who knew?)
What if there isn’t anything I need to flog myself into comprehending, that is, no place to “get to,” no model human being I need to be like? Maybe the tools I used to get into recovery from my eating disorder can be used as life tools to help me on a daily basis, long after my illness has gone? In our book, Making Peace with Your Plate: Eating Disorder Recovery, Espra and I use “Talking Back” and “Taking Back Your Power” as tools to confront eating disorders. Maybe I need to talk back to the part of me that tells me I am not enough, just like I did with my illness. Then I can start taking back my power by dropping all the stories of what I “should” be in order to be loved; just as I had to drop the “should” about what my body had to look like in order to fit in.
Someone once told me that recovery is like peeling away the layers of an onion. I think maybe this is my next layer. For this holiday season, I will give myself the gift of peeling away the layer of me that says I “should” be something other than who I am today in order to feel worthwhile.
Whatever stage of recovery we are in, finding our way to our truth is really just like preparing an onion. Crying seems to be essential to get to the tasty parts of ourselves, and indeed, our lives.
Happy holidays my fellow onions!