Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Imperfect Process

"Very slowly and carefully, you let go of the log and practice floating. When you start to sink, you grab back on. Then you let go of the log and practice treading water, and when you get tired, hold on once again. After awhile, you practice swimming around the log once, twice, ten times, twenty times, a hundred times, until you gain the strength and confidence you need to swim to shore. Only then do you completely let go of the log."
-From Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnson

Recovery is not a perfect process. It's nowhere near perfect. It's messy. It involves screw ups and steps backward and mistakes. With eating disorders, a person is never fully recovered, only more in control than out.

Today, I threw up for the first time in over a year. It had actually been a year and a half since the last time--when I was just entering treatment and refusing to give up my eating disorder, so I would go to Wendy's or McDonald's and buy ice cream and diet coke and then drive to the park and eat, only to throw it all back up again. I was at a place where holding on to my eating disorder was the only thing that mattered. 

After being in recovery for a year and a half, I was beginning to not understand how or why I had functioned with an eating disorder attached to me. And even when I was sitting with tears rolling down my cheeks in the bathroom, I had no idea why I had ever desired that path. 

Now that I've let a few hours pass between then and now, I realize that what I was longing for was a crutch. I wa longing for something to help me get through this--the judgement, the newness, the isolation, the emotions, everything.  And now that that moment has been put behind me, there's a lot of me that desires to keep ahold of this crutch. To get myself through by getting lost in my eating disorder again. 

But I am refusing to let it go any further. I am choosing to step out in faith, to let people know that I am struggling, and to come up with a plan to get myself back on the right path. 

This included learning to recognize what is leading up to trouble in this setting and how to turn it around. I know myself this well at school and in this place, when it felt safe for me. But it doesn't anymore. It has changed and so I must begin a new journey of discovering how to care for myself and how to recognize when I need to do a better job.

This begins by not ignoring the warning signs. And it includes speaking to someone about it and then making sure I do something that doesn't allow me to dwell on my eating disorder and putting myself with people I feel safe with--like kids. 

So I took a step backward--it happens on the way to recovery. There's no such thing as a perfect journey. Steps backwards happen. It's only when you forget to realize this and continue backwards that it becomes worrisome. 

This is progress. 

"Today I will do my best. If I have a good day, I will be proud of myself. If I have a bad day, I will not dwell on it, I will forgive myself, I will put it behind me and I will continue to move forward in my recovery."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Passing Judgement Instead of Extending Love

Rainy days and people always get me down... 

I don't know what's been happening since I left my Gettysburg family for my camp "family" this summer.  At this point, I honestly have no idea if what I'm feeling is just me or if there's a real thing happening here.  But I know what I feel. 

See, ever since staff training began, I've just felt completely excluded here. Like I am not cared about and not wanted in this place. It's not everyone on staff that's been making me feel this way, but a handful of people.  And it's this handful of people that I interact with on a day-to-day basis that are making it the worst. 

For the week of staff training, I pushed it off as being "I'm a introvert. I don't function well or feel fulfilled in situations that have large numbers of people all interacting at the same time."  But then week one happened.  And in the midst of my safe haven, the role that I felt the most comfortable in, the true cliquey nature of the camp staff appeared. 

It started out simply as three fellow staff members reprimanding me and getting upset with me for doing what my boss told me to do. Excuse me, but I don't see why they felt it necessary to accuse me and blame me for doing what I was told. 

And then on Tuesday morning, they felt it was necessary to scold me for doing what, according to our policies, was absolutely nothing wrong, but because they apparently have something against me, I was yelled at and criticized and judged. For absolutely no reason. 

And to that, I simply retorted in an unpleasant manner, "I've worked here before. I know the rules. I'm not breaking any of them."  Then I walked away. And cried. 

Middle school drama does not belong in this place. It does not belong in a place where we expect no judgement from the kids and judge each other. It does not belong in a place where we accept all people and yet exclude and isolate one of our staff. It does not belong here. 

But it is. 

And I was really trying hard to not be judgemental and unloving towards a single one of them because I know that we are all human and that we are not anywhere close to perfect, but I was hurt and that hurt turned to anger and that anger made me want to justify how I was feeling, which led me to judgement. 

She hates me because she isn't as good at this as I am. 
He doesn't like me because I'm not like her, so he's stuck up. 
She hates me for God knows what reason. 

And in that same breath, as I was judging their actions towards me, I was judging their performance of their job. 

That's not how you act as a counselor!  
What's wrong with you?!  Sitting with other counselors and staring at your phone is not what you do. You're lazy. 
It's your fault she got cut with the box cutter. If you had been over here supervising, then she wouldn't have had to go to the hospital. 
You're lazy. You're incompetent. You're a bitch. You're selfish. You're an asshole. You're prideful. You don't care about anyone but yourself. Why are you here?! 

Oh wait. 
I'm no better than they are.
I'm passing judgement on them. 

See, here's the thing:  I am not here for the approval of my fellow staff.  Honestly, I'm not going to talk to any of these people again unless I work here next summer or see them around. I another four weeks, this nightmare will all be over. 

And in my narrowmindedness and hatred of these people, I am not seeing them as people who are not perfect, just as I am. I do not truly, truly know any of these people deeply and they do not know me. So where do I find the power and acceptability to pass judgement on them? 

So for the rest of this summer, I'm going to try to love people instead of judging them. My Meyers-Briggs assessment says that I have a judging personality, and I'm human, so it's going to be challenging. But as a Christian, it's what I am called to do. No exceptions. 

And as for how I feel and the rejection and hate and everything else that I feel, I don't know. I have my God. And I have friends with encouragement and love. And no matter what I feel is true, I know the truth: 
I am loved. 
I am accepted. 
I belong. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Your Approval Isn't Needed

I think that this may have possibly been one of the longest weeks of my life. Staff training. 

I hate staff training. It's so uncomfortable. I feel like I don't fit in anywhere and I don't belong in this big group. 

But then I remember that I am, in fact, an introvert. And therefore, being around this many people at one time is very overwhelming for me. 

Then I also remember that I am someone who tends to define herself by the approval of others. If people like me, I'm valuable and good enough. If they don't, then why do I exist?

But think about this. I am at a camp. A camp for a church that affirms everyone because they are created in the image of God and are God's beloved children. 

So who am I trying to impress? 

What is it about us as humans that we always feel that it is necessary to be accepted?  Yes, it is human nature to want to be with people and be loved and given attention, but I am loved unconditionally by my Heavenly Father and therefore, the approval of others is completely irrelevant. 

But I'm never going to stop feeling like I need to be accepted or included to be seen as good enough. It's in my nature. I just need to continually remind myself that I am a beloved daughter of the Most High and nothing can change that. 

Not my appearance. 
Not my grades. 
Not the approval of others. 

Resting in that is difficult, especially when I don't feel that it's true. But truth isn't always the same as what I feel is true. 

So yes, this week was rough, but it's over. I don't need approval to be good enough. And next week, I'll have campers and be surrounded by fewer adults and feel less pressure to fit in and be accepted because they already accept me and because it is there that I feel accepted and loved without trying to be either. 

And eventually, I will be surrounded with only people who build me up, accept me, and love me.

It will be okay.