Getting To Know Oneself Is The Best Journey Of All
This is fascinating. Do you ever find something you wrote that you forgot about? I just found a speech I wrote that I never actually gave. I chickened out. In February 2009 I produced and hosted a benefit concert for eating disorders awareness. I was going to read this speech to kick-off the evening, but I let it sit in a folder on my desktop and keep my thoughts to myself.
Reading it now… I’m simultaneously impressed and amused. Amused in a dark, ironic sort of way. At the time I wrote this I was bingeing and purging several times a week, and purging almost everything I ate even if it was a normal sized meal or just a handful of pretzels. Yet somewhere inside I knew I couldn’t keep that up, and I didn’t want to. So I’m impressed, I’m impressed at the insight I had, and the strength I had to write it down even when I was in such a depressive, destructive state. No wonder I chose not to read it… the dichotomy of my life at the time was becoming too much to bear. (Being an active bulimic and an active advocate for recovery.)
So here’s the speech, all of which I still stand by today, but with even more conviction and personal strides toward these goals of self-love.
Hello everyone, thank you so much for coming! Before I introduce the first performer, I wanted to talk a little about why I wanted to organize a night like this. So bear with me for a few minutes and then we’ll get to the music. I have been dealing with an eating disorder and body dysmorphic disorder for about ten years. I started the recovery process about three and a half years ago, and for me, that basically consisted of a lot of personal research and delving into the online activist community.
In August of 2007 Kathleen MacDonald, the outreach coordinator for FREED, introduced herself to me through the myspace I had created to promote awareness of body dysmorphic disorder. She invited to a screening of a new documentary about body image which I was unable to attend since it was in Washington D.C. and I was in the process of moving here to New York City, but it sparked a new awareness of people who actually make a living doing advocacy work for eating disorders and mental health.
The thing about the recovery process is that it is not a straight path. Not only do physical ailments have to be addressed, but it is imperative that psychological behaviors and emotional wounds are treated as well. Juggling all three aspects of the illness is a daunting task for the individual suffering, as well as for those working to help them back to health. A roadblock many in recovery face is ironically, the point when they achieve physical health. When the anorexic is no longer clinically emaciated, no longer suffers from dangerously low blood pressure, edema or seizures; when the bulimic stops purging just enough to let the esophagus tears heal, stop bursting blood vessels in their eyes, and is able to balance their electrolytes …they become functional. It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking everything is OK now, that you’re “just healthy enough” and who cares if you still engage in behaviors, especially as an emotional coping mechanism, as long as it doesn’t interfere with daily life?
Well, this is where many stay for decades. But true recovery, which I truly believe is possible, is getting beyond the safety blanket of the “ghost of eating disorder past” and finding, getting to know, accepting, and ultimately loving your self.
The mind and the body are intricately connected and the well-being of both are inevitably linked. Feed the body, feed the soul. Sometimes we have to stop and take a step back, breathe and really face ourselves. When all the pain, anger and fear starts smoldering inside us and stunting our growth we have to make a choice. People with eating disorders have become conditioned to self-destruction, but it is in these moments when self-protection is so imperative. How can we help others or save the world if we’re constantly harming ourselves? We can’t. Love begins within and for it to be able to spread, it needs to be harvested within ones’ self first. We have a biological need to be able to say “Yes” and “No”. When that choice is taken away from us, for whatever reason, we start saying “yes” and “no” in irrational, destructive ways. It’s a hard journey, but what journey isn’t? We have the right to be healthy, to be happy, to love ourselves and to say “Yes” and “No” with OUR voices, not the voice of disease.
A good place to start is, “Yes, I am beautiful!” and “No, I don’t want to hurt anymore.” So I hope that whether or not you have experienced an eating disorder or are close to someone who has… those statements resonate with you. Because those statements are truth. Everyone deserves to express who they are and not be afraid to stand up to the world.