Compassion is the Path to Wholeness

A dense grove of trees wrapped in red, blue, green, and white lights brightens the darkness at Rose Tree Park in Media, PA (Photo by Megan Bartlett)

The depression that settled in on me late autumn of 2021 lasted almost a year, but has mostly lifted now. Hope is slowly creeping back into my heart. Hope and Self-Compassion and Wisdom. These three energies are speaking to me a lot lately, encouraging me to embrace all aspects of myself — even the parts I don’t like.

One of those parts is “E.D.” (eating disorder). During the darkest part of the depression my old nemesis, E.D., made several appearances — talking convincingly enough that I started weighing myself daily, obsessing about the number on the scale, and following arbitrary food rules that E.D. laid out for me. And I must be honest that I am having a hard time kicking E.D. to the curb. For now, he has been relegated to a back room, but I just can’t seem to send him away for good.

You see, he has been in and out of my life since I was fifteen. This year I turned forty-five. Three decades in relationship with “someone” is not just something you throw away. I think some would disagree. In fact, the therapist part of me totally disagrees. She says, “E.D. has been abusing and manipulating you for thirty years! Get rid of him and don’t look back!” She is concerned for my well-being and believes as long as E.D. is around, I will continue to think my worth is somehow (even loosely) tied up with my weight and shape.

Yet, another part of me, who I call Sophia (Greek for “Wisdom”) is gently whispering to me, “E.D. needs your compassion. ALL parts of you need your compassion.” When Sophia speaks, I’ve learned to listen. She speaks through a deeply “settled” and calm feeling in my lower abdomen — the very same part of my body that E.D. has weaponized over the years.

So, I am listening to Sophia.

Sophia knows that being at war with E.D., conquering E.D., or even just ignoring E.D. are not the paths to wholeness. She knows that compassion is the only path. She tells me I must invite E.D. to talk — not by giving him permission to dictate how and what I eat, but by asking him his story, by finding out how he came to be within me and why he sometimes reluctantly leaves, but always returns. Sophia says I must listen to E.D. with an open heart, hearing his story with deep kindness.

I have not yet done this in great depth. But, in the little time I have spent with E.D., he has told me that he first arrived to “protect” me. That he saw me feeling lonely and misunderstood as a teenager. That he wanted me to belong. That he knew I longed to fit in and thought he could help me with that by helping me literally “fit”. He has said he never intended to harm me. He still believes the food rules are for my “good”.

In the coming months, I will sit down with E.D. and ask even more questions. I will listen with an open heart. And…I hope…I will be able to free him from the responsibility he feels he has to “protect” me in these misguided ways. I hope that we will laugh, or at least smile. I hope he will let me give him a hug. And I hope he will stay, knowing he is a beloved part of me…but also knowing he is officially retired from his duties!

I hope that my compassion for E.D. will finally be my path to wholeness.

Peace and all good,

Megan

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