As you know from recent posts, the theme of this year’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is “Come As You Are”. Well, let’s face it: being who we are in a world of transphobia, homophobia, fat phobia, racism, and discrimination can be terrifying. Although shielded by the privileges afforded me by my class and race, the voice of Binge-Eating Disorder still told me I was not okay as I was. It told me I was “not enough” — in every way possible. How could I, in my imperfect, not enough state, show up for my recovery process? How could I, with my perceived flaws and major screw-ups, connect with anyone on a genuine level?
The answer was revealed to me over time, through the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, through a mindfulness practice, through reconnecting with spiritual practices that helped me know my belovedness in God, and through many wise teachers, three of whom I want to share with you today.
The first was author, speaker, and songwriter Jenni Schaefer, a woman who bravely shared her eating disorder recovery journey in her first book, “Life Without Ed” and continued sharing her wisdom in “Goodbye, Ed. Hello, Me.” Jenni taught me how to identify the voice of my eating disorder (“Ed”), so I could recognize that there was a “me” separate from “Ed”. That “me” was the one who wanted to show up to my recovery and connect with others.
But “Ed” still had a strong hold on me. So, I turned to another teacher: Thom Rutledge, who happened to be Jenni Schaefer’s therapist. Through his book, “Embracing Fear“, I was able to notice recurring themes in my life: “I’m not enough” and “If I can’t do it perfectly, I won’t do it at all”. Those themes continued to impact my behavior and made it difficult for me to fully engage in recovery.
Then I read “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. I can’t remember how this book ended up in my hands, but I was drawn to the chapter called, “Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging, and Being Enough”. From this, I learned to focus less on doing and more on being, to let go of striving and embrace surrender. I learned I didn’t need to become perfect; my imperfection was the very gift that would allow me to connect humbly and deeply with others.
These three wise and wonderful teachers allowed me to bring my imperfect self to the table of life where I can now fully connect with others. So, if you’re struggling to Come As You Are, you are not alone. Consider reading some of the wisdom of the people I listed above. And know that we are here at the table waiting for you when you are ready.
Peace, joy, and health,