Changes. Validation. Bigtime who-am-I territory. That's what I'm dealing with right now, sweeties.
I need to tell you about something that happened in a yoga training I once took. One of the teachers asked the group what it meant to have an open heart. The answers were mostly pretty predictable and optimistic, which is a beautiful thing. But then he changed the course of the question and asked about some of the challenges of having an open heart.
This is where I spoke up without thinking (this is something I suffer from), and I said "You feel all the world's sharp edges."
Having an open heart is a beautiful thing. Because honestly, your heart is bigger and stronger than you even realize. But HOLY SHIT CAN THE WORLD HURT SOMETIMES.
Since last year, I've been dealing with a Big Breakup. Part of me is embarrassed to say it's still deeply affecting me on a daily basis, because well, you should buck up, start dating, get over it! That's what society tells me, anyway.
I've also dealt with the death of my baby boy pug, Porkchop. Another thing that I had limited permission, societally speaking, to grieve. It's like, people post nice things on Facebook for a little, but then it's all "are you going to get another dog?". Don't get me wrong, this question doesn't offend me (just in case you've asked me that). But how could I get a mere dog when Porkchop wasn't even a dog at all but a little spirit love nugget spawned directly from my heart?
So, here I am trying to deal with these things, and trying to move on with my life, and to maintain an open heart while I'm still at it.
But the sharp edges are hitting me left and right. Some examples:
- Dating is terrible. I don't know the rules. I mean, the last time I "dated" was before the internet even existed (slight exaggeration). I don't know how it works and things that are apparently normal hit me deeply. I am not super experienced. I counted a few weeks ago, and I've now officially been on 19 dates in my entire life. How on earth does this stuff work?
- Making friends is hard. I've been trying very hard to form a community in my new city, and have really made some great strides, I think. But an observation that I have had is that as an adult, making new friends is difficult. I think this is partially because people are more established, but partially because people's hearts crust over a little bit as they get older. It's harder to let people in. Of course, it does make it all the more worthwhile once you do find someone to share time with in a meaningful way.
- I need SO much validation. People often tell me that I seem to have it "together". And in a lot of ways I do; I can see how I'm an impressive person. I do cool things, I bought a house, I travel, I'm interesting. I'm very independent. But I still seem to need so much validation. Am I doing good? Please tell me I'm doing good. Like my Facebook post! Love me, love me, love me! Where the fuck does this come from?
- I still have an eating disorder. I identify as "mostly recovered". But I am not fully recovered, not yet. I recognize that I still have some hurdles to overcome. The above bullet points are big parts of what I need to overcome, or at least find peace with.
Because I recognize that when things aren't going right--when I am not having success in love, when I encounter someone I want to befriend who seems to be immune to my charms (believe it or not, right?), when I don't seem to have the validation I need...when things aren't working out, my mind turns to food.
Everything seems too confusing and hard to deal with, so instead of focusing on that, I'll turn my laser focus to what I have eaten. How many calories have I eaten today? How many did I eat yesterday? Have I walked 10,000 steps yet? Did the yoga teacher talk too much and reduce how many minutes of active asana time I had?
My eating disorder is in the corner, tempting me. It says, "Jessie, turn off those heart rays, because the world will only hurt you. Put your heart in a box and come back to me, I'll always be here for you. I'll protect you."
It's tempting. I mean, when my heart is open, I'm a big doofus in the world. I say stupid things, I make mistakes, I overshare, I'm deeply uncool. I'm likely undate-able. Definitely a weirdo. But there's something beautiful in that too, I think.
So what will keep me from falling back into disordered eating when the world is so painful sometimes? I know I'll sound like someone who does too much yoga, but honestly, I think the answer is LOVE, and FAITH. And keeping my dang heart open!
- LOVE. I need to keep on being my ridiculous, open-hearted self, big mistakes and stupid statements and contradictions and confusion and ALL. Yes, I think one should always try to learn from mistakes and continue improving. But it's also necessary to love myself as I am, too, and look at myself with compassion.
- FAITH. I need to have faith that it's all going to work out for the best. Uggggh part of me feels so deeply cheesy in admitting this, but I do believe that things happen for a reason. I don't necessarily know if I call it god or the universe or give it a name, but I do believe that I am being guided on a path. Now, this isn't a sort of blind faith that I should leap and the net will appear. I am a little too cynical for that. I think that there are still plenty of decisions and lots of work that I need to take an active part in. BUT I do think that challenges and positive milestones are put in front of me for a reason. I choose to have faith that even if I don't understand them, that they are working in my favor in some way. Not only does this keep me from becoming a shut-in who never leaves the house for fear of the big scary world, but it helps me reject the eating disorder's pleas that I come back to its comfort.
- KEEP THAT HEART SHINING. Sometimes I fall asleep to cheesy self help videos on YouTube. Yup, I just admitted it. I forget what the video was, but it was about letting your heart shine, and something that the person said hit me. It was that many of us are scared of shining our hearts forward because we fear getting hurt. So we create armor around our hearts. But really, this is the opposite of what we should do, because if we truly let our hearts shine forward, we'd be surprised to find that they're a zillion times stronger than we think. The idea that our hearts are weak is a myth. If you have the bravery to truly let your heart shine, you'll find that it's like a light saber. It's not that you can't be hurt. Honestly, as I recently told a friend, lately I've felt like my heart is hanging out of my chest with a big ol' bruise on it, and even a gentle breeze freaking HURTS. But in spite of that: you CAN keep going. Put that shit out into the world!
Ultimately, I know that my eating disorder isn't the answer. Living life, with all of its pain and low lows but high highs...that's where the real experience is. And I'd rather have that then be skinny. Not all days, but more and more days. I'm winning.