Personal Reflection: CAROLYN
Reaching out was not only a critical tool in getting over my eating disorder; it is critical for me today. When trying to get better from anorexia, I learned I was a terrible judge of my own body and need for food. It took me a while to see that my own judgment was way off and that I was so hard on myself and so scared of change that I had to rely on others I trusted to tell me whether or not I was eating or exercising too much or too little. Back then my drive for self-control and self-discipline led me to always err on the side of eating too little and exercising too much. I still have the same temperament that these days steers me in the direction of pushing myself too hard with work, not knowing when enough is enough and I need to rest, which gets me out of balance. I have learned to use others to give me a reality check. I rely on others to help me know when I am overworking, need to go on vacation, or let go of tasks. I often reach out to friends for advice, but even if I don’t they know that I welcome and need their feedback (even if sometimes I resist it) to help me turn off my cell phone, and give responsibility to others. They are happy to steer me in the right direction, and it’s especially helpful when they plan leisure activities and do something fun or relaxing with me.
Personal Reflection: GWEN
It took me quite some time to realize that others could be emotional resources for me. I only relied on myself from a very early age and kept almost all my thoughts and feelings inside. You might be imagining a shy or quiet person by that description, but I wasn’t. I was talkative and funny and seemingly open. If you asked others, they would say I expressed all my thoughts and feelings and was open about things others were afraid to talk about. What they didn’t know was that I decided which thoughts and feelings were the likable ones or the ones I wanted people to think about me, and I kept all the other ones inside. Asking for help was not even on my radar. It never even occurred to me, so you can imagine how hard it was for me to work on this Key. With Carolyn and the staff at Monte Nido, I learned that expressing my feelings and talking to others could help me take a different view of things or change how I felt. I started to get better at telling people what was actually going on with me and began to see others as resources.
Most of the people in my outside life didn’t even know I had an eating disorder, so that was the first hurdle to overcome after leaving treatment. Sometimes the hardest things for us to do are the very things we need most, and this was certainly the case for me. I was so scared of the judgment of others I made my husband tell our friends and family so I didn’t have to witness their reactions. Instead of judgment, I received cards, calls, and messages of support and encouragement, and many offers to talk or help in any way possible. At first I didn’t take anyone up on their offers, but after awhile I realized I needed to ask for help if I wanted to stay well, and it turned out to be exactly what I needed I was too lonely doing it alone. I remember exactly how I started. I called my friend Julie and told her how afraid I was to see everyone now that they knew I had an eating disorder, and I asked her to help me figure out what to say when people asked me how I was doing. She was so helpful. She told me I could say, the truth, but not the whole truth, which was exactly what I needed to learn how to do. With her help, I realized I could be honest and not say more than I was comfortable sharing. This was my start, and from there I began to reach out to my friends for help on hard days, and as a result of this new openness, my relationships became more authentic and I felt more connected to my friends than ever before . and that is what I needed to get and stay well.
REACHING IN TO YOURSELF
Aside from other people, you are an important emotional resource the most important one you have so along with reaching out to others, you also need to be able to reach in and rely on yourself.
Even though you might not be able to do it now, eventually you will have to be there for you. People can’t be there all the time, sometimes others will not have the advice you need, or you will overburden people if you always need them The 8 Keys secrets and this worksecrets are both designed to strengthen your Healthy Self so that rather than relying only on others, you will eventually be able to guide and rely on yourself. Chances are you already can wisely advise, gently challenge, or successfully comfort someone else, so you can gradually learn to do it for yourself. If you are like most of our clients, you will get glimpses of reaching in to your healthy self along the way, and then at some point realize that you are there for you whenever you need.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
Reaching out to others is moving toward people and away from your behaviors. You might find this hard to believe, but start reaching out and you will start getting better, even if at first it does not stop your behaviors. You will not know all the ways that reaching out can benefit you until you do it. You will learn more about yourself and what will be helpful. You will become less afraid of asking for help, less automatic in your reactions, and also better at knowing what you need. Reaching out for help is not the sole answer to recovery, but it does provide a way to turn to relationships to get your needs met and put the eating disorder out of a job. Reaching out brings authenticity to your relationships with others.
In the last Key we take you even further beyond your connection with others, to the connection with your core essence and everything else. An authentic, meaningful, and purposeful life is not out there waiting for you to recover; it is already here for you now. It is not someplace waiting for you to get there. It is here already, available to you at all times in the deep acceptance of who you are. Actually, Key 8 will help you discover yourself beyond your body and your mind, not to who you are, but what you are, a spiritual being. True comprehension of this not only helps with understanding why you might have developed an eating disorder, but how to accept it, transform it, and let it go.
In order to be who you are, you have to be willing to let go of who you think you are.
Who we are is naturally loving, accepting, deeply relaxed, and always at peace, never attached to any form, and who we are has never been seeking anything. It is naturally non-judgmental, choiceless, and always free from identification.
It is the ocean, always at rest even amidst the storm of life, forever deeply allowing every wave without judgment, resistance, or attachment. The end of the search of a lifetime is not a future goal, but who we already are.