I’ve been thinking a lot lately. (What’s new?) This healing process is a funny thing. It is more circular than one would ever expect…
This week one of my student’s had surgery for a torn meniscus. It brought memories flooding back of when I had an operation on my ankle in high school – the terrifying feeling of coming to and crying for no reason, the fear of moving, the fear of tearing stitches, the drowsiness of Vicodin…
Whenever anyone follows my blog, I take a minute to check out who they are. I wonder who is this person out there who reads my rambling? What is it about my experience that they are holding on to? I know that feeling, of finding someone who seems to touch on something I am experiencing – the beauty of empathy.
Some of the eating disorder blogs are triggering for me, not because there is anything wrong with them – on the contrary, I respect their honesty. But the truth is that at my point in this journey there are some things that can lead me down a slippery slope. I want to be recovered – BUT the truth remains that my eating disorder was a comfort. It is a coping mechanism and as much as I never want to go back, it also always holds a promise of escape, of what it promised to give me (yet always falling short of its promises.) It also often can trigger fear.
One blog in particular that I read this week brought back a lot of memories. Memories of going to the hospital, doctors, and therapists. Memories of L saying to me, “You need to eat better before we have a problem.” And my response without missing a beat, “We already have a problem.”
I’m sure many would tell me, don’t go back there. You don’t need to revisit that place. But the truth is, I need to. I need to go back and let it heal. Just like when my ankle was healing, I would need to look at the scar, bend the ankle, test its strength… so too I need to examine the eating disorder – look at its impact, test where I can still feel it… It is part of the process.
My therapist once told me, “Just because you have talked about something once, doesn’t mean you won’t need to talk about it again.”
Healing comes when I can look back and remember and it doesn’t hurt any more.
“Whoever wishes to heal man must see him in his wholeness and must know that his ultimate healing can only be God’s love.” -Pope Benedict XVI
It took me a long time to get to a point where my relationship with God could meet my healing and recovery process. In my master’s program now as I delve into the philosophical, theological, and scientific understanding of the person, I am amazed to see how interconnected our entire being is – spirit, soul, and body. All I hear God saying to me now is, “Let me into your healing. Let me touch your hurt. Let me hold you.”
The pain is still real. Yesterday was a great day. And it made me realize how hard I’ve had to fight for the last month, how much effort daily living has required for the past few weeks. The good days help us realize the strength we have had and motivate us to carry on.
After my ankle surgery, it took three years for me to stop wearing a brace on my ankle to run and play basketball. I was healed but was gaining strength. Still on the occasional day that I walk off the side of my shoe, my heart immediately begins to race with fear.
I know that as I continue to heal, the daily pain will become less intense… and then less frequent. With time, it will be less and less until it is the occasion flare up which is quickly resolved.
The truth is now when I run the ankle that was operated on is stronger than my other ankle. And I know in time, this part of me that has struggled, fought, and conquered the emotional pain that drove me to an eating disorder will be stronger than ever before. Sure I have a six inch scar on my ankle – it will never go away. The scars of my eating disorder will never go away, but I will no longer bear them with fear but with pride.
I’ve always said there is only one thing I would tattoo on my body. (And the truth is I don’t think I ever would, but if I did it would be this symbol.) And if I don’t tattoo it, I am sure I will hang it on a necklace or bracelet and wear it with pride.
When the days are hard, it is easy to feel like I’ve gone back to square one. The same happened with my ankle, I would hurt it and fear that all was undone. In reality, no matter what happens, how badly I hurt my ankle, it will not be hurt in the same way. So too, this girl may be hurt again but never in the same way. I’m not completed healed yet, but I’m well on my way. I will need to go back and look at those scars in the process, which is what I intend to do with this space – to see them for what they are: signs of triumph, symbols of a struggle conquered, and witness to a pain that was suffered and overcome.
“Jesus has awakened great hopes… He has shown the face of God’s mercy, he has bent down to heal body and soul.” -Pope Francis