Before I talk anymore about the calorie myth, I just want to take a brief second to talk about a recovery–and life tool–that has become really important in my life recently.
In fact, I think it might be the single most important tool I’ve discovered–more so than nutrition, fitness, and even therapy or program.
ED (or disordered thinking in general) grows strongest when we disconnect from other people. ED loves to sit in your head and wait for the quiet moments to start playing the negative self-talk record on repeat. ED knows that the longer you obsess about your own self and body, the less you’ll be open to letting anyone else in–and then ED has you all to himself.
I have always been the quiet kid who preferred to isolate. I used to get sick to get out of going to sleepover parties with my girlfriends in elementary school (although I didn’t realize that it was partly psychosomatic until recently). I preferred going on long walks by myself around New York City at twilight to staying up late with friends in my dorm. I am notorious for giving rain checks on days when the anxiety sends me to bed before 9 pm.
Frankly, while being alone can be a wonderful way to meditate, get in touch with yourself, and take a break from the world to calm the anxiety, it’s not an efficient tool for getting better. In the end, taking a risk and putting yourself out there–even for a little while, even with just one person–gives you a better chance at fighting the negativity that would otherwise fill the silence.
Easier said than done, you say. And you’re right. It’s easy to sit here and type out the words after I’ve already started doing it. But who said that only easy things were worth doing? So, in case you’re wondering how to dive in and start connecting, I’ve outlined my own journey:
1. The first thing I did was listen to myself. This is a connection that you can make alone, however you’ll have to work for it. In the months that I’ve been sitting in my house recovering, I’ve had a lot of time to sit by myself. In the past, that was some quality time with ED waiting to happen. Instead, I started listening to the other voice in my head–my voice. It was the one that asked, “But why do I need to go to the gym two days after my surgery? What will that prove?” and “Why do I care how many calories are in bone broth? Can’t I just enjoy it?” It was the voice that said, “I’m lonely. Please reach out to someone. Please.”
2. The second thing I did was listen to the universe. This is probably going to sound a little crazy and “hippy-dippy,” but bear with me: I believe that the universe sends us messages. Sometimes, those messages are in the form of people, sometimes they’re in the form of opportunities. A good example: In early June, I accidentally took a voice lesson. My little brother was going to miss a paid-for voice lesson when he went to visit his father in Florida. My mom insisted I take the lesson, even though I hadn’t sung in about three years and had no desire to ever go near the theatre again. Now, not only do I take lessons every week, I’ve found an incredible friend in my vocal coach and I am going to be in my first musical in six years. If I had fought the universe, I wouldn’t be doing Les Mis.
3. Third, I learned to talk to strangers. Probably goes against everything your parents taught us, but I’m not talking about the kind who offer you candy from unmarked white vans. I’m talking about the ones who offer you freelance work in Starbucks because they noticed that you were a writer. I’m talking about the kind whose blogs you stumble upon while searching for positive examples of recovery. I’m talking about the ones who send you incredibly heartfelt emails or leave incredibly honest and beautiful blog comments because they read your story and wanted to share theirs. I’m talking about the people who make small talk while standing in line, the people who see you walk into the gym after 4 months and ask you how your injury is healing. People are essentially good, and you can learn so much from them if only you donate a few minutes of your time to the experience.
4. Fourth, I learned to let people in. I have never been good at having friends. I have never been good at staying in touch. But of late, and partially because of this blog, I’ve reconnected with many of my high school, college, and grad school friends, as well as some of my coworkers from previous jobs. I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to know that they are still in my life. I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to know that they still care–and to be able to care about their lives. And that includes some of my new friends here in California, too. I was so scared of sharing even a tiny piece of myself with them–after dealing with the drama that I left behind in Florida–that I ignored the chance to connect with some really incredible, beautiful people. And I’m making an effort now to be a part of their lives as they’ve tried to become a part of mine.
5. Finally, I learned to reach out. This is the big one. This is the hardest, hardest part: making the first move. I have always waited for people to come to me. If the universe didn’t seem to be sending a message (or I was too busy ignoring it because ED was holding my attention captive), then so be it. I would be alone, and that was that. But I’m learning that good things don’t always come to those who wait. Those who wait sometimes let the good things slip right through their fingers. Recently, I sent an email to one of my favorite podcasters, Roger Dickerman of Relentless Roger and the Caveman Doctor. And now I’m going to be transcribing their show. And yesterday, I sent an email to the big daddy of all Paleo/Low Carb podcasters–and one of my favorites as well–Jimmy Moore. And this morning, he sent me an email asking me to be on his show in 2013.* Take a chance. You never know who will write, call, or answer back.
Anyway, the long and short of it is, connection, communication, conversation…it’s the only way to heal. Other people can’t make your scars fade, but they can help you see past them. Other people can’t validate your existence, but they can enrich it. Other people can’t make you love yourself, but they can hold the mirror up for you so you can start to see the beauty you have inside.
Today is a good day to start connecting.
Today…is a good day.
*I can’t even tell you how much I’m “fan-girling out” right now. (And, yes, I just coined term. Shakespeare did it, and so can I.) Jimmy is such an incredible force for positivity in the podcast world. I am so grateful that he even responded, let alone offered to let me be one of the “& Friends” on “Low Carb Conversations With Jimmy Moore & Friends….“