Recovering from an eating disorder requires an immense amount of courage, strength, and bravery. It is not something that happens overnight. Recovery can take years. It can feel extremely overwhelming and painful at times.
So, why do we choose to heal? Wouldn’t it be easier to just stay in the eating disorder?
Two and a half years ago, I was sitting on my therapist’s couch on a May afternoon in Atlanta, GA. I was feeling extremely anxious and uneasy. We were coming up on a pretty big wound that I had planned to bury forever. Lucky for me, my therapist was very good at her job! She had reached a place that nobody had ever gone to before.
I knew in my heart that I needed to open up and heal. Right before the session ended I asked, “What’s the point? I managed to avoid all of this for so long. Why bother now?”
Her response, “It will probably make the world of a difference.”
I decided to refer back to what I had learned about daring greatly from one of my favorite role models, Brené Brown. I chose to be brave. I chose courage over comfort. I slowly let my therapist in on what felt like the biggest secret of my life.
And she was right. I would later learn that choosing to share that wound in a safe space would change my life for the better and create a world of difference.
Shortly after that session, I began learning about trauma. At the time, I did not believe that I had ever experienced trauma. I am a white woman with a lot of privilege. I grew up in an affluent neighborhood outside of NYC. I went to college and graduate school. I had a full-time job with a salary and benefits. I lived in a one-bedroom apartment in the middle of Atlanta. I checked all of the boxes of how I was “supposed” to be.
Yes, I had a very dysfunctional relationship with my weight and food. Yes, I was obsessed with pleasing people and perfection. Yes, I was actively controlling my emotions. And yet, I saw that other people were doing the same. In fact, many had it much worse than me. In addition, spending money on my own healing felt extremely selfish.
If my life was normal, then oppression was normal.
I trusted my therapist, so I kept an open mind. She explained to me that there is something called “little t” trauma, which encompasses feeling unsafe in your authentic expression. This includes bullying, belittling, and/or being told that your experience is invalid. All of which I had definitely experienced.
While other people definitely had it worse than me, my experience was still valid and worthy of healing.
We live in a patriarchal world in which it is almost impossible to not experience trauma. Women and marginalized populations are constantly being told that they are “too much” or “not enough”. Men are taught that crying makes you weak. Feeling attracted to anyone outside of the opposite sex, religion, or ethnicity is considered wrong. Asking for money is greedy. The list goes on and on.
We are constantly being taught to distrust ourselves. We spend our days perfecting, fixing, over analyzing, staying small and quiet in order to fit the correct standard of society. Acting from intuition and innate desire does not feel safe at all.
Spending our days at war with ourselves conveniently distracts us from much bigger worldly issues such as racism, homophobia, wage inequalities, etc. This keeps systems of oppression intact. Instead of speaking our truth, we are burnt out and exhausted from trying to fit into a box.
When I first started trauma therapy, I thought that I would heal from my food anxieties and then be done. What came after was a new world full of possibilities and opportunities.
The tools that I had learned in recovery went far beyond navigating meals and metal scales. I started applying the same lessons to setting boundaries, protecting my energy, and eventually leaving my toxic job to start my own business rooted in social justice and women empowerment. This was followed by leading workshops, advocating for policy on capitol hill, starting a podcast, asking for money, and coaching other women to break free from their own body insecurities.
As I continued to build self-trust, I started to realize that my body was holding great wisdom and power. I began connecting with my innate dreams, desires, and a greater purpose. With time, I let go of pleasing other people and began trusting my own inner guidance. I started creating an impact that was much greater than myself.
What blew my mind was that the more I owned my recovery, the more I empowered others to do the same. I have friends who told me that I had inspired them to seek out therapy and begin their own healing journeys.
Every time we choose to heal, we send a message to the universe that our old way of being will not be tolerated. This creates room for expansion and growth that is rooted in justice and equality.
When you show up for yourself, you create a ripple effect of positive energy that elevates the vibration of the universe. Right now, the world desperately needs to heal and it starts with you. Regardless of how difficult it may feel at times, always remember that recovery changes the world.
Jocelyn Resnick, MPH (she/her) is a Life and Leadership Coach for mission-driven women who feel held back by their bodies. She earned her Masters of Public Health from George Washington University and is passionate about helping women own their power and play big in the world. To learn more, visit www.jocelynresnick.com or follow jocelyn_resnick on Instagram.