Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Nature and Body: A Beautiful Relationship

I promise that I won't let Monday's post take over my blog, but I did want to share this; Passed along from my mother.

As a community we can do more to instill love through pure beauty.

"It is up to you to nurture your particular branch of the Tree of Life and keep it healthy. If you would save the planet, begin by honoring and loving yourself. Please stop feeding your ancient shame. Please stop telling yourself you are ugly. Please stop analyzing your physical imperfections. Your body is exactly as nature intended it to be. You are perfect and beautiful. You are worthy of all the love in the world, and your story matters."

From: Aphrodite's Daughters

Your story, my story, his story, her cousin's friend's great-uncle's fish's story, matters.

Monday, August 13, 2012

I promised a follow-up

So here we are: three weeks along in acupuncture. A mess of needles, Chinese suction globes, and hickey-esque bruises scattered throughout my stomach and back.
I don't understand it; I can't explain it. But I feel it.
I feel the charge, and the pain, and the "blocks".
I feel the release, and the movement.
I don't understand it, but I don't need to, because it brings me peace.

With a summer which ranged from daytrips to my local and favorite national parks, bike rides to my local scenic escapes,  week long road trips to discover new places, the essential coffee (and wine) dates with friends, and dinners with the "family", this summer for me has been a summer of growth.
The summer started out shaky as medical issues uncovered themselves leaving me with medical bills and treatments accompanied with the ever looming possibility of further surgery. My physical world, my body, was out of balance. Not quite strong enough to fight for itself, needing just an extra medical hand to get my cells back into motion.

It's a scary thing to be told that "You can't fight this battle alone. You need help; Please take action and let us help you".

As if that wasn't enough, my physical world wasn't the only thing out of synch. It was through a summer of yoga, professional guidance, and acupuncture, that I admitted to myself, that "I can't fight this alone". Thankfully though, I didn't have to. I have the greatest support network in the world, but I needed to recognize that it was going to get a lot darker before I reconnected with the light.

I am choosing to write about this my summer battle publicly, and it has taken me months to decide whether or not to do so. I was moved to do so by a friends blog post from about a year ago as she wrote about the unfortunate hardships of pregnancy, and this latest elephant journal post about apologizing to our wonderful selves and our bodies (Read it here. No seriously. Read it).

Fact is world, I have an eating disorder.
And this is the first time that I have found the truest sense of defeat and yet the strongest sense of hope.

My body never held me back. I never needed to stop skiing, yoga, climbing, hiking, running, etc. because of my physical shape. My head held me back. Seeing 155 on the scale every single god damn day despite working out 5 days a week and climbing like a fool, held me back.

I heard doctors, and family say "muscle weighs more than fat" over and over again, but I didn't hear it. I longed to be 135. I never felt influenced by the media the same way that many women with eating disorders have. I didn't compare myself to professional athletes, well--because I wasn't a professional athlete. I am my own biggest critic. I accept everyone for their body type, I really don't see size in other people, so why do I see it in myself?

I recognize that without physical activity and engagement, I don't have much. I need activity in my life. I need to know that I can always at any given moment, take off and play; And play=calories. Anorexia was not for me. I understood the science that energy and mental alertness was a product of my food choices. Plus, I like good wine and good micro-brews (Thank you, Willamette Valley), and no one likes the drunk girl, so I knew I needed food in my belly. So I began to purge. The good ol' finger down the hatch trick.

It became a part of my nightly ritual. Wash face, vomit, brush teeth, read, zzzzzzz.
Here's the kicker. I didn't lose any weight. I just got more and more defeated.
So I cracked. I poured out my defeat to a therapist, and acupuncturist, my four parents, and a small small number of my closest friends. I didn't stop purging, and I would be a liar if I told you that last night I didn't purge. But I have turned my love inwards and taken my own soul to hold as if saying "Melissa, you can do this. You are beautiful."

And I can. I have made huge strides already. I just didn't realize that I was making them. By allowing my soul to take over during hikes, by surrounding myself with friends, by curling up on the couch with my main man, Sly, I realized that all along I was telling myself "you deserve yourself".

I write today for myself.
I recover today for my youngest sister, Madalyn.
I restore because love is transferable. Love is the most powerful movement.
I work daily though acupuncture, yoga, dancing in the car, ice cream breaks, and high-fives, because I have a commitment to myself.

Loving yourself is hard. Respecting your body is even harder. So here is my own letter to myself:

Dear Body,

You're really something else, ya know that?
I have put you through so much. We have been broken together and we have healed together.
We have fallen off a lot of things, and I mean a lot of things.
Remember your first red-point? Remember your first summit? Remember laying in bed after your first 26 mile hike and having to call your boss the next day to say that you literally couldn't get out of bed because you were so sore?
Remember your first partner? Remember the first time you were your own partner?
We've slept together on dirt paths, in the back of the Subaru, in the tent, in the bed.
We have traveled together, and explored new countries together.
I'm sorry that you'll never fit into a pair of size four jeans again. These hips are too powerful for that size nowadays. Hey-thanks for these hips and this ass by the way.
I'm sorry that part our nightly routine now includes bonding while heaving. I promise that with time, we can find a better alternative.
We've had a lot of fun. I never gave you enough credit, but you and I, are a damn good team.
I'm working on loving all 155 of you, I really am.
We have so much ahead for us. So many more countries to get to, so many more climbs to red-point, and SO much more great food/beer/wine to try.
I promise to respect you more.
The best is yet to come.