Tonight was week 5 of my 10 week eating disorder group. We’ve officially reached the halfway point, and I’m actually sad in a way. I look forward to these meetings now, and my Tuesday nights are going to feel a bit empty without it. There are people in there that I just adore; I love to hear their perspective on things, and I love learning from them. I hope I can continue to stay in touch after the program is over.
This week I shared my own story with the group, which is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I had to be vulnerable, and with all eyes on me. I don’t like to be looked at – I hate it in fact. In real life situations I would normally deflect these moments with humour and self-deprecating jokes, and that wasn’t an option tonight. I needed to embrace the moment. I’m really working on accepting that it’s OK to cry, but I’m struggling with it.
I can’t ever share my whole story here. Even though it’s my journey, there are other people involved, and it’s not my place to share their side of it. So I will just say this – writing my story down I was forced to reflect on my entire life right to this very moment, and it was eye opening. I understand myself more than ever. I re-lived the pain, I discovered links I never knew existed, and I had memories of things that I had shoved away in my “never to discuss again” box.
In the session I bawled. I couldn’t say a word at one point and it took me a minute to get it together. My hands were shaking, I was stabbing at my own face with a tissue, and the tension in my entire body was almost painful.
But I did it.
I’m still processing how I feel….whether it’s relief, or what. It felt like a weight off, but I think it was more because I knew I had to do that with the group. I’m not sure it’s changed anything for the long run.
Afterwards the group shared some words on what they thought, and I’m going to write them here for me to reflect on years down the track, when I inevitably re-read this article.
- Good mother
- Good role-model
There might have been a few more, but at this point I started focusing on trying to relax my body before I became one giant cement block incapable of moving. I am so, so grateful to the group for listening, letting me have that space, and embracing me while I broke. Then rebuilding me again with such beautiful words, and reminding me that despite all the trauma I have suffered, I am a good person.
Another beautiful soul shared her story, and then after a break it was time for our next activity.
Meet my Harpy
Tonight was all about the inner critic, and learning about our “harpies”. In Greek mythology Harpies are part woman part bird, “snatchers” that make lives miserable. For our purpose tonight they were just this “thing” that hovered around making our lives hell.
We needed to explore what they looked like. Did they take a physical shape or not? What words do they use to communicate with us? Etc etc. We asked ourselves a series of questions and began to explore them.
Meet my Harpy.
For this image I traced my face and attached it to a plain, indiscriminate background. My harpy is part of me that I live with every day, unable to be separated from it, and it commands focus.
Inside me, it’s like a storm. When the perfect conditions arrive, the storm comes in causing chaos. It’s loud, and destructive. It commands attention with flashes of lightning and deep, rumbles of displeasure. It intertwines with my entire being. When it arrives, I feel one dimensional, and that’s why there’s no other detail to this image.
When the Harpy arrives there is nothing else.
As I looked at the image, I felt the urge to add a rainbow to the background to represent what happens after the storm. Ultimately, I decided that would be taking the focus away from the Harpy. I wanted to focus on that one specific moment in time. Not the conditions before, not the environment after. This was part of my process of practicing being in that moment of emotion. I didn’t want to deflect from it, my immediate “comfort blanket” response.
I can still look at this picture knowing there’s a rainbow coming, and that after the storm things will be still. There will be beauty, and the grass will be nourished from the rain that came with the storm. Ultimately the storm makes the world stronger, and eventually we can appreciate the storm’s chaos.
But for the moment, we’re just focusing on the storm.
Eventually, I will recognise the storm just becomes a moment in time. Once I have recognised that, the storm will lose its power.
It’s just a storm.
And there’s always a bright future afterwards.