Sarah Thoughts: Finding Your Compass

We are all unique.
We all have our talents,
our interests,
things that light us up inside,
and our own perceptions of the world.

Nobody fits into a mold.
Well… people might try to fit into a mold,
yet it probably doesn’t feel very good inside.
I know it didn’t for me.

There was a period in my life where I cared way too much about what everybody thought,
I seeked external validation,
and I prioritized my life based on how much external validation I received.

T H I S
I S
N O T
L I V I N G

Placing internal validation at the base of my pyramid of needs,
this is what has made my body and my mind feel like home.
I don’t feel like I’m living outside of myself anymore.

I’m not perfect and I still have a lot of work to do but pivoting into a place where I seek internal validation versus external validation has been one of the greatest turning points in my own personal growth and ultimately fulfillment in life.
Healing and growing into a stronger and more capable version of myself is what I am finding.

Don’t get me wrong, this is all incredibly terrifying.
It’s painful.
It’s reaching into the deepest part of your soul and talking to it.

I have no clue what I’m doing,
I’m just trying to follow my internal compass.
I’m doing my best to listen to the internal cues that say “yes”,
and not feel guilty for saying “no”.
I’m literally learning as I go,
there’s no guidebook,
or rulebook,
or even a roadmap that I can find on the Internet.

It’s all new, every single day.
While it gets more familiar and easy to act on,
the whole listening to your internal cues, it’s scary.
Terrifying.
Mind boggling.

But, it’s so worth it.
And I would never go back to external validation because I do finally feel at home with myself,
even on the bad days.

It’s a feeling that I never felt when seeking fulfillment outside of myself.
I feel like I’m a better person, friend, daughter, worker, mentor, trainer, and a better human.

Healing

Healing is like an onion –
you logically know there are many layers,
but you only really see the outer layer,
the one that’s visible.
Only when the outer layer is taken off are the inner layers fully exposed.

Throughout my own journey of healing,
I’ve learned how key it is to tackle one layer at a time.
To tackle the layer that I’m ready to tackle, or most ready.
Real talk, I’m never raising my hand saying “let’s go I’m totally ready to tackle this.”
But I sure as hell am raising my hand saying “come at me I know I can do this.”

With each layer comes a deeper understanding of your being.
More acceptance.
More love.
More respect.
Each layer brings you an awareness that is deeper than you ever consciously experienced before.

Each layer represents a piece your story,
the story that makes you, well, you.
Each layer requires time and patience (and probably some crying).

While tackling each layer may feel like pushing up a boulder,
you can push it up.
You will push it up.

And when you do,
you’ll look back at it and be like:
“I did that and I can take on the next one too.”

Mountain therapy

Hey folks!

Today I’m just writing, expressing my thoughts and general feelings about how the mountains provide a sense of therapy for my soul and my being. Mountains in the sense of hiking, mountain running, snowboarding, and honestly hands down just being in the mountainous areas of New Hampshire (note: yes, I just used some form of the word “mountain” three times in one sentence). There is a specific series of feelings I experience when in the wilderness. They are nearly in-explainable, but I’m going to try and replicate them here.

I’m free.
I’m not, but I am.
I’m trying to be.
I feel it.
In my bones, being, soul.

I feel free.
At ease.
I feel like everything is in order, taken care of, checked off the infamous to-do list.

I don’t think about anything other than the moment at hand.
Those hours, minutes, seconds.
They are real.
Raw.
They exist.

I’m breathing: deeply, consistently.
Inhale. Exhale.
I feel my lungs full up with air, diaphragm expand.
Alive.

Suddenly, I have a flashback of when I didn’t feel alive.
When I felt like the world might end or that my world was ending.
I remember, vividly, to a time where I didn’t see hope or worth in my existence.

It fades as quickly as it came.

I’m walking.
Step by step.
It’s been a mile or two or ten.
I feel like I just started the hike or the adventure for the day.
Hours have passed.
My brain is in the zone.

Nothing is wrong.
I feel good, safe.
In flow.
Everything will be ok.

My mind wanders back to those thoughts of unease that arose before.
But, they aren’t uneasy or hopeless.
They just exist.
Simply, they are there.

The current flow and state of feeling like my world is together mends the wounds.
I feel alive.
I feel ok.
I trust myself.

Breathing, in and out.

I trust myself.
I know I can do whatever it is that my mind is thinking about, processing.

The world doesn’t feel so heavy.
It almost doesn’t exist.
The flow state, mentally I’m lost in that.
Everything seems to move so slowly but so quickly.

I’m moving through space.
walking.
breathing,
I’m moving forward.

My entire past and history and story is at my damn fingertips ready to fight.

But,
it doesn’t need to.

I don’t need my strength of shutting myself down or shutting the world out.

I am alive.
I feel good.
Everything is ok.
I don’t need my history or my past skillset.
It’s there.
It’s part of me.
I don’t need it in this moment.

I need this.
This as in where I’m currently at.

I need the mountains.
The wilderness.
The forest.
The fresh air.

I need the space.
The quiet.
The time with my humanness.

I am alive in these seconds, hours, days.
They transpire into all over parts of my life.
My motives become one.
My existence has a common purpose.
I no longer have any desire to take myself out.

I just am.
I am me.
I’ll continue on my path,
whatever that may be.

Everything feels ok.
I keep moving,
breathing,
existing,
feeling.

Everything is right there underneath my skin.

But, for a series of moments, hours, days,
I am free.

June 1st 2008: a story of what it’s like to be living with an eating disorder

Hi all!

Happy Sunday 🙂 Post number five for Eating Disorder Awareness week. This was 4567% unplanned. I wrote this post very late last night while sitting on my floor (sit on your floor often kids, it’s very very grounding), drinking bedtime tea, and instead of reading like I have been doing before bed I decided to open a can of worms… metaphorically speaking of course.

This post induced some crying. When organizing yesterday I saw my binder from treatment and some old journals. Flipping through one of the journals, one page was folded. After reading, I don’t remember why it’s folded. Perhaps that will come. But I think the universe meant for me to read this, and that may or may not be a future post. As I say often when talking about recovery, it’s a process. Let’s say for example there are 20 phases of recovery (arbitrary number for example purposes only): where 0 is the initial starting point, 20 is it never happened, and 19.5 is pretty much as far as one gets (aka “recovered” or “in full remission”)… I’m at like 18. I’m still IN this process. For my process, phase 18+ is the deep inner child work.

I’m sharing this to shed light on what it is like to be living with an eating disorder. I say “with” because it literally is like living with another person, a very abusive person, but one that somehow still gets the final say.

I’ve shared a journal entry before, from 2013 during my time in treatment. It’s linked so read that if you wish, but I think this one, at least for me, is even more powerful because my 26 year old self can feel that sense of fear and pain that comes with the beginning.

Only parts of this entry will be shared below, some parts that get into specific behaviors are omitted for the sake of it not being extremely triggering for anyone reading that is struggling. It is from June 1st 2008. Close to 12 years ago. This is between my freshman and sophomore years of high school and about 4 years into my eating disorder.
Side note, low key pats on back/high five to 2008 Sarah and her writing abilities. Love, 12 year older self.

*Disclaimer: if you are actively struggling with, in recovery from, or feel at risk for developing an eating disorder PLEASE read this only with your own needs in mind. If you feel like this will be triggering please don’t read this post.*

“I don’t understand how this happened. When I hear the word “anorexic” it makes me cringe. But there is part of me that feels a sense of accomplishment. I did enough of what I was told and reached something.
I highly doubt I’ll ever 100% beat this. I want to but I can’t. I feel like even when I’m 50 years old things will still be like this because I’m too far gone. But I don’t want it to be like that then. I want to remember it, how bad this sucks, how much pain I’m in that nobody sees. I need to remember it so I don’t go back.

When I really look at myself all I see is a ghost. There isn’t a person here anymore. It’s all restricting, finding creative ways to get rid of food, losing my friends, losing jumprope, feeling guilty about every single thing.

I can’t focus. My brain is consumed by thinking about how I will act, eat, burn it off. On repeat. It never stops. At home, at school, at practice *I was in cross-country at the time*. I’m obsessed… with myself… with taking myself out… to feel like everything will be ok. Why? What went wrong that this happened.

I want to let this go. I don’t know who I am or what I even like. I’m all over the place. I feel like if I stay scattered people won’t be able to see me. It feels fucked up because I am alive in this world and am grateful for that yet I hate myself. It is like living inside a game, a game in my head. I look into the mirror and don’t like what I see but what I’m most scared of is me.

I hate that I let myself get as bad as I did last year. I’m my own worst enemy. I’m afraid to let this go and this causes me to be in a constant battle with my mind. I don’t know who I am anymore or what I am going to become.

I have good memories of before this all started. But I also feel like I was never enough. Nothing has ever been enough. Especially with my dad. We always fight and it makes me extremely uncomfortable but I don’t know how to stop it. I feel like I’m mad at him because he doesn’t care care of himself. He has Crohn’s and has gone through over a dozen surgeries and I know it’s becoming more of a problem even though he tries to hide it. I’ve told him how I feel and asked him to try to take care of himself. He says he will try but doesn’t and I feel like he is just giving up. I feel like whenever I do try to connect with him about my life he gets angry and is disappointed. And then I get angry. I feel lonely, like I don’t belong.

There’s so much that nobody knows, that I think will be a secret until much later in my life because I don’t want to add more negatives or be seen as weak. The past four years are built on secrets, lying, hiding, and destroying my life for a voice that isn’t even mine. I want to beat this, to feel like I have a family again, to feel comfortable. But I think I still need what I’ve been doing.”

After my own reading this:
26 year old self to my younger self –
Thank you for doing what you needed to feel safe, even if at this point it was terrifying for you, this was a protective mechanism. You weren’t able to make sense of it then. You were young when this all started. You did your best with the resources you had.

“Be the love you never received.
Be the acknowledgement you never got.
Be the listener you always needed.
Look at the younger versions of yourself within you and give your self what it is you always needed.
That is the first step of healing.”
– Vienna Pharon