Saturday, March 13, 2010

Happy Independence Day!!

July 4th is one of my favorite holidays- I LOVE summer, fireworks, watermelon, and sunny days at the beach. I fully realize, however, that today is March 13 and we are not rapidly approaching July 4th at this point. Why do I even bring up July 4th?? Well, it is the day when we typically celebrate 'independence.' But I started thinking recently that while we celebrate independence collectively as a nation, it is not as common that we individually celebrate our personal independence from struggles or things that have held us back in the past-- or perhaps even from things that we are currently struggling with still that are holding us back. I'm not necessarily talking about making a big public declaration, or throwing a big party to celebrate your independence (if that is what you want to do though, go for it! haha). But personally acknowledging and having a fixed time set aside that exists to remind you and reflect on such a decision can provide great meaning and purpose. I have heard, as I'm sure many of you have, of people marking their days of sobriety- and that is surely a form of commemorating a momentous decision to turn from alcohol or another substance. While (like I said) I am not necessarily suggesting we release fireworks to mark our independence from something, I think that acknowledging the surrender that takes place with such a decision is important and worth remembering and reflecting on.

My intention in writing this post about independence, as weird as it might sound, is to encourage you to consider having an independence day for yourself. What exactly do I mean by this? Well, I think that we all go through things in our lives. I write a lot about body image and eating disorders, but there are certainly other struggles that exist out there as well that you may face!! Whether it is an eating disorder or body image issue, an unhealthy relationship that you find yourself struggling to get out of, an unhealthy habit that seems to control you, dependence on alcohol or an illicit substance, or something else, I think it is SO important to commemorate your decision to turn from whatever it is that is holding you back and is keeping you from being FREE so that you are able to use it as a means of pushing ahead. Of course, we don't all have a specific date or a specific time to commemorate moments like these and that is okay- because turning from an unhealthy behavior or a way of thinking can be a gradual process. The point is that having a specific date isn't necessary. What seems important (to me) is the heart behind this, which is that we are acknowledging a surrender of our will and are choosing to move forward from a certain point on. Surrender does not mean that we don't slip and sometimes fall back into old ways of thinking or acting- but surrender keeps us moving forward as we look ahead to a goal or a way of life that we strive to maintain.

Do you find that you stare at yourself in every reflection, mirror, store window, etc that you walk past, obsessively checking yourself out to make sure you look ok?? Do you feel like you need someone else (a friend, a boyfriend, a husband, a parent, your child, etc) to validate your worth?? Do you feel like you need to be a certain size or weight to be happy?? Do you feel that you need a certain food/drink/drug to feel alive or satisfied?? Are you constantly doubting yourself or being critical of yourself?? Any way of thinking or acting that keeps you from being free is a way of thinking or acting that is not only not helpful for you but serves to keep you in bondage. To start by simply acknowledging and becoming aware of such captivity is the first step. Making a decision to 'be free' is not as easy as it sounds, and requires diligence, faith and hard work!! For some of us, we need more support to experience freedom- whether that is with the help of a friend, a pastor, or a counselor, to walk through that process with.

I would encourage you to consider if anything (person, place, thing) is holding you back in your life and what may be keeping you from becoming the person you were created to be. There is no better way to live than in freedom!! Walter Conkrite said that "there is no such thing as a little freedom. Either you are all free, or you are not free." Sounds pretty obvious, right? Well, if that is the case... and if there is anything that is keeping you from being 'all free' than I would challenge you to take an action step forward- no matter how big or small.

**As an aside, I want to be clear that if you have an eating disorder, simply stating freedom from your ED does not usually make it go away-- and this is not what I am suggesting will happen if you declare a fight against your ED. An eating disorder is a mental illness, and as such, cannot just be wished away. However, your will in fighting your ED is soo important. Maybe your declaration of independence from your ED begins with pursuing professional help, or seeking the level of care that is appropriate and advised for you by a health professional. Or perhaps it means being committed to the recovery process. Whatever this action step may look like, I want to make sure that I am clear on this point! :)

1 comment:

  1. I Like your blog sometimes
    sometimes I hate it
    I am in recovery..but sometimes it hits a raw nerve..IDKY and i can't read the rest..