Facing the Fear of Authenticity

At the end of my last post, I mentioned that one of my goals was going to be posting once a week in 2017. Well, here we are halfway through January and I have yet to post anything. I have drafts of halfway written posts and ideas swimming around in my mind. So, where are the completed posts? I have run into a roadblock that I have hit previously with this blog. The roadblock is a series of questions that loom over my head in a relentless effort to derail my confidence in my blog, “Aren’t you just a fraud? Who are you to write about dealing with mental illness?”

More often than not, these questions pop up at times when I am having a more challenging time in my recovery. When I began writing this blog, I was transitioning into one of the most stable places I have ever been in my recovery. I was months away from graduating from IDC and managing all of my conditions well. Now, I do not mean to make it sound like things are a mess right now. Far from it! However, the negative thoughts have been a bit louder, and I have been finding it a little bit harder to eat my exchanges or be kind to my body.

When I have a harder time, I get anxious and nervous that I am a fraud. I wonder if I have a right to speak positively about recovery when internally I am experiencing moments of substantial doubt over my choice to pursue recovery. Thankfully, I am reminded of two things.

Firstly, I am reminded of how much I admire individuals I know who have gone through recovery, come out on the other side, and gone on to help others through their healing journeys. From therapists, a close family member, the alumnae directors of former treatment centers, peer coaches/yoga therapists, etc. I have worked with and know so many strong, inspiring, amazing women and men who have taken their struggles and helped change lives. Anyone who knows me well knows that I highly admire and look up to one of the employees of my former treatment center. She has a strong foundation in her own recovery and radiates self-assurance and body love. There has not been a single day, inside or outside of treatment, where I have looked at her and seen her as anything but phenomenal. I have never seen her as a fraud, and I have never questioned the validity of what she says.

She had the strongest impact on me of anyone because she has struggled with an eating disorder. When she and I talked, I felt fully understood due to how we could relate on a level uniquely differing from that of the relationship I maintained with the rest of the staff. I was never able to tell her that she had no clue because she had gone through such a similar struggle. She had even been in some of the same programs as myself. I am stubborn and headstrong, and I thank God daily that she is, as well. I am so blessed to have her example of resilience and fierce self-love in my life.

Secondly, I am reminded of my values. My values. Not my eating disorders. Never my eating disorders. Some of the earliest feedback I received on my blog related to my level of honesty and vulnerability I try to display within my writing. Eating disorders and addiction thrive on deception and dishonesty. Additionally, recovery is messy, uncomfortable, painful, and there are no rainbows and butterflies on the vast majority of the days. If I try to manufacture a blog where things always seem put together, then I am doing a disservice to the reality of recovery from eating disorders, PTSD, and other mental health struggles. If I put more energy into keeping up appearances vs. being real and raw, then my efforts will be futile, and I truly believe that this blog will be little more than words lacking in power.

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of light.” – Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

To everyone who has been there with me through this journey – it means more than you will ever know ❤

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