It’s been a long time since I’ve strung together enough words to constitute a blog post. Keeping a baby and a toddler alive while working full time so they have a house to live in has taken up an extraordinary and unexpected amount of time and energy. There have been some things on my mind, though, that I need to download into words on a page and share with you lovely readers, or else they risk getting lost in the bustle of this busy life and the frenetic maze of my thoughts.
There have been times when I struggled to accept that I can help others along their journey while I am, at the same time, still voyaging on mine. I want you to know that this is my deepest insecurity, and that of so many other professional helpers and therapists. Today, I understand that my experiences are an asset to my work.
While my life isn’t pristinely without sadness or struggle, it is largely rich and joyful. It took me half my lifetime to understand that enduring happiness isn’t the goal, nor is it a sustainable state of being. Balance is. Love is. Once this dawned on me, I found hope. I stopped striving for happiness and began nestling into that middle ground of acceptance. I think about how my life may have been different had I spoken up and asked for help at a much younger age.
When I was 17 and seriously depressed for the first time, I could not see beyond that pain. The future didn’t exist because the present experience felt too consuming to see beyond it. Before I became depressed I would try to picture myself at age 30, wonder if I would be married or if I’d have authored a book or what I would look like with fine lines on my forehead, or if my best friend would still be my best friend (she would be). I imagined myself wise and accomplished, glowing with happiness. I’d have smooth long hair and would be wearing a simple well-tailored dress as I signed books for my loyal readers before rushing back to the newsroom to turn in a story by deadline. Once the dark veil of adolescent sadness clouded my thoughts and perception, there was no 30-year-old me. There was only depressed me. Desperate and uncertain me. Scared of what was next me. Close my eyes and hope for the best me. I wanted to fill up a pool with this darkness and dive into it. It was all encompassing and my eating disorder felt a like a life preserver. So I latched on to that and kept swimming until I couldn’t swim anymore.
I’ve struggled to tell my story from that point the way I want to tell it. The retelling and the getting from my life then to the life I live now feels contrived and dishonestly straight forward. It’s important to be clear that growth in the context of mental health is nothing but linear.
I started writing Journey Up and on @journeyupkate to explore what it means to be a woman living a full, imperfect and meaningful life after an eating disorder. What I am discovering in this process is the relatively short period of my life that was tainted by anorexia and its aftermath is just a small dot of my existence. What I feel deeply compelled to share, and what has resonated most with you, you’ve told me, isn’t about that recovery journey in hindsight. It’s the normal life I lead now as a mother, who despite her own healing around eating and body image, still struggles in ways that you relate to. You are on this journey with me because it’s your journey too. We are affected by depression and anxiety at astounding rates. We are walking the frayed and narrow rope from family life to career and back again, every day. We are helplessly watching our bodies change and evolve as we age, as we birth children, as we experience illnesses and injury. We are experiencing so much loss but also amazing growth. We cherish our relationships with our families, closest friends, and ourselves more than ever. We are striving to do better but also trying to accept that we are and always have been doing the best we can. We want to believe and embrace that this is enough. That we are enough. This is why, I am finding, I keep writing and sharing with you. Even though it’s hard. And it feels so vulnerable.
I don’t know specifically what comes next. My husband and I have a new mantra. “We are surviving, and that’s good enough.” How’s that for an affirmation, Rachel Hollis? I wrote it on a post-it and in my journal in multiple places in bold letters. Maybe you should too. What’s next? I’m going to TRY to post more often. I have a lot to write about and some big, imperfect life updates to share very soon.