Emotional Resilience

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At midnight last night my interview with Sid Garza-Hillman was posted on the Approaching the Natural website. I climbed up into my loft, snuggled in with a warm cup of tea, and I listened, staring at the ceiling of my little shack. I heard myself talk about finding punk, going vegan, leaving my parent’s home, dropping out of high school, moving to philadelphia. I heard myself discuss moving to portland, getting my heart broken and the subsequent struggle to survive. I talked about falling deep into my eating disorder, fighting to give enough of a shit about myself to get better, starting Super Strength Health as a dedication to myself. I heard myself talk about my mother, how it was hard growing up and how bands and zines saved my life, how my friends became my chosen family.

For the days leading up to the release if this interview I had been focusing on what it was like to be recovered, how I would talk about how intense and wonderful it is to be a person in the world without the terror of an eating disorder. How recovery has been rich and vibrant but how even years later, some days you just get through, like ripping the bandaid off. I would be honest, tell the truth, which is that the eating disorder was a very extreme crutch and living without it will truly and deeply always be a meditation on rawness. What it’s like to have desires, what it’s like to need to consume and to let myself do just that, proudly and in front of everyone. Those who have struggled with food will likely know what I mean.

I did talk about that some. I said most of the things I wanted to say, felt okay enough about my portrayal. But what I didn’t expect, was all the other stuff. The talk of growing up which to me equates to talk of how small and scared I felt a lot of the time. As I listened last night I felt the strength and the confidence in my words, but as I sat in that chair a few days prior, thinking about my responses, I was scared. I didn’t want to upset my family. I didn’t want to trip up on my words. I wanted to be authentic and graceful, but also considerate.

At some point in my interview Sid mentions that I am “a fighter”, and this was the moment for me when I saw myself and my recovery in a bigger picture than I had in other times. For me, my food issues, my body image struggles, my ability to fool myself into thinking severe restriction was for my health, was truly just a fraction of the picture. Somewhere along the line, even before I was fighting to recover from my eating disorder(s), I was fighting. I’ve been fighting to succeed, fighting to make it work, fighting to educate myself, to be better, since before the disorders even begin. I’ve been down and up and down and up and suddenly the food struggle was contextualized for me, right on air. I am a fighter. I’m scrappy. I have emotional resilience.

This is, of course, the best realization ever, because it’s real as hell. It doesn’t assert that I have not struggled. It just asserts that I care enough to still try.

To me, emotional resilience is doing the next right thing, forever and ever, even when you feel bad, until things are better. A little better at first, and then a lot better eventually.

It is not accepting the terrible and negative messages that come at us daily, whether they be internal or external.

Emotional resilience is knowing your boundaries like the back of your hand. It’s testing the boundaries when they feel unclear and watching how circumstances feel in your body. It is being in tune enough to reassess.

Emotional resilience is about awareness, flexibility, spaciousness. It’s about shit getting real sometimes and ALLOWING the space to fall apart. For me, emotional resilience means I set a time cap on the amount of time that I am uncomfortable with a situation or upset about something without actually doing something about it. For two days I can wallow, and then I take steps to move forward.

Emotional resilience is having my reserves full. It is having people on deck that I can talk to, and also knowing when I just need to be alone. It is knowing that exercise and high quality food go a long way in terms of mental health.

Emotional resilience is trusting myself.

It is treating my adult self with the same fervent and tenacious care that I would use with that little kid me in the photo above.

I’m proud to have my version of emotional resilience. What’s yours look like for you?