I started this post for the first time last August (2013). I’ve come back to it a number of times since then, but I’ve never really been able to verbalize this feeling. Maybe this time will be the charm.
***These were the only 3 sentences in a draft dated 3/11/2014. I came back to it many more times between then and now.***
How will I know myself has been one of the most difficult questions of my recovery, right after who am I, if not this. My identity was so thoroughly wrapped up in my eating disorder for more than two dozen years, I couldn’t even fathom an identity without it. The other things I identified with were anger, despair, and resentment. In mid-2013 I was just learning about how I was going to need to let go of all of those feelings, if I was going to have any chance at recovery and I. was. terrified!
After spending so much of my life managing my emotions, so I would always be prepared, I would always get what I expected (even if it was the minimum, or the short end). Not knowing what to expect, abandoning these emotions that seemed so quintessentially ME, felt like a huge risk I wasn’t sure I was willing to take. Aside from mistakenly believing that I wasn’t me without those crusty old resentments, I also thought letting them go meant I was giving up on fighting for myself (you can read more about that here).
But last fall (2015) I finally figured it out who I was before my inner adult/fixer/dictator squeezed out my inner child (see picture below). I remembered the exuberance, the wild, free-spirited, girl who loved to twirl and radiated love and light, wanting nothing more than to receive love and light back.
And I also gained one of my biggest insights yet, that I can fill my self/vessel/being with whatever I want and if they don’t fit or feel right, I can dump them and try something else.
These two learnings led to a revolutionary change in my perception of myself and my willingness to see myself as something other than what I had always seen. I realized that recognizing myself wasn’t dependent on certain emotions or behaviors, because I had created them. They weren’t actually me; they were something I created to keep me grounded, safe, but in reality, there is no spoon… 😉
The questions still remained, who was I supposed to be, how would I become the person I was supposed to be, and how would I recognize myself if/when I ever became that person? I haven’t talked much about how I answered that first question, but it’s all about being in the present moment. “Becoming who I am supposed to be” is in the future, and the future doesn’t exist. My purpose, and happiness, is in actually being who I am right now and discovering whether that feels right and then being who I am in the next moment, based on what I discovered about myself in the last, which is also the answer to the second question. Trail and error. Is it getting a little too meta in here? The third question, how will I recognize myself, becomes easier the better I get to know myself in the present. As I create the life that feels right, I will start to recognize it as my own work.