You’ve Always Glowed (You Just Didn’t Know It)

January 13, 2016 • Body Image, Eating Disorder, Health, Inspiration, Mental Health, Recovery • Views: 3019

I’m so excited to be a part of the #GLOWSCHOOL Blog Tour! GLOWSCHOOL is a place where women make nice with their inner mean girls, free their bodies, shed their limiting beliefs and celebrate each other on the journey. It’s time for a revolution. Women who GLOW {i.e. are happy, brave, free, and ALIVE} pave the way for others to do the same.

Yesterday, Amber shared “The Sensitive Girls Guide To Glow” over at amberrochelle.com. I’m really looking forward to what Danielle is sharing tomorrow at daniellemercurio.com!

When I was thinking about a time when I was “glowing” and how I would write about it, I came understand that that glow was always there – I just had to realize it and celebrate it. YOU have always glowed, too, you just didn’t know it.

Let’s back up 10 years to when I was just out of treatment for anorexia and bulimia, was stuck at a college I didn’t pick, was in and out of hospitals and doctor’s appointments, and was a total expert at pushing people away or spending time with those who weren’t healthy for me.

I regularly dwell in regret and shame, even though I know it is not a good use of my time or energy. I think back to those days in college when I was drinking too much, not focusing on school (which I truly LOVE), and isolating myself due to my untreated depression. I forced myself to graduate, and while I was living in a funky 1BR apartment in Birmingham, Ala., I found the worst job I would ever have to date. I was a legal assistant at a small firm downtown, and I was yelled at and put down every day. I called my dad on my lunch break every afternoon from the park or from the empty office in the building and just cried – I cried because I felt lost with no passion, I cried because I knew I had so much to offer there that my boss didn’t see, I cried because I couldn’t make my student loan payments, and I cried because I was lonely and still stuck with my old eating disorder, which was the worst, back-stabbing friend you just can’t get away from. This was in 2008 during the recession when there were really no other options for employment in a small town. My dad also lost his job and fell off the wagon with his alcoholism, but we continued to have our daily calls. He told me that a recession is the best time to go back to school, so I took his advice and applied to Northwestern University for their Master of Science in Journalism program, and I got in.

In Chicago during graduate school.

In Chicago during graduate school.

That was a moment where I knew I was going to turn things around for myself. This partying, isolating, drunk, undependable, lost girl was not the person I wanted to be. I had always had “glow” and the foundation to have meaningful relationships and lasting employment doing something that brought me joy, it had just been a really hard road.

On one of my last days working at the law office, one of the partners there said to me: “I hope that one day you are the boss, but right now you are not in a place to tell me what to do.” I laughed to myself as he was huffing and puffing over a letter put in the wrong mailbox, because I was on my way to doing just that, and getting so far away from that place.

In graduate school, I made lasting friendships, had a stronger GPA than I ever came close to in undergraduate school, and was letting go of the last of my eating disorder. I quit smoking, I started running, I called my parents to tell them about achievements instead of disappointments, I chopped all my hair off (if you haven’t done it, do it just once), and I stopped seeing all those men who were such a waste of my time. I wasn’t a new person – I was celebrating the person I was always meant to be. I could be by myself and be happy.

With my husband James on our wedding day in 2014.

With my husband James on our wedding day in 2014.

Now, when I feel that regret and shame creep in, as it often does before bedtime or when I’m on the train, I use all of those self-talk methods we learned in treatment to turn that head chatter around. YES there was a time when I was irresponsible and arrogant and lost and drunk, but look at how hard I’ve worked to create a life for myself that I’m proud of and to build a community for other recovered individuals that are trying to find their best selves, too. A long time ago, a woman read my birth chart and told me I would be “the voice of a generation.” I didn’t know what that meant then, but now I do. We are a generation that needs to change the way we talk about our bodies and others’ bodies, that needs to get angry about how insurance companies handle eating disorder related claims, that needs to face the fact that eating disorders are the most lethal of any mental illness and that 20% of all women dealing with anorexia nervosa will die prematurely (ANAD).

When I think of my glow, I think of passing it on to women who don’t know they have it. I think of all the hard work it’s taken to realize my own. I have been in therapy every week for 6 years to fight my eating disorder and save my life. I made a conscious and thoughtful choice to marry a man who wholeheartedly supports my new business and my mental health journey. When I’m done with my regular job each day, I know I have two or three more hours of Body Boop work ahead of me that evening, but it’s all worth it. If one woman struggling hears my message and sees that I came out on the other side, I’ve done my job. Thinking of the people I’ve met so far through Body Boop brings me to tears, in the best way.

Here are my tips for how YOU can find your glow and your best self:

  1. Treat yourself with kindness, and forgive your mistakes. Let go of regret and shame – they are USELESS emotions.
  2. Be thoughtful about the people you spend time with. That time is precious, and you have a lot to offer. Hang out with people who inspire you and lift you up.
  3. Take little steps to achieve big goals. You can get there, it just takes time. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with big hurdles.
  4. GO TO THERAPY. It is my “me time,” my moment during the week to work through hard stuff and find solutions. It’s also okay to shop around for a therapist you really jive with and can see long term. Here’s a great tool for finding a therapist if you need one.
  5. Take steps for self-care every week. I take bubble baths, cook, color in coloring books and enjoy an evening cocktail after a long day. You deserve it, and if you think you don’t, that’s something to process when you tackle #4 on this list.

Lastly, I have this to say to anyone who judged me when I was at rock bottom and/or continues to judge me: I’ve worked my ass off to move past that, and I’ve become curvier and happier along the way. That’s your memory – this is my new reality. This is my glow.

Join Body Boop for our Jan. 28 #RecoveryNightChicago event at Fit Lincoln Park! Tickets are only $20 & space is limited! CLICK HERE

Join #GLOWSCHOOL’s 10-Day Get Glowing Adventure – starting February 1st: 10 days of simple + fun daily challenges + inspiration, like: buy yourself flowers, create a to-be list, eat like you mean it, dress the way you wanna feel, etc.

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