A little over a year ago I went to yoga teacher training with the YogaOne team from Houston. I was excited, but mostly scared that my yoga pants collection wouldn’t make it through the week or that I even belonged, having only really practiced yoga for 3 months prior.
Little did I know those were the least of my worries. On the very first night we were passing a talking stick around in a circle. Instructions were to share your name, what you do (I think), something everyone knows about you, and something nobody knows about you.
My turn was close to the end. So I had plenty of time to think about what I was going to say. But I kept drawing a blank.
Once I got the stick I shared my name, what I did, and what everyone knows about me… With a brief pause and a deep breath, I said, “I had an eating disorder in college”.
I could barely believe the words flew out of my mouth. I felt my body and throat trembling at the relief of having said something out loud I had never fully admitted to myself.
Ah-ho (yes, that’s what everyone would say after you shared).
As I passed the stick to the next person, I felt a jolt of panic at the thought that I had just embarrassed myself in front of people I just met 2 hrs ago. Something was said I couldn’t back.
Surprisingly, no one ever looked at me with the pity or annoyance I had always thought accompanied a confession like that. *Correction, it wasn’t a confession, it was a share. It was an appropriate environment, I was not on trial, and everyone around me was being brave and it was my turn.
In fact, I had a few people come up to me throughout the training and share their version of struggling with food and acceptance of their body. I felt a sense of ease knowing that even people I respect struggle with the same things I do.
I also didn’t starve myself until I fainted and I never threw up after overeating at a meal. I don’t say this to belittle those types of eating disorders. I firmly believe that the way I treated food, thought about my body, and punished myself with exercise was not healthy and shouldn’t be accepted as “normal” or “okay”.
While fantastic leaps and strides have been made to understand the disordered thought patterns and habits, they still exist.
I have stopped looking for those thoughts and tendencies to vanish into thin air and have instead decided to view them like a measuring stick. They come in and out. Sometimes it seems like they are trying to overtake and, in many many moments, don’t even exist to me.
But they’re there. And that’s okay. I don’t have 5 steps to beat your body hate or 10 ways to avoid eating the whole tub of ice cream for you today.
Just know that you are not out there on this island all by yourself. You are actually surrounded by people who are dealing with the same things.