The BEST part of being a human is our connections with one another. Sure, chocolate-chip cookies are delish, swimming in the ocean is exhilarating, and watching the game can be chillaxing, but what beats a full belly laugh with people you love? I think about this a lot now with Baby Flynn. Introducing him to rain today was pretty cool and showing him around our canyon is amazing, but I’m most jazzed by watching his first interactions with my family and best friends… and his new stuffed puppy, Bolt. 🙂
Why is this? Why do connections matter so much? We are social animals that feed off of our emotional relationships with others. As the 17th century English poet John Donne said (not John Bon Jovi like Hugh Grant led me to believe in About a Boy) “No man (ahem, or woman!) is an island”. Even before we opened our eyes on earth, we cozied up on our mama’s womb, bobbing around while listening as she chatted with her friends about our nursery decor and adorbs onesie collection. Without a bond with our mother or close caregiver after birth, we couldn’t survive so really, connection is a no-joke matter or life and death!
With connection such an integral part of our natures, it’s beyond regrettable that many of us choose to isolate when life gets gnarly. It’s often the times we need the love and support of our tribe the most that we turn on Netflix, hike up the duvet, and silence our phone. It makes sense to us in the moment. It’s too challenging to talk. No one cares or understands our pain. We don’t want to be a burden on others. We don’t deserve to receive help. Maybe you can identify with this negative self-talk?
I was a negative talk, isolation queen when I was deep inside my eating disorder! A slave to an oppressive ED voice that demanded I set myself apart to feel as crap as possible, on the days I felt the worst about myself, I’d sob on my floor in a fetal position, starving myself for hours on end and fixating on the most lamentable perspective imaginable.
“You suck, fat piggie” my ED voice would declare in the silence.
“You don’t deserve to feed off the positive vibes of others! You are an energy sucker and will only make those around you miserable. You deserve to feel this horrible!”
“Ride out your turmoil alone and then you can show a perfect, happy facade to the world!”
“People are busy enough without listening to your problems! Figure it out, weak woman.”
Simply put, I felt undeserving of support and determined to exude an idyllic woman who radiates joy and never has a bad day. But c’mon people! NO ONE FEELS GOOD ALL THE TIME. We all have crap days and non of us are perfect! Entrenched in my eating disorder and with an irrational perspective on life, however, I was determined to showcase a perfect, happy veneer.
Consequently, I walked alone for years, isolating through the darkest of days and pretending everything was totally fine. Our hearts, however, can only take so much, and after years of suffering alone, I reached my breaking point. I could not overcome my anorexia alone and, on a broader level, keeping up appearances was exhausting! I was not okay and I needed help.
And guess what!? Once I started asking for support from other humans, I realized something incredible: people want to help! At first this realization came in the form of a caring therapist and my family. Over the next couple of years, however, I began to speak my truth to a host of others from therapists and dietician to my HR director, boss, and close friends. I expected judgement and to be labelled as an anorexic. Instead, I received giant bear hugs and floods of unadulterated love.
I’ve unearthed a myriad of truths since first reaching out for help. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve discovered my thoughts and feelings are not outrageous or unique. Rather, countless women and men are undergoing similar challenges and there are strong communities/networks with the sole mission to help us bond together to reach a place of happiness and well-being. I’ve also learned that a listening ear can do wonders to lighten my heart, even if the listener has zero experience with food struggles and its associated anxieties. Some of my best perspectives on ED recovery are from friends who merrily down quarter pounders without a second thought! On top of all this goodness, I’ve realized the best part of having girlfriends is the power we have to motivate and encourage one another! Friendships are far more meaningful when I shine my true, imperfect self forward, and provide validation and love to others on their journeys.
Simply put, NO WOMAN IS AN ISLAND! We are all in this life together and it is our ability to lift one another up and put a smile on each others’ face that makes daily life worth living. Consequently, when you feel yourself slipping and the first urges to isolate come into your mind, pick up your phone. Send a text, connect with a social media support group, or simply drive yourself to a public space. We might be social distancing, but just being in proximity of other humans can lighten your burden and lift your spirits. You might feel alone but so many of us are on your side, cheering you on through stormy afternoons and sending you anonymous loving vibes.