The thing about recovery, or the feeling of being recovered, from something is that on occasion, when you least expect it, you find yourself throttled back to a moment when you were not quite at your best. In my experience, it happens suddenly and completely.
Now, I do not claim to be recovered from twenty-some-odd years of hating my body, but I do like to think that I have made a certain amount of progress over the years, and that the amount of time that I spend shackled by my own fear and pain becomes less every day.
However, there are certain occasions that permit me to feel more vulnerable than others, and more prone to feeling badly about myself than I might otherwise. The number one such occasion is: new social environments where I have no personal history to rely on when anticipating how something might work out. This is distressing for a myriad of reasons, mostly superficial, but they include not knowing wear, how to act, or who I might encounter.
On the outside these reasons seem ridiculous, even to me. But I’ve found that my best surefire method for bolstering my self-esteem is going over the event in my head, previewing it for myself, and assessing what I will need with me so that I don’t find myself feeling inadequate or without. Once upon a time, I packed pounds on my body for similar reasons, as a layer of security, like a down blanket around me securing me a safe distance between my vulnerability and the rest of the world. Now, I have attempted to externalize this need for security, pulling it out of my body and into my purse, packed with worst case scenario provisions.
But in those moments that I cannot provide myself with any such items because I don’t know what to pack, both literally and metaphorically? Panic. The panic will quickly spiral into silence, my fear like a strong hand over my mouth, constricting my breathing and keeping me quiet, diligent. The panic silences my ability to access my felt needs, those things that I know, on some level that I want or require.
Until the event is over, and then I feel rung out as if having gone through a washing machine and finding myself tangled and clean. It is only then that my voice returns, often angrily, after having been quieted for a period of time. And then my needs follow – thirsty, hungry, tired, and sore. And then I find myself again firmly situated in my body, I can feel myself in the skin.
I am grateful for these moments, however few and far between now, because they remind me how this used to be an ordinary occurrence. At one point in my life, I lived in a constant state of out of my body, denying my needs and placing priority on the concerns of others. I tell you about it here, because I truly believe that acknowledging this process, recording it, paying attention to it, and being bothered by it goes a far way in regards to recovery.
It’s also important to remember, that while you may never be perfect, no one is, and that you can be an agent in your own experience. You can pay attention when you begin to detach. You can choose to acknowledge the voice, caught in your throat.
Most importantly, you can choose to use it.