Intentional Grace & Random Musings
Today we celebrate our Primary Dietitian, Kendall Owens, RD. Kendall, we cannot imagine doing this work without you. Your tender heart, tenacious spirit, heart filled laugh and love of all things donuts (not to mention your adorable one dance move) make our lives better every day. We are blessed to witness your love and care for each soul honored to work with you, Thank you for reminding us that grace and compassion are such an incredible foundation for the work we share and the life we live. You are truly a magical soul living with fierce grace!
Happy Birthday Kendall! We hope it is filled with as much light and love as you give the world.
The truth is, recovery is just a place where we can tell what the costume is and what it isn’t.
You’re Not a Monster
Halloween is one of my favorite Holidays of the year, especially with an almost three year old. We build haunted gingerbread houses, we (I) carve pumpkins, and we go trick-or-treating like a million times. When I was a kid, we got ready all day Halloween afternoon- anticipating the moment it was FINALLY dark enough to be a little witch, or Cinderella, or a pumpkin. Gone are those days. Now, kids get to go trick-or-treat like every weekend for the whole month.
With that said, we typically get H’s costume at the end of September. It came in a week and a half ago: a blue monster onesie- complete with teeth, and horns, and claws. He was walking around, “ROAR! I’m a monster!!!!” At one point, he sat in his tee-pee (bedecked in furry blue) and I couldn’t keep from laughing to myself. “Okay bud, let’s get that monster outfit off!” I thought he might be getting hot or uncomfortable, but he kept admiring his blue feet and claws… “No, I wanna keep it on!”
I ended up chasing him around the house, pulling off paws and claws and horns until, voila, my sweet baby boy was standing in front of me again. The monster in my hands.
One of the most difficult realities of an eating disorder is that it becomes this never ending day of Halloween- A little naggy monster costume that one wakes up in one day, and never takes off. The claws and sharp teeth and horns become safe and comfortable. A suit of armor against everything out there, and a mask that covers everything in here.
Recovery says, “Okay bud, let’s get that monster outfit off,” and the typical response is “No! I wanna keep it on!” While also really, really, really, REALLY wanting to get rid of it. Because doing life in costume can start to get really hard. More so, life in costume can start to feel like the real thing.
“This isn’t pretend. I’m an awful person. I deserve this. I’m really this ugly, horrible person and without the costume, everyone will see what a monster I really am. I’m not wearing a costume, this is who I really am.”
I can’t tell you how many talented, intelligent, gifted women I’ve worked with whose eating disorder convinced them that they were stupid, lazy, ugly, clumsy people who needed to wear a mask in order to get by. I also know that seeing yourself as you are is no easy task when you’ve really been seeing a blue monster with horns and sharp teeth in the mirror. The monster is real, BUT it isn’t you. It’s your eating disorder, and it’s really important to have someone say that to you.
“Hey, yeah you’ve got a little monster hanging out with you. Spoiler alert, it’s your eating disorder, and you’re eating disorder isn’t you.”
Out of fear, or uncertainty, or being lost, or something you had no control over, you found this little monster suit, and tried it on, and it made you feel safe, invincible, powerful, seen (or invisible), loved or hated, in control. It made you feel strong, so you kept it on because without it, you were just…blah.
So what to do?
The truth is, recovery is just a place where we can tell you what the costume is and what it isn’t. “Yeah, the horns aren’t yours, the contagious laugh is. The sharp teeth aren’t yours, the fear of not being enough is. The blue fur, yeah, not you.”
It’s a safe place for you to look at the monster without judgement or hatred. It’s a place for you to sort out your thoughts and the eating disorder’s voice. It’s this place of discovery, connecting dots, and learning how to do life without the mask. But the magical part is, it’s always in your control and your choice when and how you take the costume off. Believe me, we’ll chase after you, and just like I removed my son’s costume, I want to take those fangs and claws from you, but in recovery, that’s what you do. My job is to help you see the monster that you and your food are not, but it’s your job to learn yourself again, and to take off that “monster” you believe you are when you’re ready.
Every bite of food you take. Every negative thing you say about yourself that you reframe. Every gentle word of grace you offer yourself. Every time you act in a way that is in opposition to the “monster” is a healthy act of rebellion against the lies of the eating disorder, and an alignment with your authentic self. Every time you question the eating disorder is a moment you may be finding yourself again.
You won’t believe us in the beginning when we tell you, “You aren’t a monster,” but one day, piece by piece, you’ll start to take that little monster outfit off, mask and all- you’ll hold that sucker in your hand, and you’ll see yourself in the mirror, and you’ll think, “Wow! That’s me!”
You may have hard days where wearing the eating disorder feels safer or more comfortable, but you’ll have hard days where being true to yourself is possible. And, one day, you won’t need or want your eating disorder anymore. If you want to take it off, you’ll take it off- no matter how long it takes you, and we’ll be there every single step of the way. We’ve got a closet full of paws, and claws, and horns that other women have left behind to prove it.
You’re not a monster, you’re just a woman who hasn’t seen herself in a while, but you will.
Martha Lee Anne RD, ACED Primary Dietitian
“Halloween should not be about replacing caramels with stickers.”
Your Recovery - Your Pace
Each life story is an amazing masterpiece
Change Is Hard
Working with souls learning to live differently I find myself confronted with my own response to their changes. What are my expectations? How does their change, no matter how desired, affect my relationship to them? Do I ask them to risk changing and then not allow them the room to become different? And it's not just in work. It happens in all relationships.
It's not uncommon to fall into the trap of reacting to “what used to be” rather than responding to the efforts of “the now”. Even as a “professional”, it's easy to make assumptions or have expectations or even forget the necessity of my own response to those around me. Change is hard. And no change is ever small. For those who have lived in old patterns for years, the obstacles surrounding even the most desired changes are immense to say the least.
When someone we care for is in the process of “becoming”, not only is it imperative they have grace and compassion for themselves during what is often a difficult transformation; it's equally important those of us who care about them remember to support their change with compassion, grace, and empathy in response to the changes being born.
When the people we care for are working towards change, it’s hard for everyone. We must become aware of our own responses. Are we responding to their commitment to change or are we reacting to the way they used to be, even though they have shown tremendous progress? When they slip up, do we get frustrated and angry for them not changing fast enough?
Do we use a slip or the emergence of an old pattern to call into question all the progress they've made? It's important to remember as people change in our life, we have to change with them and understand that the process is never linear. The emergence of old patterns never eliminates a person's growth and progress. It’s a natural part of the process.
Take a breath, stand back and with compassionate curiosity, check in with them. Check in with yourself. Let the moment be just that. When confronting someone in a moment of change, be mindful of your intentions. Are you reacting or are you responding? Is the moment being highlighted different in some way? Don’t recall every other moment of a person’s struggle/history you may not have even been present for and allow it to taint one experience.
If someone you care for and love is working to make changes, remember that one of the best ways you can support them is to let each moment be its own and acknowledge what changes you need to make in your own life to support their growth. If we commit to help someone along the journey of change, we must commit to give them the room to wrestle with what that means and own our part of the process.
If a soul in the midst of change shows up with old patterns be sure you don’t respond in kind with your old reactions.
A little grace goes a long way - for both of you.
— HR Miller MA, LMFT, CEDS-S
And it’s a job thats long been needed. Minister for Suicide Prevention.
Be Mindful of Your Mindset
“Don't you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can't be exactly who you are.” - Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga visited the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to have a candid discussion about emotional health at the Emotion Revolution Summit, a partnership with her Born This Way Foundation. She spoke frankly about her experiences with celebrity and her struggle with depression:
I invented myself, Lady Gaga—I curated my life to be an expression of my pain. This is how I overcame my depression, is by creating somebody that I felt was stronger than me. But…nothing was able to fix how I was genetically made. I was born this way. No matter how much success you have, no matter how many opportunities, fame, fortune—no matter how many people accept you, to your face, the person that really needs to accept you is you.
"[This is] why we're here today," Gaga continued in her speech. "We're going to talk about why it's important to accept yourself, why it's important to empower yourself and why it's important that emotional intelligence is taken seriously."
You're Going to Want to Give Up and Go Back - Don't
Last week my husband and I were in Denver, Colorado and decided to go hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park. After researching the different trail options, we finally decided on Bear Lake Trail. We chose this one because it passes three different scenic lakes along the way, each progressively larger and more beautiful, with Emerald Lake being the main attraction at the end. The reviews described absolutely amazing scenery but warned that the trail was extremely popular and often crowded. We knew that a 4-mile hike at an elevation of 10,000 ft would be a challenge, but we decided to take the risk.
We traveled almost two hours from our hotel to get to the trailhead. Right as we were arriving, we noticed rainclouds. By the time we got out of the car and began to hike, it started to sprinkle and, of course, we didn’t have rain jackets. As we started on the trail, we were surrounded by about a hundred other people with the same goal as us, to make it to Emerald Lake. However, as it continued to rain, and the winds continued to blow, and the temperature dropped, we noticed more and more people turn around. Most of them made it to the first lake (about a 0.8 mile hike), took pictures, and then turned around and went home.
We, however, were not satisfied. We knew there was more. So with wet hair, cold hands, and rain hitting our face like needles, we continued on. At that point, there were only two other people on the trail and one of them was hiding under a tree waiting on the rain to pass. We began to get tired, winded, and cold. The hike was almost entirely uphill with long stretches of steps carved in the path. We wondered if we should turn around.
As we stopped to take a break, a hiker on his way back from Emerald Lake passes us. “How is it? Is it worth it?” we ask. “You’ve still got a long way to go, and its mostly uphill, but its soooo worth it,” he said. We kept going (with several more breaks to catch our breath) and three more people pass us on their way back from Emerald Lake. They all said the same thing. “it’s not an easy hike, but its soooo worth it.”
Eventually the rain began to clear and our lungs began to adjust to the altitude. The hike actually became enjoyable. We even saw a rainbow in the horizon, beaming out over the mountain like a peace offering rewarding us for our hard work. A few miles later, we finally arrive at Emerald Lake. We crash on the rocks, exhausted, beat down, but so full of pride that we had done it. I wish that I could describe the view as beautifully as I experienced it, but it’s just not possible. All I can do is tell you that it felt like pure and complete peace.
When I was lying on the rocks at Emerald Lake, I kept thinking about how our journey that day paralleled the process of recovery. Lots of people say they want to recover and may even start out on the journey, but when the rain comes, and the wind starts blowing, they are tempted to turn back. They become satisfied with the first sign of progress. “At least I stopped this behavior” or “At least I’m not doing that thing anymore,” they say. They hang out at the first lake and they either stay there for a while or they turn around and go back, not realizing that there’s so much more to the journey and so much more beauty to behold. Sometimes in the thick of the storm it’s hard to trust someone who says, “keep going, its sooo worth it,” but when you take the risk, you open yourself to the possibility that you will arrive at a more peaceful place. Who nows,you may even get to be the messenger along the path that gets to encourage the next person that, “the journey is hard, but its sooo worth it.”
— Emily Burke
ACED Nurse Practitioner
Your Story Is Just Beginning
We truly understand the importance of “every story matters.” Each of us has a story to tell. Recently, staff members from ACED went together to get the semicolon tattoo out of respect for our own stories and the brave stories belonging to each incredible soul we bear witness to every day. Our commitment to and passion for the work we do runs deep. Your story matters.
"You don't know it yet, but you have the ability to reinvent yourself endlessly. That's your beauty."
When things get hard, stop, take a breathe, and give yourself permission to take a break. It’s okay to rest, just promise yourself you won’t quit. No matter what.
Never Underestimate The Power Of Love
“I’m learning to love myself. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
Life Gets Better When You’re Kind To Yourself
The lack of genuine, equal access to care for mental health and substances abuse disorders in comparison to medical health coverage by insurers continues to limit access to care and exacerbate already debilitating diagnoses that could be managed with appropriate and early interventions. Overall health wellness includes both the body and the mind.
Today is the launch of Dr. Jennifer L. Gaudiani’s book, Sick Enough: A Guide to the Medical Complications of Eating Disorders. As a provider in the community who deeply understand the struggles and complications of this devastating disease, we couldn’t be more excited for this book! Dr. Gaudiani brings her genuine heartfelt compassion and evidence-based, expert medical care to all those suffering from eating disorders and is redefining the way we approach not only this life-threatening illness, but the clients who suffer from them. We believe this book will be a game changer in the treatment of those struggling with eating disorders, their loved ones and the providers who care for them. Thank you DR. G and congratulations! - The Team at ACED
You can find her book here: https://tinyurl.com/yakclrhg