Instead of my voice today, you're getting the voice of Warrior Momma, Nancy Clarkson. Nancy told me after the retreat that the moms all came to the retreat "shredded" and we pulled them back together like a beautiful mosaic. Of course my heart melted. Most of the weekend my heart was BURSTING with JOY watching these brave Warrior Mommas reclaim their lives and joy from eating disorders. It was a dream come true and we're taking that joy and fun into the next retreat in June in Northern California.
Here is Nancy's blog post about the event:
"This past December, I was fortunate to be able to attend the Hope Network Mom's Retreat in beautiful San Diego. I was encouraged to attend by one of the parents in my support group. You see, I preach self care to them all the time and was telling them about the retreat. One parent piped up and said, why don't you go? Me? Yes, you. You are always telling us to take care of ourselves . . . etc., etc., blah, blah . . . ok, ok, I decided to go. If nothing else, I would learn some self-care techniques to pass along to my families.
What transpired that weekend was beyond anything I could have imagined. My daughter was recovered from her eating disorder, so "what was the point in going?" I asked myself. I quickly discovered what the point was. It was me. ME. Me? Really? Yes, ma'am.
As we gathered together for the first time -- 2 coaches and five moms -- it was evident something special was about to happen. We introduced ourselves and started sharing our stories. Each one was heartbreaking, each one was different, each one was ours alone. The pain in our eyes -- that was pretty much the same. Hurt, anger, resentment . . . it was all there.
We listened, we cried, we laughed, we had some wine -- it was good.
We learned how to embrace JOY in the midst of sadness. We learned how to accept what happened and see the need to move on. We learned that life is unpredictable. We learned to not judge others. We learned self-acceptance. We learned there are no wrong answers. We learned that PTSD is very real. It's not about moving on, it's about remembering. We can move on, but in all the remembering, that is where the true pain resides.
For me, personally, I had a huge AHA moment -- isn't that what Oprah calls them? When a light so big goes off in your head it blinds you from the inside out?
I realized in a moment that the work I do to help families truly brings me fulfillment. It may not always be fun -- eating disorders are not something that you associate with fun -- but helping families to know that this is not their fault and to relieve them of their self-blame is very satisfying. For them to connect with other families who "get it" is huge, comforting and downright necessary.
I needed to stop listening to that voice in my head (probably some evil twin of ED) telling me that I needed to find something else to do. Something that was fun. I learned to listen to my heart, not my head. My heart is more rational than the mental gymnastics in my head anyway. I had to learn to be accepting of my own choices regardless of what others thought. I needed to start liking myself again.
It's one of the hardest things I have ever done, yet one of the most freeing.
You do not need the approval of anyone to follow your heart. When you live with a family member with a mental illness (yes, eating disorders are a mental illness, not a choice), it can cause you to question yourself daily. You are constantly being reminded by the eating disorder voice that it's your fault, you are to blame. It is hard to trust your own voice. I need to learn to trust mine. I'm working on it and it feels pretty good.
One of the first changes I made upon returning home was to donate my entire bin of "self-help" books to the library. It was brought to my attention that by hanging onto them, that perhaps they were a constant reminder of where I felt I was lacking. Wow! I felt lighter already. Thanks, Becky.
I will continue to listen to my heart, my inner compass. I will continue to pray each day. I will continue to trust myself. I will start liking myself a little more. I will continue to eliminate from my life "that which does not serve me."
Not sure what that looks likes, but it will be interesting when I find out. I'll keep you posted."