The hard part about being strong, about being a survivor, about surviving at all, is that pain comes in waves and you have to learn how to survive even when the storm is raging, when it would be so easy to give into the pain and let it absorb you. Even if there is constantly a sort of dull pain that is always floating in the background, there are moments when you barely notice it, when you feel normal and happy and free. But there are also moments when it hits you like a bag of bricks, and you feel winded, exhausted and scared. We all have these moments. And we all have different ways to cope with these moments. So, at the expense of sounding like an expert in relaxation and calming oneself down- which I am certainly not- let me tell you about the one thing that can always seem to pull me back from the edge: nature.
It seems odd, I know, to relate nature with an eating disorder or with any other type of mental or physical illness, but there seems to be something about it that soothes me. Ideally, if it is nice enough I can go for a walk. Just me, my music, and a path, any path that I can wander along. You’d be amazed at the secluded gems i’ve found roaming around the small town that surrounds my campus. My legs walk and I am able to think, and clear my head of all negative thoughts. Because my legs move automatically, allowing me to think and the steady movement of my feet is familiar and calming. Sometimes I walk for a while, hours. But I walk further and further because it allows me to feels like I am escaping the place where pain is and I only return when I am feeling clear and refreshed. Of course, I can not always walk. When I was in a knee immobilizer with a sprained meniscus and LCL I knew I didn’t stand a chance at my normal walk. So i opted for just sitting outside. Sometimes, when I couldn’t even get up, I simply opened my window.
The thing about nature is that it is unapologetically beautiful and flawed. And, yes, sometimes we get mad at it, for humidity that makes it feel like we’re walking through soup, or snow which covers our entire driveway, or for strong winds which knock down trees or rain that drenches us for the .2 seconds we’re outside but we also love nature. Because we cannot live without it, and because it provides us with the most magnificent thing we could ever ask for: life. And it occurred to me recently that the reason I love walking when I’m upset is because I need reminding that the way I view nature is the way I need to view my body as well. I don’t always love it, sometimes I think I hate it. I get frustrated when a new stretch mark appears or clothes don’t fit because they’re too short or too tight. I get upset when my thighs rub together when I am running or the way my arms look in some dresses. But, at the end of the day, I know I have to love my body, and I do because it gives me life. Those same legs which I stare at disdain are the same limbs which allow me to walk and run and skip and who knows what else. And the arms which appear too thick for me sometimes, let me hug and love others. I know sometimes your body can seem like your worst enemy and that sometimes it can cause more harm than good but try not to forget that, that same body was also made for you, to keep you breathing and moving and talking. Love your body the same way you love our earth. Love it despite its blemishes and faults. Love it unconditionally.