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I have to admit that I’m clinging to each last bit of the end-of-summer like a fool, but with the rain and chill today, it’s a bit easier to keep the Bodum filled and not mind too much. September seemed to happen so quickly, where did the time go?
The shortening of daylight and coolness of the evenings suddenly has me lugging out the sweaters and rummaging for fleece to accompany our early night walks by the lake, while still savoring the seemingly endless supply of heirloom orbs I’m basically giving away at this point before they rot- and with the onslaught of fruit flies scurrying to hold on and survive as well, that is a nuisance that won’t be missed.
Like most families with school-aged children, last week marked the beginning of another school year, which brings with it much excitement, anticipation, and sometimes, as for our daughter, a bit of anxiety when recovering from an eating disorder.
But that’s okay.
This semester she’s surrounded by many who know about her eating disorder, and are behind her, beside her, in their hearts and also working with her on a regular basis, like her Art Therapist, Yoga “guru”, ED therapist, nutritionist, pediatrician as well as close loving family and countless friends (teens are such magnets for camaraderie and energetic spirit… it’s hard to resist and really has been such a blessing!)
It’s so important to have that “net” of support during and throughout the recovery process. And while it’s not always easy to find and coordinate this type of collaborative care, let alone pay for and/or get insurance coverage for this extensive care- it’s so well worth the effort to keep plugging away, advocating for your son or daughter, and getting the “right fit” for both your child and also for you as the parent(s), caregivers, and extended family.
Numerous studies are aplenty regarding the effects of stress in our lives- stress is part of life for both human and animal, there is no denying this. Stress also has an evolutionary and survival component, but too much and not enough “down time” to recoup and rest and we all know what happens. Many of us also know how stress also can play a role in exasperating and/or intensifying levels of eating disordered behaviours in our loved one’s lives.
Dr Esther Sternberg was speaking on public radio last night while I was driving home from a messy, but productive day- for once! at the studio. And the conversation really got me itching to reread her book The Balance Within once again after the past couple of weeks going to numerous Dr appointments, back-to-school-shopping, noticing some tensions in our daughter’s behavior(s); and getting things ready for the start of the school year. It has been stressful!
It was interesting to listen to Dr Sternberg talk. She’s incredibly intelligent, grounded, but also very human. She’s been called a “scientist’s scientist” as she’s a bit hesitant towards all the overkill-joy on the Self Help end minus a balanced critical and logical analysis of what we’ve been learning, and do know about human cells, the brain, genetics, neural circuitry, etc. currently. And how technology, continued research/study has opened up so much to illuminate on these previously charted as well as uncharted seas, so that we can begin to really delve deeper within a broader understanding behind why you might feel like shit, or are swimming endlessly in “the blues”, and just can’t deal with all that stress, dammit!
I think this past couple of weeks reminded me of how sometimes the simple things are really quite wonderful. Listening to the shared support of other parents, sufferers who really have climbed that mountain of ED-Himalayas and stuck a “Fug You ED” flag on the peak, then courageously climbed down to live full, healthy lives. Dr’s and clinicians who truly connect with you and your child and actually “get it”, both what your child is grappling with, yet not belittling their struggle, or as a parent/caregiver, your own; and continuing to make that commitment towards supporting your child’s recovery, even when things seem temporarily “stuck” week after week.
Our daughter had a wonderful half-week back rejoining with friends and classmates, she loves her classes, new level teachers and has taken on a couple of additional social-activity/clubs this semester to fill in for field hockey, cross-country and ballet. And while she’s very determined to get back to dance at some point, she’s also realizing what other talents she can nurture and cultivate while her body and mind continue to heal. A time for all things in good time.
Hope is not the closing of your eyes to the difficulty, the risk,or the failure.
It is trust that-If I fail now -I shall not fail forever;and if I am hurt,I shall be healed .
It is trust that Life is good, love is powerful, and the future is full of promise.
I awoke early before the rest of the family this morning to have some quiet time- make some chai, sit out on the deck in the bitter chill, layered in winter-wear. May 1st it is… our daughter will be turning a year older this month and is fully discharged from the eating disorder program she has had several months of treatment in, both inpatient, residential and finishing with their intensive outpatient program.
Thinking back to her initial admission in November seems eons away from where she is now. She’s come full-circle, rather similar to the cycle of the year and anticipated, sometimes even prominent, seasonal changes (this winter was one of the heaviest in terms of snowfall and duration!) that mark distinct, at times mundane or significantly important passages of time. For our family it was one of change, acceptance and movement forward- leaving what does not nurture or support us happily behind. And with great hope, looking towards the future, but staying as grounded and balanced as possible in the present.
I remember when our daughter’s were much younger and attended a Waldorf school where seasonal change, holidays and traditions were both honored and incorporated directly within the curriculum (such idealism we as parents carried– but so much fun!) and one of the highlights of the school’s year end was the annual May Faire that had Maypole dancing, farmer’s market, crafts… just all around energy, wonderful food, children running, giggling, singing with weaved flower-crowns or greenery in their hair (parents too!) and just an all-around connected sense of community, diversity and optimism– SPRING had sprung! It was a celebration to honor the changing of the seasons, from darkness into light. Back then our daughter was completely free from fears of food and worries of weight-gain, she couldn’t have been farther from such an ugly menace as ED.
Much time has passed since those pre-K days, and our children grow to find their own unique challenges and strengths– sometimes we are faced with circumstances in our lives that can send one afloat upon unchartered territory, navigating can be difficult, but you find a way back to dry land, solid ground and the comfort of those that love and welcome you; and are there for you “have your back” when you need them most.
Yesterday after our daughter had a brownie with “sprinkles” I realized she is really making huge steps towards facing the ED demon head-on, and while she won’t admit at this point “Wow! I just loved that brownie– Yum, yum!” she is taking what is presented to her each day, much more consciously than five months ago. Perhaps not always with her trademark dimpled smile and sparkly eyes, but she’s doing it, and we’re cheering her on!
As I see the small buds on the apple and cherry trees grow in size each day, and the striking presence of the yellow daffodils dot the yard along with the tulips beginning to take on their dark hues; I feel on this first day of May that we’re finally able to see some Light shine back into our own families’ healing and daily rhythm more akin to life before ED– and that feels so wonderful!
An optimist is the human personification of spring
– Susan J. Bissonette
Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain
but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield
but to be my own strength.
Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved
but hope for patience to own my freedom.