Lesson from a Goddess

1 Mar

Guess who I met Saturday night…

I’ll give you a few clues:

  1. She has blond, wavy hair.
  2. She’s written two books, perhaps the most famous two books, on how to beat an eating disorder.
  3. She is now an Austinite, but used to live in Tennessee.
  4. She travels around the country talking about how to “break up” with ED.
  5. Her initials are J.S.

Have you got it yet?

For those of you who are familiar with eating disorders, that was way too easy! Yes, I got to meet Jenni Schaefer! If you are unfamiliar with eating disorders or haven’t read her two books yet, I highly recommend them. Her first, LIfe After Ed, made Jenni a mini-celebrity in the recovery world due to her revolutionary way of ridding the mind of the ED voice by approaching the healing from an eating disorder like that of an abusive relationship.

The Austin Federation of Eating Disorders held its second annual art auction Saturday called “You are Beautiful, Too (II)” that my mom and I attended. Jenni Schaefer was there and after she gave a small lecture on what it is like to have an eating disorder, she sang a moving song titled “It’s OK to be happy,” detailing her struggle to give herself permission to enjoy life even while the eating disorder voice constantly criticized and take the joy away from her.

More exciting than hearing her speak was being able to talk with her one towards the end of the event. Up close she is absolutely stunning; she was glowing, confident, and goddess-like. Her hair shone, her skin was nearly flawless, and the smile never left her face. Yet, when we got to speak to her, her pride was not forefront. She talked to me as though I was on old friend and I was comforted by her compassionate words, which I will share you with you in a minute. The thing that struck me the most about Jenni Schaefer was the beauty in her eyes. Super-skinny models may be “pretty” by the beauty industry’s standards, but their eyes are dull, flatless, lifeless. In that moment, a thought from my true, authentic, healthy self popped into my head and for the first time, the ED voice had no counter to it: “I want my eyes to sparkle like those- eyes that have the look of peace that comes after a long journey, when one is finally at rest and content.” So, resolve today to measure your happiness not by your body, but through your eyes.

Two other lessons from Saturday:

1. For those watching a loved one go through an ED:

“You do not need to understand the Eating Disorder but you do need to believe.”

Family and friends will never be able to comprehend the statement “I feel fat” when they see an emaciated girl(or boy) standing before them, but instead of focusing on this fact, if they could only say, “I believe that feeling is real for you,” the job of recovery would become less of a burden. It is an isolating feeling recovering from an eating disorder. I know I’ve felt many times the frustrating of being unable to explain my disordered thoughts to those who have never been touched by and eating disorder. Maybe there doesn’t need to be an explanation, only acceptance.


2. For those going through an ED:

“In the beginning, recovery has to come before EVERYTHING else.”

Before relationships, before friends, before school, before jobs, before other commitments….

Not that you have to give up everything in your life but recovery, but that when push comes to shove and you have to choose between recovery and something else, recovery NEEDS to come first. The others are “wants”… If you allow the ED to take over because recovery isn’t coming first, you will eventually lose the things, like school, work, relationships,etc. because you will be too sick to fully engage in them. In essence, recovery is saving your own life from a deadly illness. If you got cancer, you wouldn’t put off chemo that could save your life in order to finish the semester or your latest work project.

You won’t be any good to anyone if you lose the battle with ED.


One Response to “Lesson from a Goddess”

  1. courage March 6, 2011 at 11:34 PM #

    I just thought I would let you know someone believes in you, and thinks you are the most amazing person they have ever met. You are going to change the world one day, don’t ever forget that.

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