Toppling Over, Then Standing Up

Sally - Oberlin, Ohio
Entered on August 13, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in a life of balance. So naturally I discovered my balance by toppling over first.

I moved back in with my parents two years ago because of a severe anorectic relapse. Both my mind and body were extremely unbalanced. And it was not the first time I had been beaten by my demons.

For the previous five years I had lived in a whirlwind. Going to school in New York City, working for a fashion magazine and an art studio, moving to London after graduation to volunteer full-time – I thrived on accomplishing more in one day than anyone else I knew, and I was determined to get to the top first. The top of what, I didn’t know. I didn’t know why I wanted it, either. I just knew it felt good to push myself until the breaking point – that is, until I actually broke.

My recovery was slow at first. All I did was eat, write in my journal, and attend therapy. Gradually, as if I were a newborn, we added in more elements. I went to the library and attended yoga classes. After a few months I took a part-time job at a boutique and started occasionally socializing with my coworkers. A couple of months later, I moved out of my parents’ house and into a trendy downtown neighborhood. It wasn’t too long before I was writing for a newspaper and even falling in love.

In retrospect, this sounds very easy and linear. The fact is, every time something changed and I had to re-center myself, I lost it. I remember crying on moving day and asking my therapist, “What if I can’t do this?” She replied simply that if it didn’t work, we would try something else. I was astounded by her flexibility and calm, and I finally realized how harmful my rigid expectations had been.

I try to devote these present days to living in balance, working hard, and sharing kindness. My daily yoga practice is a hands-on workbook for applying these ideas. As a result, my idea of success has changed. Before, just as I judged my body, success was measured from the outside. Are people impressed when they hear what I’m doing? How can I get ahead?

Now I understand that no outer body or circumstance can dictate how I feel about myself when I wake up. If I want to be whole and happy, I know what to do. After all, it’s not rocket science: eat well, write, practice yoga, take walks, have adventures, do good for those I love (and everyone else).

There’s no doubt that as I grow older, my life will continue to expand. New challenges will always present themselves. I am still plenty afraid, but I also feel a budding confidence. I can handle the ups and downs; I can adjust my balance. One baby step at a time.