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Tears Are the Rivers That Takes You Somewhere

15th October 2018

One of the reasons I know I am likely to never return to my ED of many years ago, is because I have changed aspects of my 'world view'. I know a couple of people have said to me an ED never goes away and you are entitled to your opinion - and I am entitled to mine. And also my own lived experience. And my lived experience is one of even healthier in my view than pre ED. I would not practice as SEED's consultant resident psychotherapist if I had any ED around or felt prone to slipping back in any way.

I would like to teach you a little about world view and change. There is first order change - this is where we change our environment and this is often a good thing - leave the not so helpful and hurtful partner, remove triggers, leave the job, and so on. I could have left the ballet world, as it was in a part of that world that my ED was triggered around age 19. Before that, I never even considered myself to have to lose an weight or alter my body - I was very happy as I was and thought myself OK for dance (yes, would change hair colour a little, but nothing wrong with that). In recovery, I did not want to leave ballet - ballet was not the enemy in itself, just certain attitudes that a lot of that world at that time had absorbed and introjected. I loved ballet and dance, it was my passion, my dream. Had I changed the environment and left the ballet world, this would have been 'first order change'. As would going to an informal dance class for fun, not professionalism. So, I opted for 'second order change'. This means a change in world view. I changed my world view of ballet success fitting an unrealistic weight ideal (thankfully there have been changes there in some of the ballet world), and changed my view of ideal from aesthetics to an ideal HEALTH. Healthy to dance. Even if above the so-called 'ideal'. If certain ballet places didn't want me then so be it. I still had the right to dance. I found somewhere where my healthy weight was ideal...because they valued health as ideal.

I am heavier than the 'ideal' of the Royal Ballet I was quoted back in the early to mid-90s. It was a low weight for a grown young woman of my height. I believe the Royal and some other places have changed their standards these days and I am glad. I am in the healthy weight band according to drs charts, and whilst where I am at is above the past ballet 'ideal' and the world view I held then, I am more than OK with that. I still dance, as do many others at my weight and size and above. Professionally and non-professionally. Look at Misty Copeland the ballerina...strong, muscular, healthy...she is an example of positive change.

I also decided I will not be what anyone else decides I need to be...even if it means forfeiting a dream. First and second order change - remove from those people where necessary/draw boundaries and change world view.

I changed my view age 19 from a healthy world view to an unhealthy one for the ballet dream. Then I changed my world view around the ballet dream to a healthy one. And I changed the dance of the ED to the dance of health - whatever the cost.

For me, the ED was never about emotional regulation - I had the good fortune to have learned some healthy ways to deal with distress - for the most part (I don't mean perfectly). Writing was one for me (this was also part of my healing and recovery from the ED), and believe it or not, dancing! Like I said, dance in itself was not the 'bad' thing. This is also why, whilst I am in a deep amount of grief and loss right now in my life, I will not stop eating, overeat, or harm myself with disordered eating. I choose to take extra nourishing care, as grief is hard work. I also know how to express my grief and am OK with feeling it, as much as I hurt. Grief tears contain a different chemical to other tears and this chemical is part of grieving and healing.

'Tears are a river that take you somewhere' (Clarissa Pinkola Estes in 'Women Who Run with the Wolves')

Leighah Beadle-Darcy