A few months ago I switch from being pre-veterinary to wanting to pursue a Master's of Social Work with specialization in studying the Human-Animal Bond. I want to look at how to use this bond to help people with addictions, mainly eating disorders. There are a lot of reasons for my passion in this area, but I will share more about that later. So I started to research feverishly how to get my new dream to become a reality (seeing as I only have 3 semesters left of undergrad...needed to figure this out). Well, I found a program at the University of Denver that is exactly what I want...and in my eagerness I sent them an e-mail. This was weeks ago and there was no response. I didn't stop looking into the program and recently stumbled upon the portfolio for the professor who pioneered the Animal Assisted Social Work (AASW) program there. He is freaking amazing and I had planned on sending him an e-mail, but kept forgetting. Today, I started thinking about all this again (not that I ever stop, but it was a focus today) and started to think maybe the lack of contact from the University meant this wasn't where God wanted me....and had me feeling down. Now fast-forward to me reading this e-mail.
It was from the head professor himself. Not only did he send me all the information I needed, but he hit me with several surprises First off, he hadn't responded to the forwarded e-mail due to the fact that he was teaching a course in Kenya. A dream of mine has always been to go to Africa...so immediately my interest was sparked. As I kept reading he spoke of how he could tell how passionate I was and was so excited to find somebody like me who wants to enter this field. Then there was a lot of information, and in the end I was hit by the biggest shock. He said he wants to talk to me! He wants to help me get into the program and pursue this interest. That he is eager to hear from me.
This is insane. You have to understand. This professor pioneered this program and it is the first and only one in the United States. He also does equine therapy which I am interested in. He leads a trip to Africa, where I want to go.
He is in the damn field I want to be in. AND HE WANTS TO SPEAK WITH ME!
All the sudden my passion was reignited. My excitement got stirred up. All the thoughts swirling in my head about ED faded to silence beneath the screams of joy in my head of this step towards my dream. Of reading such enthusiasm from a professor. It's like my gaze was focused from the road of ED to the road of my future, my dreams, my hopes. This passion being reignited focused my gaze back on why I am fighting.
I also realized how important it is for me to shift my focus. I have been so focused on fighting this disorder that it has sucked me more and more into the disorder. My disorder tries to remind me what I will be missing out on and why I can't fight it. The focus on fighting the disorder has me caught up in everything I won't be able to do anymore and it just seems like my teams "rules" for me are restricting me from my future. That my food plan is a curse, instead of a tool to my future. I am so focused on fighting the disorder that the disorder is exactly where my gaze is. It's strange, but overfocusing on recovery almost puts more emphasis on the disorder and makes recovery harder.
Shifting my focus to what I am fighting for, why I want and need to recover....it changes things. Instead of my thoughts being wrapped up in the disorder and how to fight it, what I can't do, how perfect I need to be in recovery... they become wrapped up in my future, the steps to make my dreams a reality, and all the things I want to accomplish. Fighting the disorder just becomes one of the steps, instead of the focus of my life. The ED voice becomes silenced as my drive (once used to drive me towards our disorder or in attempts of recovery to drive us away from it) becomes of one driving me to my future.
I'm not saying that focusing on recovery is bad....but when that is your sole focus...your sole drive...that's when slip-ups seem like failures you can't get out of and when ED is screaming of how you can't let go. But when your focus and drive is your future....slip-ups are just minor sidesteps you can fix and get back on the road and the ED has no room to say that it is the right way to go. I mean how can your ED convince you it will help you in your future...because all it will do is steer you away from it.
So perhaps that is something needed in this road to recovery. To keep our eyes focused on where we are going instead of where we are coming from. To focus on what we are fighting for (our future) instead of what we are fighting against (our ED). It makes sense. I mean when you are driving you look through the windshield to what's ahead (like looking in the future), not the rear view mirror at what's behind (like our past and ED). If you look in the rear-view mirror it is only when you are going in reverse. Even if your intention is to move forward...it's a lot harder when your gaze is behind.
I hope this makes sense....I am just so overwhelmed with passion and emotion right now I guess I started to ramble. Well..I love you all and for tonight my focus is on the future...and I think I need to go have this fro-yo to propel me towards it :)