Saturday, March 29, 2014

Recovery Lessons from Frozen

So tonight I went to Frozen with some friends. It was the best distraction ever after a lot of food challenges today (Baked potatoe, banana, peanut butter, salmon, bagel bigger than normal, corn on cobb, beans). Not only that, but Disney managed to teach me about my recovery. Now…if you haven’t seen the movie..I wouldn’t read ahead too much…instead GO SEE THE MOVIE. Because it’s freaking fantastic…then come back and read J

I honestly think the whole movie fits perfectly into looking at recovery vs ED. Elsa has freezing powers, that at first seem inoocent and fun. Her and her sister would play in the snowstorms she would make. But then she lost control of the power…it became too much. Fear came in, and it controlled her.

The sister who has the freezing powers…she is told fear will be her biggest enemy. And it is. Any time she is filled with fear of people seeing who she is, of discovering her power…that very power overtakes her and people get hurt. People she loves and cares for.

Her power also forces her to isolate. To have to keep away from others because she is so scared to hurt them. To keep from the public and the joys she used to know because she is scared of her powers coming out. So she is left even more scared…scared of this power inside her. She tries to hide it…to push it down, but it only gets stronger and stronger till she can’t control it.

See where I am going with this? This freezing power…to me…that’s ED. Think about it. ED starts seeming so friendly. It seems like some “power” we can pull out whenever we want. We feel in control of it. That we can stop it if it gets too far. But then something happens. It gets stronger and stronger…and somewhere along the line…people get hurt. Sometimes we hurt others, but many times with ED the first one hurt is ourselves.

We get smaller and smaller or (when I was a binger) our binges get larger and more frequent. Yet we feel we are losing control. No matter the binge, no matter the weight we lose…we realize we can’t stop. Nothing is good enough, low enough, filling enough. As the fear increases so does ED’s grasp over us. And when we realize that…we get scared.

We also get scared someone will see we have ED. We begin to isolate. To not be around people at meal times. To not go to outings in fear there will be food and we will be found out. We exercise alone so people won’t see us overdo it. We binge in secret out of fear someone will catch us. We make up lies, avoid friends and even family, and trap ourselves in our own icy castle. We tell ourselves if we are alone we will be free….because others will be safe. We can delve in ED as much as we want and people won’t stop us. What we don’t see is how our isolation hurts others…and how, by running away from our fear…it only gets worse.

In Frozen, Elsa (the girl with the freezing power) doesn’t see how much her isolation hurts her sister Anna. She ends up running away from everyone...deeper and deeper into the cold and her freezing nature...thinking by distancing herself she is protecting everyone else. But by running away...she ends up freezing the town she loves and hurting Anna. The storm rages on, but it doesn't just affect her...but everything and everyone she loves.  And by running away and letting fear take over, Elsa ends up freezing the city she was trying to save. 

IS this not ED too. ED says if we shut everyone out we will be safe, they will be better off, and we will just be able to feel free because we will be closer with him. He tells us he isn't the enemy, but others are. That it's not him and the power he has over us we should fear, but other people. That if we could just freely restrict, or binge, or purge...then we would be free. But left alone with ED all we feel is fear. It only increases...ED only takes us over more.  Those we leave behind just want to help us escape, and the life we were trying to protect…it fades away. Both end up being hurt...and we end up consumed and isolated by fear. 

And this fear…it keeps us from the true freedom we want. The freedom to be with our family, to open the gates of our palace, to love, to be recovered. We get so caught up in our fear of recovery, of weight gain, of food, of having to ask for help and have others see our imperfection that we just keep running. But when we run we just get deeper and deepr into ED and into fear. It becomes uncontrollable, overwhelming, and we realize we just can’t outrun it.

Luckily, through the twists and turns Disney always brings, we learn what can break through this fear. What can bring freedom from that part of us we are so scared to show. It is love. True, unconditional love. Love that accepts us as we are. Love that forgives us for our past. Love that sees the true us behind the ED. Love that breaks the chains and sets us free.

In the movie love ends up freeing Elsa to bring back summer and warmth and light to her life and the lives around her. She is able to open up the castle and to live the life she dreamed. Her sister and her rebuild their friendship and she is able to feel and spread joy. And the thing that once controlled her, she controls and uses only to bring joy.

So too can love free us. If we choose to ask for help. To show that we have an ED and admit we can’t control it. To face our fear of recovery by asking for support. We can break free. The cold, icy chains of ED can melt. We can feel the fear, but know that “perfect love cast out all fear” as the Bible says. Through prayer and the support of friends and/or family we can keep pushing on. And soon, the iciness will melt away. We will be able to open ourselves up to love. To open up our castle. To feel the joy and light we always have.

And ED. That icy power that once consumed us. We will be able to control it. ED may come up and talk, but fear won’t take us over. We will not let ED take us over, but use ED to help others. By sharing how we overcame. By helping others recover. By loving others through their recovery.

So thanks Disney for teaching me life lessons yet again. For showing me I shouldn’t try and hide my imperfections, my fears, my struggles. I should instead share them with the ones I love. Tell them I need help. And let the warmth of love melt away my frozen heart. To open up my castle….break open the doors…and be who I am meant to be..struggles and all. I should face my fears, not run from them….and draw on the strength of love to get me through.

I felt it tonight…at the movie with my friends. I was so filled with fear and ED thoughts, but the moment I saw my friends…and we started talking and laughing…ED melted away. I was filled with hope and dreams. No thoughts of food, weight, fear. Just love, hope, futures, dreams. I felt like Anna when they opened up the gates for the first time. I felt free. Like nothing was holding me back.

Yes…even in the story of ED…there can be a Disney happily ever after. All we need is love J And if you are reading this…you are loved…because I am here..hugging you through every letter I type. So “let it go, let it go, it can’t hold you back anymore….”

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