'Refugee'

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

“You don’t have to live like a refugee” were words spoken to me by my first therapist–so very long ago during my first eating disorder treatment and they have stayed with me for over 15 years.  What does it mean to be a refugee?  Well, a refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.  In essence, it is someone without a home.  My therapist was conveying to me that when I am active in my eating disorder, I am like a refugee–essentially a stranger living in a foreign land.

“Somewhere, somehow somebody
Must have kicked you around some
Tell me why you want to lay there
And revel in your abandon
Honey, it don’t make no difference to me baby
Everybody’s had to fight to be free”

Just as Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, encountered her obstacles (life challenges) and characters (guides) on her road home, I too have been confronted by my own. As with all who have lived life and faced challenges, I, too, have been “kicked around.” And, my eating disorder has been quite clever at throwing me reasons to “just lay there and revel in my abandon.” But, here my therapist was reminding me that “everybody’s had to fight to be free.”

“Baby we ain’t the first
I’m sure a lot of other lover’s been burned
Right now this seems real to you
But it’s one of those things
You gotta feel to be true”

On the road to my new home in recovery, it has been my eating disorder, more than life’s challenges which has “kicked me around, tied me up, taken me and held me for ransom.” It has repeatedly convinced me that it is I, the refugee, who is nothing without IT, my home.  In blaming ME for my situation, it can easily persuade me to stop, quit and just lie on the road.  And, in that state—like a lost, abandoned and scorned lover, my faith in my ability to recovery becomes uncertain as the road fogs.  Just as Dorothy being tricked by the Wicked Witch, doubting she would never return home to Kansas, I believe my state to be real and true.

“Somewhere, somehow somebody
Must have kicked you around some
Who knows, maybe you were kidnapped
Tied up, taken away and held for ransom
It don’t really matter to me
Everybody’s had to fight to be free”

In my state of helplessness and hopelessness, just as Dorothy, or any refugee desires, I long to be home. But the recovery road home is a strange and complex one.  For just as Dorothy learned, it is the road that, ironically, returns me to the home I once knew, but with renewed awareness and understanding that makes it feel brand new. So…

“You see you don’t have to live like a refugee (don’t have to live like a refugee)
I said you don’t have to live like a refugee (don’t have to live like a refugee)
You don’t have to live like a refugee (don’t have to live like a refugee),
ah, ah”

The Wisdom That Comes From Our Emptiness

The wisdom of emptiness may seem strange or even alarming to you to read especially if you struggle with an eating disorder or an addiction because it is emptiness that we feel and want to avoid that compels us to use these behaviors in the first place. This is not new information within the recovery world, and I want to be careful to avoid triggering the eating disorder or addiction voice by saying these words but there is wisdom in emptiness.