It was a Friday. I sat in my car for about 10 minutes debating whether or not to get out. When I finally got out of the car, I stood at the front door and waited another 5 minutes to ring the doorbell. I checked in, and was swiftly taken to the nurse's room to get my vitals and weight taken, while some stranger took my bag and phone and locked it up. It was freezing and all I wanted was a blanket, a nap, and a way out. I found a fuzzy purple blanket and wrapped myself up like a burrito, hoping maybe I could curl up enough that no one would remember I was there. No luck. It was time for breakfast. My first supervised meal and of course it was family day. The tables were all pushed together and each girl had at least one or more family members there. Between the clinicians, patients, and family members, the room felt too small, the plates felt too big, and everything was loud. I took my seat at the table and kept my head down, trying to avoid eye contact with anyone and everyone (sorry, Rain!). To be completely honest, I have no idea what I had on my plate that morning. All I know is that it was the first of many lessons learned at a kitchen table.
1 year ago today, I began the journey of a lifetime. I have experienced the highest highs (breakthrough moments), the lowest lows (2 words: hummus drama). I have cried until I felt like my insides would dry out and I have laughed until my stomach hurt. I met some amazing friends, who made the 13 weeks more bearable, and am so lucky to keep in touch with most of them.
There’s a definite bonding experience in going through such a difficult experience with a small group of people in a very intimate and vulnerable setting. And to outsiders, I know we seem strange. We laughed at poop jokes, cried over pancakes, took naps during yoga (some of us even snored…Rubi…), counted while we peed. We longed for walks, diet sodas, a trip to the zoo, and for the MST conversation jar to “accidentally” disappear.
And as much as I dreaded that darn kitchen table, with the terrible stacking plastic plate lids, and the toaster that burnt everything, I really did learn a lot during those 13 weeks. So I’ve decided to share 13 things I learned:
1. 17 grapes is 1 serving of fruit. (I will forever be stumped by this)
2. People are kind and good and want to help. You just have to let them in.
3. You can be afraid AND brave. That’s called courage.4. There’s always an AND.
5. Feelings are feelings and there is no wrong way to feel (unless you are feeling fat, because apparently fat is not a feeling…)6. Group hugs = life
7. Life is not black and white. Sometimes you have to mix the play-dough.
8. You want something? DEAR MAN that junk!
9. You get to choose what exhausts you.
10. “We can’t selectively numb emotion. Numb the dark and you numb the light.”
10a. Brene Brown is a rockstar.
11. Grown women still get excited about a box of crayons and markers.
12. There is no number that can define your worth.
Not your age or your weight or your grades or your pants size.
13. “The fact that you’re struggling doesn’t make you a burden. It doesn’t make you unloveable or undesirable or undeserving of care. It doesn’t make you too much or too sensitive or too needy. It makes you human. Everyone struggles. Everyone has a difficult time coping, and at times, we all fall apart. During these times, we aren’t always easy to be around — and that’s okay. No one is easy to be around one hundred percent of the time. Yes, you may sometimes be unpleasant or difficult. And yes, you may sometimes do or say things that make the people around you feel helpless or sad. But those things aren’t all of who you are and they certainly don’t discount your worth as a human being. The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved. You can be difficult and still be cared for. You can be less than perfect, and still be deserving of compassion and kindness.”
So today, 1 year later, I will admit that I still don’t have it all together, and I probably never will. But here’s the thing…nobody has everything figured out. And as long as you are trying and moving forward and learning and growing, you are exactly where you are supposed to be. So today I’m thankful for the people who have loved me even when I was hard to love, and have pushed me to become more of myself than I ever thought possible.