We are on our way back from Hawaii where we celebrated three years of marriage. Jared and I decided in our engagement that we didn’t want to buy gifts for each other on our anniversaries, but instead save throughout the year for a trip where we can make memories together. So far we have gone to Asheville, Rome/Florence/Tuscany/Venice, and Maui/Hawaii!! I’ll have to do another whole post on our trip because it truly was so magical and fun and beautiful.
We visited Volcanoes National Park and not only was it a highlight of this trip, it’s one of my favorite National Parks like ever (and I have been to I think 18???). On Instagram there’s always this post floating around that says something along the lines of “your therapist / RD thinks about you outside of session, it’s not just that one hour a week.” And was this so true for the day in this park. My brain was buzzing with thoughts, reflections, and metaphors as we explored – I couldn’t wait to write this post 🙂
If you didn’t know, this national park homes the two largest active volcanoes in the entire earth. Eruptions happen relatively frequently causing devastation and destruction. And eventually, the very same matter that caused such chaos is the same matter that nourishes new life, new meaning, and new ground for the area.
In this rough, black, rocky lava field there were little blooms everywhere.
We know eating disorders don’t pop up out of thin air. Eating disorders are bio/psycho/social disorders meaning that they develop for several reasons. I like to think of the lava field as all of the hard, unstable, and rocky elements that made us more predisposed to the ED. You wouldn’t necessarily expect to see trees, flowers, and berries blossoming on a site that is literally scorched earth? That’s what the eating disorder is aiming for. A dark, hardened place with no life, no color. After all, its earth was just scorched, maybe it feels easier to remain empty, void of all. Surrounded by such desolation, it’d be easy to look around and be filled with hopelessness.
The catch here is that nature desires to sustain and create life. Nature is wildly resourceful, calling upon all her elements in hopes of new creation. Winds and birds carry seeds that nuzzle deep into the rock cracks. Rains come, pouring into the desolate fields. The lava that once burned is now rock that when eroded makes a fertile soil for the plants to sow their roots in.
What is the wind in your life blowing you toward your values? Is there a breeze stirring up this knowing inside of you that maybe the eating disorder is hurting more than it helps? What relationships in your life are bringing you opportunities to challenge and step away from your eating disorder? In what ways is it apparent your eating disorder empties you? What is the rain in your life that is filling you up, that is pouring into you in areas your eating disorder left you high and dry?
It’s not just nature that is resourceful and resilient. You are too. That’s part of the reason the eating disorder developed to begin with – was to try to manage emotions and difficult circumstance through food. So much of the work in eating disorder recovery is realizing and recognizing that the one thing that feels safe and secure often is the very thing that threatens your safety and security. You must start looking for both how devastating your eating disorder is in your life *and* the hope of a beautiful life after laying down the eating disorder.
One of the volunteers teaching us about the volcanoes and the land here said, “the one permanent thing here is change.” I don’t think this is true just of Volcanoes National Park – I think it’s true of each and every single one of our lives. What isn’t true is that hardships have the last word.
All too often I forget that, but nature never does.
Something I do all the time at home on my walks is keep an eye out for a plant growing straight out of concrete or a rock. I think it amazes me in part because I could do my very best to research how to care for plants and do my very best and they still die (lol). But it mostly amazes me because I am just like “WOW, In this situation you really are out here doing your best – growing and living. I mean wow.” I have found in recovering from an eating disorder or just getting through a hard day (lol), always searching for glimmers of hope and resiliency has been profoundly impactful for me. I’d encourage you to look for these glimmers too 🙂