As the month of June comes to a close, my sister and I are preparing to head out on month long trips across the world. Emily is heading to Honduras to help at a shelter for abused and neglected girls, and I am leaving for Mongolia where myself and eight other college girls will be doing outreach ministry in the villages.
I think back to myself just a year ago. A year ago I had relapsed with my eating disorder trying to cope with PTSD symptoms and was back in treatment. A year ago I spent my entire summer inside group rooms and around kitchen tables talking about food, feelings, and coping skills. A year ago everyday felt like a battle. I didn’t know what I wanted my life to look like. Though I had a vision for what I thought recovery should be, I never thought that it was a possibility for someone like me. Someone who had relapsed over and over. Someone who didn’t remember a time before her eating disorder. Someone who had very little concept of normalcy around food, body, and exercise.
A lot can happen in a year. After last summer, I have entered and remained outpatient for the first time in over two years. This past year, I have begun to feel what it is like to choose recovery, every minute of every day. I have experienced the loss of someone I loved dearly and grief as I continue to watch my mom battle cancer. I have traveled all over, from Mexico to Belize to the Keys and now off to Mongolia. I have tasted good food. I have exercised for the fun of it. I have met people who have changed, shaped, and motivated me. I have fallen in love with the world, moved closer to my Higher Power, and learned what it truly means to lean on faith. I have also felt the true, heavy longing for someone lost. I have felt helpless through a loved one’s illness. I have had bad days, dark days, hard days. But that is the point. This year has been filled with experiences where the one’s previous fell short. I don’t just remember what I have eaten for the past twelve months or where the bathroom in every restaurant and school classroom is. I remember feeling motivated and defeated, free and chained down. I remember living, and that is a strangely new concept for me.
It has been a year of discovering. Myself, the world, and what I have to offer, which isn’t that what recovery is? Recovery offered those opportunities to live, truly live. With a full belly and a face glowing with laughter, I was able, at moments, to be present in experiences. Though, nothing is perfect. I had slips and mess up. I fell on my face and had to pick myself back up. But every time I fell off track, I eventually ran back to recovery, and that is the difference between a relapse and the imperfect journey of recovery. It’s not a straight shot towards the recovered life, it is a winding, twisting, bumpy, mountainous road. The key is not to take a turn. Just stick with it, no matter how treacherous the road might become.
So as I leave for Mongolia and Emily heads to Honduras, we have decided as a team to take a break. A real break. A time to rest, refuel, and recommit to the intentions behind Unpolished Journey. This entire site, blog, and organization is centered on the desire to create a new mindset around beauty. A mindset where we are able to appreciate our bodies for what they can do, where they can go, who they can heal, touch, and love. Appreciate them not for what we see in the mirror, but for how magnificent their machinery is. After all, bodies are intricately made and wonderfully complex. Just like the organic structures of the mountains and oceans that we find so breathtaking, so are our bodies like them. I have come to this conclusion after traveling, participating in multiple adventures, and diving into the depths of the ocean. The world is stunning and it is our bodies that allow us to be in the world. Shouldn’t they too be written off as stunning as well? But in order to find the beauty of the world, we must first learn to take the time to find it. There must be space to breathe. To sit back, reflect, rest, and experience what the world has to offer in order for us to find our place in it.
So we are taking a break. For the month of July there will be no blog posts, no Instagram feeds, or Facebook posts. Emily and I are leaving the country and want to be 100% present for those experiences. We also want to demonstrate the necessity of taking time off for yourself. In recovery, they preach self-care, self-care, self-care. I used to roll my eyes at the very thought. “What a waste of time,” my overly-productive and perfectionist-self would smirk. But after a year of battling for recovery, raw heartbreak, and continual trials, I finally see its purpose. Self-care is not a waste of time because without it I would just fall into unhelpful behaviors. Then all of my time would be wasted flirting with my eating disorder, instead of writing for my blog or traveling the world or being in school. Self-care is the medicine needed in order for myself to remain grounded enough to continue every day towards a larger purpose. Self-care is the bridge between self-deprecation and self-assurance. It gives you the armor needed to navigate the messiness of life without destroying your mind or your body.
That is what this break is for Emily and I. It is a time of self-care. We both felt called to leave and participate on these trips and we don’t want our days centered around where we can find Wi-Fi to post on Instagram or the Blog. As we prepare for a month away, we also wanted to encourage you all to take a break as well. Whether that means getting off social media for a week, two weeks, or even a month, or if that looks like adding in 20 minutes of self-care every day. Your break could mean that you are going to start going to meetings or search for a therapist because you need space where you don’t have to be 100% all the time. Maybe your break means you are going to allow yourself a day off from the gym or you are going to treat yourself to a sundae while watching your favorite movie. Whatever your “break” may look like, we want you to take it during July. As we travel and clear our minds of the stresses left back at home, may you find a release in the next four weeks as well.
We wish you all the best. We will be back August 1st with even more adventures and insights to share. Take some time to breathe and we will see you in four weeks!