Spring and Summer were such a carefree and fun time for the first ten years of my life. I can almost feel the excitement on that last day of school in May when I knew I was FREE for three months before school began again...not a worry in the world!!
What a contrast to the dread I developed within only a few years, of the warmer months when so much was 'expected' of me. You see, by the time I was 15 years old, anorexia had taken over my body, mind and life, so very little, if any of the things I did were truly chosen by the true 'me'.
The beautiful warm weather of Spring and Summer brought only more rules to my daily regimen. I could not enjoy the blue skies or the sunshine, for worrying that I had to be active and take advantage of every moment that I could be outside.
By age 18, I had been married for several months, and I was a slave to the eating disorder and to the exercise and activity expectations that I put on myself. Winter to me, was a bit of a reprieve. Life was bit slower, but when I had no 'excuse' to not be out biking or walking, etc., I constantly questioned if I was doing enough or being active enough.
I felt pressured when I would see someone jogging. If a friend or family member would comment on being involved in an activity, I felt guilty if I were not also 'working' or exercising. I planned my exercise and activity around what I saw others doing, because I had no clear idea of what I wanted or who I was at that time.
My life was a quest for an identity that I could not find.
I remember when my sons were growing up and very involved in summer sports. By that time, my body was so depleted and I was pushing myself to the point that I had no energy to enjoy life at all. Every day was a chore to live. I can recall the sheer dread and wishing time away in an effort to avoid having to struggle to find the energy to get through the day.
From March through October I was on my own personal merry-go-round, literally hating the clear, warm days that left me compelled to push myself to the very end of my energy. Even taking my sons to swim at my parents' house was torture. Faced with a pool, I had rules about swimming laps, so everywhere I turned, life held more demands for me.
I realize now that these were self-imposed, but at the time, I truly resented other people for causing me to have to measure up, for not allowing me to relax, for not allowing me to make the choice about how I spent those warmer months of the year. Because of this, I lived with bitterness and oftentimes, a kind of death wish. A wish for it to all just stop...or for something to take me out of 'life'.
I have been reminded of these things in recent days as the weather has warmed, and thoughts of the warm months ahead come to mind. I hear others who are still trapped by this compulsion to always be moving, doing, exercising, and I recall the horror of that prison. That prison leaves no room for personal choice.
I am grateful beyond words that I am now free. I do not have to compete with others or with my own internal 'rules'. I love that I live my life daily with openness and an excitement for any and every experience. I no longer feel compelled to DO. I now focus on who I choose to BE.
It's only March, but I am looking forward to sharing leisurely bike rides with my husband as the weather warms, but only as I choose, and our time allows. I will plant some flowers because I want to, not because it is expected of me. And when I see others running or walking, I know I will not feel compelled to match their activity because I know no other choice.
The freedom I enjoy today is based on MY choices and desires, and the experiences that life puts in my daily path.
I will be ruled no longer by the distortions and desperate attempts to be accepted that imprisoned me for so many years of my life.