The problem is not the problem. Coping is the problem.

Dear Bee,

Coping is the manifestation of our self-worth. The higher the self-worth, the more wholesome our coping–Virginia Satir

I know that is no coincidence that I really only started making breakthroughs with my eating discover recovery once I started my graduate school program. We spend so much time talking about the importance of self-awareness and personal growth. Our advisor told us on the first day of our semester last fall to “Prepare to learn about yourself. A lot. More than you ever imagined.” We all laughed. We’re graduate students. We’ve graduated college–we certainly most know everything there is to know about ourselves.

We were all so, so, so sadly mistaken. That’s the beauty of going into a field that involves such deep and interwoven connection with others. Everything reflects back on yourself–all the triggers, the transference, the symptoms–the growth never ends.

Virginia Satir is a world-renowned family therapist, a pioneer who believed individuals had all the internal resources needed to cope and successfully and to grow. In other words, you are your own expert. You have everything inside of you necessary to change and move your life in the direction you want to go.

Clearly, I like Satir. Her opinion on how people choose to cope is instrumental in my recovery. I realize that I cannot fully recover until I fully develop my own self-growth. Otherwise, I will never believe that I truly deserve the recovery and the freedom, peace, and balance that comes with it.

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For so long, you were my coping mechanism. And you did not serve me well. You accurately portrayed my self-worth (which was close to nothing), and in that, you hurt and brutalized me.

The problem is not the problem; coping is the problem.

This is powerful. In life, there will be problems. There will always be problems, as much as we try to run, avoid, deny, or wish them away. I believe that problems may cause us pain, but only we cause ourselves the suffering associated with such pain. Whereas events are inevitable, we choose how we react to them.

I am doing well. I really am. I’m doing so many good things for myself. I did not realize how exhaustive my life had become until this week, until I had some time, real time, to reflect on the treadmill existence I was running on. And now? Now, I can rewind and move at a slower pace. Every minute of my day does not have to be meticulously planned.

I went hiking around the beach wetlands alone this morning and I stumbled across a meadow of yellow flowers and a gorgeous pelican. Nature astounds me, and it always has. I moved closer to the pelican, and it did not run away. He just kind of stared at me, as if we understood each other, as if he was okay with just hanging out right there next to me.

I don’t know…this was such a special moment for me.

My senses are coming back. Like today, I took pictures. In high school, I used to love photography. I took a darkroom and film edit class and just became obsessed. I loved learning all the visual tricks and color contortions and so forth…and now, I can see again. Really, really see. And the world looks so beautiful.

I am appreciating touch more. When I got home this afternoon, I showered and allowed myself to feel the sensation of lathering soap on my body and feel the way my hands roughly massaged my scalp as I applied the shampoo. And it felt good.

And let’s not forget about sound. I listened to music as I showered…my Jack Johnson/Bob Marley station on Pandora. And the music felt good. Everything about it. I’ve had music playing for most of the day…and I’ve been singing and humming, something I haven’t done (except at concerts and in my car) in awhile.

And smell? I’m wearing my favorite scented lotion and perfume right now, and I just can’t get enough of how I can’t get enough of my fragrance (narcissism aside).

I have been eating slower and more mindfully, being able to eat out in restaurants and enjoying my company and the meals and leaving food on the plate when I no longer want anymore. I am not obsessing as much between meals. Now that I have some more time, I do pleasurable things right after eating, so I do not feel as anxious.

Things, they are changing.

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