Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.


My vestThis is yet another post started by a discussion thread on Facebook.  Yes, I fully realize I have a relationship with that site bordering on obsessive.  But it’s way too entertaining some day.

Do you take pride in yourself, in what you do?  Or do you think it’s wrong to feel pride?  I mean, if you take pride in yourself, doesn’t that mean you’re an egotistical maniac who thinks you are better than everyone else and that you are the best at everything you do?  I’m hoping that by my overdramatic example, you’ll see that I’m leading you to believe this definition of pride is incorrect.  But I do think a lot of people who have struggled with eating disorders have a difficult time taking pride in who they are and what they can do.

According to Merriam Webster, the definition of pride is  “a reasonable or justifiable self-respect or delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship.”  The egotistical maniac is overly prideful.  And that does tend to put up walls between you and other people.  

The opposite puts up walls as well, when we don’t take pride in who we are as a person and what we’ve accomplished.  Constantly downplaying yourself puts other people in an awkward position.  How exactly are they supposed to respond?  How many times can they invest the energy to try to tell you you’re wrong?  

Funny story:  During my first hospitalization of my last relapse, I was sitting in the therapist’s office doing the psycho-social evaluation.  wrapped around my neck was a scarf that I was still working on.  I’d still the ball of yarn in my hoodie pocket and walk around and knit, and it was a decently complex pattern.  And as I was listening to the therapist and answering questions, I kept on knitting.  Then he asked me what my talents were. 

I couldn’t come up with a single one.

“But aren’t you making that scarf?” he finally asked.

“Yeah, but that doesn’t count,” I answered, firmly believing this to be true.

“But that’s a talent a lot of people, myself included, don’t have.  Why don’t you take pride in that?”

I had no answer.

But now, I realize that pride in one’s self is a good, healthy, necessary thing.  We all need self-confidence and self-esteem.  Me?  I’m proud of my knitting skills.  That vest in the picture–I made that.  And I love to wear it and get complemented on it.  I make and sell jewelry.  I write.  I teach, and according to my student’s written evaluations, I’m a good teacher.  And I’m an awesome aunt.  

And one thing I’m proud of: the work I have done to get over my eating disorder.  I’m not proud of the number of inpatient stays or the relapses or the manipulative person I was at some points in the illness.  But I am extremely proud of where I am now.  

My challenge to you is to leave a comment listing one thing you are good at and can take pride in.


August 7, 2009 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, feelings, identity | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. A few things I am proud of:

    1. I can generally pick out clothes that you are likely to like when we go shopping
    2. I’m a damn good cook
    3. I am proud of my writing. I used to hate my poems–and I used to hate myself so completely–but I love my capacity to create and what it is that I do create
    4. I am proud of my knitting. I have only been knitting a handful of months, but I think I am pretty good! Even stitches. I can understand and generally follow (even if easy) patterns.
    5. I make damn good mix CDs.
    6. I have a wonderful capacity to be happy for the people around me even when I am at my lowest. This is definitely huge to me and something that makes me happy.

    Comment by SK | August 7, 2009 | Reply

  2. a challenge indeed. i spent ages trying to think of something i was proud of and i couldn’t, so i went and made some art, and now i can leave this comment saying im pround of my art. i can do a damn good self portrait when im sad. 🙂

    Comment by gem | August 7, 2009 | Reply

  3. I’m proud of having done so many half-marathons and training for another marathon. When we were on our way back from my cousin’s wedding in Colorado, my uncle said he “couldn’t believe how adventurous Ben had become.” My mom followed that with, “Well, I never thought my daughter would run half-marathons and marathons.” And I thought, “You know–she’s right.” And that, I think, is something to take pride in–doing what people never thought you would or could do.

    Comment by Beth | August 8, 2009 | Reply

  4. I am a good soldier, I put myself to the hazzards everyday, for all of the freedoms you enjoy. I do this un-selfishly and with no regret.

    Comment by Lewis Brown | August 8, 2009 | Reply

  5. Therapists and treatment professionals have asked the same thing of me, and I’ve also replied with, “I have no talents or anything I’m proud of.” In those moments, I truly could not think of anything. Now, I can think of a bunch:

    -I’m intelligent…people have always told me how smart I was and I would always shrug it off, but I’m learning to accept compliments and realize people don’t just say things out of pity.

    -I’m great with children and all of the families/kids that I sit for love me.

    -I truly care about other people, and helping others is my passion.

    -I’m proud of all of my arts and crafts 🙂 Which I will comment on in the group discussion topic you left.

    -I’m proud that I’m only one class away from getting my BSN from Villanova.

    -I’m a talented writer.

    -I have a good sense of humor and people like being around me.

    You are absolutely right that pride is not a bad thing. Constantly bragging, showing off, and feeling as though you are superior to everyone else…thats bad. Being proud of what you can do/have accomplished is a very positive thing.

    Comment by Katie D | August 8, 2009 | Reply

  6. Its so funny you wrote this because on a daily basis I try to think of what I am good at.I am really not trying to kill to mood by saying this but I can honestly say I can not think of a single thing. I’m not very artistic, athletic, or musically talented. When I try and think of how I am a good girlfriend, daughter, sister, aunt, or even granddaughter I think of how I could have been a better one these things. It honestly makes me sad to think that I can’t think of one thing that I am truly proud of. I am very sorry for bringing the mood down, but that’s all I can say in response to what you write.

    Comment by tank222 | August 8, 2009 | Reply

    • tank222-
      Can I challenge you? You say that when you think of how you are a good girlfriend, daughter, etc that you think of how you could be better. I think we all have room for improvement, even in areas that we are proud of or are good in. But in the here and now, you are doing the best you can do in these roles, and you should be proud of that. And also proud of realizing there is room for improvement, because that shows you know you’re not static. That there’s room for growth.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | August 8, 2009 | Reply

    • To follow up on the challenge back to you, just remember that “good” and “perfect” are not synonymous. Neither are “perfect” and “human.” So you know, you’re human and you might make mistakes, you might fail at some things, you might see the room you have for improvement. But if the people around you love you, and this is sincere, and you can accept that, then you have proof positive–even in that small thing–that you are a good daughter, friend, girlfriend, etc. Yup–room for improvement (we all have room for improvement! always! Even Superwoman, who was my role model–I kid you not–until the age of 23)–but good, any SO good that you are worth the best gift that others have to share with you–love.

      Comment by SK | August 8, 2009 | Reply

  7. – I’m a talented cross-stitcher!
    – I don’t completely suck as an Irish dancer. And I say that as an agreement with SK that I don’t have to be perfect at something, or even great. I enjoy dancing and it’s okay that I’m only so-so at it.
    – I think I’m a pretty good decorator, even if some people don’t get my bright color choices.

    Comment by Millie | August 8, 2009 | Reply

  8. I’m a good EMT. It’s still a bit weird for me to say, or rather type that, as what you stated above reminds me a lot of me in the past. But with the challenging calls I have ran lately, I’m beginning to realize just how far I have come. And its more than that, not only running those calls, but feeling confident and making important decisions. I’m passionate about what I do and it’s one thing that truly makes me happy.

    Comment by Emily | August 8, 2009 | Reply

  9. -I do awesome dissections!!!
    -I’m a good student. Which I suppose means I’m intellegent?
    -I never give up in the fight with my health issues.
    -I haven’t restricted (aside from a couple days) since July 6, 2008.
    -I’m a good violinist. (if only I still had time to play!)
    -I was good at irish dancing back in the day.

    Comment by Andi | August 8, 2009 | Reply

  10. I can sing onstage without fear, letting go of everything I am because onstage I am not myself.

    … and 90% of the time, no one covers their ears or asks me to stop. 😉

    Comment by K | August 8, 2009 | Reply

  11. You are completely right! I’m not proud of the things I’ve done, but I’m so incredibly proud of the progress I have made and that I’m not in the same place I am.

    To keep up a trend….I’m proud of my ability to play flute, my graduate studies, my ability to feel-and accept-emotions, hmm…I’m just proud of who I have become!

    Comment by imaginenamaste | August 8, 2009 | Reply

  12. As always Alexis, it’s a pleasure to read your blog. I’m proud of lots of things about myself, that’s one big thing that has changed for me because of continuous recovery. Probably the biggest thing I’m proud of is my choice to walk away from the eating disorder and other addictions I would substitute for it at times. Like you said, after I made that choice things got decidedly ugly and yet I stuck with it and I am happier today than I’ve ever been in my entire life. No lie.
    The second thing happened a year ago. I had been in a controlling, manipulative, physically and emotionally abusive relationship for four years and June ’08 I left him. At the time it was the hardest thing I’d ever done, I was so scared. I told him I never wanted to speak to him again and walked away permanently. I never have spoken to him since then and I’m free. I chose a new boyfriend, 7 months later, who is loving and kind and sensitive.

    I couldn’t feel more blessed to have found the strength to respect myself.

    Comment by Amanda G-M | August 9, 2009 | Reply

  13. This is hard because I do think I am good at some things, but then I always find the exception…that person better than me, that beat my goal…and it makes me think twice before saying I am good at something. Or, I feel sad, because I look back and realize I was good at things that I did not give myself credit for but now no longer can say is part of my identity. Does that make sense?
    Like looking back in high school….I was a good athlete. I was a really good basketball player until ED made it impossible to keep up, but I never thought I was good enough. Now I wish I saw it. I was a good dancer, but then I watched a documentary last night called Ballerina on the Russian Ballet companies…and I thought…wow, compared to them, I was not even a dancer.
    So what am I good at or what do I take pride in…one thing…..

    I am honest and I am a BAD liar. I am not sure if either of those are good though all the time.

    I am still a good athlete even if I quit competitive sports. I don’t think anyone can take away natural athleticism, at least I hope not 🙂

    Comment by Jessica | August 9, 2009 | Reply

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