Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Change What You See–Identity

altered flowers

My life has been a little crazy lately.  ER trip for what we think was most likely a small veinous blood clot.  We “think” because it was located in an area that they couldn’t test for because of Lily, my ICD.  School has been chaotic.  My social life has been rather  . . . upsetting?  My constant wavering on whether or not I should face my cardiac diagnosis head on and let myself get hit with all it entails–while being responsible for five classes–is always present.  And sometimes not much of a choice.  But today I had this revelation, of going back to a more reliable plan of action, one that is familiar, in order to manage school and chaos, and suddenly the world seems doable again.  Life seems doable again.

I spent some time with one of my mentees yesterday, and spent some time with my favorite poet today: Lousie Glück (in print form, not in person.  I might die in trembling fear if I met her in person).  Last night my mentee and I discussed identity, that tremendously terrifying word for so many people with an eating disorder facing recovery.  Who are you without the eating disorder?  To some degree, we all have to face this question.  Some of us managed to hold on to slivers of our old selves.  Some of us need to discover new selves or unbury old, forgotten selves.

This is one area where we don’t have to be confined or hampered by our past.  We can set the past free and wave goodbye and look ahead.

The preface to my favorite book of Louise Glück (Vita Nova) is:

The master said You must write what you see.

But what I see does not move me.

The master answered Change what you see.

Beautiful, freeing, powerful words.  You must write (create, become, embody) what you see when you look into the mirror of your inner self.  Don’t like what you see?  Don’t know what you see?  Then change what you see.

You have the power to recreate who you are.  You have the power to ignite passion inside of you for new things, for old things, for strange things, for the familiar.  I asked my mentee this last night: Who do you want to become? Forget about who you were and certainly toss out who you were with the eating disorder, and focus on who you desire to be.  And then become it.  The power to be is in your hands.

I am a college teacher and a student.  But those things are not who I am.  I love teaching, helping students come to new understandings and helping them see things in a new light.  I thrive on the acquisition of knowledge.  I find order in translating Latin.   I cherish my nephew and niece, and want to strengthen my relationship with my family.  I miss my family.  I love knitting–creating in general.  I crave silent nights with tea and a good book or a blank sheet of paper and a pen.  Poetry speaks to me in a way I can’t explain.  These passions and loves are what define me, not my job.

Find your passions.  Try new things.  Go out on a limb and take a class in something you would never have thought of before.  Say hello to someone you see a lot but haven’t ever approached.  Go see a new movie.  Read a book that is outside your comfort zone.  Talk to people.  Give things a chance to blossom and bear fruit.

You will do this over and over again as you grow and develop.  Life is not static; it is evolving.  Let yourself evolve with it.


October 1, 2010 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, identity, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I love this entry! So many people are tied down to certain identities because it’s how it’s always been, so things stay the same. We forget that we have the power to change as much as we want. I have to constantly remind myself. Change is hard, but no change is worse.

    Comment by Jen | October 1, 2010 | Reply

  2. hmm…strange that i haven’t really been on the computer for more than 10 min. in forever, and hence (i’m sorry!!) haven’t been good at keeping up with your blog… and the first one i read when i actually have some time is on identity. good lord that’s a toughie. it comforts me to know that it isn’t just me that’s trying to tackle such an issue that i really feel should have been settled quite a few years ago………thank you for a needed dose of reality, once again:)

    Comment by slzu | October 2, 2010 | Reply

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