A Letter of Celebration

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This post was written by Laura Matthiesen, Social Media Manager of the Northern Oregon Chapter. Laura actually lives in Boise, Idaho where she recently relocated to from the San Francisco area.- she is hoping to start a Boise PHEAL chapter! She is a currently a psychology student at BSU. In her free time she works at Old Navy, hikes, crochets and loves to play with her dog, Scooter.

laura mWhen I walked though that red oak door I was terrified of my future, depressed at what my life had become and angry with all the wrong people. My eating disorder had a hold of me and did not want to let go. Self-harm acted as a comfort and punishment. My trauma was shameful and not to be talked about. My family relationships were dysfunctional and chaotic. Anxiety consumed my every waking moment. I didn’t know what to except but I figured Magnolia Creek would be just like all the other treatment centers I had been to. I figured the staff wouldn’t care about me or their jobs. I figured my peers wouldn’t relate. I figured the groups would suck. And I figured after a few weeks I would be kicked to the curb for this or that reason.

What I found onthe other side of that red door was so vastly different then the low exceptions I walked in with. My life has been forever changed for the better. I found peers and staff who genuinely cared about me and my well-being, people who held my hope and fought the Committee when I didn’t have the strength, people who believed in me when I felt like all hope was lost. I found groups that challenged me and helped me to see the distortions I was living. And, I was not kicked to the curb no matter how much I kicked and screamed.

My life has been transformed in the last five months. I have sat still with my thoughts, emotions and urges.  I have practiced self-compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance. I have practiced naming my urges, asking for help by using my voice, and getting my needs met in an appropriate way.  I have practiced doing the next thing right when I slipped or hurt those I cared about, and  letting my emotions and memories be just as they are, not trying to deny, suppress, or change them in any way. I have practiced vulnerability. Doing these things was not an easy feat. I came into this certain that I had all the answers and convinced that I was the perfect client. I was stubborn, swearing no one could help me. I felt there was no hope for my and no freedom from what I came to know as “the Committee”. My walls were a mile high, layer upon layer of seemingly impenetrable brick. Slowly the team and my peers deconstructed the barriers one by one, sometimes it seemed by bulldozer and dynamite.

Through this process I have redefined my identity. I no longer see myself as needing to live in chaos. I am capable of getting my needs met with my voice, and not by drastic and destructive acts. I no longer tie my worth to behaviors, distortions, or to my past. I am worthy just as I am. I no longer lash out in anger. I am capable of being assertive. I no longer use my eating disorder, self-harm or suicide to convey my pain. I am stronger than the Committee.

This journey has not been easy. I have signed more 72s than I count. I have run away both literally and figuratively. I have shut down and pushed the people away who wanted desperately to help me. I have engaged in behaviors despite every effort, observation level and boundary. I have been passive-aggressive and stubborn. I tried to take my own life with peers and staff just feet away. It took a conscious effort on my part to change. I had to want it. I had to choose that I did not want to become just another statistic. I had to choose that I wanted recovery for myself more than anyone else wanted recovery for me. Yes, there are still hard days and with each of those moments I have a choice.

Today I can proclaim that I choose recovery. Today I can proclaim that I choose freedom. Today I can proclaim that I choose my life. Today I celebrate.

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