Conquering Fears At Lake Dillion

The summer of 2019 was the summer of adventures (mostly just hikin’ around looking for a view), healing my heart and soul THROUGH hiking, and… my swimsuit. Shocker to have such a typical summer attire be a focal point of one’s summer. Ah yes—but for me, this is pivotal.

At the budding age of 14, I slowly was succumbing to a vicious eating disorder. This illness I was battling was so lethal that I was picking out my burial casket. Can we all just stop and appreciate how FUCKED UP THAT IS? I mean, seriously. What were you doing at 14? Playing soccer or studying for your AP History exam? Cute. I was dying. Instead, I filled my freshman year of high school hallucinating between reality and fiction of what my body looked like.

Sparing you the details and spoiling the ending: I have overcome the worst of my illness. I’m finally able to live a happy and healthy and normal life. I’m literally so blessed to be given a second chance at life. Truly.

With each passing year, I process my eating disorder differently. Some years have been harder than others, but the older I get, the easier it is to make peace with such a dark past. I’ve accepted it while still unpacking certain elements… which untimely has helped me move forward.

However—

There was always one aspect of life I had been running from since 2007:

My swimsuit.

I have grown a part from my eating disorder and have come to love myself and my body. Except when it came to slipping into a swimsuit, my brain shut down. I would do anything to get out of being at a pool, a lake, or an ocean… even a depressing backyard sprinkler slip n’ slide combo. I wanted nothing to do with it. All because I could feel my past choking me and pulling me back to my darkest of days.

Being in a swimsuit around other people does not make me live in the moment. Instead, there is a horrible tape that plays in my head that puts me down. Yup, I body shame my own self and that’s not helpful. I hate that an item of clothing can have that much power over someone.

But this summer, I decided that I was going to challenge myself.

It has been 12 years since my anorexia surfaced. And this summer I put on my swimsuit. Not just once. But THREE times. Who is she?

I know that to most people, this isn’t a huge deal. A lot of humans like being in a swimsuit and can flip the bird to insecurities. But to me, this has been a milestone of a summer. It wasn’t easy. I was nervous, scared, and a little anxious to be on display like that.

Over LDW, my mom and I went SUP on Lake Dillion.

As I stripped down to my swimsuit, my anxiety kicked in and I’m pretty sure I asked my mom for reassurance like 39 times before hitting the water. But the second I pushed away on my board, all I could focus on WAS being in the moment. The stroke of my paddle. The choppiness of the water. The gorgeous mountains in the distance. The warm sun hitting my back. There was no room for wondering if I “looked too fat” in a swimsuit. I was so involved with the beauty I surrounded myself with.

When I look back at these photos of being on the water of me in a swimsuit, all I can see is a happy, healthy person. And that’s all I’ve ever wanted for myself.

25290BBD-C6EA-4E79-A062-9963684BBB9C.JPG
435B10DD-3F3A-44FC-9C6C-1FCCF185DB23.JPG
F1B7EF4A-5F57-4ECB-BF6C-16F84202B839.JPG
AF1B6424-21E4-446D-B350-A8BEC94FCBF2.JPG

The Happy Note

We’ve all seen that message. The one that reads “Only you can make you happy,” or something along those lines. It became such a mainstream concept but I’d truly never understood it. I thought I did. But as hindsight pointed out… I didn’t.

Instead, I have been suffocating my own happiness by succumbing to anxiety attacks. And sadly enough, I believed those anxiety attacks were healthy. As if they were pushing me towards a better version of myself. In reality, these attacks were stealing joy; making me believe that if I sped up the negative tape in my head, I would be solving all my problems and bringing peace.

I’ve recognized that this way of thinking is incorrect (lol, thank goodness, right?). I’ve been teaching my mind to feel the feeling, but gtfo as quickly as possible… and how do I do that? By listing off things I can see, things I can feel, and things I can hear. This is what I call “grounding myself.”

Since grounding myself has been working well, I’ve also decided to morph this list into a happy note to myself. In addition to listing off random things in my immediate surroundings during an anxiety attack, I begin to list things off that make me happy.

And here is my current list:

  • Foggy mountains in the morning

  • Chilly hikes with friends

  • Waking up early on a weekend to go hiking

  • The smell of Evergreen trees

  • Happy dogs — happy Bernese Mountain Dogs

  • Finding an old note in a book

  • Golden hour photography sessions (it’s literal magic)

  • Park swings

  • Feeling like you belong somewhere

  • Wind-blown hair

  • Sparkles

  • The feeling of earned

  • Driving with the windows down, cruising on a mountain road

  • Aspen leaves in Fall

I believe the best apology (especially to yourself) is changed behavior. Managing anxiety is something I’ve shrugged off for years. I’ve decided to change that. I’m starting here.

Smiling looks better on me anyway.

47405A49-87E0-4B22-B6F1-A44F5DC98583.JPG
751DF299-DA7A-4DA0-B4F0-E54E5570C809.JPG


My Word

Wow, 27 is weird.

Like, I’m in this weird space where in the same day I can make comments like, “Oh, I’m too old for that,” and, “Oh my gosh, I’m too young for that.” Can anyone else relate?

But as my time with 27 is getting shorter and shorter, I can feel myself molting out, rather, forced to grow into something more mature. For all my psychology folks out there, yes I know my prefrontal-cortex has closed and I’m a “real” adult now. it still doesn’t help the fact that I can feel myself letting go of trivial in/tangibles. Is this normal to be a little freaked out by this?

The things I was once concerned with have now taken a back seat and the things I never really gave a thought to have been brought to the forefront of my daily acknowledgments.

I sometimes find myself reaching out to entertain these useless thoughts; just to hold them one last time. Like as if I’m putting them in a memory drawer that I probably won’t open back up for another 10 years.

Even though this is happening in my life, I’m convinced that we all have this moment. The moment where we realize that we are moving on to better, more elevated things. And after much reflection, I’ve realized what my word is for this year:

Growth.

Year over year, we all grow in some capacity. Mine specifically is about growing mentally, taking on more challenging roles in my career, and not being afraid of the difficult conversations.

I’m coming into my own and I like who I am. It’s taken me a while to be able to say that, but I’m so glad I have been able to get there.

What's your word? What is life challenging you with? How are you rising to the occasion?

Hiking In Aspen