At the past Lobby Day sponsored by the Eating Disorders Coalition, we were encouraged on multiple occasions to "speak our truth." I found this phrase endearing. As people who may not have naturally honed the skills needed to be assertive, encouraging the telling of our stories is simply an empowering process. In speaking our truth, you tell things the way that you feel them, uncensored.
"Voices not bodies," is a refrain that has been propagated through eating disorder recovery circles. The ability to use one's voice is in fact very powerful and reaffirming to a budding self esteem. Dis-ease can be thought of as externalizing (acting out) or internalizing (acting on self). While neither is healthy, when we internalize (anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders) feelings are expressed through self blame, doubt and destruction of the body. Using our voice allows us to channel emotion in more positive directions.
Surprisingly, in many facets of life I find myself not as assertive as one would expect. A natural evader of conflict, I would prefer to keep the peace. I often joke that I was taught to be a physician, but I had to learn the rest of life on my own. I'm still learning to seek out my own opinion first when making life decisions. This is true for so many of us. We all have spirits that must be cultivated and nurtured.
Lobby Day was a great exercise in speaking my truth and telling my story of being a provider trying to practice medicine in a managed care environment. It was my opportunity to tell not only my own story, but the story of my patients who have struggled. I spoke without fear of retribution or scorn. I would love to say that this type of supportive environment exists in all parts of life, but it doesn't. My thoughts are now that it can.
I am responsible for my environment. I am responsible for the way I allow others to treat me. I feel a responsibility to educate the schools and help those who have not yet found their voice. I have a responsibility to be my authentic self and to ignore the comments of those who don't agree. I also have a responsibility to treat others with kindness and to not make assumptions about their life paths.
In speaking my truth, I continue to break down the barrier of shame and regret. Recovery is about the ever evolving ability to live in truth. I recently heard in a talk that our defense mechanisms include denial and avoidance because they can be soothing in the moment. They may soothe, but they do not solve our problems.
I invite you all to become problem solvers. I invite you to speak what is true. Tell your story. Realize your worth. Your words and voices will inspire others and most importantly, inspire yourself.
Peace be with you.