Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. A lot. I’ve been struggling with finding my sense of purpose in life; my sense of self. I’ve been trying to define my life’s meaning. I’ve been stuck in a rut of feeling discontent, feeling as if my life needs to mean more in some way, shape, or form…as if just living is not quite enough. It all stems from my motivation in recovery. I was analyzing why I get ‘stuck’ and how to get myself on a strong, solid path in recovery. I’ve been doing a lot of self-analysis and really getting to know a lot of my personality and reasons for being the way that I am. Which, in reality, is a really great thing. But it is also leaving me with more questions. What is it going to take for me to maintain a level of motivation in recovery? I am sick and tired of the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the hot and cold. Granted, I know that recovery is a process and it is to be expected that I have “hiccups” along the way. I have no issue with that and realize that is just part of the process. But there is a difference between a little “hiccup” and losing all motivation and incentive to push forward in recovery. It’s a big difference.
So where does motivation come from? I analyzed why I had been motivated in the past. I wanted to have a full, rich, happy life. I wanted my life to be better, to be improved. Well lately, I’ve been thinking (or perhaps worrying) that my life wouldn’t improve or change that much on the “other side”, i.e. in recovery/once I’m recovered. I think I held out this hope or idea that once I’m recovered, life would be full of wonderful bliss and happiness…that my life would improve for the greater, in a drastic way. But then I stopped to think and came to the realization that that idea or dream or hope really could be nothing more than that. I realized that my life isn’t that terrible in my ED…I’m able to live a normal life (at this point in my recovery, granted in the past it really wasn’t living) But where I’m at now, I struggle, yet I can still get through the day to day and be OK. So my mindset was that it is easy to stay where I’m at because it’s safe, because I’m comfortable here, because I’m really not that bad off. On the other hand though, I know there are still things that need work…that I’m not really at a place where I’d ideally like to be.
So back to the ‘motivation’ piece and back to the whole ‘what is the purpose of my life’ piece…and how do they go together? My motivation (or lack there of) is a direct result or connection to having a purpose in life. For so long I had the idea that I, Elise, needed to have an identity rooted firmly or strongly in one thing. Some people are runners, some people are painters, some people excel at a particular sport, some people are photographers, some people love to write, etc. I felt like I didn’t have that one thing to call my own. So I’ve been trying to find “my calling”. I’ve been thinking of all sorts of things I could submerse myself in, all sorts of things I could do with my time, and I haven’t found that one thing that is ‘me’. I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to have that…that one thing that I could be good at. That one thing that I could claim as “mine”. Instead of just going out and living and exploring different things, I needed to claim something, anything as mine. So when that wasn’t happening, I started to really feel like my life lacked purpose. Which goes hand in hand with my desire to push myself in recovery. I felt like I had no reason to push myself. Like my life was just going to be normal, boring, mediocre.
But I realized that staying where I am, on this topsy, turvy path of doing good, then doing bad, doing good, then doing bad, getting on track, then getting off track, is not doing me any good. In fact, my life, in certain aspects and ways, is constantly put on ‘pause’. I’ve had a lot of time lately to focus on myself and focus on getting healthier and working towards recovery. Yet, here I am, not doing anything to change where I’m at. While I’ve had a lot of personal insight lately about myself, my dynamic, and who I am and how certain things in my life have contributed to the person that I am, I am still exactly where I was before that insight and personal discovery started. In fact, I even looked at my first journal I started when I first started going for treatment for my ED in an attempt to get some motivation, yet, if anything it did the opposite. I read part of it and it was evident to me that I didn’t really make as much progress as I would have liked. Now I realize this is just me being hard on myself and looking at the negative aspects, i.e. the things I haven’t changed in recovery, versus looking at all the huge, great accomplishments I’ve had and the changes that I have made. But essentially, I saw the same repetitive pattern…hot and cold, up and down…really ‘gung-ho’ (yes, I said gung-ho!) about recovery, then just as quickly really opposed to pushing myself. It is exhausting. Absolutely exhausting.
So yesterday I shared a lot of my feelings of inadequacy and having a normal, boring, purposeless life with my parents and my closest friends to just get it out and process it a bit, instead of keeping it inside and letting it swallow me. I received good feedback. Hearing their words and also just talking and getting my thoughts and feelings out really helped to improve my negative mood. (Let me tell you, it was a pretty crappy morning for me) So I was feeling a bit better, at least. Yet, still feeling stuck a bit in my search for purpose and meaning in my life.
I talked to the hubster about things, about my current feelings of being ‘stuck’ in recovery and I realized until I really get myself figured out, and get myself in a healthier spot for ME and myself, there is no way that I can be present in a relationship with him. This has been an ongoing issue and problem since we’ve been married. My ED has made a real marriage non-existant. So, unless I finally take care of this, once and for all, and get myself to stay on a healthy track, things will never have a chance to improve with our relationship. That’s when I stopped to really think and analyze all of the things that my ED is holding me back from, or all of the things that it is hindering and preventing for me. I’d like to think I’m doing okay, and realistically I’m not doing too bad, but I could be doing so much better. So, it’s time to re-focus and push myself a bit more.
A thing that has been an ongoing challenge for me is dinner. I eat during the day pretty decently, but I always have difficulty making myself have a real dinner. My parents have been kind enough to offer to have me over for dinner any time I would like to come, even going so far as offering to have me come over there on a regular basis to ‘follow a meal plan’ of sorts for dinners. Yet, I’ve rejected their offers. I had gone twice in the last month or so, which was a huge hurdle for me. But realistically, that was just not doing the job, obviously. I need to maintain a continual routine of having dinners, not just having them here and there, when I feel like it. No, dinner is a thing you can’t have only when you want to. Dinner is something you need to have continually. So I was hinting a bit to my parents yesterday about dinner…and my mom jumped right on board and asked me over for dinner. I am thankful for her always offering…she never gives up on me.
So after work, I headed home to change and then went straight over to my parent’s place. Dinner was enjoyable and I had no problems eating it. After dinner, we just sat and chatted a bit. We had made plans to meet up with my brother and a lady I used to work with, my mom currently works with, and my brother knows, for a drink at La Chiminea (i.e. the BEST maragaritas I have ever had!). This, too, was something that normally would have been really hard for me. After having a full dinner, then going out to have an unknown-calorie-laden drink?!? Anxiety at it’s highest, so I’d most often avoid a situation like that if at all possible. But last night, I really wanted to go and be there with my family…it just sounded, well, fun!
And you know what? I went, and had an absolutely fabulous time. I went and had a margarita (and then helped my dad with his second one!) and had quite a generous amount of chips with guacamole. Yummm. I’m a sucker for the green stuff! 😛 It was just a fun, social outing with some people I really care a lot about. In that moment I didn’t think about how many calories were in my dinner, or the chips, or the drinks. I wasn’t thinking about the calories I was consuming, but was just present and enjoying my time. It was how it should be.
So that made me really re-assess what I define as ‘purpose’. I think I have my approach all wrong. I think my expectations of what having a meaningful life means is quite off. I think I can get happiness and joy from just living my life to the full. Normal, everyday activities can be purposeful. I need to let myself truly live in the moment and embrace the simple things. There is more to life than being the best at something or being defined by just one talent or ability.
For me, finding my purpose is doing what I want to do with my life. It’s all the little adventures, all the little memories, all the small moments within each day, week, month or year that make up a composite life, or sense of living. My purpose in life is to make fun plans with my best friend when she comes home, like going to a petting zoo, making pudding pops with each other, making dirt cups, and having WaffleFest 2013. 😉 My purpose in life is to be present with my family, to go to dinner with them and enjoy my time, to be present and happy. My purpose in life is to be a good worker, a valued employee, a happy face each morning at work. My purpose in life is to find things that I enjoy doing and to do them….even if they are small or minute. My purpose in life is to just simply live. That is what life is really all about.
I think this quote sums it up perfectly: “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt