Last week, I came home from a forty day trip to Spain. I was hiking the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage, with my brother. This experience, I believe, both saved and changed my life entirely. I would like to share a few things I learned that helped me dramatically move forward in my recovery, but truly, in my life, because recovery is simply life.
I met a woman named Shayna from Florida who taught me something very important. She taught me about the shadow. Everyone has a shadow. Mine manifests itself in a way that caused society to diagnose me with an eating disorder, but I do not believe this shadow should be called “ED” any longer. It is not just an eating disorder. It is a deep and pained part of my soul.
Here is a thought that changed the way I look at my recovery forever—
"The Shadow is like an angry, hurt, abused child," Shayna said. "It needs your love and attention so badly, but it does not know any other way to act other than violence. It will berate you, bully you, hurt you, but only because it does not know how to behave in a loving manner. You must teach it how.
This Shadow needs your love, affection, attention more than any other part of you. When it comes to you, you must not shut it out, hate it, curse it for existing. You must take it in your arms and say, ‘I am here for you. I love you. I will take care of you,’ You must teach it how to love. You must be kind. Take this child in your arms, see this part of you in pain, forgive it, truly love it, and tell it that it is okay. It is okay.”