Sea turtles are such beautiful, adventurous creatures and I have been thinking a lot about how they embark on their journey through life with all its challenges. Recovery has been a journey of adventure and courage, taking small steps towards growth and daring to believe I will get to where I want to be. It has been fascinating to discover that there are many similarities between the battles of a sea turtle and my own recovery journey, and I hope that you will find these reflections encouraging as you follow your own path towards freedom.
Trust the process
Sometimes my mind can become so clouded that I feel that there are so many different currents pulling me in a million different directions. Each choice I face throughout the day can feel impossible as I try to search for the right decision amongst all the chaos. In these moments, it is so important to just put faith in what is true and allow myself to be swept up and carried along by the small decisions that I know will bring me along the right path. This means letting go of all the deceptive thoughts and actively resisting their attempt to divert me away from the onward journey of recovery. Whilst on the surface, letting go and allowing yourself to ride the waves of the day as they come may seem simple, it is not for the fainthearted. It requires a significant amount of trust, not in the circumstances you face around you, but in the strength, you have within to tackle whatever comes your way. Like a turtle following the open ocean current, trust that doing the right thing for yourself will guide you to where you need to go.
Keep on digging
When sea turtles hatch, they must immediately begin to dig their way to the surface. This requires an extraordinary amount of effort and energy. Many times I have felt so deep below the surface that no matter how much I try to push through, the end never seems to be in sight. On reflection, however, I have managed to survive each one of these moments, grasping each of those little victories along the way, and seeing the significant progress unfold over months and even years. Battling with an eating disorder requires an extraordinary amount of courage and endurance, two remarkable qualities that will help you to achieve whatever you set your mind to in life. Sea turtles face challenges at many of their life stages, facing vulnerability as eggs on the beach, as babies in the nearshore and open ocean currents. The resilience and endurance they build in those early seasons sets the foundations for whatever they go on to face as life unfolds. Grasp the opportunity now to develop your endurance as you face your fears. The effort and energy you dedicate will all be worth it when you begin to glimpse the world above the surface. Keep going, keep digging, don’t ever give up. You will feel the warmth of the sun and the serenity of the ocean soon.
Let others spur you on
One day, I would love to experience the sea turtle conservation process for myself, helping to guide little baby turtles as they take their first steps out into the sea. As they emerge from the nest, the tiny turtles fix their focus on the brightest horizon and dash as quickly as they can towards it. Whilst we as humans can help tailor the conditions to improve their likelihood of reaching their destination and provide support to spur them on, we cannot make the journey for them. We’ve got to step back and hope that the babies will keep their focus on the light and dash towards the prize of freedom. Along the journey of eating disorder recovery, leaning into those around us for support can make such a difference, guiding us and encouraging us as we take each step. But just like the turtles, the true change will only come when we fully commit to the challenge.
The journey is different for everyone
We all have our own way of swimming through whatever we face in life. Every person who decides to fully dive into recovery must approach it in a way that works for them. Some sea turtles focus on kicking their rear flippers, whilst others use their fore-flippers to guide their stroke, some propel themselves into a power stroke, and some prefer a dog paddle. If all the sea turtles began to compare their swimming behaviour with others, questioning their own unique ability to move through the water, what would that actually achieve? They would all spend so much time and energy trying to change themselves to fit in that they would distract themselves from their own true purpose. Don’t get so caught up in comparison, it will take away from your own unique way of fighting the battle. Instead, celebrate the way you individually swim through life and use your unique strengths to your advantage as you rediscover your healthy self. Some sea turtles choose to swim close to the surface, whilst others prefer to dive deeper beneath the waves. Sometimes along the recovery journey, I have had to face the surface, challenging myself to be courageous and face my fears head-on. Other times, the wisest thing to do has been to dig deeper into the root of those fears, fighting battles that are not so clear to others on the outside but are slowly and steadily being won to gain back my freedom. Whether you are in a season of power strokes of progress or prefer to take things a little gentler right now, accept that season and embrace it.
Written by Maddy Jewell (@gracefuelled),
Maddy Jewell is a Cardiff University student working towards a degree in Human Geography and Planning. Her recovery journey over the last two years and her heart for people have inspired her to use her writing to reach out to other girls who are facing similar battles. She loves sewing, dancing and days at the beach, and dreams of one day shaping cities that are both liveable and sustainable for future generations.
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