Everyone Deserves a Seat at the Table, Including Me & You

diary-3299128_1920.jpg

By Bridget Clawson, Guest Contributor

When Jennifer asked me to write for her blog, I said yes immediately. I was honored that she invited me, but I ws also anxious. I reread her entire blog, and with each post came self-doubt and questions about who I am, where I am in my recovery, and what I have to say as a writer. Instead of thinking about what I wanted to write about, I was thinking about how I could write to fit Jennifer's style and the other guest bloggers she has feautured.

In May, I attended #NEDAcon in Philadelphia (Jennifer was there too!). I heard amazing eye-opening discussions about the place of marginalized voices in the eating disorder recovery community. With so many of those voices out there needing to be heard, I kept asking myself why my voice matters?

I am not marginalized. I am the cis-gendered, affluent white female whose eating disorder journey started in adolescence. At the conference I was questioning everything: Where did my voice fit? Before I was able to continue on this hunt to find all the reasons why my voice didn’t deserve space, one of my favorite voices in the recovery community, Maris Degener (YogaMaris) posted this: “I realized that while there are many things I will never be able to control in the world, there is one thing that I will always have power over: the way I frame my story.” These words changed my mind. I do have a story!

So the new and more deserving question became: How do I frame my story? In a world full of people telling stories, where everyone deserves a seat at the table, how can I share mine in a way that makes me feel authentic? The answer came when I was thinking about a conversation I had with my old therapist after sharing at Renfrew's NEDA Week event back in February. 

My therapist said to me: “Can I just say first of all that I’m so proud of you for last night. “Old Bridget” would’ve waited until she was perfectly recovered to share her story, while you were so real and authentic and offered a lot of hope to those who were there who are also still finding their land legs so to speak. :) “

I am still finding my land legs. I am perfectly imperfect in recovery. That’s my voice. I am 24 years old and more than half the time I have no idea what I am doing. Lately though, that hasn’t bothered me so much. Coming from a place where I was obsessed with making sure everything was picture perfect, all of my ducks were in a row, and everything was sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns on the outside, it’s nice to be real, to be authentic, and to share the parts of myself that aren’t so put together.

Usually, my pieces of writing are impulsive, written minutes if not hours before posting and edited along the way as I re-read them. Sometimes my words really resonate with others, and sometimes they don’t. I don’t have control over that, but I do have control over the narrative that I share and the narrative that I tell myself every day. My brain is full of ideas, and I’m figuring out that being in this place in both my recovery and life in general is a lot like throwing these ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Be that as it may, I’m happy. I like figuring out what’s next. I like the uncertainty even though sometimes it causes me anxiety. I like that this future of mine is wide open.

While being on this journey is exhilarating all on its own, sharing it makes it even better. Having people reach out to me who are finding their own land legs and telling me how they are glad someone else feels the same way is the basis of building this wonderful community. As someone who walked into treatment thinking she had nothing in common with anyone in the room, and later finding out how alone she was NOT, this is the good part.

Finding my voice like finding myself is going to be challenging, ever-changing, and sometimes not what I expect, but I’m here, and I’m ready.

 Bridget leading yoga at the 2018 Philly NEDA walk.

Bridget leading yoga at the 2018 Philly NEDA walk.

Bridget Clawson is a 24-year-old registered nurse at the Cildren's Hospital of Philadelphia and a trained yoga instructor. She is passionate about eating disorder awareness and advocacy, has been sharing her story locally both in the recovery community and in her job as well as through social media. She hopes to one day be more involved in the public health aspect of recovery and continues to get more involved. In her free time she enjoys reading books (the paper kind), going to concerts, taking naps and of course making breakfast for her dog Rocky. You can connect with her through her blog, on instagram, or through email. She would love to hear from you!