Sierra Turner: Embracing Imperfections

It's funny how we can spend so much of our lives striving for perfection. Attempting to create a 'perfect' life, the 'perfect' body, finding the 'perfect' job, and having the 'perfect' home - we are all guilty of it in some way or another. We quickly clean and straighten up our homes before guests arrive. We decorate our Christmas trees with the perfect color scheme to match the special wrapping paper on the presents. We go to the nth degree to show others that we really have our lives together- that we always have those straight-vacuumed lines on all of our carpeted rooms.

For years, I strived to be perfect. I wanted to get the perfect grades, make the perfect decisions, and have a perfect life. For a while, I even tried to seek friendships with people who in my eyes were perfect.

This incredible drive to be perfect brought my deep into the grasps of Anorexia. It gave me a new (but false) sense of control, accomplishment, and power. I knew that my eating disorder would kill me, but I didn’t really care… I valued my goal of perfection over life.

 After rounds of treatment and hospital admissions, I was given 2 options: continue doing what I was doing and die within a couple weeks, or accept treatment, and get better. I was finally beginning to near a point where I had had enough. I was becoming frustrated that no matter how hard I tried… I was never ‘perfect’ enough.  I decided, with 95% being a desperate plea from family and friends, that I would give LIFE a chance.

It started with telling my self the following:

" Ok Sierra- give recovery a chance- A full chance. Allow yourself to reach a healthy weight, and eat anything/everything. There are no good or bad foods in recovery.... Food equals medicine. Trust the hospital, your doctors, your dietician, your therapist, and your family. Trust that they just want you healthy and happy. “

I began to do my research. I read book after book, blog after blog, saw Doctor after Doctor, and did every "Self Help" exercise known to human. I reached out to various people who had recovered from their Eating Disorders, taking note of each and every thing they did that helped them get better. I gained the necessary weight, cut out many of the toxic things/people in my life, and was ready to start fresh.

I thought I was letting go of being perfect when I started my journey through recovery.

-------

Today, I picked up the book “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brenè Brown while sitting in a coffee shop waiting for my friend. I had read about 2 paragraphs, when I became frustrated and angry that I had forgotten a piece of paper and pen. I wanted to take notes on all the wisdom Brenè Brown had written in her book. I wanted to know what her “tricks” were, that made her such a wise woman. I closed my book, and told myself“I’ll just wait until I am home, then I can use my journal to write in.”

I’m not sure what happened, but something dawned on me. “Maybe… just maybe, I could read the book for fun? Maybe, I didn’t have to take notes… I could just read her words and allow myself an opportunity to take them to heart.” Albeit feeling rather uncomfortable, I decided to give it a chance, and just read. 


Four pages in, I was hit with the very same lesson that left the author confused, in shock, and re-evaluating her entire life.

How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a wholehearted life: loving ourselves.”

My mouth dropped open, and I just stared at the page- I read the passage over and over again, my mind filling with numerous thoughts and insight of recent times. I had been working so hard to try and understand my self, understand my illness, and do all of the things I was told to do, because I wanted to do it the right way. I was doing all of these things, but missing the most important part… learning to love myself.

This is not to say that what I did was wrong. I am happier than I have been in a long time! And I actually don’t think I would be where I am without having read some valuable tips in these books, or having met these incredible, inspiring people!

So off I go on the next chapter of my journey. I am beginning to embrace that I am not perfect, nor will my recovery be perfect. I will have good days, and I will have bad days. I can continue to learn… I can read blogs and books, and hear wisdom and insight from those near and dear to my heart, but not become attached. I can learn, understand, and process the past- but inevitably- accept, forgive, and move forward. I am discovering self compassion, self-care, and self-empathy. I will learn to accept myself and love myself for me.

“This journey is equal parts heart work and head work. I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we will ever do.”
- Brenè Brown

Xo- Sierra

Sierra Turner: Normalized Living

Normal- this is a word that depending on my mood, I could give you two completely different answers to. If you catch me in a good moment, on a good day of my recovery journey, normallacy is something that I crave. The ability for me to live on my own, or with a roommate; to go out for dinner on a whim with my boyfriend with little care as to where we picked to eat; Friday night movies with my girlfriends eating candy and chocolate on the couch.

However, if you catch me when I’m having a rough moment, or on a bad day, my fear of being normal is equivalent to my fear of spiders (and let me tell you… I have a massive fear of spiders.) Suddenly, the idea of leading a normal life absolutely terrifies me. Growing up… paying bills… having to get a real job… getting married… moving out on my own again… the list is endless. I begin to allow the negative voice in my head to sneak in, sparking fear of the absolute worst results of everything.

What if I get bad marks in school?

What If no one wants to hire me?

What if I don’t get married!

What if I am not a good mom! 

I don’t know how to pay bills…AH!

……

Everyone has some natural anxiety- believe it or not, it’s actually healthy! Without anxiety, we wouldn’t be safe. Anxiety provides every individual with a healthy level of caution in life. 

“Perhaps I shouldn’t touch that hot burner… I saw my mom shriek once after having touched it.”

“ This dark alley looks a bit skeptical, I should just walk home along lit streets.”

 

So yes- to an extent, anxiety is NORMAL. It’s when your fears go above a normal level and impede your life, that it becomes a challenge.

 

So for me, my Eating Disorder stems from Anxiety. From the moment I wake up, I have this little anxious voice in my head telling me

“Are you sure? Are you REALLY sure about that?”

“What if that makes you gain weight? You don’t want to gain weight. Things will go out of control. And how would you feel if you were out of control? You don’t like that feeling… remember? “ 

 

It’s exhausting, to say the least. 

I am learning, day by day, that these are my fears. I am also learning how to connect the dots between my anxiety and my Anorexia. You see… it is very common for people with Anorexia to shrink into an emaciated figure, as it is similar to reducing their body to that of a child. When you were a child, were you thinking of bills? Getting good grades? Securing a top-notch, moneymaking career? I hope not…

Heck, my biggest concerns as a young child had to do with being on time for dinner, as I was often outside playing Kick the Can with my neighbors. 

As I have grown up, and been faced with expectations that are put on by society, and my own high standards, I have developed an extraordinary amount of fear- largely related to failing. So, for me, I wanted to be the furthest thing from normal, because being normal meant that I had to face these fears. 

Off I went on my journey with my Eating Disorder. Obviously there were a number of other things that triggered my Anorexia; however, a large amount of my struggle had to do with my fear of growing up. 

I shrunk my body into that of a pre-pubescent boy. I no longer had my womanly breasts, hips, bum, or a menstrual cycle. I was pulled out of school, work, and any extra curricular activities, and placed in hospitals. I had people begging me to eat, trying to feed me, and showing me more love than I had ever felt in my entire life. I was stripped of any independence and freedom. I wasn’t living. 

In a weird, and twisted way, I kinda liked it. No more expectations, no more pressures. It was just me and my illness (or so I thought). 

I spent 3 years going through the doors of hospitals, emergency departments, doctor’s offices, and treatment centers, only to come out and relapse again into my illness. This is largely due to the sole focus of weight restoration in many of these programs. 

We need to remember that Eating Disorders are a MENTAL ILLNESS. Yes- they have physical complications; however, we must treat the mind in order to pursue true recovery. This is not to say that these places didn’t serve a purpose in my journey. Each and every program I attended played a large role in allowing me to learn little bits about my illness and myself. 

So here I am,

Learning to allow normallacy into my life,
Learning to accept my new hips, breasts, and curvy figure,
Learning to find what my true passions are, and what adds light to my life,
Learning that it is okay to make mistakes, 
Learning that over time, I will learn how to deal with finances and career opportunities,
Learning that I will always be learning,

But most importantly, that it is OKAY to be NORMAL.