June Alexander is a gem in the eating disorders field. I truly admire her as an advocate, a speaker, and a writer. (As an author myself, I have no idea how June is able to write so many books so very quickly!) Recently, I have had the honor of collaborating with June about the importance of recognizing trauma and PTSD. She and I both faced an eating disorder and PTSD; we came out on the other side—more free than ever before! Something else that we have in common is journaling. In fact, I am honored that June even quoted me in her new book about the topic titled The Diary Healer. Thanks, June, for allowing me to share this beautiful excerpt below.
For a chance to win a signed book or a Recovered® Journal, see information at the bottom of this post.
Excerpt from Introduction, The Diary Healer
When I began writing a diary, nobody told me to write, or gave guidance in what to write. I just did. Two events at age 11 – the development of an eating disorder and the start of diary writing – have led to this book.
That first small diary, with a page for every day in the coming year beckoning to be filled, bonded with me immediately. More than 50 years later, diaries fill several shelves on my bookcase. These hand-written books, of many colours, shapes and sizes, have helped to shape and strengthen my authenticity, but it wasn’t always this way.
From the start, the diary seemed a friend, confidante and lifeline. However, journeying through childhood and adolescence, into young adulthood and beyond involves maneuvering through a complicated map at the best of times. With an eating disorder, the challenges and pitfalls multiply rapidly. My diaries reflect this struggle. As I proceed into adulthood, I lose direction and almost lose my self. Four decades are consumed with the search to find and regain me.
Today, reading and reflecting on my diaries helps me to understand how the disintegration and healing of self took place. A revelation has been that this diary that has been my friend, as intimate as one can be with the written word, was not always what it seemed. For years, while filling page after page, in a bid to gain clarity and order in my mind, I was strengthening the eating disorder instead of me. Right before my eyes, I had been self-destructing. Acknowledging and accepting I had been led astray in this way was difficult. How did this happen? I wanted to know.
Today, as an observer, the process of disconnection is evident; I see the gradual alignment of diary entries with the eating disorder and the deepening suppression of ‘real’ me. Thoughts, expressed through my pen, become entwined in the eating disorder web. It’s quite maddening to be standing on the ‘outside’, watching this slow fragmentation of self. I want to intercept, and shout, ‘Wrong way!’ I want to grab the hand of the child that is writing and say, ‘No, no. Not that way. Come this way, trust in me’.
As an observer, I feel great relief when a U-turn occurs, and the diary starts to record the gradual reintegration, and eventually liberation, of my body becoming at one with self.
I continue to write a diary. My grandchildren love to watch a new entry being penned and sometimes ask if they can write something too. ‘Of course’, I say. This is their story too and one day, the diaries will belong to them.
For a chance to win a signed copy of June’s book OR a Recovered® Journal, tell us in the comments one way that writing or journaling has helped you in your journey!