Hannah Wolfe reached out to me about supporting the Running in Silence nonprofit, and I wanted to give her the opportunity to share her own story here, part 2! You can read part 1 here. Events and conversations have been recreated from her memories of them. Eating disorder behaviors are mentioned.
A sneak peak of recovery
Summer came and little by little, recovery crept closer. Under the guise of my age-old stomach aches, my mom (unbeknownst to me) took me to an “Eating Disorder and Wellness Center”. There, I was diagnosed with EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), a diagnosis that shoved me even further down my rabbit hole. To me, EDNOS read NSEFA: Not Skinny Enough for Anorexia.
Gradually, I began recovery, attending weekly appointments with a therapist, dietitian, and three-hour sessions of group therapy. At first, I tried to work this recovery into my regular routine. I tried to get better while remaining comfortable (news flash: without discomfort, recovery is impossible). I stayed on the team, running some of my best times with my regained fuel but still-small frame. But slowly, it was too much to bear. Much to my mother and coach’s dismay, I quit the team and strayed away from running. I knew I wasn’t getting better.
Where would I be without these moments? If my mom hadn’t spoken up? If she hadn’t taken a stand? If she, or anyone, had pushed me beyond my pseudo-recovery? If I had been willing to listen to her, or more importantly, if I had been willing to listen to myself?
Two years passed in this foreign land, one that tried to avoid restriction and didn’t account for mileage. As I grew (and continue to grow) more comfortable in my new body and as I navigated a life beyond my eating disorder, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a lot of love and forgiveness.
Towards the end of our first year of college, a (now best) friend cautiously encouraged me to join Club Running. At first, I pushed the idea (and her) away, afraid of re-entering that world and what that might mean for my eating disorder. With time, many setbacks, and a whole lot of adjusting and rebalancing, I found freedom in running. I found freedom from expectations of who I’m supposed to be and the body I’m supposed to be in.
Now, running is liberating and fulfilling; it is both my outlet and my meditation. Club Running gave me space to be a “Runner” without the pressure to make myself and my world smaller, without the expectation that I must cover up the “icky” stuff and deny my humanness. Club Running held room for me to run how I wish and as I am, all while supporting my growth as an athlete and as a human being. And though I may not say it enough: for that, and for a friend who could lead me down that path, I am endlessly grateful.
Small moments that carry big meanings
These moments are little glimpses into my life with an eating disorder. Little thirty second peeks that carry a lifetime of repercussions. These people didn’t mean to hurt me, trigger me, nudge me in any right or wrong direction. Yet, their words and actions hold immense weight in my world. Regardless of intention, words and actions matter. These little things had big, big impacts.
The purpose here is not to blame, judge, or criticize. We should always hold compassion for those in our lives, remembering there is much more to know beneath the surface we can see. The purpose here is to open a conversation about how we can all be a little more conscious in our interactions. A parent’s ignorance, a coach’s criticism, a teammate’s gossip, a sport’s culture: they all mean something.
Perhaps, you shouldn’t just treat others the way you want to be treated. Perhaps, you should treat them how they want to be treated. Perhaps we need to be conscious not only of what we are saying and how we are saying it, but also who we are saying it to. Sometimes we forget to take the time to ask ourselves, How will this feel to the person I am speaking to? What role do I and will I play in their life?
Little things can have big, big impacts. Be present. Be intentional. Be ridiculously, radically, endlessly kind. Above all, be there.