Jason's Journal: Okay to Be Me
Updated: Apr 8
Wow, Orthorexia Bites has already been live for one month! To celebrate, I am launching a new series called “Jason’s Journal”. While my little yellow recovery journal will remain my prized accessory, I hope these posts will invite you into my recovery process. Instead of one specific theme or topic, these posts will just be random thoughts and ramblings. See, I’m already doing it! :)
But in all seriousness, I am far from recovered. I have good days and bad days, but I have nothing to hide. Social media and other blogs are full of what people want you to see. My orthorexia and self-loathing thrived on those picture perfect posts. Orthorexia Bites will never be like that. Instead, my posts are the authentic me. The good, bad and ugly. I spent too long suppressing my emotions, which led to some damaging consequences. In the words of Brene Brown, I’m now embracing vulnerability and for that I am stronger. So here we go…
Last weekend tested me. I woke up Saturday morning after a night of vivid dreams. I’m on new medication for my OCD, which is playing some tricks with my mind. I dreamt that I was not masculine enough. People laughed at me and made me an outcast. It’s interesting how dreams often mimic reality.
The feelings of self-doubt exploded when our next door neighbors threw a backyard party. They are younger college kids, who still party every weekend pandemic or not. The typical frat-boy, jock types with bulging muscles and pretty girls hanging on their every word. They’re the type that post one picture on Instagram and suddenly have 5,000 likes. Their loud music doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that they just seem to have it all.
I got angry. I’ve sat here in this house for months doing my part to socially distance. I’ve sacrificed seeing friends and having a life just to be safe. Then I thought about how I felt robbed of those years. I never got to have crazy backyard parties every day of the week because I had to survive. I was never the super popular guy because I was different. First fat, then gay, and so on. Talk about feeling insecure about my masculinity! I work hard every single day of my life to get by, while the world just seems to hand everything to people like them on a silver platter. Why do these guys get to live their lives with no care or worry, while I’m in a constant battle to survive. Why, why, why!
Old Jason would have bottled those thoughts up inside, for fear of looking weak. I am proud of how far I’ve come since starting recovery last summer, so I didn’t want to risk looking like I might be taking a step back. Old habits die hard. The inner critic’s voice grew louder as I continued to fight back. Later that afternoon, something amazing happened. I opened up.
I let my husband Matt in on how I was truly feeling. My gosh, the anxiety bubbled up inside prior to release. Will he be disappointed? Does this ruin the progress I’ve made? Will I look selfish? That’s when my mantra came in handy. I trusted the process and shared with Matt exactly how I felt.
Matt, also annoyed with their partying ways, agreed with how I felt. He comforted and reminded me just how far I’ve come. More importantly, he helped me realize that by sharing these thoughts I was showing progress not regress. Frustrating situations like this will always happen. That’s life! But I reacted differently than I would have last year. I allowed myself to be vulnerable and authentic. I remained mindful and trusted the advice of my support team.
My insecurity and frustration did not vanish, instead, I gained the strength to fight back. I realized I would rather have my life than their lives. My friends rather than their friends. My story rather than their stories. My loving husband rather than their flavor of the week. I’m okay with not being the most “masculine” man according to society’s stereotypes. I’m okay with getting upset about things like that. It’s a perfectly normal human reaction. I’m okay with not having the most likes or muscles. I’m okay with being me. A battle-tested survivor. A man who is loved. A man who can face any challenge that comes his way. A man surrounded by a loving support team. I’m Jason 2.0 now. As long as I remain open and authentic, there is no going back.
I rebounded on Sunday, a reminder of my resiliency in the face of adversity. Nonetheless, this week has been exhausting. A busy time at the day job, finishing up my manuscript and promoting my blog. I’m balancing all of these things in addition to focusing on my recovery. I love to be busy, but sometimes it can be taxing. Then, I received a reminder of just why I’m doing all of this. I received a private message from an individual who thanked me for sharing my story. She said it is an inspiration to her and lets her know she is not alone in her recovery. I cried. Yes, I’m man enough to admit I sat in the darkness of our dining room at 5am and cried. I hope she knows that her message inspired me as well.
Things happen for a reason. I’ve been to hell and back. Yet, I survived. Yes, I lost my “college” years, and sure I’ll never be the most popular social account or blog, but who cares?! If I can just help one person get the help they need or learn to love themselves again. Or if I can inspire or empower a fellow mental health/eating disorder warrior like myself then I’m good with that. 1 like that saves a life means much more to me than 5,000 likes of six-pack abs.