What's My Word

Recently I read a blog post from Hilary Kinavey about how, instead of picking a resolution for the New Year, she picks a word to use as her focal point for the year. You can read all about the, spoiler alert, two words she picked for 2015 here. She got me thinking though: if I were to pick a word to focus on in 2015, what would it be?

Eating disorders are nasty. They can eat away at the self-esteem until the person remaining is barely recognizable. That's what it was like for me. For the last 14 years I have taken great pride in experiencing my self-esteem rebuild from the teeny tiny spec that was left over after recovery. It happened slowly, sometimes frighteningly slowly, but nevertheless day-by-day and year-by-year my confidence grew.

Then 2014 happened and I found myself facing a brand new obstacle. Last January I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. After a total of five surgeries in one year my self-esteem took a dip. Last year I was just making it through. I didn’t have the energy to deal with the self-esteem issue so I found myself just ignoring the mirror and making it through from surgery to surgery. There are no more surgeries on the horizon and now I know just what I need to make my focal point of 2015: self-acceptance.

It’s time to look into the mirror and practice radical self-love and acceptance. I know I can do this because I have already clawed my way back from the grips of an eating disorder. I’m stronger now. I’m supported and accepted and loved. I’m ready.

I surely don’t think this will be easy. Quite honestly, I’m kind of thinking last years surgeries will be nothing in comparison, but I will stop ignoring mirrors. I will stop worrying that the scars define me. I will move my body joyfully. I will take pride each day in the body that has overcome an eating disorder, birthed two beautiful babies, and fought cancer. I will try my hardest each and every day to practice self-acceptance…I’ll let you know how it goes!

- Tamara

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Tamara Duarte

Tamara Duarte is a counselor, author, speaker, and activist. Her private practice, Get Centered Counseling in Vancouver WA, helps women with food and body issues learn to love themselves, their body, their life, and their relationships. Her life’s work is steeped in personal experience, having fifteen years in recovery for anorexia, in addition to being a breast cancer survivor. An up and coming force in the counseling community, Tamara has been published in a textbook called Treatment Strategies for Substance and Process Addictions, and has sat on a panel at the American Counseling Association Conference, where she spoke to her peers on strategies and tools to use with clients struggling with eating disorders. Having a deep, personal understanding of what it takes to recover from this condition, she seeks to be an example to those she treats, to let them know that recovery is possible. Currently developing a podcast which addresses the cultural issues that promote body shame, self-esteem issues and eating disorders, Tamara lives in Vancouver, Washington, with her husband and best friend, Adam, enjoying life to the fullest with their two beautiful children, Jacob and Chloe.