By Mandy Froelich, Life in Bloom

When I recount my healing journey, I oftentimes focus on the pain I inflicted upon myself through eating disorders, cutting, and emotional abuse at the young age of 15. In the time that has passed (over a decade), I have, for the most part, been able to heal the trauma and move forward with the knowledge that I have tools to help others which were gleaned from the experience. But recently, after experiencing a patellar dislocation and tears to nearby ligaments during a soccer game, I realized there is still plenty to process and work through.

It’s week two, and I experienced my second breakdown this week. Having to slow down is not normal for me. I am a go-go-go type person, and it’s through exercise, cleaning, and projects that I have – or thought I had – developed a flow for meshing with life. But while I was able to keep up with the insanities of this modern world, I had ignored integral truths about my health and state of mental well-being: I was pushing it.

Over the past ten years, I don’t think I’ve taken more than a solid week off from exercising. It was my tool to cope with anxiety. And though I knew that, and thought it was doing more good than harm (overall, because exercise is stressful on our bodies if overdone), I’ve had to come face-to-face with this truth and experience the repercussions.

If I’m being honest, I’ve suffered from a phobia of being too big for most of my life. As a 5’11” tall woman, I towered over most of my peers and potential boyfriend prospects in middle school and high school. It then became my mission to be “beautiful” and someone who was worthy of love. This was the root cause of my disordered relationship with food and the development of body dysmorphia (not seeing oneself as one truly is, rather through a lens of objectification).

After learning how to eat healthier and think of my body as a brilliant and active animal that needs to be taken care of, I made exercise a top priority. I love being active, and exercise isn’t a bad thing. However, the extent and intensity to which I clung to it now are easily realized to be unhealthy.

If I went for three days without moving my body, I would feel uncomfortable, annoyed, irritated, and depressed. I wouldn’t act like my best self, and I would often have less positive thoughts. If I exercised, the endorphins brought me back into a state of peace and my mind assured itself that “yes, that was a good thing. You did a good job.” Anxiety over.

…Or was it?

Due to the injury, I will be in crutches for another couple of weeks, followed by limited mobility while the soft tissue heals. It’s taking me three times as long to do normal things, like make food, bake cookies, and try and clean up after myself. This has resulted in a ton of humility and empathy, as well as a fresh perspective on where/how my body is, and my mental state.

This morning, I didn’t feel great. But, I got up and I did yoga, drank matcha, and meditated. There was a song that resonated with me in my heart, and it is Control. As soon as I listened to it (one of four times today), I burst into tears. It really, really comes down to trying to be a perfectionist and control every part of my life.

And the difficult-to-swallow part is, of course, that it will never be perfect. Our world is imperfect, and none of us are getting out unscathed. Life is messy, and trying to control it (thank you, OCD) through external forces is the root of my suffering.

I let myself cry for a while, and then I sat down on the floor next to my dog, Artemis. She was chewing on a toy, glancing at me through her heavily lidded brows. She seemed calm and care-free. And then, I went within.

Inside my heart, inside my body, inside my soul… I felt into the discomfort, the anxiety, and the anger that was building up in me. There wasn’t a root cause, so to speak. A lot of the emotional turbulence I had suffered in high school has largely been resolved. And, I am happier than I have ever been (great career, loving husband, tons of fur babies)…

Sometimes, it doesn’t necessarily need to make sense. That’s the part of just showing up. I gave my trust over to the Creator, Spirit, and let myself relax in the knowing that yes, I don’t want to lose control. However, I want to reside in a state of self-love and allowing far more than I want to chase perfection. And with that realization, it was like a dam released… and the anger and sadness that had been swallowing me let go.

What was curious, is that in that state of allowing and state of oneness, I experienced feelings of joy, freedom, and peace – which ultimately, is what I’m after when I go work out and move my body. But attaining that internally, without having to move anything, turned out to be a profound gift.

Hurting myself, learning that my workaholic tendencies and my over-exercising mentality were inhibiting my happiness and wellbeing, has been a major lesson of this year. I imagine many other people are going through similar, as we are learning how to shift out of a survival mentality and co-create abundance, hand-in-hand with the Creator.

“It’s time to let go,” Spirit whispered. And really, it is. I’m learning that as I slow down, my body is actually finding a happy homeostasis, is becoming less-inflamed, and overall, is shifting into a calmer mode.

I wasn’t aware that anxiety had me hurtling through projects and life. But now, with stillness, I’m learning that it’s not the end of the world to just be. And because everything in life and in the media is counter-intuitive to this thought, that’s why, I believe, it is so painful. Generations ago, no one would have blinked an eye if you spent all day on your back porch watching the sun lick the fields. But today, we have to be b-u-s-y… and we’ve lost touch and sight of the Flow that is rampant and easily perceived in nature yet entirely extinct in modern cities and homes.

Stillness reconnects us with Spirit and higher truths. Stillness forces us to give attention to the anxiety and depression which is feeding our day-to-day activities and long-term mental wellbeing. Stillness is the precursor to learning about who you are… and although it is uncomfortable, it is a great teacher.

Thank you for taking the time to read my account. I hope that on your journey, you find grace in stillness and feel supported on your path.


Mandy Froelich