Freedom Friday: My Definition of Freedom

Every Friday, I am going to write about freedom. I want to focus on obtaining freedom, what it means to be free, and sharing my journey of what I became free from on my own quest of recovery. Today, I want to focus on what freedom means to me.

Choosing recovery meant choosing freedom. When I committed to letting go of the anorexia, I composed a Declaration of Independence. In it, I agreed to standing on my own and dissolving the bond between it and me that was controlling my every action, thoughts, and emotions. At the time it was a rough, short version. It only included the bare minimum, what I felt I could handle, deserved, and gain at the time. It included my reasons for separation, why I was making the decision to live an independent life. Every day, it got revised. My freedoms increased. My rights and liberties as a woman living in recovery grew. The conditions for its rightful removal grew. My rules against the presence of the anorexia were added to, increasing what it no longer is allowed to do or control in my life. By signing that doctrine, I was agreeing to living on my own terms, in freedom, in health, in happiness, making my own decisions, having control over my life, and permanently severing the anorexia from myself.  I was agreeing to living in hope. I was agreeing to freedom from not only the anorexia but from the scale, from behaviors, from negative self talk, and from losing myself. 

Freedom to me is such a powerful word with so much meaning and depth. It represents so much more than just being free. Freedom is being you without anyone’s permission. It is about learning to not let what others say define you or to take things personally. It is having the ability to not let the opinions of others rob you of your own. It is about expressing yourself, being who you were meant to be, living in accordance with your heart instead of conforming to who you feel the world wants. It is found when you let go of who you feel you are supposed to be and become who you really are. It is about speaking your mind with authority and being confident in your voice, refusing to be silenced or filled with fear of opening up.

Freedom is self acceptance.  It is the right to be different and stand out. It is being comfortable in who you are so as to not change and lose your identity, to stop being a chameleon. It is loving who you are unconditionally. It is the ability to make mistakes, to have flaws and be loved by yourself just the same. It is being free of judgment from others and yourself by your actions, thoughts, and emotions. It is being able to accept you and others for who they are without trying to understand all that you and they are, just content with you and them and what you and they bring to this world.

Freedom is listening to your heart. It is doing what makes you happy. It is following your dreams and passions with nothing holding you back. It is believing in yourself and your capabilities to accomplish all you have envisioned for yourself. It comes from learning to silence the negativity and doubt, only letting in the positivity and hope into your life. It comes from letting go of what weighs you down; people, thoughts, events, the past. It is about not letting the past affect your future and tarnish the beauty of the moment. It is about having the ability to relish in the now without the fear of what lies ahead or the shame of what lies behind.

Freedom is learning to let go of the things you cannot control. It comes from relinquishing the need to manage every aspect of life and others. It is realizing that life is going to unfold the way it was meant to happen and people are going to act in their own way. But you have the ability to choose your attitude in any circumstance. You have the power to decide how to react and your emotions. You decided what to make of the circumstance and how it will help you grow. Freedom is recognizing it is in your ability to find the good and bring light to all. It is gaining peace of mind.

Freedom is flying with no limitations. It is about flapping your wings into the unknown, being bold and taking chances in the world knowing you may falter, get worn out, and not land in a place you imagined. Freedom is living life without fear controlling you. Freedom is taking chances with the risk of failing. There can be no real freedom without the freedom to fail. And failing is inevitable in life. There will be many barriers amidst your flight to your dreams. But freedom is understanding that what is in your way is part of the way getting you to where you need to be and then choosing to overcome it.

Freedom is not voluntarily given by the oppressor. The anorexia wasn’t going to hand it over to me. It wasn’t going to easily let me sign my Declaration of Independence. I had to demand it. I had to work for it. I had to realize I deserved it and fight for it. Freedom was not acquired without many battles, some the anorexia won and some I did. It was me though who ultimately won the war. I walked away with many battle wounds to prove the fight, but I wear them with honor and pride. They gave me my freedom. They display my strength, my faith, and my determination. I learned through it all that the only way to deal with the unfree world of anorexia was to become so absolutely free that my very existence was an act of rebellion, that it overpowered the eating disorder and was forceful enough to obliterate it from my life. It has become not just about breaking away my chains but also living in a way to break them off of others.

Freedom comes with great responsibility. It needs to be nurtured. It needs to be preserved. The anorexia is a power hungry dictator. It wants its country back desperately. It hates not being in power anymore and controlling me. It makes that well known every day by trying to creep into my thoughts and slip back into its role of power conspicuously so I will not be aware it is back or dictating my decision making. However, it fails every time to take over again completely. Knowing what freedom is, what it feels like, what it has given me leaves me well aware when it is no longer there. It becomes exhausting keeping the freedom, maintaining a life of recovery, but it is all worth it. The blessings and beauty it brings outshine all the difficulties. I never regret declaring my independence and signing my declaration.  

Today, I encourage you to create your own Declaration of Independence. Write out the freedom you want to obtain, the life you dream of living apart from any negative force, the stipulations of maintaining freedom, the conditions and rules directed towards the dictator in your life to stay away, and your reasons for breaking free. Then, put your John Hancock on that paper and begin a life in freedom, commit to recovery, and allow hope to invade your newly unoccupied mind and body.  

Love,light, and bravery, J.L.