The word called out to her in the distance.
She started to see elephants everywhere.
On peoples clothing.
On display in shops.
In people’s gardens as ornaments.
On TV programs.
On facebook feeds.
On necklaces around people’s necks.
On wrapping paper.
Elephants just kept turning up. Everywhere.
What was the sign she was supposed to be receiving?
FAT. GREY. WRINKLY.
That was the only definition that came to her mind. And the only definition full stop.
And those words were not helpful for someone who had endured a 25 year eating disorder.FAT – not a word allowed to be used. A despicable word. The unrelenting voice screaming about what to eat or not to eat, and how that would affect your body shape did not need any help or reminders.
GREY – hair that had the colour grey growing through, was unacceptable. It was not perfect. So it doesn’t count. It showed lack of discipline.
WRINKLY – indicates old skin when the age doesn’t match. If you are not ‘old’ enough to have wrinkly skin, then you don’t. Not perfect. Not suitable at all.
Fat. Grey. Wrinkly. Words best left for the description of an elephant.
A very large plant eating mammal with a prehensile trunk, long curved ivory tusks and large ears, native to Africa and southern Asia. It is the largest living land animal.
The elephant in the room
A major problem or controversial issue which is obviously present but is avoided as a subject for discussion. They’ve steadfastly ignored the elephant in the room,
Still nothing to do with her at all. But yet elephants kept appearing EVERYWHERE.
It was just a word. Elephant
A single unit of language that has meaning and can be spoken or written and functions as a principal carrier of meaning. Words are usually separated by spaces in writing, and are distinguished by phonics, and accent in many languages
And we can speak and hear anywhere between 7,000 and 20,000 words in a single day!
So if there are so many words in a single day, why did this one word have so much power?
She realised that words can leave a wound – like an arrow shot - and then pulled out. The arrow has been removed but the wound is still there. And many words can wound.
She also realised words can bring healing. Healing to those wounds. There must have been a wound to be affected.Fat.
Her perception of an elephant.
They are just words in themselves, but attach them to a wound and an incorrect perception of yourself – this can be very damaging. Perfect ground for ED to grow and flourish.
The wound was the pain of how she saw life and the things that had been done to her. The parents that separated. The feeling of not being safe. The words of you must do better. You must be thin to be powerful. You must succeed. You must. Must. Must. Always lifting the bar.
She realised it was never too late to start changing how she saw herself. Her perception of things. She could change the words she heard about herself. The words she used about herself.Guarding her heart and watching what is spoken over it. What she allowed to be spoken over it, either by others or the unrelenting voice of ED. Guarding her heart at all times.
She learned to speak new words over her heart and life. I am: -
Free to be me! At any size!
And a new perception of the word elephant.
Not easily offended
And an elephant is the only animal that has the capability to feel empathy. And that right there is a wonderful reason to love the sound of the word elephant. Empathetic – her heart for others in the same position that she had been in for so many years, bound to the suffocating lies of ED. Now she could keep encouraging others to stay the path. Choose life words. Hope. Persistence. Peace. Confidence. Courage.
Empathetic - A far cry from Fat. Grey. Wrinkly.Perception is everything. She was learning to see herself and the world from a place of healing simply by changing what words she allowed to affect her. Little by little she started to believe encouraging and uplifting words about her. Even if she had to speak them over herself. She was beautiful right where she was at. Today. Not having to wait for tomorrow. Or for someone else to speak them to her. All words are relevant to something, positive or negative.
She was allowed to choose what words described her.What words she listened to.She engraved this on her heart.
“If any word cost her peace, it was too expensive.”
And Elephant was well within her budget.
So she was able to liberally spread life words.
Hope is NOT elusive.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: AMANDA LONGAmanda Long resides in Cairns, QLD, Australia. Amanda known as Mandy, is a Coach/ Advocate who works with people to help them overcome anxiety, disordered eating, depression & losses in life. At Project HEAL, Mandy is dedicated to sharing her lived experience to get the word out that recovery is available and HOPE is not elusive. Mandy can often be found taking early morning strolls with coffee in hand, enjoying a good film and spending time with family & friends. Mandy’s favourite ice cream flavour is peanut butter chocolate. You can find more here: www.theexchangewoman.com.au