Just bear with me here:
It snowed about 8 inches last night. The snow was incredibly wet and heavy, so 8 inches of snow compacted down to 4 inches. After the city plows came through and cleared the streets there was quite a bit of snow at the end of the driveway; and unfortunately, the temperature is predicted to drop over the next few days, so I had 2 choices 1. leave it and we’d have an ice rink at the bottom of the driveway or 2. go out and clear it. I decided it would be best to clear it, so I put on all of my winter clothes: my jacket, hat, scarf, snow pants, boots, and gloves, and I headed outside with the shovel.
As I walked down the driveway I looked at the amount of snow that needed to be cleared. It didn’t look like it would be that hard. It was a few feet wide and the length of the driveway. That should be no problem, right? Well, I was fooled. It didn’t seem like it should be that hard, but given the density of the snow and it being compacted down, it was extremely challenging.
I started on the right side, and made some good headway at the beginning but my arms got tired quickly. I had to shake the shovel a few times with each load, just to get the snow off the shovel because it stuck to the shovel. The snow was so thick that many times I had to ram the shovel several times on one spot just to get it under the snow. I switched from using my right hand to hold the end of the shovel to using my left hand, and then back again. I could feel the strain in my back. After several trials on the right side of the driveway, I decided to switch to the left side of the driveway. In the beginning it was going good, but again there was a spot that was so stubborn. I stopped what I was doing and looked at the section of snow left. I felt defeated. It didn’t look that big when I was first walking towards it, but now that I was in the thick of it, it seemed to triple in size. The difficulty of the task seemed impossible. I went out into the street and approached the snow from the other side. Yeah it was easier for a few shovelfuls but it wasn’t long before I was stuck and couldn’t get the shovel underneath the compacted snow again.
I stopped to catch my breath, put my chin on the handle of the shovel and leaned onto it. My breathing was rapid, my body sweating, I felt too tired to go on. I even let out a loud “urg, someone help me”. The sky was beginning to get darker by the minute and when I looked around, it was just me outside. Nobody was there to help me, I had to do it myself. Nobody was coming to finish it for me. Again, I wanted to “give up” but thought about the ice-skating rink we’d have at the end of the driveway, and then thought I need to finish it because I’m not a quitter and I know it will feel wonderful when it’s done.
This went on like this for about an hour. On the last couple shovelfuls, I looked at how far I had come and just the few piles I had left. I was so close. I needed to finish it at that point. There was no going back. And then, I was done. I did it! I looked at the end of the driveway and it was totally cleared. “I did that, I did it myself.” Yes, there were moment of questioning if I could do it or if I wanted to do it, but I pushed on through and didn’t quit. I didn’t give up even when it was hard.
This experience with shoveling the wet heavy snow parallels my journey from my eating disorder to my recovery. It was so hard at times. It was unbearable and seemed impossible at times. It was heavy and daunting. I had to attack it from different angles when I felt stuck. I had times that I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I screamed out to the world, even though there was nobody there to hear it. I wanted to just throw in the towel at times, but then what? Go back to the eating disorder? No way! I decided I was going to give it my all and try with everything that I had to turn my life around. I wanted without a doubt to be free from the suffering, from the self-hatred, from destroying myself and my body. And now looking back over the past 6 years of recovery, I am so happy I worked that hard and didn’t fall short of full recovery. If I didn’t continue trying as hard as I did, I wouldn’t be where I am today. If I threw up my hands and said it was to uncomfortable I wouldn’t experience the joy I feel today. If I came to believe I couldn’t, then I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I’m so proud to say I did it. I achieved recovery. I put in the hard work and I can reap the benefits now. And, that is what I want for everyone. Recovery: If I can do it, I know you can too.
So when things get tough, think about shoveling the snow and the amount of stamina and strength it takes, even when it seems impossible. You can conquer this and live life in recovery. I am here ready to support you and walk alongside you. Reach out today! I look forward to meeting you!
The Beyond Rules Recovery blog is written by people who are passionate about mental health and wants to spread the message of hope, resiliency, and recovery.