Hi loves,

I'll be completely honest, when the lovely Hannah from REFRESH.ED approached me to share my story on their site, initially skepticism and fear took over. However, I knew that the power of connection lies within the ability to be vulnerable, open, and authentic. So I did it... and here it is...

with love,

A

photography curtesy of  Didier Creative

photography curtesy of Didier Creative

 

“it’s dark here, so dark, in this darkness lies a relief, no one can see me... no one can see how imperfect my skin is, how fat my body is, how when I laugh my entire face crinkles, wait... laugh?... I don’t laugh. I simply exist, lifeless, numb most of the time. It used to hurt, the darkness, it was a state I feared even when I was within the depths of it... now there is no more fear, it’s my constant state, it’s a stifling vortex that has no bottom. I just sit here blind by the shadows, basking in the deafening sound of my own misery” 

Here I am sitting in this beautiful cafe at the age of 28, re-reading old journal entries and stunned at how deep into the dark I was submerged. It’s like witnessing a terrible car accident, I didn’t want to keep reading, afraid of what I may see, but I simply could not turn my eyes away from the words that had poured from the depth of my pain onto the pages of this book that lie in front of me. 

I then realized that part of my healing was to share. For me sharing creates connection from a sincere place of vulnerability. This aspect of vulnerability is scary to me but what is more frightening is the thought of not sharing, the thought that I may slip back into that misery.

A catalyst is all that is needed to change one path forever, one event, simple, yet of great impact, significant enough to change the course of the successive events to follow. My catalyst? I am still unsure what that was, however I knew that it was something as simple as a word, which sliced my heart, this comment made by someone near to me, my mother, grandmother, cousin, sister, aunt, whoever it was it made me realize something at a very young age; that I was not good enough. My belief quickly was based upon the facts that I was not worthy of love, not worthy of health, not worthy of joy, nor worthy of a life unbound, a life of freedom. I was taught at a very young age that everything in life is conditional.

And so as a 12 year old ballerina began my physical depiction of this belief system, and thus began a struggle with a mental illness that would be stronger than I for many years to follow. I have lived the entirety of that spectrum; eating disorders, disordered eating, compulsive exercising, excessive restriction, excessive bingeing, and so on. This pattern was a cycle and I would continue to venture into for the following twelve years. 

The struggle of this mental illness is very real. It isn’t about the aesthetic element of the body. It’s about control, on a personal level. It’s about controlling the fluctuations of my mind, about calming the anxiety that had become so crippling to the point that I no longer had an opinion, a personality. I had lost all sense of self for fear that I was not good enough. Interestingly enough the method that I attempted to use to still my mind was the source of more pain, turmoil, grief, and fear. It spiraled me into the darkness.

My saving grace was and is my yoga practice, the entirety of my practice, the breath offers space, rhythm, pace, the stillness offers tranquility, ease, and the movement of body brings me the utmost expression of self. My practice brought me back to life.

I have the utmost reverence, respect, love, and humility for SATTVA and the community and to my teacher Rameen. Within that practice, that space, that community I found my most authentic self. It’s a continuous practice on a daily on the mat and in my life through and through. It has brought joy, love, love, love, and life back into my soul.  It brought me back from the dead.

Born a performer, I knew (and still do know) how to put on a great show, I refined the skill of wearing multiple masks. But no one can fool the practice, that was the correct dose of medicine that was needed for me, no running away only running towards. I often say that the path of yoga chose me, it had faith in me and believed in me. This is the trust that I rest into when the darkness surfaces again, it is that strength that I gather when my own has turned stale, and it is the softness that I rest into when I’ve become too rigid. The balance of this life for me is to acknowledge that all is impermanent at the exception of impermanence. All is left is to become buoyant, embodying the gracious quality of a river, ever flowing always moving, never holding.

Where am I now? I am here. There is much love, much joy, and an ability to become vulnerable within the complexities of said mental illness. No longer does it have it’s death grip on my heart. I feel free. And of course as anything it requires work, attention, and a choice to do the work. I know that a part of this journey of mine is to heal and what a blessing it is to have lived this life the way I have thus far. Gratitude and appreciation for life itself is where I land daily even after the hardest of days. 
 

With love,

-Amanda Bell-Tardif

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