When I was 16, I sat down to figure out the piano music for a song I'd written. I became very frustrated and so I said to my mom, "Maybe I'll just write lyrics and sing and have someone else play the music," to which she replied, "But isn't that what you do?" So I went back to figuring it out.
When I was 28 and in the grips of an eating disordered relapse, I woke up on my parents' living room couch. My mom asked how my nutritionist appointment had gone the day before. I told her the highlights, to which she responded, "You're calling out of work today and calling treatment places." I said - and believed - that I didn't need to; that I was fine. She implied that I would not survive if I kept going the way I was going. So, I called out of work and started the process.
When starting to create a recovery book and music project, I told myself, "Jenn, this could be so much easier if you just make it a book. The recording piece is going to be so much extra work!" to which I responded, "But isn't that what you do?"
While in recovery, I asked myself how I wanted to identify - to which I responded, "Recovered," because I trusted that in time I could become free.
And in the wake of recovering fully, I reinstate to myself that I'd rather align with my advocacy than my eating disorder because, as an advocate, I recognize myself in the mirror.
Today I have my music intact, my project in full, and my recovery as a self-sustaining incentive for the former two.
I have been able to rebuild and expand upon my livelihood because I have had support. I have had support because I have used my voice to speak my truth in spite of my eating disorder's adverse wishes.
My eating disorder nested in my isolation. It took root in my hiding. It blossomed at the core of my shame. I saw no way out for a while. In fact, I didn't know that I even wanted to see a way out.
And when it came time to decide between my life and what I knew would result in my death, at first I merely chose survival. But in time - and with work, practice, and trust - I chose life. I wanted more of what was welling up within me. I wanted more of the world on which I had been sorely missing out.
I am marching for those who might not be ready to choose life just yet; I am marching for those who have chosen and are living life, and I am marching in honor of those who didn't get the chance to make that choice for themselves.
When we are sick, we often cannot discern, we often cannot make rational decisions all on our own. We need others to step in much of the time. And that is where these warriors come in. Thank you all for marching on behalf of a collective potential yet to be realized. Thank you all for marching on behalf of your families and friends. Thank you all for marching in honor of your selves because this fight can be cruel and you won't back down and you can say that with certainty.
We are not only fighting against eating disorders, but we are also rallying against the isolation upon which they thrive. When we march together, we become everything the eating disorder does not want us to be. The eating disorder's secrets are out and it has nothing on a force such as this.
I will be participating in this day in honor of my family, friends, and treatment team for instilling in me the message that I was capable of recovering fully. Thank you for believing in me with such conviction. It felt like radical conviction to me then, but I understand now that there was nothing radical about your belief in my recovery.
I will be performing because of the day my mom casually yet profoundly reinforced that, yes, "this is what I do." And I will be marching because she didn't let me march into work twelve years later - a mother's persistence for which I am eternally grateful.