**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
While navigating her own recovery journey at The Emily Program, Teresa Schmitz discovered a hidden gift in being known as a great listener with a compassionate heart. Being earmarked as an IT Leader who was more into the people on her teams than the technology they were building, she realized her purpose was beyond her title. She connected the dots and soon realized her purpose was to help empower others. She pursued her dreams of becoming a coach and launched her own coaching business, My Best Self Yet. She now helps women feel empowered to navigate the journey of loving themselves unconditionally. She also empowers others to know and use their character strengths in the In It Together group coaching program. Learn more about Teresa’s story and follow My Best Self Yet on Facebook, Instagram, and her blog.
Before treatment, I’d been searching for a lost soul.
I looked for her in everything I did and in everyone around me. I chased after my career as if I’d find her there—as if my soul and my work were one and the same. I chased after other people’s lifestyles because I thought their lives were better than mine, especially if their bodies were smaller than mine.
I could not find peace within myself because my eating disorder had convinced me I wasn’t worthy enough. If you keep chasing, you’ll eventually find her is what my eating disorder convinced me. We can’t find our souls in a job or another human being (I know this now), and I was exhausted from years of trying. By the time I entered treatment, I was exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally.
It took months of treatment to peel back all these layers and to realize (and believe) I was worthy. On a summer night in June, seven months into treatment, I felt a sense of peace wash over me and words poured out of my soul as if I’d discovered the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I took time to write a poem to myself. It went like this:
You walk into a room
And my eyes light up.
It’s like I just want to zoom
All my attention to you. I want to be you.
I can’t help but notice
All your beautiful features –
Your caring heart, your soothing voice,
Your gentle touch, your ever-flowing kindness.
I look into the mirror expecting to find
Someone else and yet I look deep
Into your eyes and realize it’s you.
You who looks like a beautiful human being.
You who’s been here all along. It’s you.
Yes you, Teresa Joan Schmitz!
It’s you I’ve wanted to be for years.
It’s you I’ve been trying to find for years.
It’s you. You’re here. Right before my eyes.
Yes, it’s really you.
Journaling and drawing became an avenue for me during my journey. Sometimes words just flowed out of me. Other times, I was stuck. But I kept showing up for myself in those words, even when I was stuck. I wanted to feel worthy standing next to anyone. And now, I’m so proud to say that I do feel worthy no matter what my job title is or who I’m standing next to.
I no longer search for my soul in my career or in other people. I’ve found her within.
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