This post was written by Adrienne Kerrigan. She is a Boston-based eating disorder expert and recovery coach. You can learn more about her here! In this post she shares with us why she loves working in the field of eating disorders as well as how her clients inspire her. Take it away Adrienne!
As we head into National Eating Disorder Awareness week I can’t help but think about all of the clients who have crossed my path over the years.
When Marci asked me to write a blog post, she told me the topic was anything from the heart. So, looking for some inspiration, I reached for my “why I do what I do box”. This is a box filled with thank you notes, items, and trinkets given to me by my clients over the years. While reading some old cards I found myself laughing, tearing up, and wondering what my clients are doing in their fabulous lives now. Some cards were a gentle thank you, some funny, but all of them are fearless reminders of why I choose to do the work that I do.
The quote, “Everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student” came to mind. Just as I hope that I have imparted some wisdom onto my clients, they too have shared their knowledge that has made me a better person. Some of my most valuable life lessons have come from interactions with my clients.
One of my most treasured moments with a client was while working at an eating disorder treatment program a few years ago. It was just before dinner and my client jetted for the door in a fury. Going out to evaluate the situation, I asked her what was going on. She responded, “you don’t understand”. I stood there, a bit puzzled, searching for the correct words, and then said, “you’re right, I don’t”. She sat down on the stoop quietly for a moment and then said, “thank you for not saying that you understand, or that you get what I am going through, because situations are never the same”. So, we sat. We sat together, watching the sunset over the trees. Just sitting. Breathing. Just being in the moment with one another. At the time I think I thought I was supposed to have the ‘right’ words, or know what to say, when really all I needed to do was be myself, be there, and allow for the connection with another human being. Allowing that connection shifted both of our energies and thoughts. We both took some deep breaths, and together went in for dinner.
That moment taught me something about myself, and for that lesson I am grateful. I am grateful for all of the interactions I have had with my clients. Whether the experiences have been challenging or humorous, they have provided opportunities for me to grow as a human. My clients have truly been my teachers. They have taught me more than they could ever realize. They have been strong, powerful, determined, beautiful women. I have felt privileged when I have been present for the moment when clients have recognized these gifts within themselves.
I am tremendously grateful for all of the clients that have crossed my path, because they were meant to. Some have crossed my path several times over the years, and some only for a short period of time. Each interaction has been a valuable one. I am forever grateful for the lessons they have taught me in vulnerability, compassion, passion, perseverance, and strength.
My hope is that one day my clients, and other men and women struggling with eating disorders, recognize the gifts they have within themselves. The gifts they have so generously shared with me. I feel honored each day I am able to work with a client to overcome their eating disorder or other obstacles they feel are blocking them from finding their true selves. Because without the lessons I have learned from them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I have tremendous gratitude and appreciation for the wonderful clients and colleagues that I continue to learn from on this journey. I am eternally grateful to all of them who help make me a better person each day, and I thank them for being such inspirational teachers in my life and to those who’s paths they cross.