Disfrutar la frutilla

History was never my best subject in school. I zoned out during lectures and could never force myself to finish the assigned readings. Still, I remember random tidbits of information that were drilled into me. For example, I know that the Battle of Saratoga is considered the turning point of the American Revolutionary War. If you asked me to explain why, I would probably mumble something about the French and then quickly change the subject. Despite my lack of historical expertise, I am quite taken with the concept of a turning point. A turning point is a moment in which a person’s direction changes. Their path takes on new scenery. I experienced a turning point yesterday when I experienced something incredible. Let me rewind a little bit. About seventeen months ago, I started struggling with Binge Eating Disorder. I didn’t have the words for my disorder until eight months ago, but I have learned so much since then. I am an undergraduate student from the United States studying abroad in Ecuador this semester. In my psychology course (sicología: sexualidad y atracción), we did an exercise in mindfulness. My professor gave every student a strawberry and asked us to sit comfortably in our seats. With her guidance, we began to breathe deeply and relax our muscles. We felt the state of our bodies and minds and slowed down our breathing. She asked us to pick up our strawberry and feel its texture. With my fingers, I twirled the strawberry slowly and took note of the way it felt on my skin. I noticed the tiny bumps resulting from its seeds, the unique shape of my own strawberry, and the difference between the body and the leaves. She then asked us to rub the strawberry and hold it near our ear to hear its sounds. I acknowledged the way my hand moving against its solid form created a soft sound that I could only hear because of its closeness to my ear. She asked us to smell the strawberry. I brought it close to my nose and breathed deeply. It was so lovely. The smell was pleasurable without even tasting it. She asked us to bring the strawberry to our lips and feel with our mouths the texture of this delightful fruit. Finally, she gave us the green light to eat the strawberry. I took small bites, relishing each one, maximizing the amount of area in my mouth that the bite reached, chewing slowly to truly enjoy the experience. I must have taken at least ten bites before the strawberry was gone, beginning the process of digestion inside my own body. After this exercise, I began to reflect. The purpose was to serve as an analogy to a lesson in sexuality we were discussing, but I related it to my battle with eating. What if I ate every food with the intent to truly enjoy it? What if I slowed down, breathed, and focused on the present moment in my life? How might things be different? With food, if I slowed down, I bet I would not binge the way that I have before. Many of my binges could be characterized by the intense speed by which I literally stuffed my mouth with food. I want this experience to be a turning point. I want to slow down and employ mindfulness. Even more, I want to talk about my struggle. I hope that by writing about my experiences, I can help my own recovery process while also helping others in their own recovery processes. I already have a long story to tell and my recovery is a future life-long journey of working towards health and happiness. Disfrutar la frutilla translates as “to enjoy the strawberry.” Let’s slow down, enjoy the strawberry, and regain a sense of self-worth and contentedness that we have lost somewhere along the way. Feel free to contact me at bingerecovery11@gmail.com.

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