What Comfort Zone?

Words by: Gracie Mayer

Nothing about our friendship has ever been conventional.

I met Morgan at Insight Behavioral Health Eating Disorder Partial Hospitalization Program. To be honest we didn’t talk a whole lot. I was gregarious and cracked jokes to distract myself from the fact that my life stopped yet again to go to treatment. Morgan painted, created, journaled and was more reserved about sharing in larger group settings. I always admired Morgan’s authentic and modest creative flair from a distance. I remember feeling connected to her without exchanging many words, but I couldn’t really put my finger on why.

I remember the day that Morgan was scheduled to share her story in group I was taken out of group for an individual therapy session; I was disappointed because I yearned to get to know Morgan on a deeper soul level but again couldn’t really put my finger on why.

Little did I know… about three weeks later I would decide to leave the program and attempt to build an outpatient team for myself, and Morgan and I would decide to go out for coffee just to chat. I honestly can’t even remember what we talked about… but I remember that we agreed to meet the next week, and the week after that, and then the week after that. Before we knew it, coffee meetups turned into breakfast meetups, and we picked a local spot where we became regulars.

Morgan once shared with me that she has moments where she feels that her Higher Power, or God, comes to her  through events, experiences, places, people etc. She calls these moments “Blue Moments.” Morgan is aware of the beautiful spiritual connectivity of all things and loves to notice the synchronicity of life and its orchestration–something we have in common:). It is no wonder to me that our local breakfast spot was called Blue Max in Oak Park, IL. Blue Max soon became the home of countless “blue moments”; in fact, our entire friendship has been a “blue moment.” When Morgan and I would come together, it was almost as if our eating disorders knew that they were not welcome in our space. It was as if our collective energy acted as a force field shielding us from the destruction and manipulation of our eating disorders.

When Morgan and I met up, we would talk about life, dreams, hopes, spiritual awakenings and our higher callings. I truly attribute so much of my outpatient success to these weekly meetings because they continually reminded me of how much abundance and meaning my life holds. These meetings reminded me consistently of my higher purpose, diminishing the power and need for my eating disorder. Chicago is the city where I chose recovery for myself, reclaimed myself and this “blue friendship” has been part of the foundation that has made that possible. It seemed like time began to fly and suddenly the dreams and hopes that Morgan and I spoke of over granola parfaits and oatmeal became realities.

Morgan said, “Hey you should get your scuba license so we can dive together…there is nothing more magical than floating suspended in an ocean surrounded by only the sound of your breath as you witness the world under the surface of the vast horizon.”

So I did.

And we dove.

We traveled to Key West and dove lagoons.

We traveled to Key Largo and dove beautiful reefs.

So I said to Morgan: “You know…there is a music and yoga festival in Costa Rica called Envision…it would take a lot of planning (which I suck at) but I can’t think of anyone I would rather experience this with then you.”

So we did.

We traveled to Costa Rica to sleep in a tent under the starry skies of the Uvita rainforest–rising early in the morning to do yoga and dancing to drumming circles on the beach as the sun set.

So Morgan and I both love the band Nahko and Medicine for the People. We heard of a music festival timed with “The Great American Solar Eclipse” in 2017. The festival would be in southern Missouri–a point where totality of the eclipse could be witnessed.

So we went.

I flew in to Chicago from Florida.

We drove 7 hours.

We witnessed the totality of the solar eclipse together.

So Morgan and I wanted to plan another dive trip and I said to Morgan: “You know, there is this hostel in Georgia called, The Hostel in the Forest where you stay in treehouses…we could stop there in between dives.”

So we went.

We drove 5 hours into the forests of southern Georgia to sleep in treehouses at night and wander amongst the trees during the day.

Comfort Zone? What Comfort Zone?

Anyone who has battled an eating disorder understands that eating disorders, more often than not, THRIVE on monotony, safe zones, rules, and rigidity. When stepping into recovery, many face the challenge of stepping out of these rules and “zones” that the eating disorder has built–don’t eat this, don’t go there, don’t travel (who knows what you might have to eat), don’t go visit your friend (who knows what her schedule is like and what if you can’t exercise), don’t dare, don’t dream, don’t rest, don’t try something new. Recovery for me is synonymous with the word freedom. For me recovery has been a constant fight to regain and reclaim my freedom, spontaneity and zest for life. I want to take risks, travel, stay up late, dance on the beaches of a foreign country, dive 70 feet into caves, caverns and reefs of the wide ocean. I want to choose what I do, where I go and how I live without dictation from an eating disorder that would rather watch me shrink and wither.  The “blue friendship” I have with Morgan is truly a divine intervention brought to propel me into my recovery–my freedom. This friendship has and always will be a space where our eating disorders are not welcome to exist because we will be too busy LIVING; we will be too busy keeping each other so far out that we cannot even see an outline of the “comfort zones” our eating disorders have promised would bring us safety and happiness.

This is not to say that Morgan and I have had a friendship of travel, adventure and bliss without any hardships. What makes our friendship so blue in my mind is the fact that we have been friends through some extremely heart-wrenching and life-altering moments. Each of us has experienced different hardships–heartbreaks, changes, loss, grief, and illness. However, these hardships have only served to highlight the purpose and synchronicity of our friendship even more.

Recently Morgan and I were asked: “How long have y’all been friends?”

Our answer in unison: “Probably several lifetimes.”

This lifetime we seem to be focusing on keeping each other as far away from “the comfort zone” as possible.  There is a knowing deep within us that what lies outside “the comfort zone” is magic–the highest vibration of the soul, the meaning of our existence, and the depth of human experience that connects us to all beings and all beauty.

Morgan is turning 24 today–her golden birthday! 24 years old on October 24th. Morgan has already accomplished so many dreams; but, there is nothing comfortable about starting a movement to bring awareness to mental health. There is nothing comfortable about sharing your story time and time again, hoping that someone, somewhere will not feel quite as alone. There is nothing comfortable about how Morgan has chosen to live her life and serve her highest calling. Morgan doesn’t just do it… I guess you could say she just blues it.

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