While I’ve been having a lot of thoughts swirling in my head lately about my recovery and my relationship to food, I confess I can’t focus on them today.

I was late in finding out about yesterday’s events in Newtown, CT and it was well into the afternoon before I knew what had happened. I sat at my computer and cried while I learned about what had happened. Then, I dried my eyes and continued with my day.

I’ve spent many years learning how to separate myself from the anguish of others because I have the natural inclination to be swept away by it. My training as a psychotherapist taught me how to use my natural empathy to help others but also how to protect myself from getting lost in the grief of others.

I spent the rest of the day yesterday wrapping Christmas presents, tending to my own children, making dinner, doing the bedtime routine, getting some paperwork done, doing some baking, and making plans for the weekend’s play dates for my kids.

I was busy.

I was ok.

Until bedtime.

My husband and I went to bed and turned on the NFL Network. One final attempt to insulate us from the pain of the days events. But, in the quiet darkness of our room, watching a countdown of the best running backs of the 1980s wasn’t enough to keep the demons at bay. I lay there feeling sick to my stomach as the reality of the day’s events flooded over me.

We found ourselves periodically blurting out random sentences, too emotionally shocked to form coherent thoughts. We held each other and wondered how it could feel so bad when we don’t live in CT, we know none of the victims. We are, in theory, immune to these events.

I’m not going to get into the politics of the situation. That’s not what this blog is for. But, I can’t ignore the effect this is having on me. It’s times like these that I feel as though my eating disorder, my struggles with food, my distorted body image, and my frustration with family who keep offering me candy and cake is utterly petty.

You know what? I’m healthy. I’m happy. I have a husband who loves me and whom I love. I have parents, and a sibling, and in-laws who are imperfect but love me. My children are happy and healthy and safe. At least for today.

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted a quote on Facebook from one of my personal heroes:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

That’s what I am. I’m a helper. I chose to spend my life as a helper, either with my clients, or students, or my family, and friends.

Today my eating disorder pales in comparison to the struggles of 26 families in Connecticut. But for today, sticking to my plan gives me the clarity to be a helper.

To show compassion.

To offer a hand.

To work towards making things a little bit better in the arena I have.

My higher power is granting me this and other gifts.

I will not hold on to them.

For today I will pass them on.