As a young kid, I used to love to sing a specific folk song during camping trips. I learned it during a preschool lesson: It was called, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”
In the song, a troupe of confident adventurers sets out to track a bear, but environmental obstacles pop up along the way. During the trek, our protagonists hit a deep, cold river; thick, oozy mud; a big, dark forest; a swirling, whirling snowstorm and a narrow, gloomy cave.
They face each impediment head on, saying, “We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it — oh no, we have to go through it.”
In my eating disorder recovery, I thought of this children’s song constantly. When I was learning to eat again, I’d sit down and stare at my plate for an hour, thinking of all the ways I could excuse myself from the situation. But the reality was that I just had to eat what was on my plate, as hard as it was, because that was the only way I could press on with my life.
In accompanying therapy sessions, I adopted the same technique when I felt a difficult emotion or intrusive thought clouding my mind. I couldn’t push it aside, I couldn’t let myself feel bad about the way I was feeling and I couldn’t pretend like it wasn’t happening. I had to confront it, because that’s the only way I could learn to cope and heal when it inevitably happened again.
It’s such a perfect metaphor for pushing through the uncomfortable and demotivating bits of a journey to reach the end.
I couldn’t go over it, I couldn’t go under it — oh no, I had to go through it.