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The ANGELS Around Us…
by Denise Kirschner

Have you ever looked around? Not just glance, but really looked to see what is real. I did…I saw my family, immediate and extended, my friends some old, some new, some near, some far…my doctors and therapists… all whom give me the support, strength, love, and peace to fight for my life, my recovery. But then I looked deeply and saw hidden blessings. I saw people in all areas of my life who believe in me, who love me unconditionally, and hold onto hope for me. There were more than I ever could have ever imagined. They are the people I see frequently at Whole Foods, at Starbucks or at the Claypen where I paint pottery. They are the people who were one-time chance encounters in places such as Nordstrom, Crate and Barrel, or Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires. I hold them close to my heart as their actions and words have made all the difference…they are my angels

random-acts-of-kindness Every morning I go to Starbucks. I may not know all the baristas’ names, but I know their stories. One woman is getting married this weekend at an old rustic barn… another woman is excited, for the first time ever, she received stellar grades on college level courses… and Meghan will hopefully be returning soon… Over time, these women have learned my story. The past few years, I have met many people who inexplicably feel safe to tell it to; through that, I have found comfort and acceptance. The baristas know that it is a fear of calories that drives my decision to always order a black coffee, even though I might desire an extra foam latte or a delicious frappuccino. When they see me in the middle of the day, rather than first thing in the morning, they know I had to take the day off from work due to anxiety.   They know… these are days I sip slowly on my venti iced coffee, and spot something extra on the cup. There are hearts, the word love or maybe the word beauty drawn all across the back. They show their love, their concern, their care… They are my angels.

I love to shop… I was wandering through the accessories department in Nordstrom’s not sure what I was looking for, but I knew I wanted something. I had just come home from treatment and was struggling to accept my body. I wanted to shop, but was scared to go to the clothing department. So I decided to start small and shop for shoes, sunglasses, a handbag… That is when Kerri-Anne approached me. She wanted to know what I was looking for; she wanted to help. As we looked at sunglasses, I found myself sharing, telling her my journey at treatment, and my hesitation to shop. She listened and offered to help… two years later, I still feel safe with her.   She helps me buy clothes that will fit once I restore all the necessary weight. She helps me see my body without judgment; she hears my fears, and validates my feelings. I trust her, my mind trusts her, my body image trusts her… She is my angel.

kindness1On most afternoons, I shop at Whole Foods and stop by the seafood counter. These men, these fish mongers, are pivotal when it comes to my eating dinner. During the past two years I have learned… Dave is studying to be a respiratory therapist…Tristan gets Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day off from work to ride in the Humvee as part of his army unit…Charlie moved to Hyannis and Paolo, he loves his morning runs. They know me… they know I am a reading specialist and work in a K-8 building; they know I love to read and relax by the pool. They also know my story, my eating disorder, my anxiety. They see it and I do not hide it. When I am told to increase calories and need to order “x” ounces of fish rather than what I would prefer, they encourage me with their words. The nights where I would rather not eat, they offer suggestions and spark my interest. They do not judge. In fact they do so much more as they distract me from my unease with their witty banter and delightful stories. I feel their support and love, as they guard my recovery for me … They are my angels.

As I have seen these blessings in my life, I am deeply moved. There are no emotions or words to describe the warmth that swells in my heart and the serenity that fills my mind when I see them. Many times, I turn around and cry… tears of surprise, gratitude, and happiness. Even through the mire, they see me as a beautiful, confident, independent woman; they see me, Denise. Their words, glistening eyes, acts of kindness, quiet smiles, and loud encouragement give me more strength, more courage, more energy to move forward and fight… And on those days where the struggle seems unbearable, they believe in me, when I cannot. They are truly irreplaceable…they are truth…they are love. They are my recovery angels….

My name is Denise and This is Where I Stand.