Love is the oxygen of the Soul.” – Tony Robbins
I’ve been really struggling lately, bingeing more and more, slipping back into old destructive habits and thoughts, and as a result I have avoided writing on my blog, because quite honestly I feel like a failure. Then I realised something, if I don’t share all parts of me, of my struggles and successes in equal measure, how can I help to inspire others to change? If I can show it is possible to come out of a pattern of self hate and negativity, then maybe my experience won’t be for nothing, and someone else may just be able to show themselves some love and self compassion when they need it most.
My emotions have been slip sliding all over the place, with very little self compassion, deep anxiety and feelings of worthlessness. I am less obsessed these days in working out the why, as much as figuring a way out. That said I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to work out what’s behind this recent slide. With all the emotional turmoil from recent events which I wrote about in my last post I simply think I need to give myself some time to heal, both physically and emotionally. As battered and bruised as my body feels, my heart has taken a thumping too.
I’m not currently working which has seriously dented my self-confidence. I initially gave up my contract role after nearly five years to take a sabbatical with my husband, but this was followed by surgery and then numerous complications meaning that I’ve not been able to work until recently. I’ve been well enough to work for the last month or so but I have lost faith in my abilities and my heart feels lost and without purpose. I don’t want to go back and work in another soul sucking corporate job that drains the life out of me, no matter how well-paid it may be. I have a deep need for creativity in my life, as well as a desire to help others and am considering starting my own photography business, but I have been experiencing such paralysing self-doubt which has left me stuck in limbo, drifting with no direction and falling deeper and deeper into a state of loneliness and despair. The simple fact is I need to work again. I need to be surrounded by loving and nourishing souls. I need to contribute financially and whilst I enjoy time by myself I do not fare well if I am left alone for long as I have a tendency to ruminate too much.
My weight has really shot up due to the degree of my bingeing (even if I’m able to hide it relatively well) which just feeds this constant feeling of self-doubt and worthlessness. I am going on holiday in a few weeks with some friends and the idea of being almost naked by the pool just fills me with dread. They will be able to see all my glaringly obvious flaws and wobbly bits. What am I really worried about, that they will think less of me somehow because I don’t look “normal”? As such I keep panicking into dieting, with all its rigidity and rules (which in itself feels like a deserving punishment) and then I rebel against this and inhale whatever junk food I can, which is more punishment, just a different flavour.
I truly believe that the only way to get off this roller-coaster is to stop dieting, to stop obsessing about food and weight loss. The desire for weight loss is nothing more than a huge statement of self rejection. That somehow I’m not good enough as I am, that I have to be perfected, refined, trimmed to be considered whole. This is not the life I want any more. When I started this journey of self-healing, all I wanted was to learn to love and accept myself just as I am. Irrespective of my size or how wobbly my thighs are.
putting theory into practice
I have been seeing an amazing therapist for over a year and it has been a real safe haven for me to be able to explore all the various feelings I have about my body and myself, but until recently I’ve not been actively bingeing, so to a large degree it’s all been theory, and not practice. And now I truly get the importance of giving up dieting. I wasn’t convinced when my therapist said she didn’t want me to lose any weight, that it was important I just maintained, and gave up dieting if I wanted to have therapy. For the most part that is exactly what I have done which in itself is a huge victory. I am a serious nutritional nerd, with a plethora of health books on my shelves. I’m that passionate about it I have even considered becoming a nutritionist to help people understand about simply eating, real, whole, nutrient dense food instead of the revolting processed frankenfoods that masquerade in our supermarkets as nutrition. I can lose weight like a champion but I can also gain weight like a champion. And when I mean gain or lose, I mean gaining/loosing 50-100lbs at a time in a very short period of time. This cycle is far, far, far more dangerous and damaging to my health than just maintaining an overweight body. So for me to have maintained my weight for more than a year is actually a huge deal and something I should be proud of.
Instead all I’ve been doing is freaking out at how my body is hideous, wobbly and surely going to repel the entire universe if they get to see it unclothed. That is not a healthy belief system to support self-compassion and self-love. It’s probably not exactly a surprise that I haven’t been able to pick up my camera, I just haven’t wanted to look at myself. And I feel so disconnected from the amazing photography community that I had become an active part of, that have been so key to my journey. Instead I’ve been stood on the sidelines, feeling too scared to join in.
I’ve also been deeply touched by the story of Zach Sobiech who sadly passed away last week at the tender young age of 18, having battled cancer throughout his teens. His moving story has made headlines the world over for his simple message, which has hit me like a ton of bricks.
You don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living.” – Zach Sobiech
I felt ashamed and guilty. Here was this incredible young man having to face his own mortality way before his time, and yet living and embracing his life more fully than I was. No more! I want to stop obsessing about the size and shape of my body, to jump in and live my life fully, messy and imperfectly. I spent most of my twenties watching everyone else have fun, whilst I stayed indoors becoming more paralysed by fear and reclusive as the years went by. I missed friends weddings, birthdays and numerous other events and celebrations. I wasn’t living, I was existing. Whilst I haven’t fallen back into quite that state, I have wanted to avoid seeing people, I’ve really had to force myself to go out, to participate in life, and every time I do, without fail I’ve enjoyed it. Fear is part of life, but I do not want it to control me any more, so whilst listening to Zach’s beautiful melody tugs on my heartstrings that he is no longer here, his song reminds me to live, to embrace life.
I’m done wallowing in this state of sadness, this constant feeling of self-rejection. Whilst my intention is to nourish my body and improve my health with whole foods, I will no longer direct my energy on weight loss. If it happens it happens, and if it doesn’t, well then it just doesn’t. I am done with tormenting and torturing myself every day about how I look and how imperfect I am. In fact I’m so over hearing every woman I know berating herself, or discussing the latest diet she’s on, or how much weight she’s lost or gained. It’s actually really, really boring, and I don’t want to be part of that gang any more. I want to be part of the “my body’s got wobbly bits, yet I’m still hot and yes, I DO love myself” gang. I want to be part of a collective of women who are celebrating all of themselves, embracing their imperfections and boldly living the life of their dreams. I want to care and nurture my body, I want to feed it so it feels healthy and whole again. I want to fill my heart with gratitude and courage and to bravely take steps towards my dreams, even when they scare the shit out of me.
embracing my flaws
My new focus and goal is going to be self acceptance. I have on many levels known that self acceptance was really the only true way out of my eating disorder, but I guess I needed a reminder. I don’t have it all figured out yet, I’m sure there will be bumps in the road, but then that’s life, so I’ll just have to learn how to ride it out. For now I’ve joined a support group where I can really discuss the details of my struggles and share how I’m feeling, knowing that they understand and supporting each other. I happened by chance to come across Stefanie Nielsen’s YouTube video and was drawn to her calming and soothing energy, and she has created a wonderful and supportive community. I also came across a recommendation from Brené Brown for Tara Brach’s book ‘Radical Acceptance’ and I feel drawn to its message;
For many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much–just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work–to make us feel that we are not okay. Beginning to understand how our lives have become ensnared in this trance of unworthiness is our first step toward reconnecting with who we really are and what it means to live fully.
So for now I just wanted to release the jumble of thoughts that have been swirling around in my head for a while. I need to acknowledge them, without criticism give space to how I’m feeling, and accept that life is sometimes a struggle. The fact that I’m writing again is a good sign though as I tend to want to shy away and hide when I’m really struggling so whilst I’m not over the bump yet, I’m prepared to ride it out and get to the other side.
I truly want to get to a place of peaceful self acceptance where I feel grounded in the knowledge that who I am and what I do is good enough, that the size of my arse has no relevance on my self-worth. I want to embrace all parts of me, wobbly thighs and all and stand firm in the belief that I am beautiful. Just. As. I. Am.