Be Your Own Hero

I’ve been binge watching ‘Medal Of Honor’ on Netflix lately. I am astounded by the resilience of the human spirit when called into action and the defense of our country. The pure bravery these men and women have shown in their lifetime is nothing short of miraculous. I’m beyond impressed by the accounts of these soldiers, who at any age, courageously decided to show up for themselves and several others in their care and take on the charge of defending them… even to the death.

If you’ve followed along with me for any length of time on this blog journey you’ll soon recognize one of my chief passions. We have to get aggressive about owning our worth and take on the charge of personal warfare over our internal dialogue. As if our lives depend on it.

I have lived my life with a steady diet of poisonous internal thoughts and doubts about my true beauty. I imagine some of you have suffered the same to varying degrees. It’s been a battle for me to say the least. There are so many things in society that try to coach us into believing that beauty is defined by measurable factors. I don’t know exactly where all the turning points were along the way, but I took the bait. I adopted the thought that if I could control my weight, and therefore what others see, then people would find me acceptable. It sounds so stupid now when I read that. But, the truth is – that was an insidious lie that I believed that began as the size of a mustard seed. That tiny seed, once watered with a little trash talk here and there about my body, carried along with it an eating disorder and shame that grew to the size of Texas. The ground in my mind was overwhelmed by an enemy of truth.

What if we treated ourselves with the same level of valor that those men and women showed up with on the battlefield? What if we stood guard at the gates of our mind as if our lives depended on it? What if we stood up to society’s standards and told ourselves that we are worth so much more? Not all of us will stand and fight on an actual battlefield with literal bullets and bombs flying overhead. But, if you can roll with me for a second I’d say that when we allow trash talk about ourselves, or our bodies, to pound through the corridors of our mind it’s as if we are in a fight for our lives. The negative internal chatter that we’ve become accustomed to is like streaming bullets to our spirit. They are destructive bombs that we drop on our true worth and they can wreak havoc.

Be your own hero. Today. Your value, your beauty, your whole entire being is worth fighting for. Stir your vigilance. Stand at the gate of your mind as a watchman. Defend your ground against negative self talk. Do not let so much as a tiny poisonous thought gain entrance.

I believe in us and the power to protect our worth and to choose to believe our beauty is so beyond a measurable means. Our lives and those under our care depend on it.

What I Would Tell My 10 Year Old Self

I was 10 years old. I sat outside my dance studio on a much needed break from the four hours of classes I had back to back. I remember the sun beaming on my face. I sat with a friend on the curb. We started talking about our bodies and how I wished I was thinner (Reminder: I was 10). I was already inundated with a sense of body consciousness due, in part, to the fact that I basically lived in a leotard and tights approximately twenty-five hours a week. My friend, who was a few years older than me, looked at me and said, “You are perfect just the way that you are. God gave you the body that you have and you’re capable of anything. Be super grateful for that. Gratefulness for what you have is key to being content with who you are. There is no one else like you and there is no need to compare yourself to anyone. We don’t need to strive to be thin…. we really just need to be healthy and think well of ourselves….Treat ourselves like we matter. We all get to be different. And that is a good thing. Healthy comes from the inside out and this world would be a really boring place if we all looked the same….”

That’s actually not what she said at all. That’s what I wish she had said and that is what, today, I tell my children as often as I can. Instead, born out of her own struggle, she volunteered the information: “You can look as thin as you want as long as you puke everything you eat. It’s easy. You should try it.” And so the seed was planted… at 10 years old.

Thus my lifelong battle with bulimia began. This often morphed into a bouncing game between bulimia and restriction. Whatever the mood called for. All I remember thinking was, “this is how to get thin.” Thin was the goal. Thin made me fit in and thin meant I may not be the girl with the largest costume after all come performance time…. as if that mattered. I was obsessed with my body image at such a young age. I had a misplaced sense of self-worth. Clearly stating the obvious right there. I wish someone had stepped in to show me that I was perfect just the way that I was, that I was beautiful in the skin that I was in. I wish someone had drawn my attention to how much stamina I had athletically speaking. I could dance for hours on end and dance well. I was good at it. I loved it, but I hated my body compared to the girl next to me.

I’d give anything to go back to that 10-year-old girl sitting on the curb. I would put my arm around her, tell her that I understand what it’s like to compare herself to others. I would tell her how beautiful she was…. just as she was. I would tell her that life would be challenging along the way, but that the entire me is what the world needed…. not just a thin girl. I would remind her that her value was truly from the inside out and not at all simply what she looked like. I would tell her that being healthy was in no way simply a reflection of the outside image she presented the world. I would remind her that healthy is a mindset as much as a body disposition. I would tell her she’s gonna be amazing and that the she lit up the room with her humor and would affect change in the world in big and small ways. I would tell her that someday she’d be a badass mom that worked hard to provide and love well. I would tell her not to be afraid of failure or not being the best at all the things. I would tell her that kind humans trumped thin ones any day of the week. So, strive to be unendingly kind. I would comfort her that she would be the best at some things, but absolutely not at others and that it would all be okay as long as she showed up with who she was at her core. I would tell her she was creative and strong and friendly. I would tell her that those attributes were the seeds worth watering. I would tell her that people remember people who show up for others and care and give and share and empathize and laugh and hold hands with the hurting…. far more than they remember how thin they were. I would tell her that someday she would raise some great kids that would need to know all of the above as well. I would button up this pep talk by reminding her of what her mom always said, “Beauty comes from the inside out”.

I believe in us, you guys. I believe in our ability to value who we truly are at our core, not just what we look like on the outside to others. I believe in our ability to be kind, to care, to give, and to take notice of others…. because that’s what people remember most about us. Not the size of our jeans.

Suffering, Struggles and Trials

I’ve just finished reading Victor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search For Meaning. It’s a harrowing account of the atrocities suffered by himself and millions of others in concentration camps. I have to say, that I tread lightly when even sharing my perspective on this read. The suffering described in these pages is epic, and unjust to say the very least. The pure, unending horror suffered by these precious individuals is more than my heart can bear. I literally hate that the experiences described in this book were suffered by any human on the planet in anyone’s lifetime. Sorrow bypasses my soul and grips my spirit. I cannot fathom the ripping of a man’s soul that took place as they were treated day after day after year lower than the value of animals.

I am enamored by many phrases throughout this book, but one that struck my core was this:

“The prisoner who had lost his faith in the future- his future- was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future he also lost in his spiritual hold; he let himself decline to mental and physical decay” (Frankl, page 74).

Do not lose the will to overcome and to power through your obstacles. Sometimes life and its unexpected tragedies and trials seems to attempt to swallow us whole. They mount before us like a mountain to climb and they call to our will to conquer them. I think of my friends who have lost a child through tragedy or illness or miscarriage. I think of the many friends who have experienced the brokenness of a marriage they thought would last forever. I think of a friend who has lost not one, but two loving partners in her lifetime before she was even forty years old. I think of the friend who after years of dedication decided to quit her job in search of deeper meaning only to find herself perpetually unemployed and the despair that has stirred for her. I think of the woman in me that has battled an all-consuming eating disorder and absolute mental turmoil for decades. I think of a woman I know who was raped, carried a baby to term, only to have him murdered by her fiancé through his anger while she was away. I think of a woman who was beaten repeatedly by a man who swore his love to her until death did them part. I think of the many patients I cared for as a Trauma Nurse back in the day. I think of my career as a sexual assault nurse and I remember the hundreds of times I was called to work to complete an exam. I think of so many things that people have suffered and my heart wants to break wide open with tears that rival Niagara Falls. Suffering in this lifetime is inherently unavoidable.

That said, may I tenderly suggest this: Please, do not lose courage. Do not quiet the small inner voice that wants to tell you that you are strong and worthy and wise for the way forward. Turn up that volume. Your life holds deep meaning and you matter to the people of this world. It would not be the same without you. Your suffering matters. It matters deep and wide and there is room enough for your tears and disappointment. Do not, under any circumstance, lose hope in the fact that you matter. There are people in your life that are better off for having you in it. There are people in your life that feel comfort because of your presence. There are people, like me, who simply sit and ponder what you have overcome and genuinely feel a surge of hope stir when I choose to face my own mountain. Believe vehemently in your future as a survivor.

He who has a “why” to live can bear with almost any “how”. -Victor Frankl

I believe in us, our worth and the power to overcome our suffering.

 

Take Your Time

I find it amazing that the older I get the less I seem to completely understand, but the more I am content with that. I remember when I was in my twenties and thought I knew enough to run a freakin country. Ignorance was bliss… or was it (for the people around me)? As a parent of four children now the days are so busy that I feel like I am managing a small country, but I’m no expert. My children can assure you of that. I am routinely reminded by my darlings that I just “don’t get it” as I petition for an explanation on any number of grievances. Turns out that the fact that I trump them in age and experiences by a mile seems to hold little weight with them because, you know: you just don’t get it Mom (insert massive eyeroll from child here and say “mom” with extra emphasis).

I don’t get why recovery takes a painstakingly long time. I mean, if we are lucky enough to have the desire to change in any given area shouldn’t that desire alone catapult us into the motherland of wholeness? Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. As it turns out the desire to change  is just the light of the match. The candle burning sloooooooowly is the process of change.

I’ve battled an eating disorder for twenty plus years. Tears well up in my eyes as I write that fact. That’s a long time. A lot of disorder. A ton of missed moments. A long stent of turmoil. I’m not completely sure why, but recently and by the unending grace of God the match of desire was lit in me to change…. to find freedom. But, the slow pace of recovery leaves me dumbfounded and frustrated at times.

I am a product of the Gen X generation. I saw mixed tapes turn to CD’s and “boom boxes” become an iPod. I saw the internet come to be of wide use and I was here before email was a thing. I feel a little bit lucky like that. I’ve seen a massive evolution in technology and a shift so sweeping in our culture that it’s actually downright fascinating how much brilliance is out there. We’ve seen so much technological advancement so rapidly that I think we often place the same level of pressure on ourselves. If you want to be something “Just Do It”…. If you want a hot meal just microwave it. However, when it comes to change in any given area, please, cut yourself some slack. There is no such thing as Javascript or an iOS update that you can “click” on to enact the change you’re wanting to see. Just sit back for a second and be grateful that you have the desire present. Then walk slowly forward. One step at a time. With unending grace for yourself. You’ll get there. We’ll change. It just takes time. It just takes time. It just. takes. time.

I light my favorite candle almost every morning. I let it burn all day long then snuffing it out at night because it’s time to rest and I don’t want to burn the house down. But, I light her up again the next morning and let her fragrance fill my home and it brings me comfort. Now, if that’s not an analogy for life and change I don’t know what is.

I believe in us and the power to slow down, cut ourselves some slack and hope expectantly in the change that will come with time.

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Resolution versus Resolve

Resolution Defined: A firm decision to do or not to do something.

Restriction Defined: the limitation or control of something or someone, the state of being limited or restricted

I’ve never been real good with resolutions. I see the word resolution and somehow my mind morphs it into the word restriction. As in, I fall in the camp of people that makes a bunch of declarations about what I’m NOT going to do in the coming year. This has not served me well. In fact, I can’t remember anymore what it was that I decided in 2017 that I was NOT going to do in 2018. But, chances are I did those very things I set out not to do. In my opinion and according to my own history, we are all like moths to a flame. The thing we make a big deal about is the very thing we think about, possibly attempt to avoid, but wind up gravitating TOWARDS instead of away from. With resolutions we actually set ourself up for potential failure, or at the very least, a strong mental battle. Our minds are just funny like that. For example, I have set an intention, for several years I’m sure, to not eat sugar. In my case all I think about then at the end of the night is the sugar I want but can’t have. All I think about at a birthday party is the delicious piece of fluffy white cake that I want but won’t have because… I’m not eating sugar.

I’ve battled a thirty year eating disorder that I’m sure started out with a few seemingly harmless resolutions. My disorder started out with resolutions to be thin and look healthy, but soon turned into restrictions over my eating habits left and right and a dictation over my actions, habits and more. Much like an anaconda in a jungle trapping its prey, those resolutions that read to me as restrictions, soon became full-blown constrictions in my freedom.

So, what I’m suggesting is this…. why don’t we bag the resolutions? Why don’t we all just set intentions for what we are going to do. Declare a resolve (defined:decide firmly on a course of action) over what will be ALLOWED in the coming year. If I personally fell into that camp it would look a little more like this:

2019 Resolve:

I resolve to laugh more.

I resolve to wear looser fitting pants that feel comfortable and don’t speak rude comments to me.

I resolve to forgive quicker.

I resolve to write more often.

I resolve to eat birthday cake every single time someone is being celebrated for being alive.

I resolve to speak kindly, tenderly and gently to myself.

I resolve to learn the lesson at hand from my mistakes.

I resolve to affirm and appreciate others more.

I resolve to hug my children more and tell them they are beautiful just the way they are.

I resolve to affirm and appreciate myself more.

I resolve to build on meaningful friendships.

I resolve to eat well. To enjoy what I enjoy. Period.

I resolve to choose that I am beautiful just the way I am.

A list like that reeks of good intention! If I was a moth to a flame I’d like to follow the above light. I’d be happy to get caught in the snare of any one of those things listed above. As you set out today to make any internal decision on what you want out of 2019, I implore you to make a list of RESOLVE versus resolutions that often lead to restrictions. What do you WANT to take action on in the coming year? What do you want to see yourself doing more of? Set yourself up for success. Set yourself up to fail forward. Let’s actually make it a Happy New Year. It’s about time we did that for ourselves.

I believe in us and the ability to set a positive direction for our future.

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Beauty And The Beach

I sit on the Beach in the warm Florida sun with the breeze on my face, salt in the air, and the sound of waves crashing just 20 feet away from me. I can taste the salt in the air and smell the suntan lotion and my senses tell me I am home. This is Heaven for me. I am a Cocoa Beach native and no matter where I live in the world this will always be my true home. This is where my heart feels most content. A surge of peace takes over me at the beach. A gentleness takes over my pulse.

I can hear the laughter of my children. I can hear them hollering to one another make-believe scenarios like “getting away from robbers” and mermaids coming ashore as they body surf the cresting waves and I smile. I know I am gifting them with the same experience that made up nearly every day of my childhood. My heart fills with deep contentment. I could sit there all day. I could sit there all day as we chase the sun down out of the sky.

I sit there glued to my chair. I’m glued for many reasons. I sit locked in because I relish in the feelings of peacefulness and the symphony of pleasant sounds that surround me. Not a wandering crab or a flock of birds is lost on me. This beach is to me the most beautiful haven on the planet.  I also sit locked to my chair because of deep-rooted insecurity. If I get up and stroll to the shore “what will others think when they see my body and this swimsuit” I wonder. How can a place that is dripping with a sense of home also be welcome to my entrenched body image issues and shame over my appearance? How can a negative internal narrative show up for a forty year old mother of four? Aren’t we over this stupidity by now? It’s a mystery to me how I can feel such a sense of peace, but simultaneously be glued to a beach chair so no one sees my body. How can I feel such joy and yet choose to be locked down to a stupid striped chair so that I don’t feel the rejection I’m projecting from my neighboring beach go-er … whom I don’t even know. I skip out on the fun with my children because I’d rather stay tied to my chair then give a passer by the opportunity to think I look “fat”. I full-blown lie and tell my kids “mom just loves to get a suntan” when I refuse their request to come play. The truth is mom is deeply insecure in her own skin and simply cannot get up. Won’t get up. I decline their request to show up at the water’s edge because it’s too cold I tell them. The truth is my negative internal dialogue is robbing me of the ability to show up for them with any level of participation.

I hate this scenario. I hate how my self-doubt sits on my chest like a beached whale. I hate that I am choosing to skip out on writing notes in the sand and building castles with motes and drawbridges. I hate that I opt out of a stroll to collect shells because I fear the opinion of people watchers that are all foreign to me and nowhere near my inner circle of friends. I hate that I let shame and insecurity rob me of memories to be made. I hate that I let my insecurity be bigger than my strength and resolve to show up for them. The barrier to my full, true joy is that I give a sh*$ what other people think of me instead of being a badass mom with four children having a little fun while centering myself in presence.

This has to change. Insecurity, humiliation and a negative internal dialogue are not things that we deliberately pack in the bag of sand toys. Yet they show up in full force.

I love watching the tide. It comes and goes at a rhythmic pace. As does our positive and negative narrative running through us. Unlike the tide however we have control over our thoughts and the freedom they allow us. We have to deliberately attack our negativity with life-giving thoughts that unlock confidence and resolve to get up out of a chair and care not what the world sees apart from a mom engaging wholeheartedly with her children. You might be thinking that I’m really glued to the chair because of simple vanity. I assure you that’s not the case. We live in a culture that values thinness and rewards it with compliments and we brutally judge one another on the daily. We live in a body centric environment and have raised one another to think that thin is beautiful and anything outside of that needs to be reigned in. In order to be counter-culturalists we have to choose to value who we are on the inside over what we show or see on the outside. This takes effort as we go against the tide of our society. But it’s a fight to the death of the joy-robbing, presence stealing moments like these.

I believe in us and the power to go against the tide, to get up out of our chairs, to inhale freedom and to exhale presence. Now, I have a mermaid to rescue…..

The Comeback Kid

My 6 year old hollered confidently to his soccer team “Don’t worry guys we’re gonna make a comeback”. They were down by more than a few points. I sat listening to him say it repeatedly. He continued as he grabbed his coach and said, “My team needs me to get in there and score”. I laughed wildly with pride.

Why am I posting such vulnerable things lately and showing you what’s behind my curtain? Because of the same sentiment that my son carried at his soccer game….

Sometimes we need someone who believes in us. We need someone who is willing to admit the status of where they’re at and maybe…. just maybe convince someone that they can win at this life thing too. Not everyone lives out loud or certainly heals out loud. I tell you this though- WHATEVER your struggle is, whatever is behind your closed curtain- can stay there. I’m just saying, these days, from one teammate to another, “don’t worry guys, we’re gonna make a comeback!” We are going to get through whatever the thing is. You have it in you. I have it in me. It’s gonna take some work. Seriously flipping hard work. I’m healing out loud. You heal at whatever decibel you want. But, there’s one girl right here that believes in you today. I’m serious. You can conquer that thing because you are AMAZING and capable and strong and beautiful and worthy of the change you so desperately desire. We will build and mend and grow and alter the climate of our society. We will throw out the pervasive negative background chatter that runs through our minds. We will insert a life giving narrative that supports the core values of who we are.

My son won his soccer game that day. He scored three goals. They made a comeback. And so will we. I believe in us.

 

Hurry Up And Heal…

Time.

It’s actually on our side.

We have time to Be. Time to change. Time to grow. Time to grieve. Time to feel our pain. Time to acknowledge loss. We often feel hurried to heal. Truth is the days are long, but the years go fast. However, do not feel rushed…. Do not feel rushed by the expectation that we all need to be okay. Sometimes pain and disappointment comes and washes over us. We often respond to the wave and push it away because we think we’ve spent enough time feeling sad or let down or broken and now we have to buck up and be something…. be more than our pain. Be in a better place.

Time doesn’t betray us like that. Time is our friend.

We have to live in each moment come what may.

Time is not a dictator. It’s a gentle breeze. It’s a friendly reminder that we live in a place of forward momentum. It’s a gift to each of us. I think back to the years I’ve spent partnering with my eating disorder and the years of contentment and joy that has been stolen from me. I’m sad about that today. But, the real evil was the disorder…. no the time lost. I’m sad about the thoughts and the habits and the brokenness that has plagued me for so many years. I’m sad about the current repeated knock on my door by this thing to plague me further. But, I decided that rather than mourning the loss of time, hurrying to heal so there’s no more loss, that I would look at time as my friend from here on out. I will receive it as a gift to me rather than perceive it as a thing I’ve squandered. There is no expiration date on our pain, yet we treat ourselves like there is.

I have a precious friend that lost her little boy to a drowning accident. I often think of her and I am overcome with the weight of her grief. I remember her and I think of how every holiday that rolls around, every birthday that comes and goes without her sweet boy must feel. It probably feels like a massive, indescribable loss. A thing to be grieved. A memory to be cherished and held. No one would dare tell her “Too much time has passed…. you can’t feel sad anymore.” No one would expect her tears to be dry by now and her resolve to be strong to be award-winning. We would tell her that there’s all the time in the world for her to feel whatever she needs to feel whenever she needs feels it. We would tell her that her pain still matters. We would tell her that she can spend her entire lifetime healing and yet still grieving.

We may not all have felt a catastrophic loss at that level. But, we must treat ourselves the same way. Some days are just hard. We have to acknowledge the hard and work with time to heal… not against it. We have to let our strong, healing selves tenderly wrap its arms around our broken self and just hold us gently and whisper, “it’s gonna be okay. Feel what you feel.”….

You have time today to feel whatever you need to feel. You have time today to feel broken and still be aiming for wholeness. You have time today to feel stuck, but to still be working on unraveling lies. You have time today to mourn and to feel the weight of the issues at hand.

Hurrying to heal is a pressure we need to brush off. A pressure we have to deny. Sometime waves of grief come and go. They just do. But, rather than ignoring that and pushing it to the back of your mind try honoring it by letting yourself sit in it for a moment. Rather than telling yourself “I’ve got to get over this, I’ve got to move on” trying letting it visit with you instead like a dear friend would. Try letting time and your experiences commingle for a moment, hold hands. Try expecting the strength within you to rise up slowly, wrap its arms around the moment and hold it as long as it needs to be held. Cry a little. Laugh a little. BE just a little. It’s okay to feel whatever you need to feel.

Time is our friend not our adversary to our healing. Be wherever you are today. Feel whatever you feel come what may. Honor your heart. Honor the healing process. Do not rush it into existence. The concept that time waits for no one is an outright lie. Be held by it today.

I believe in us and the power to embrace time…. not to fear the loss of it.

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Homeostasis In Both the Mind & Body

Homeostasis defined: the tendency toward equilibrium between interdependent elements. A coordinated response of parts to maintain equality secondary to any situation or stimulus.

Our bodies and our minds fascinate me. My former background is in nursing. My favorite class in college and the one I excelled in was anatomy and physiology. So, forgive me while I geek out for a second….

We are literally addicted, at an underlying, constant level, to homeostasis. We have interdependent elements working at all times to achieve a state of equilibrium.  We can actually be an active participant in this process both psychologically and physiologically by the choices that we make. We can help create harmony in our mind and body.

Here’s what I’m saying…. we crave balance. We crave peace in our innermost being. The second we put food into our mouth our body gets to work breaking it down and releasing chemicals and elements to neutralize the fats, carbs and proteins. If we are out of balance in any category it knows how to pull what it needs from storage. It’s a genius. Same goes for us psychologically. The second we encounter a tense situation, be it positive or negative, our bodies send out hormones and chemicals to help us break down the scenario and file that experience away in our brain. Our bodies are a machine y’all. They are efficient machines working around the clock on all levels to process life. It would behoove us then to help the body out! We can partner up with this machine by feeding it well and speaking to it well. It actually matters what we put into our bodies by way of nourishment. It matters on the same level what we nourish our brain with. This is where the positive self talk comes in. When we have a negative internal dialogue our bodies read that as tension. It then goes into actual overdrive to achieve a positive state of homeostasis. It seeks to pull from storage a positive narrative to counter balance your negative one. If you allow your stream of consciousness to speak crap to you then you are actually overworking your chemical and hormonal balance. For real.

So, why don’t we do ourselves a favor shall we? Why don’t we become keepers of the gate and head off the negative self talk at the pass. Why don’t we get a touch vigilant about which active and passive thoughts are allowed to run through our minds. If you suffer from a constant state of exhaustion (there are countless contributors to this obviously) I would suggest that you need to check your mental tension and speak some positivity over yourself. If you lack the words right now- that’s ok. Here are a few for the taking:

I am pretty freaking amazing.

I am beautiful right now as is.

I believe I am worthy of love and belonging.

I am a boss at managing my life no matter what it looks like.

In truth, I am a wonder to behold.

I am an endless gift to this world and to the people I encounter.

Those are just a few thoughts I offer you to insert into your stream of consciousness to literally interrupt the negative chatter in your brain. Do yourself a favor. Take care. Take great, intentional, gentle care of you. You are precious and wise, noble and beautiful, magical and intelligent. You are a gift to this world and to all the people you encounter. The world is a better place so long as you are in it. Do not let yourself believe or feast on a thought that would suggest otherwise. We have a choice. Every day. Choose which thoughts get to serve your state of equilibrium.

I believe in us wholeheartedly. I believe in our ability to balance our mental homeostasis with some real truth about who we are.

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Authenticity And Eating Disorders

Someone asked me recently why I’ve had an eating disorder. This was a loaded question. I immediately felt a tightening in my chest and a surge of insecurity as I struggled to find the words to defend my disease and its thirty year presence. I quickly sifted through my brain and started rattling off a bunch of predisposing factors that were in my life. I felt this pressure to come up with a good enough answer that validated why I had been so obsessed with this evil thing for so long. I’m pretty sure I did a good job answering the question because I hit most of the known bullet points that I have spent countless hours in therapy going over. Honestly, I felt a little vulnerable just answering the question as I let this person have a view of the building blocks of this disease and what that looked like for me…..

Later on I sat down with my thoughts, cracked open my journal and began to dissect my answer a bit. I wrote down the key words like “control”, “perfectionism”, “insecurity”… and things of the like. However, when I got to the bottom of the page I scanned back through my writing. I realized a major theme throughout my words. I deeply cared about what other’s thought of me and how I was perceived. It’s as if I have cared entirely more about what other’s think of me than what I think of myself. There was a bit of an epiphany there. I can attack and lock down on my eating disorder habits all day long until I’m blue in the face. But, if I don’t go after what I fundamentally believe to be true about myself then this thing can disappear out of sight all it wants. It will truly only be waiting in the wings for me for the day that I crack. I know that now.

That said, I am a little bit obsessed these days with talking about our internal dialogue. I am a little bit preoccupied with the narrative that we let run through our minds both actively and passively. We have GOT to be incredibly vigilant about owning what we think of OURSELVES. I have lived my lifetime thus far with a poor self image. I realize that I have actually used others and ultimately my eating disorder as a vehicle to harness some self acceptance. My eating disorder has stuck around as long as it has because without it I am just left with my own thoughts about my worth…. And as long as that narrative has been a crappy one I’ve needed to dip into my bag of tricks to survive feeling so shitty about myself. Pardon my French.

It makes so much sense to me now.

Authenticity Defined: of undisputed origin, genuine

We get one shot. We get one life where we get to express ourselves and to live out of who we truly are. Self doubt meets us at the door and offers us an escort into any situation. Doubt sticks out its grimy hand, rifles through its bag, and offers us masks and barriers, and vices, and, for me eating disorders. It takes its gangly finger, lifts it to our mouth and tells us to hush. That bag of tricks only serves to hide our authentic selves. We become too afraid to be authentic because we care too much about what others think of us and we often have a poor view of how we see ourselves.

Instead of complimenting one another on how we look all the time maybe we could start to practice complimenting one another for WHO we are. Maybe we could start with doing this for ourselves. Maybe we could take the time to see that magic in our character and personality and call that out a time or two. Maybe if you see something someone has done that is a really beautiful gesture you could take the time to remark on it. Maybe we raise our sons and daughters to believe they are of inherent value. Maybe we compliment them out loud when we see things like kindness, determination at basketball practice, stellar commitment with their homework, etc.. Maybe we can alter just a tiny bit the way we see one another and the way we talk to one another. Maybe we can alter just a tiny bit the way we see ourselves and the way we talk to ourselves.

I believe with everything in my core that our deepest hunger is to feel seen, to be heard and to know that we matter to this world and to the people in it. I believe that when those fundamental needs aren’t met we let things like self doubt in the door. We welcome its ugly presence and we hide behind things. How about we get about the business of locking the door guys. How about we open our hearts to our worth and we let that in. Maybe we become a haven for our own worth. A home for our hearts. DO NOT let yourself tear yourself down anymore. It literally kills you slowly and calls for a deep slumber over your genuine origin, your authenticity.

I hear you.

I see you.

You matter to this world and to the people in it.