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.

 

Failure Is Our Friend

I am allowed to be BOTH a work in progress AND to help others grow at the same time. I refuse to wait until I believe I’m perfect or someone else has deemed me worthy of impacting others. I am unapologetically accepting a life of massive growth & improvement.

I couldn’t love this quote more and I am nearly stumped for words after reading it…. Nearly 😉

So many of us fear failure. So many of us struggle, to some degree, with perfectionism. We live with the pressure of presenting ourselves as fairly put together. We think that as an adult we’re supposed to know more and to do more and to be better than we are. We take our strengths and push them to the forefront so we appear as shiny little objects. The reality is we are all in a constant state of growth and change. The whole of our lives will be filled with one learning curve after another. The opportunity for change just NEVER stops. With that in mind what if we considered failure as our friend? What if we decided our failures and struggles were our companion that leads us into growth and improvement? What if we took failure and mixed it with a little vulnerability and showed the world our humanity versus the image that we have it all together all the time? What then? I imagine it would look like a bunch of deeply accessible people helping one another become who they long to be. I bet we would feel like home to one another.

I’d give anything for my 40 year old self to have an opportunity to speak to my 20 or 30 year old self. I would open wide my arms, wrap them gently around and tenderly give myself a hug. I would sit myself down, stare straight into my eyes and whisper intently: “It’s ok. You’re gonna be ok. This failure and this need to appear perfect is in vain, dear girl. Let it go. Let go of the desire to have it all together because the reality of life is that you will never ever stop growing and improving. Your failings are the cliff edge, your tipping point into something beautiful. It’s the catalyst into change and once you step straight off the cliff and skydive into change the view is breathtaking. Every time. Embrace it. Yield to it. You are not disqualified by failures you are validated by them. You are validated as an evolving seeker of truth. Do not listen to the clamoring noise of discontentment over who you are and who you are yet to be. Break bread with others, share who you are, as is, because they are in the same boat as you. No one has it all together. Breathe and unapologetically accept a life of massive growth and improvement. ”

We need to be kinder to ourselves in my opinion. We need to speak to ourselves words of encouragement. We need to deal tenderly with our areas of growth and change and give ourselves room to mend and to breathe and to become who we long to be. The world doesn’t need more shiny objects. The world needs people committed to a life of massive opportunity for growth and change and copious amounts of grace to cover it all.

I believe in us and all our imperfections.

 

Lycra

I’m getting ready to take a trip to Florida over Christmas. I am pretty stoked for many reasons. This is my native state. I am a beach obsessed, sun worshipping Florida girl living land locked in Minnesota with temperature highs in the single digits these days. The escape from this tundra is just days away. With that escape comes a two year planned trip to Disney World finally coming to fruition. My children are the absolute best ages right now to hit Disney. They are old enough to assert some independence, but young enough to still care about the characters and rides and Paw Patrol. This will be epic! If Disney wasn’t enough my parents live in Cocoa Beach directly on the beach. You can hear the waves crashing and feel the wind blowing salty air as you sip your morning coffee. My siblings are all gathering together to celebrate Christmas. This too will be an epic feat as fourteen children and ten adults jam ourselves into a two bedroom condo space. (Can anyone get to Costco fast enough?)

With all this excitement ahead I found myself attempting…. a crash diet. A crash diet because with Florida comes bathing suits and pools and beach time. It finally dawned on me recently that this crash diet was just plain stupid. I had to ask myself: “why am I trading my peace and security and confidence for a piece of lycra?” Why was I foregoing calories in anticipation of someone else’s judgement of me? Why was I projecting discomfort onto a moment that was yet to come. Why was I obsessing about what I look like when I have shells to collect and castles to build and evening strolls in the warm sun to take? I have spent so many years letting my joy and contentment be overshadowed by how I felt about my body image. I’m so getting over this.

The diet culture of our society thrives on people like me. I don’t even have anything more brilliant to say than that. It thrives on my obsession with what other people might think of me. If perhaps I decided that this body is “enough” right now, today, as is then what kind of freedom would that bring? It would allow me to anticipate a lot of great memories made with my children. It would allow me to do a cannon ball or two in the pool. It would allow me to stand proud next to Cinderella and actually smile for the camera versus getting the heck out of the frame (I’ve spent decades dodging pictures).  If I decided that I am enough and other people’s opinions can just be theirs then that leaves a lot more room in my heart and mind for joy and engagement and the real stuff that trips like these are made of.

We have got to ditch the anticipation of judgement from others. We have got to decide that we are enough, today, as is. We have to decide that what we bring to the table as a person far outweighs how stellar we look in our lycra. We have to get busy anticipating connection with others not rejection of our image. I mean really- why do I care what Sue Ellen from Canada thinks I look like in my suit? I’ve got memories to make, and kids to laugh with, and family members to love on. This engrained habit of projecting rejection or ridicule can be traded. It can be traded in for the solid decision that I’m pretty stinking awesome no matter what I look like in my suit and I can get about the business of living life more fully. One mental shift at a time.

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Turn Up The Volume

Shame defined by Webster: the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of being loved and belonging- something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do that make us unworthy of connection.

Quit waiting for the shame-filled voices to merely go away.  Actively turn up the volume on the soul building, spirit filling voices that course through you.

I haven’t dedicated my life’s work and research to shame resilience. But, I do know all too well what shame sounds like: Failure, embarrassed, stuck, flawed, behind, I’ll forever be trying to become better than I am right now, I need to become good, your body doesn’t work right, you’re totally screwing up at this life, etc.

If even a thread of those sound familiar chances are you identify with the shame struggle. I’ve surrendered to the fact that shame is a bit of an achilles heel for me. However, I’m not rolling over and playing dead any time soon. I’m fighting. I’m fighting for truth in my innermost parts. I’m fighting to turn up the volume on the truth that resides within me that sounds a little like this: you are a hero to your children, your body is capable of doing all that it was intended to do, you are the best version of you right now flaws and all, you are committed to growth and change, you have evolved beautifully, you are smart, funny and gosh darnit people like you, etc.

We cannot sit idle by and let the background music of our lives play a song that tears us down. We cannot sit still while bricks are being thrown at our character. We have to stand tall and strong and declare an end to the tear down. We have to say NO MORE To the onslaught and antics of shame. We need to practice radical forgiveness toward ourselves. That’s right: radical forgiveness. If it’s true that we attract what we feel inside- then we best get to work feeling pretty stinking amazing. There is only ONE you. There’s no replacement. There’s no alternative. You are the best you around. No argument. No one can do life better than you. Sure, there are some genius’ out there (like Brene Brown), but no one shows up for this life more ready to make it amazing than you. We have to shut down and silence the doubt that we are not a valuable contribution to this time and the people we encounter. Take a deep breath. Practice some self care. Turn down the volume on the voices that spend their energy filling you with shame. Turn up the volume on the voices that coach you into the greatness that you are.  It’s a battle for sure. One worth fighting.

Per Mel Robbins…. TIP: Post an anchor thought.

“Sometimes life is hard. It’s part of being human. For those times, I want you to cheer for yourself. Post your favorite quote where you can see it and read it aloud every time you pass by.”

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It’s In The Waiting

The waiting phase. All of life’s experiences are accompanied by some element of waiting. All of them. Waiting for a cake to bake. Waiting for the baby to come. Waiting for your car while you get an oil change. Waiting in line at Starbucks. Waiting for your turn in the doctor’s office. Waiting for a check in the mail. Waiting for your kids to come to the carpool line at after school pick up (because they’re inside raiding the vending machine or something super important like that). Waiting for your loved ones to arrive from out of town. Waiting for the job interview. Waiting for 8pm when the kids go to bed. Waiting for the diagnosis. Waiting for the healing. Waiting for the breakthrough. Waiting for the miracle…. and on and on and on.

The waiting phase can be filled with so many deep emotions both of elation and pure agony. We get so eager for the “thing” to arrive that we often miss the beauty of the waiting period. We often look right over what that phase is actually producing in us.

Waiting defined: the action of staying where one is until a particular time.

Simple definition, I know. But, I remember years ago asking God to come and literally take my eating disorder away from me. The mental turmoil was and often is more than I could bear. I would ask him to just scoop it right out of my life like a hot spoon to a bowl of ice cream. Just take it away. Make it disappear. I have been waiting for years for God to push some sort of release valve in me or to stir whatever it was I was missing in order for me to make a better choice for my health. I was waiting for the strength and resolve to change to literally visit me in some miraculous fashion. I needed a miracle because this mental disorder had literally overtaken my entire mind like an unwelcome vine in a garden that chokes out all the fruit in its path. I needed God to come and show up and help me get to work. I was often extremely frustrated because I believe in a God that can speak and move mountains. Why not move this mountain of mine I so often wondered? Why not just say the word and we can get on our way? I was waiting. Waiting for freedom. Waiting for healing. Waiting for breakthrough. Waiting for the miracle.

In the waiting phase I attended therapy in copious amounts. Read books left and right. I attended self-care classes with the hope that the scales would tip and I’d start living out of my worth instead of my disease. I remember the ache- the literal ache in my heart for change to come. I would weep with desperation for God to rescue me, and my mind, and my body and to make me whole again. As I look back down the corridors of this waiting period, I realize I have learned more lessons than I could ever count. He used my own desperation to cause me to learn a thing or two. I was gaining insight every opportunity I could get. In the waiting phase He SO softened my heart. Now, when I see weakness in others my knee jerk reaction no longer is to judge their position in life, but rather to wonder deeply what their life has contained that led them to the place they are in. I wonder with empathy and compassion and tears and desire for their breakthrough. God didn’t so much scoop out my eating disorder as He did my ability to judge others. And for that, I am eternally grateful. God did not wave a wand and make this disease just disappear, but He opened my eyes so wide to my worth and to the power He gave me to choose to live out of that. He didn’t simply eliminate my toxic, choking vine of a disorder, but He did carve out a space in me that has more room for myself and others than I have words to describe.

The waiting phase. What it produces in us is something miraculous. Maybe the miracle is cultivated inside of the waiting. Maybe the healing is produced inside of the waiting. Maybe the breakthrough is coming little by little inside of the waiting. I’m now convinced that it’s in the waiting that we find our freedom. Do not overlook the value of this phase and the day of small beginnings.

I believe in us and the power to stay right where we are until a particular time.

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The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death

This is a road traveled by many. So many that my mind floods with examples…. and empathy. From failed marriages, to the loss of a loved one, paralyzation, disease, miscarriage, loss of a job, and so on. Life can be so cruel and dark and lonely at times. Life can bring great joy, but it also serves us with tear-jerking, soul-wringing, gut-wrenching pain and trauma. We wonder how we survive at all sometimes.

I think of the heartache we encounter. And I can’t help but weep. I think of our response to it all. I think of our process through it all. How do we get from Point A to Point B when the bottom has simply dropped out? I don’t even feel like I have the authority to answer that question. So, I won’t. But, I do know what deep, dark places feel like. I know what the vultures of our joy sound like over head. I know what starvation for saving and a longing for hope’s rescue to come feels like. There’s a crazed desperation inside. A cavern so deep that it simply can’t be filled with one wave of the wand. The valley…. is a valley. It’s a deep dip in life’s surface that carves you out hollow. It’s cold and vacant and void of life at every turn. It’s a dark pace and you long so deeply to see a bright red exit sign. Only, there’s no exit sign, just a dimly lit path ahead. A  path that must be taken.

The valley of the shadow of death is real. So real.  There’s an accompanying white knuckle grip that circumstantial change will come. That a miracle will occur and life will begin again… whole and untouched by adversity. Why does a God so great and kind stir such torrential desperate waters in our soul? How does a God so powerful and all-knowing allow such ailments to visit us? Again, I don’t know the full answer to this, but I do know what resilience and hope looks like. It looks hot like a fire in a desert that warms your coldest places. It tastes sweet and bitter simultaneously. And the cry inside for rescue raises an octave or two as we throw our hands in surrender admitting our weakness to prevail. Adversity brings us to our knees, to the end of ourselves.

How do we begin again out of the hollow places where hope has been deferred?

We choose.

We choose to take the next, best, right step forward down that dimly lit path. We choose to believe in our worth and we anchor strong in our destiny. We sometimes get a tattoo or six to remind us who we are. We brand our hearts with truth that no matter how deep the valley we can RISE. In one, small step at a time forward we can find ourselves through the valley and at the base of a mountain ready to climb. We are weakened by tragedy, but ready to climb because we know now what surrender feels like and what slow motion looks like.

We choose.

We choose to believe in the power that resides within us to write our own story. To turn the page when the time is right. To put pen to paper and script our way forward. To write our way out. Hope is a powerful driver for the way forward. Hope in ourselves. Hope in a God that’s orchestrating all things for our good. Hope in our neighbor and friend and even enemy. Hope that the view on the top of that mountain to climb was worth every second in the valley of death.

Hope is the path forward. It’s a cold and broken hallelujah. With HOPE we can choose to rise. Be stirred today. The path may be dimly lit, but take one, small step forward at a time. You are WORTH the rising. The sun is coming for you. The mountain top is waiting for you. There are beautiful things to see just ahead for you. There is a filling of joy and peace and resolve and strength coming to fill the hollow places. Stir your hope today. This world is a better place so long as you are in it.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” -Proverbs 13:12

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Shame Resilience

“I believe that if we want meaningful, lasting change we need to get clear on the difference between guilt and shame and call for an end to shame as a tool for change.” -Brene Brown

I’m no Brene Brown, but I know a thing or two about shame. It is the anaconda of the jungle. It is the piranha in the waters. It’s the deep, dark pit of doubt in our worth. Shame is immobilizing. It is a car with no keys you guys. Shame will tell you that you are inherently flawed and unworthy of love and belonging.

We all have our weaknesses. We all have our own set of struggles. We just do. I remember struggling with shame as far back as I can remember. I know that shame was a catalyst for an eating disorder in my life. I grappled deeply with perfectionism. Every time I screwed up at something, be it small or large, my recovery time was shockingly long. Shame would visit me and stay well past its welcome. It would come on the scene and stir deep inside creating mental turmoil. I bought the lie that I was flawed, broken, bad. Not in a passive sort of way. In an aggressive sort of way. Shame became such a norm that I didn’t even recognize it when it showed up. It was truly the visitor that just never left and all the while you’ve got a million things to do. Shame suffocated my value as a human being. I used my eating disorder, of all things, for some sense of control. I would think: “I can’t control my worth because I’m so damn imperfect inside…. I’ll at least control my body and what others see on the outside.” It’s so twisted isn’t it? Shame is not a driver for change its a driver for destruction. Guilt on the other hand can be a productive tool. It’s the feeling we get when we miss the mark and then decide we can do something about it. Shame is the belief system that when we miss the mark we deserve the repercussions because we suck.

We HAVE to get shame resilience going deep inside our core. The company that shame keeps is just too dangerous. It’s literally got to go. We simply cannot let shame have even the slightest foothold in our hearts.

Resilience defined: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, the ability of a substance or an object to spring back into shape.

Radical Forgiveness is the antidote to shame and the open door to resilience. Radical forgiveness is the set of keys to the car friends. If you or someone you know struggles with perfectionism, self-doubt, feeling unworthy and a whole host of other things you can bet your life that shame has set up camp somewhere nearby. Please cover yourself in radical forgiveness today. Radical forgiveness means pour over yourself forgiveness to the point that it SATURATES who you are. Let it soak into every nook and cranny. Let it overwhelm you and fill you and serenade your worth. Let it call your unique human self out of the closet and into the sunlight. God rose the sun just for you today. You were not meant to cower in the darkness of doubt in your value. You are stunning in every way, the broken places and all. Get RESILIENT against this thing. It has over stayed its welcome in every way. Surf the waters of radical forgiveness.

I believe in us and the power to know our true worth.

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