First and foremost – thank you all so much for your kind emails! I do read them all, and will respond. It just may take me a minute, there are a lot of them. But I appreciate you all so much. Your love and support has completely overwhelmed me here. Sometimes social media is actually incredible 😀 so thank you all!
Today I want to tackle how I have learned to let go of the damaging thoughts and feelings, and how I work to keep my sense of self separate from what I see in the mirror. This is focusing on the mental side of work I do. I will write another post talking about the more physical habits I employ for wellness. As always, I am not a psychologist, nor a doctor. I am simply relaying what has helped me hugely – if you are struggling and have a problem I would advise you to seek professional help immediately.
I need to preface this with saying that I have not beaten anything. I exist in synchronous peace with my scared voices. I don’t really think that you do beat something like disordered eating. And to say that you have may be setting yourself up for a relapse down the line. I could be wrong – but every time I have felt that I am free of my past, I go down a rabbit hole of anxiety and starvation. Thankfully every time that happens, the time it takes to remove myself is less. Each time I come back a little tougher. And wiser. We are a collection of stories – each one of us – and to pretend that this isn’t the case is to suppress a large part of our reality. If we want to truly accept and love ourselves, we have to love all of us. This includes the parts that we may not like as much. Because it is in these parts that lies our greatest fears, and thus, our chance to grow exponentially.
In a sense, having had my struggles has given me a much fuller, freer life. The road to where I am today has not been easy – there has been so much soul searching and questioning. And relapses, and anxiety attacks, and nights spent crying over what I see in the mirror. But it is a road I would never swap for anyone else’s easier life. I truly believe that having experienced that level of trauma and damage sets you up to tackle life in a powerful and unique way. And in that sense, I am not a victim. I am a survivor. We all are. Out of the challenge precipitates the solution. We just have to stick it out.
The most important question you can ask yourself here is “why?”. Why am I afraid of struggling with x,y,z? Why do I believe what I do? When did this begin, and how was it born? This is normally the question that once answered, allows for your fears to melt away. It took me a very long time to come to my why. I had to go right back through my life thus far (with my therapist) and untangle some very old memories. Once I had done that, I found the hold on me lessened. I realized that I was carrying a lot of someone else’s hurt in my heart, and I was lashing out against myself. Upon this clarity, it became clear that I needed to let go. I am strong enough. I cannot control how (nor understand why) close people in my life have hurt me, but I can control how it affects me. I am no longer the carrier of someone else’s pain.
The number one recommendation I have to containing the scary voices in your head is to practice some form of mindfulness. Some people meditate, some run, some take sensory deprivation tanks (I do all three). Yoga works for others. Anything that gets you out of your ego for a second, and into a state of settled peace. I truly believe that once we are settled within ourselves, we can start to tune in to what our soul is telling us. The first step to healing (for me anyway) was to tune in to every little part of me. Especially the parts that were damaged. They are what need the love the most.
And with mindfulness, comes love. I believe that love is every humans default setting. We come into this world defenseless, and rely on the love of others to keep us alive. As we grow older, our loves give us meaning and direction. And then out of love comes new life. So we should not distinguish between recipients of our love. The things that are hurting the most, need it the most. So turn within, and make the choice to love the parts of you that are hurting the most. When I look in the mirror and see something I hate, I ask myself why. I then remind myself that I can love myself. We need to become our own mothers, and treat ourselves like we would a terrified child. I talk to myself, tell myself that it is ok. And eventually it becomes ok. The parts of us that lead us down dark roads stem from a young fear. So love that fear. Show it that you are old enough and strong enough to care for it. It needs your attention.
Next I learned to replace thoughts of diminishing with thoughts of empowering. Every time I would catch myself wishing I were smaller, I would flip it. Fat thighs? Legs that can carry me through a marathon. Small lips? Mouth that can play the oboe. Ugly face? Brain that can write words and create. You get the picture. Instead of focusing on what we wish we have, learn to truly appreciate what you do have. We are all incredible – what has been created by man is mind boggling. Imagine what can be created by you if you let yourself imagine the possibilities. The brain power that is set free when we decide to nourish ourselves and remove our worth from the mirror is astounding. You can do literally anything on the planet. Maybe even beyond.
With this brain power, came the next step in my healing. I began to focus more on what I can do now that I am choosing to take part in my life. Whilst I used to train hard for my job, it was never empowering. It was always to fit someone else’s standard. Once I got some energy back, I started to do things that amaze me. I love to run, and suddenly would run for miles easily. I began to write from the heart, not from the mirror. I began to devour books, averaging one every two days. I began to enjoy every delicious mouthful of food I had denied myself for so long. I started to cook all the amazing plant-based foods I had only stared at on instagram.
I let go of anyone else’s idea of who I need to be. Because I am so much more than that.
The final point I would like to share, is that I showed up every single day for myself. I didn’t allow myself even a second of self hate. I still don’t. Habits take time to build, and it is through repetitive action that they get cemented. Through choosing to recover I decided that it was time to recognize, and reorganize the parts of me that were causing harm. A lot of the time it was tuning in after realizing I had spent some time staring at myself in the mirror. At first it was simply catching myself, recognizing what was happening, and being powerless to stop. The self berating sessions were much more self conscious after I had acknowledged the reality of them, and would be shorter. And then after a while it became easier. Mirrors became less scary. Now it is more of a patient reaction when I notice that I think I am fat. It is me saying, no, you’re not. It is ok. You are ok. And this is not who you are.
So show up every single day to who you want to be. Learn to listen to yourself. Enjoy the stillness. Make the decision to re-mother yourself. Send love to the parts of you that need it – and to the parts of other people that need it. Take solace in the freedom you have once you choose to nourish yourself. Enjoy the strength and life force that flows. And every single day, learn to recognize when the warning signs are there. And grab them by the face, and say hello, I love you, but I am not ruled by you.
This is a long road. It has had many ups and downs, and it is a road, not a destination. My troubled past with food does not define me, but it is a part of me. It is a very important part of me, and to deny the trauma that has caused it is to deny the most powerful part of myself. We are all so much stronger than we realize. So allow yourself to explore all the possibilities.
I dictate my road.
Peace and love,