I have been in recovery for almost 20 years from an eating disorder, which sent me into a residential treatment center back in my mid-20s. My surrender to admitting myself into this facility was the darkest and deepest hole that I have ever experienced.
It was both frightening and relieving knowing that I was FINALLY going to get some real support, help with my extreme struggles and that I didn’t have to hold it all together any longer. I didn’t have to keep fighting. I could let go, at least for moments, and know that I was going to be held.
My stint at this amazing venue was anything but pleasurable, yet I was comforted just by being there. My shit was flying and it was not pretty, but I knew it was what I needed to do. It was my chance at actually living a life. My chance at peace making. It was scary, yet I kept on going.
I must have known, in my 20-something psyche, that there was actually light at the end of the tunnel, although I absolutely had no awareness of that, nor did I have a clue as to what that even looked like.
I was interviewed this past week by a colleague and new friend of mine for her podcast, Curb the Binge. It was enlightening, humbling, empowering, scary as hell, and a deep relief.
The silence has been broken.
Much of what I said I have not said to anyone, and yet, I felt compelled to share publicly, online, to listeners I have never met.
There was something in me that was birthed that day, nearly 20 years after my surrender to needing help, I found myself in yet another place of surrender and vulnerability.
A space that was not familiar to me, however it felt so natural and enlivening.
I tapped into a softness, vulnerability, and clarity that my life’s path continues in service, yet in a very different direction than I ever imagined.
I have always had an aversion to even talking about food, weight, exercise, fat, calories, dieting, etc. etc. A part of me would recoil in disdain and confusion. Why couldn’t I even talk about these things that have been at the forefront of my everything for so many years? Why did I still want to jump out of my skin if someone even mentioned eating too much or skimping on the intake and amping up the exercise?
Why did I immediately go to the place of “they think I am fat, that is why they are talking to me about exercise”? Or “they must know that I ate a cookie today and that is why they are looking at me in that way”? Or, one of my all-time favorites, “well, I definitely need to go exercise again, even though I already did today, because they were clearly noticing that I overate at my last meal”?
So many versions of this bullshit that had run my life for almost 20 years. I speak in past tense as I do not feel that I am under those reigns anymore, but holy shit did it take a very long time.
I believe that it has been with me for lifetimes so there is no doubt that it could take lifetimes to unravel and truly heal….
Back in my early 20s I had a soul retrieval with a Shaman in Albuquerque.
Believe it or don’t believe it but this woman was the real deal.
I was 23 years old as I was lying on the floor of her office on sheepskin rugs with her shaking rattles all around me and chanting. Yes, this midwestern girl was a bit shell-shocked but something in me knew that it was important work for me to be doing.
Rita, the Shaman, told me about a vision she had of me in a past life, one that has stuck with me all these years later. She saw me in a past life, an obese woman living in a cabin in the woods by myself. She described this woman (me) in detail as I was sitting in a chair inhaling bonbons. Now I have never even eaten a bonbon before, nor do I entirely know what they are, yet I can feel that vision in my cells.
That woman is in me, as one of many from past lifetimes.
She was so sad, scared, alone, and yet had found such deep solace in these bonbons. The texture, the taste, the way that the bonbons melted in her mouth. She was smiling internally as that comfort felt so satisfying, however on the outside she was fat, alone, and sad.
How can both exist in one person I have asked myself as I have reenacted versions of that woman’s persona for many years.
I have had times of severe isolation when the delicious comfort of food was all I had – it was my lifeline, my intimate relationship, and my best and most trustworthy friend. Many, many moments of this pattern when I could barely get myself to show my face outside of the house as I felt exposed, raw, guilty, and full of such incredible shame.
Times when I did actually think that the world revolved around me and my eating disorder as that was literally ALL that I could think about.
Through the pain, lay some solace in this way of being. Food was such incredible comfort to me that I actually have no regrets. Those times were a tremendous part of my unfolding. Those and so many more with an endless amount of variations all revolving around my body size, my food intake, and how much I did or did not exercise. That was it. That was what consumed my life and shaped everything I did, every relationship I had, every experience that I engaged in, every choice I made…. for decades. DECADES.
Here I sit, at 42 years old, comfortable in my skin.
I have found an ease in myself, a peace in my consumption, a surrender to life as it is, and a genuine appreciation for simply being alive in my incredibly imperfect, yet unbelievably beautiful body.
That is it.
Living life every single day is a gift.
It is impermanent and exceptionally challenging at times, but nonetheless, exquisite.
Yes, even if I have eaten everything in sight for a day, even if my aging body is beginning to sag in areas, soften, and wrinkle. I can still be in love with myself every single day. I have learned to embody who I am, on every level and feel that intuitive connection within.
I know what my body needs.
I know what my soul is craving.
I understand when I have those days when I really truly just need to comfort with food – those days when nothing else will do – none of my practices are working and a pile of nachos are it.
I feel it all and I have embraced it all.
I have accepted myself for who I truly am – all of the imperfections and seemingly unhealthy needs.
I have learned to trust myself implicitly.
I am my own expert on my body and my souls needs and I have choice every single moment of every single day.
Sometimes my choice involves giving into the wisdom of my cravings and pouring loving kindness all over them. Sometimes I choose to take a bath instead of reach for the cookie and I understand that neither is good nor bad it truly just is a choice.
Everyday I choose love – as cliché as that sounds – and I have embraced that love is found in endless forms and that the single most important part of this wild and curvy road of recovery is to stay close to myself.
To not abandon.
To not shame or shun.
To not punish or berate.
To speak kindly and lovingly to myself every damn day.
To honor my hunger, no matter what that looks like and no matter what anyone else thinks or says about it.
To stay so close to myself that nothing can penetrate or probe who I am.
To stay unwavering in my existence and to celebrate my inner and outer beauty.
To fall so deeply in love with who I am on the planet, finding that forgiveness and deep compassion for myself in my life.
In this exact moment.