You guessed it, I did another disappearing act for a period of time, and we know this is what I do. I am here to tell you about how imperfect my life has been, how hard it has been and how I am still on shaky and uneven ground. Sounds pretty depressing, I know, but….I am also going to share about how I am feeling mentally and physically tougher than I have ever been.
Have you ever been stuck spinning your wheels? The same thought patterns keep recycling themselves and you seem stuck on this rollercoaster of events and emotions that, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to get off of? I need to be intentionally vague on the timeline, but I once again found myself in an environment where I was the target of some pretty horrible workplace bullying, at the time I didn’t know it, but when it all came to a head….I remember sitting on the living room floor asking myself, why does this keep happening to me? Why can nothing ever go my way? Then I heard a voice in my head “Remember when you point the finger, there are 3 pointing back at you.” I never stand up for myself. I take what I am handed, let people manipulate and use me, because at the core of my being I don’t deserve any better, or nothing better will come along. Insert an icky icky feeling here.
I have amazing support from many of my friends and family, but over the next few weeks I realized that I needed a different kind of support, a more professional level of support. For the longest time I was convinced that if I just focused enough, or wrote more, or believed more that it would happen. When you start to not see a difference and you feel like you are at your wits end and nothing is changing, talking to someone who has absolutely no attachment to you can be a good thing. I started to see a woman, a register clinical counsellor that specializes in disordered eating, among a few other areas. During a session I couldn’t acknowledge a feeling, I couldn’t find it. This was quite common for me. It had been years since I experienced, processed and expressed an emotion. I didn’t know what different emotions felt like or what the proper names were for what I was experiencing. This is where my earth started to break apart.
I had become the master as leading people to believe that I was “great.” I got really good a plastering this massive smile across my face, being really expressive, funny, engaging and outgoing but if you were really listening to what I was saying you would notice that I was sharing very little about myself. I stuffed it all with food. Every feeling, emotion or small flutter of anything, I stuffed with food. On the ride to this appointment I was reading Shonda Rhimes’ “Year of Yes” and she calls this “athlete talk.”
“Good Athlete Talk is when the athlete goes before the press and keeps a smile on her face, voice bland and pleasant as she deftly shields one reporter’s question after another – never once saying anything of controversy or substance. My favorite Athlete Talker of all time is Michael Jordan. He’d stand there after scoring 5, 635 points in one game, sweat pouring down his head , towering over some tiny reporter: “I’m just happy to be playing the game of basketball,” he’d say smiling. But, Michael how do you feel about famine, politics, the WNBA , cartoons, HANES underwear, tacos, anything” “I’m thrilled to do what I can for the ball club . The Bulls are home to me” ~ Shonda Rhimes~
I was really great at giving people surface level answers, but then glossing over them with an optimistic smile and a bright and shiny, happy answer that would be very believable. I would then go home and stuff everything down with a cocktail of food. I was sent home from that session with a three page list of feeling words. My goal was that when I wanted to eat I had to stop, grab the list and read through the words till I found something that resonated, stop, experience it and then process it.
Thus began some very uncomfortable and interesting weeks. I was cranky, irritable, short, angry and well…. Just picture the face to the right on a daily basis. I would sit, try to figure out what was going on, get very frustrated, but there I would sit. Over time I noticed that I got very in touch with anger, anxiety, sadness, panic and worry. The physical sensations that would show up in my body became warning signs. Those five feelings were some of my closest BFF’s. I started to get very present to the impact living in this mental state was having on my health. Cue the tears.
I have been practicing this whole “feeling” thing for a few months now and my life doesn’t quite look the same. I speak up more, standing up for myself. I feel like I can see things clearer, people for who they really are, despite the words coming out of their mouth. Getting present to and taking responsibility for some choices and decisions in your life can be a difficult pill to swallow. When you start to share some honest feelings with people you thought were your friends and family, you realize that feelings don’t just make me uncomfortable, they make EVERYONE uncomfortable. There are very few people that like to face them. Some ignore them, lie to themselves about them, eat them, drink them, snort them or shop them away. I realize now that the only one responsible for my feelings is me. Your friends, co-workers and even family members will do and say things that will be hurtful. Finally being able to turn around and express whatever comes up for me in a healthy manner is a great gift I am developing for myself.
For a brief moment I thought that having this breakthrough I would magically drop 100lbs, weird how that didn’t happen….lol. But what has happened is food doesn’t have the same power that it did. The foods I used to crave don’t taste good, they taste quite….gross. A bag of chips that wouldn’t make it 2 hours once past my front door, now last almost two weeks. Ice cream or baked goods, which had a life span of minutes, now last days. There have been a couple times where I have caught myself eating and when I stop and look it is purely out of habit, muscle memory.
No journey is perfectly laid out and what I previously thought was my destination is changing as I change. What I used to accept and be ok with no longer works. Learning how to set boundaries and not be a push over or doormat. Walking down the street looking up and smiling…what feels like…a genuine smile for the first time in a very long time.
I have started to get in touch with honesty and with honesty comes passion, freedom and even happiness and joy.