The thing is, I never trusted my body to do what it’s supposed to do. I was always told something was wrong with it, to be careful with it, not to wreck it…the body was not to inhabit, to enjoy or to use…it was to gain acceptance, titles, crowns…a mothers love. I became my body and attempted to control it, never knowing just how connected to my heart and soul it is. In fearing my body and what it could do and take from me, I tried to stop it from being “unacceptable” never knowing that because they were all one, I’d be doing it to my heart and soul- my authenticity and emotions too. I didn’t know that the control would cripple all of those things. My body was a form of currency really. The price paid to be loved…first by my parents- one who was jealous of me and the other who feared and resented me- and then by anyone who fit the sick and misguided version I had of love. I paid a high price for a fake- and there was no one to defer the payments or stop the collections. The collectors kept coming and the dues were paid and all the while the neighbors just turned their heads…
At the age of 38 my body finally had enough. Instead of swallowing the emotions, it held them in my core- literally. It could not digest one more lie, not even the small ones. Inauthenticity was no longer an option. If I said I was doing a diet to be healthy, my body new it was for control, and I’d get sick. The emotions, the past, the shame, literally burned inside of me. I had to surrender, not just to love, but to my body which had in effect told me, you will either face and feel or burn and kneel. I did both. I do it still.
It’s all about trust.
“. . . hell is wanting to be somewhere different from where you are. Being one place and wanting to be somewhere else . . . . Wanting life to be different from what it is. That’s also called leaving without leaving. Dying before you die. It’s as if there is a part of you that so rails against being shattered by love that you shatter yourself first. ― Geneen Roth
I remember sitting on my couch, the house clean and being alone in it. Something about a clean house calms me. I know that it’s control as well, but it’s so comforting and accomplished to me. Okay, it used to be that and on this day it was still. The thing I remember thinking though, the reason I remember the moment is this; It will be okay. You are so lucky to have all of this. To have this home, your girls, these things, the Honda…even this silence. I was alone and I was at peace. I don’t know if that had ever happened before and I had done so much work to get there…so much heart and soul work just to be there and feel that. It was overwhelming. It was fleeting, like most peaceful moments are. Somewhere in that shift, in the falling away of that layer of my life, another one was revealed. The layer of shame.
You know, I always knew that I had an eating disorder but I guess I was a bit in denial of its power in my life. I always admitted to it, shared it, and was aware that it was my way of trying to control…no. Strike that. Anorexia was the only thing that gave me control. For a long time it gave me something. Hungry? No, I’m not hungry at all. Watch this, I can go without food for days…Hungry? Yes, kind of. Too bad, there’s no food in the house right now. Watch this, I can go without food for days…I really thought that I had control over it. After all, I had only gotten sick once resulting in rehab and I’ve been this way for years- Man the Ego is sick. This year, at the age of 38, a few things happened, but you can sum it up pretty simply- I got older and fast. I went from 37 and feeling 28 to what in the holy hell is THIS?! A muffin top?! Menopause?! Hot flashes?! Oh god…I’m 38 and I feel 40.
I was losing control over just about anything and everything that I thought I was controlling in order to avoid facing what I had lost control over in the first place. It suddenly seemed that the more I came together spiritually and emotionally, the more I fell apart physically. I was like a crazy woman running around yelling,
“I’m healed, I’m healed!” and losing body parts as I went. I thought I had it all together, and I was falling apart. I clung tighter to the eating thing which had become a “healthy diet” obsession. I felt horrible physically. It didn’t matter what I ate, if I ate, when I ate…I was expanding…Let me stop here.
Please don’t tell me I’m not fat. I get that. I know that. My logic brain knows that going from a size 0 to a size 1-3 is not fat. I feel just as much shame for not being a size 0 as I do for feeling that way and KNOWING that it’s crazy. I know that my Lizard brain has waged a shame war…I know that now better than I knew that then, but I’ve always known. That’s the sickness.
So, where was I? Expanding. Not just getting bigger, but getting softer. And not eating. At one point my body actually stopped digesting food because I wasn’t giving it anything to digest. Throw the hormones on top of that…I’m a fricking wreck. Now let me say this- Women should know everything they can about their bodies and hormones. We should WANT to know. I get that. But we don’t want to because it’s admitting to a change that signifies more than just physical. My kids are growing up. My life is staring me in the face and threatening to run off without me. I’m not married. I’m still trying to get out of debt…I’m old and time is wasting…Oh GOD! Whether any of that is true or not, doesn’t matter. It’s all just a distraction from living. Men, you aren’t off the hook here. Do you want to really know what’s going on or are you content to just keep asking, WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON!? while we stare at you with tears in our eyes? Here’s the deal, don’t ask if you don’t want to know and if you do want to know, go find out. If you REALLY don’t want to know, that’s exactly how badly you NEED to know. End lecture.
My insides caught on fire. That’s how it felt. Mind you, my mother died after her bowels ruptured inside of her so I have a HUGE fear of this. I’m hysterical. If I go to the hospital, I could die. I could have a huge bill- again. I’m alone with the girls and I have no one to call. How did I get so isolated?! I’m going to die. Oh God, what do I do? I call my healer. I soundboard. I send my oldest daughter to get me whatever the healer says to take. I calm. I live. I barely make it through. Days come and go and it gets easier. I find a new diet…I find ten new diets that all promise to make me better. A month goes by…My insides catch on fire. Repeat.
Here’s what I’ve learned in the last three years; 99% of what we suffer physically is a direct result of what we are suffering emotionally, spiritually and soulfully. I guarantee you that there will be an entire chapter in my first book about this. Yet, knowing this, I rarely look that direction first. Why? Have you seen my layers? I’ve gone through layer after layer after layer and it just keeps getting…more layered. Smaller and quicker layers, but sturdier and deeper layers. Closer to the heart of the matter layers. The ones you really have to be careful with because they are fragile and so close to the most tender and vulnerable parts of us. That’s where I am. The shame layer-
“The universe is not short on wake-up calls. We’re just quick to hit the snooze button.” Brene Brown
The best way I can describe what my body was doing is to say that my snooze button broke. I had to do what I dread most…though I’m warming up to the concept…I had to surrender. It’s not always about “Surrendering to God”. Sometimes it’s about just surrendering. To the moment. To the fear. To the shame. To the burning. Sometimes it’s just finding yourself on the bathroom floor and through your sobs, saying, “I give! UNCLE! UNCLE!! I surrender, I’m listening! Please just tell me what you want me to hear and I’ll listen! I’ll do anything!” And you mean it.
I had meant it. What I was told was this;
Stop. I know what I’m doing and how to do it. I’m going to tell you what to do and you are going to do it. You aren’t going to do what you think you should do, read you should do, or fear you shouldn’t do. You are going to do nothing.
And so I have. It hasn’t been easy. Realizing why you do something isn’t enough…there’s a process to go through. I’ve always gone through it in a zig zag pattern- you’ll still get there, but it takes longer. Better to just walk the line- straight on and with one foot, or knee, in front of the other. And so I am. Strangely, I feel like it should be taking longer to get to where I see myself going. I see the end of this “segment” in sight and I find myself thinking, That’s it? Are you sure? Maybe we missed something…I’ve had this eating thing for over 30 years and just like that, the illogical thoughts are suddenly gone or recognizable for what they really are? Dont’ get me wrong. I still have the habits. The shame. That doesn’t go away. But now I have awareness. Compassion. Tools. It’s just that I like to be in control. I see the “end” in sight and I feel two things; What’s next?! and Oh God. What could possibly be next?…
I recently read that you have to embrace shame to get to vulnerability. If you’re wondering why in the hell I would want to be vulnerable, read Brene Brown, Seth Godin and Chris Brogen. Or, just ask yourself, “How am I feeling today?”
Just be ready to hear the answer.