If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve struggled in the past (and still do today to some extent) with low self-esteem and a reliance on food to comfort myself when I find life to be too difficult.
The trouble is that I’m quite a sensitive soul, so I find a lot of situations to be too ‘difficult’ for me – feeling socially awkward, shy, embarrassed, sad, frustrated, angry – and my default setting seems to be a desire to turn to food to soothe myself instead of acknowledging and dealing with my emotions.
I’ve written about my struggles in some posts before because I think that, like me, many people turn to food in times of difficulty and if you do this, it’s so easy to feel alone and broken, like something is fundamentally wrong with you.
If I’m not careful, I can easily get trapped in a cycle:
Feeling unable to cope, eating, berating myself for being so fat…
Feeling unable to cope, eating, being disgusted with myself for being so fat…
Feeling unable to cope, eating, hating myself for being so fat.
For those of you who battle with the same issues, if you can take anything from this post, please let it be the knowledge that you’re not alone in your struggles.
I say this because I think the most destructive thing, the thing that prevents me from moving on, is getting tunnel vision and labelling myself as fat and only fat. I zoom in on the areas of myself I find hard to accept – my wobbly tummy, my thighs that rub together, my not-quite-double-but-working-up-to-double-chin, my arms that splodge out and look massive when resting on my sides…
And yes, I know that I’m a UK size 12 and that’s fairly small all things considered.
And I know that there are people starving across the world who would love to be fat.
And I know that events in Syria, the election of Donald Trump and the fallout of Brexit are much more dire and important than the news of me eating a huge main meal, a family bag of crisps and too much chocolate…but in the moment when I feel shame from overeating, my relationship with food can make me feel very isolated and can make my struggles seem all encompassing.
But recently the dialogue has started to change and I’ve stumbled across a way of thinking that has the potential to change my whole relationship with food…the knowledge that this is not all I am.
Let me give you an example…when I recently started a session of Amy-bashing, bullying myself for all my short-comings with food and my body, I reminded myself that my body is not just made up of the parts I find hard to accept – my tummy, legs, chin and arms.
I have parts of me that I fucking love. My beautiful, soft, blemish-free skin. My freckles that pop out in the sun.
I also have long legs that I love. I have high cheekbones and a smile that I’ve been told lights up a room.
And you know what? I’m more than my physical body. I’m also a being who is mostly kind, patient, generous, faithful, loving, hard-working. And yes, I struggle with being scared how how I feel and eating my feelings away…but I’m also courageous in writing this blog and sharing my vulnerabilities with you, dear friend.
And yes, it’s my sensitivity that makes the difficult emotions so hard to deal with, but it’s my sensitivity that makes me love my friends and family so intensely. It’s my sensitivity that pushes me to make a difference in the world. It is my sensitivity that allows me to see when someone else is hurting and spurs me to reach out to them with love.
And suddenly from beating myself up for my shortcomings, I’m filled with compassion and a deep self-love that warms me.
In stepping back and acknowledging that this is not all I am, I’m starting to find an inner best friend whose voice is so much kinder that the inner voices I’ve listened to in the past.
So know, if you also struggle with low self-esteem and unhealthy coping mechanisms, be they food, alcohol, drugs, smoking, that this is not all that you are. You are so much more.
For in knowing this, you can shift your whole perception and step into a life of greater courage, truth and love.