It gets easier

If there’s one thing I could go back and tell my younger self about battling an addition – my particular type being food – it would be this: eventually it gets easier.

That’s not to say that it’s inevitable that people will make a recovery from addiction. I feel incredibly lucky to have teetered on the edge of the anorexic abyss and managed to claw my way back to shaky ground.

But it doesn’t make my message back to the younger Amy any less true.

It gets easier.

For so long I felt like I would never be free of this demon of mine – the sweet release I would feel by pushing my feelings down under copious amounts of food, or starving my emotions away by exercising beyond exhaustion. Recovery, normality, seemed like an impossibility.

Don’t get me wrong. In those years it wasn’t all darkness. I experienced moments of liberating freedom – dancing with friends, laughing with family, connecting with those I cared about deeply – but the monster was ever there. The shadow voice calling to me. Tempting me to eat, to gorge, to annhialite myself.

To resist this voice often felt impossible, to think about not buying food brought on a panic close to suffocation. And so I seesawed my way through much of my late teens and 20s, lurching from overeating to starving, freezing my feelings away or burying myself under food.

It was hard but I took some tentative steps forward. I had some counselling, dared to share some of myself with those I trusted, started to listen, accept and love myself just a little bit.

These were baby bird steps forward over several years and it felt for so long that I took 1 step forward and 50 steps back. Because this was often the reality. But I took those steps forward regardless.

And sometimes, just sometimes, I was able to ask myself ‘will this food give me what I truly desire?’ and I was able to resist my shadow voice. Even if a few minutes later I thought ‘fuck it’ and ate everything in sight.

But I kept on seeking help. I kept taking tiny steps forward.

And I discovered that my addiction wasn’t so much about the food. It was about the anger I kept locked up inside me, it was about the fear and sadness I refused to acknowledge, it was about the pain of trying to find my way in the world despite feeling deeply inadequate, unworthy, unloveable.

And in moments of progress I slowly let myself release little pressurised pockets of rage. I let myself cry, mourn, feel sad, wallow in pity, tantrum, express myself, accept my feelings.

And it was bloody hard. No amount of swear words can express how hard it was. But when I did these things – however gracelessly I did them – life got a tiny bit easier. The shadow voice got a tiny bit quieter.

So I suppose on reflection, it’s not just the message of ‘it gets easier’ that I would share with my younger self.

I’m fact, if my younger self met the older me and heard me say ‘it gets easier’, I think the younger me would want to punch the older me in the face. So let’s just say my message is a bit more like this:

Life is bloody hard, and your fight feels so difficult, so crippling, so futile, dear one. It can feel so often that trying to take steps forward is an impossibility. Like trying to recover demands the impossible of yourself. 

But please hang in there. Because millimetre by millimetre, this does get the smallest fraction more bearable. And you do move forward. 

First you can’t see the distant travelled because it’s so small, but if you look hard, you’ll see that you’ve travelled a few millimetres, a centimetre, an inch, a yard. 

And yes, you do sometimes retreat back to your starting place, or even further back, but that ground is slightly easier to navigate the next time, and the next time and the next time. 

And on your journey, you both need to fight against the disordered eating, but also accept that it’s not really about the eating at all – it’s about accepting, loving, forgiving yourself and making sense of what you’ve experienced. 

It’s a paradox that feels nonsensical. But it’s true. It’s about food, but it’s not. 

So pay attention to the food, but also pay attention to yourself. Value your thoughts, your feelings, your views. Because they may not always be right, but they are valid. You have the right to feel them. So push forward with finding your feet, accepting and listening to yourself. 

And know that life feels hard where you are, but it also has the potential for so much more. There is so much goodness awaiting you, dear heart. 

Things you can’t see from where you are but realities that are possible. Being loved beyond belief by people. Heck, loving yourself beyond belief. Feeling such a sense of fullness through becoming a coach and helping others. Feeling such a sense of richness through your writing. 

Living a life that is light with love as much as it is intense with feelings. 

There is so much in front of you that you can’t see. So hold on for just a bit longer. And a bit longer. And a bit longer. Until you’re not just holding on, you’re striding forward. 

And you’ll then know that it does indeed get easier.

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Pace

This is my first free weekend in quite some time, and the first day that I have not many plans besides meeting a good friend for coffee. I feel jittery inside, like I’ve been running at a speed for quite some time and am not sure how to slow down and find a slower pace in my life.

It’s like I have become accustomed to going at 100 miles an hour and although it’s not a comfortable speed to keep up, it’s the speed I had settled into.

Constantly on, busy in and out of work, lurching between being highly of alert or dead to the earth in sleep.

I know I wasn’t calm or content (and geez, you’re probably sick to death from hearing about it in the numerous posts I’ve written complaining about how full my life is!). I know that the speed wasn’t sustainable. But at the same time, I’m not sure how to go slower.

In the past, I would either write a long list for myself of things that I needed to do during the day, keeping up the busyness in solitude, or I would eat away the day to push down the jittery feeling of trying to find a new speed.

And I don’t want to do either of these things.

I have to say how deep my relief and gratitude is that food no longer holds the same sway in my life today as it has in the past. Yet still I’m unsure how to find a new pace.

I think over what I could do – things I’ve explored here on this blog before with you, dear friend. Spending time playing my ukulele, putting on a face pack, using my oracle cards, watching a film, reading a book…and there are some things that I need to do as well – shopping for suntan lotion and packing for my upcoming holidays to Hawaii!!!

But I still feel like I’m coming down from a high, and I suppose I am – coming down from the adrenaline that has been pumping through my body over the past months.

And there is something to be gained in recognising this experience for what it is – coming down from the high, sinking into the itchy, twitchy, discomfort of finding this new, slower pace.

And there’s also something in remembering what I wrote in my recent blog post about being in the moment. I don’t need to know that today will be a ‘success’ or that I’ll be able to ‘cope’ or have a ‘productive’ day – these are all judgements of what I think I should do. I just need to be here, now, writing this post to you…and when this is done, move onto what instinctually feels right for me. I don’t need to have a plan for the day, or accomplish anything, or feel like the day has achieved something.

I just want to settle into this new, slower pace. To be in the moment and replenish myself. To rest and recuperate. And that can be enough for today.

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One Small Step

I’ve known many people who get overwhelmed by certain areas of their life or in certain situations, be it family, work, worries about the future, health, friends… I feel overwhelmed on a fairly regular basis and have come to identify it as anxiety.

I remember in particular all the excitement of buying a flat was part-dominated by an overwhelming panic my husband couldn’t understand that stemmed from all that I had to do to make buying our lovely place a reality as well as what it could mean about the trajectory of our lives.

I didn’t really identify the symptoms I was experiencing as anxiety until a work colleague shared his struggles – I could see myself in so many of the things he described. Then, as if a blindfold had been removed from my eyes, I saw so many other references to anxiety; on facebook, adverts, books I was reading, the news. Talk about timing!

Just knowing other people are going through the same thing as me has been a huge relief – I don’t feel like there’s something wrong with me anymore or that I’m going crazy when I feel overwhelmed/anxious and if that’s all you get from reading this post – the knowledge that you’re not alone – then I’m really pleased!

The thing I’ve found super helpful in not letting my anxiety consume me, and what I want to share with you today, is taking one step at a time.

It’s something I’ve actively learnt and put into practice this week gone by. In truth, I was feeling a bit helpless and overwhelmed last week about the same old eating battles I’ve struggled with so long creeping back into my life. It’s a strange old cycle and one that has become a bit of a pattern for me over the years:

cycle

I started to despair that I was going to be permanently stuck in this cycle. Yet I felt I could do nothing to stop it. I had identified in an earlier post that I needed to get rid of the food in my cupboard that was facilitating the old patterns creeping back (you can’t comfort eat if you have nothing tasty to eat at home!) but I was feeling overwhelmed by even doing this.

I see now that I was trying to jump from where I was in the cycle (old eating patterns starting to creep back) to living a life with no eating issues whatsoever, which isn’t even part of my current pattern. And the thought of this was overwhelming and unachievable that I was stuck doing nothing.

It was a brilliant excerpt from the book ‘do less, get more’ that fuelled me to act.I read Shaa’s exercise of doing one small thing (as shown in the photo above), I knew straight away there was one thing I could do – put all the ‘trigger’ food in a bag and store it away out of sight. It took me less than 3 minutes to do, but since then I am feeling so much lighter and freer in myself.

So that is my learning of the day and something I thought you might get something from, dear friend…when you feel overwhelmed, ask yourself, what small thing do you have the power to do right now to make the situation less stressful. It might be writing a ‘to do’ list, spending a minute breathing deeply, making one phone call, putting an appointment in the diary, doing a bit of googling…there is always one small thing you can do.

And really, every big thing we accomplish in life is made up of millions of tiny small steps we take, so start taking one small step today.

Transformation

I want to share with you another beautiful nugget of wisdom from episode 100 of the RobCast.

It feels strange to get so much from this podcast as I came at it with deep feelings of mistrust.

You see, Rob is a Christian minister and I’ve had walls up about faith in general, but especially Christianity, since I took the decision to step away from my Christian upbringing. However, the truth is that Rob surprised me and I’m still part-reeling from the learning this episode brought to my life. I feel what he said has the power to bring about real transformation…and that’s the topic I want to share with you today, dear friend.

Continue reading

Thoughts about food

If you’ve read this blog of mine before, you’ll know I’ve struggled with eating issues in the past and still do to some extent if I’m totally honest.

Sharing my story and being openly vulnerable with you, dear reader, has been so important in removing the shame I feel about these struggles and has helped me to start walking a new path where I don’t always turn to food in times of need.

Continue reading

Coming undone

I’ve struggled over the past few days; I’m not going to lie. Life is a bit tricky at the moment, although not for any reason. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for not having anything wrong in particular but it does make things a bit harder to rectify than if I could pinpoint a particular issue and work on resolving it. I suppose, like we all do from time to time, I have been feeling a bit low and a bit lost, a bit overwhelmed and a bit frustrated with life. Continue reading

Forgiveness – my recent experience

I’m now on my 47th day of being comfort eating free, which is an amazing achievement for me. It’s truly wonderful to know that I’m able to feel so much freedom on days when it comes easily – having more focus and space for other things in my life.

It’s also so good, however difficult, to confront my demons on days where all I want to do is eat to bury the pain I feel. It’s on these dark days that I experience exponential growth, confronting the pain and making leaps and bounds forward in this new life of courage, truth and love.  Continue reading

I could fall

It has been great to share my struggles and journey to ‘normal’ eating here with you, lovely friend, but it has also come at a price if I’m honest. Publicly sharing my journey of comfort eating means that if I fall, I will have a heightened sense of disappointment, shame and guilt.

In fact, when I shared my victory online from a recent weekend where I didn’t overeat, I was suddenly overwhelmed with an urge to eat and I knew the feeling wasn’t coming from hunger. I was trying to push down my panic with food. Continue reading