My stomach

It’s been with me my whole life and is a fundamental part of my survival – digesting food, protecting vital organs, expanding to potentially make space for a baby bump some day and yet it is the part of my body that has received the brunt of my self-hatred, loathing and disgust.

It is just a body part.

But it is so much more.

Why can’t I fully change the way I feel about my stomach and how can I free myself from the mean girl thoughts I berate myself with in my darkest hour?

“You’re fat, it’s so ugly, you’re useless”

These thoughts have lessened over time, sure, but in times of difficulty the negative feelings are still there and I don’t want them anymore.

I thought I’d share my thoughts about why I hold such negativity towards my stomach, dear friend, in the hope that I can find even greater freedom in my life.

My stomach doesn’t lie

My stomach is the area I tend to put weight on first and this generally happens when I’m eating too much to push down my true feelings. So whilst I can hide how I’m feeling from other people, I can’t hide the tell-tale increase in weight that tells the true picture.

That I’m hurting.

That I’m presenting a mask of what I think others will find ‘acceptable’ to avoid the risk of being rejected for who I truly am.

That I haven’t shared my true feelings  and true self with others

It’s a distraction

It’s exhausting being someone who feels so deeply – I’ve been reading a lot recently about empaths and I associate with a lot of the traits that empaths have.

“Being an empath is when you are affected by other people’s energies, and have an innate ability to intuitively feel and perceive others.  Your life is unconsciously influenced by others’ desires, wishes, thoughts, and moods.”

Those of you who love deeply, care deeply, hurt deeply like me will understand just how much it takes it out of me to feel the depths of feeling that I feel and to be moved so deeply by others around me.

So sometimes it’s easier to pour feelings of hate onto my stomach instead of dissecting the tremendous amount of complicated feelings and thoughts that cause me to feel so deeply. 

Does that make sense? Being mean to my stomach is easier than being real with myself about what’s truly going on underneath.

A flat stomach = being enough

Although I try to live an authentic life and accept myself as I am, I still struggle with feeling enough. It’s almost like I’ll be enough when I’m the finished article, perfect externally as well as internally, and that includes having a flat stomach. 

I want to believe that I am enough just as I am, heck, that I could be enough if I was a size 14, 16, 18 or 20. But I’m not quite there on this journey.

Sharing with you my feelings about a life coach I didn’t want to study under because of her size showed me the level to which I associate thinness with success, with perfection, with enoughness.

The extent to which I privilege external appearances over internal beauty.

I know rationally that the external will fade for us all over time…we will all grow old, most probably a bit fatter and wrinkly…but it still doesn’t change my irrational association of a flat stomach with perfection and my body with bumps, lumps and curves with characteristics like greed, lack of self control and imperfection.

Until I’m able to change these patterns of thought, I know I will be chained to the destructive view that I’m not enough as I am. And that means constantly berating myself for not having a flat stomach.

So there you are, dear friend. My thoughts about what stops me from letting go of the negative thoughts I have with my stomach.

I was going to share with you the thoughts I have about how I could free myself from these chains, but in truth I need to take some time to mull it over. Because these are beliefs and patterns in my life that have been present for so long and I just don’t quite know what to do with them. 

One thing is sure though, sharing my thoughts with you has been the first step to finding true freedom…so thank you for reading this and supporting me 💖

What’s next?

I’ve been feeling for a little while that my role at work is no longer enough for me, dear friend.

I’ve not shared this online with you until now because some of you may work in the same organisation as me and I just didn’t know what revealing this truth could mean for me. But I believe in being honest, sharing from myself and trusting that you will know that this truth will in no way detract from the effort I put into my job until the next step is revealed to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working in local government, getting to serve the public, making a difference on a daily basis, but I’ve felt that I’ve arrived at a point where I’m no longer on an expansive learning journey that I have been up until this point in my career. And that’s not enough for me, I don’t want to stand still…I want more.

I wasn’t sure what to do about this when the realisation came over me – I’m still not sure what to do if I’m honest with you. I’ve been mulling over the question of ‘what’s next?’ for a while now.

I’ve been writing daily in a journal for the past couple of months about what my ideal job would be to energetically bring opportunities to me and this is what I’ve discovered:

  • I want to manage a team and make a difference in their lives
  • I want to continue to be in a role that is varied and intellectually challenging
  • I want to have deep connections at work, like the connections I mulled over in my recent post

As much as these realisations are helpful, I still felt a bit lost with the ‘what next’ question.

It was only when I was sat on a bench in Wales whilst some friends were hurling themselves down a quarry (yes, really! Look at the photo below!) on a recent weekend that this thought hit me…

img_2435I can’t control my position at work or magic up a team of people to manage (although I can be proactive in progressing if I really desire this).

I can’t make a difference to the work I am given (although again I can put myself in a position to receive as much variety of work as possible).

But I do have control in fostering deep connections – juicy, full, authentic, honest relationships with the people I work with.

Connections that make my heart sing.

This transported me, dear friend, from a place of ‘stuckness’ and powerlessness to the surety of knowing that I am able to actively increase my feeling of joy at work and take a new expansive journey of courage, truth and love until a role change comes my way.

It made me aware that I have choices…we all have choices, even if it’s just the attitude we decide to take to our own circumstances.

And you know what, dear friend?

These really small decisions about our attitude can make the world of difference.

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The truth of my cards

Something seems to be off with me recently…feeling angsty, tired, full of emotions, jarring…and my ego voice (the one that tells me how terrible I am, compares me to other people) has been louder than usual.

It’s not just me, I’ve spoken to some other friends who are going through similar experiences. Have any of you? Maybe it’s something in the water.

So I sat down after work and, instead of going into the kitchen to cook things out, I pulled two cards from the chakra oracle cards I love. I usually pull just one but instinctively felt that one wasn’t enough today.

And the cards I chose, well, they just floored me. So I wanted to capture this experience and share it with you, dear friend.

The first one was the soulmate card:

It’s time for him to leave her again – to use the script he always does at this point. He even knows her next line. She will say “how could you do this to me?” But unexpectedly she says “I love you”. The words of the script die on his tongue. He struggles to get them out. Just a few words and he will be free – but they won’t come. Suddenly he clasps her to him. He loves her. This is the true freedom he sought. 

I’ve been trying to shut down my ego voice over the past weeks to find peace. Wanting to lock her away and silence her voice.

I see now that all she wants is validation. All she needs is love. All she’s looking for is to feel safe and secure.

And when I let myself feel her yearning for love – my yearning for love – I relax this inner fight. I feel something in me soften and I give myself the love I so desperately desire.

The second card was facade:

The bronze boy, Darnel, was young when his father died and he became the man of the family. Out for a walk one day many years later, he was mesmerised by the sight of children playing. As a child he had never played and he hid behind a tree, crying bitterly, then quickly buried his emotions. At the very end of his life, on his way to heaven, he stopped at the park and finally reclaimed his inner child he had left behind many years before.

This card made me feel that this is not who I am – this ego voice who I have followed. Adhering to so many rules to stay safe – they wouldn’t love you if they really knew you, you should be the listener, do things for other people or they won’t like you, follow the rules or something bad will happen.

I see this voice has become so strong to protect me from being crushed by this world that can be so scary, unpredictable and cold. But really I am that child, who wants to play and laugh and approach things with open curiosity. The Amy wrapped up in worrying and tensing and projecting an ‘I’m ok’ veneer to the world isn’t the real me. I can let this mask fall. I can join hands with my inner child and shower her with love and affection and let her know that she is safe.

I’m so glad I paused, and sat in quiet contemplation and chose some cards, because there is such truth in the messages I received from them.

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Self-compassion

I’ve been mulling over what to write in this little safe space of mine for a few weeks now but nothing has seemed right until I watched this video on the Action for Happiness website:

In short, this professor says we so often talk about self-esteem as something we need to have more of but his studies show that cultivating more self-compassion – treating ourselves as kindly as we treat other people – is what we really need.

It spoke to me so deeply and was so helpful for how I felt when I woke up to a harsh and judgemental inner-dialogue at 4am this morning:

“You’re fat, you’re never going to cope in life, you will always be this way”

Yes, these old feelings came back with a vengeance in the early hours of the morning.

Instead of pushing them down and ignoring them but having them hang over me like a rain cloud for the next few days, I approached myself with compassion:

“I know you’re feeling a bit upset right now, and you feel scared because things in life are a bit up-in-the-air, but you will be ok.”

 

I gave myself a few moments to feel the emotions underneath the judgement I had placed on myself; I was tired, I felt anxious about the day ahead, I had gone from one activity to the other the night before and I hadn’t given myself any time to just be quiet and still.

In fact, writing this post I realise that I still haven’t given myself any time to just be so I’m going to wrap things up here and spend some time in stillness. And in these moments of stillness, I will be grateful for the self-compassion I was able to cultivate as it helped me through the darkness of the early hours and I know it has the ability to help me in the months and years to come.

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

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

Being ok

As I’m writing this post, I feel a multitude of emotions…the most prevalent being panic and worry. When I enquire more into these feelings, I realise that they come from the fear that if I share these words and thoughts with you, dear friend, they might trigger action; they might lead to things getting slightly messy in my life, and that is really scary.  Continue reading