I’ve been thinking about how good I feel in myself at the moment and comparing it to all the other times that I’ve felt similarly free, happy in myself and able to eat moderately instead of experiencing low self-esteem and using food as a comfort when I feel sad/angry/frustrated/tired.
I always felt scared with my good fortune when I felt well in myself and when my eating was not disordered. I rarely shared what was going on for me when I felt as well as I currently do, because I feared it was only a matter of time before the penny would drop and I would return to my usual pattern of feeling unhappy in my skin and ashamed of myself.
The only way I can describe how I felt is like the experience of holding my breath under water. The pressure building and building until I have no option but to return to how I was before.
Disliking my body and eating to comfort myself.
But it feels different this time.
I’m asking myself what has changed…
How am I able to share my good fortune without feeling like I’m going to break?
What leads me to feel that things are different this time?
Here are my thoughts…
I accept who I am
I am quiet, thoughtful, assuming, gentle, fierce, loving, competitive, stubborn, talented, respectful, impatient, sharp, faithful, strong, playful, determined and so much more.
I prefer to be with small numbers of people instead of a large crowd.
I hate small talk and love heart-to-heart conversations.
A good time for me is being in a bath and reading, having a coffee and chat with a close friend, walking in nature or playing with my son and my husband.
I love time alone and need it to be at my best.
I love sleep and I need enough of it to function well.
As I accept who I am, I put myself in situations in which I can thrive.
I’m proud of who I am
This goes further than accepting myself. I actively allow myself to enjoy and be confident in who I am.
I’m rejecting the rhetoric that states I should be modest and not believe in myself, because I think that I’m good, kind, hardworking and am proud of who I am.
I was brought up hearing that ‘no one likes a show off’ and, while I don’t plan on marching down the street with a banner proclaiming how fan-f*cking-tastic I am, I see that the message I internalised was ‘don’t think highly of yourself’.
I focused on what was ‘wrong’ with me and didn’t speak kindly to myself, celebrating what I was good at.
But now I speak kindly to myself and think highly of myself.
I’ve battled and overcome an eating disorder which has claimed the lives of many.
I’ve created a career for myself which is meaningful and enjoyable.
I have a loving family and have people around me who care for me because of who I am.
I’m proud of who I am.
Brené Brown writes about the fear we can often feel when life is going well – like when I’m basking in love for my son and all of a sudden an image of him falling down a flight of steps pops into my mind.
She says the antidote to this is gratitude.
Likewise, in the past when I was feeling happy in myself, I’d have a thought pop into my head of ‘this is never going to last’. And I’d listen to this voice – I lived in fear for when my good luck would come crashing down.
But now I’m practicing gratitude.
I’m thankful for my body which is strong and beautiful.
It shows marks of my time on this earth – the laughter lines, the grey hairs and the freckles that come out in the sun.
I’m thankful for this time where I’m able to eat with balance and where I feel attuned to myself.
I’m grateful for being able to speak up and ask for what I want and need from other people.
I used to be angry with myself for being who I was.
How could I be so weak? Why was I so sensitive? Why couldn’t I get grip?!
But now I’m more angry at our society which paints beauty and how women should be in a certain way which is so black-and-white.
Woman should be strong but not threateningly so. Women should be easy going and always up for a laugh. Women should be beautifully turned out but not through any effort. Women should be slender and toned or voluptuously hourglass-like.
And now that I see this for the bullshit that it is.
I don’t know how I can be a part of a movement of change which redefines women as the individuals they are apart from breaking the societal conventions which put non-perfect women in their place.
Going running with just my crop top on when it’s hot outside, even though it shows my stomach.
Not hiding the bits of me that don’t fit with convention.
Celebrating that I’ve donated all my high heels to charity and never want to wear them again.
Refusing to push my true self down. Being a disruptively strong woman, allowing myself to be less ‘easy breezy’.
I was in bed last night and was asking the universe for guidance about how to expel the emotions I feel so strongly – anger, sadness, disappointment, anxiety.
I know it’s when I don’t have a way to release them that things unravel for me.
I wish I could cry, but this is something that doesn’t come very easily.
This morning I spent an hour dancing around my living room with Jenson to angry songs, joyful songs, sad songs…a real mix of different emotions.
And it felt good to have a physical experience of jumping and dancing and swinging and singing. An outlet for everything going on for me.
I think this might be my way of expressing what is going on. It feels good to discover this.
Taking care of myself
In the past when I felt at peace with myself and balanced in how I was eating, I would only eat exactly what I needed.
Worried that one bite too many might make me free fall into a cycle of eating too much again.
But this time I’m feeling able to treat myself with more generosity and kindness.
I’m eating enough food. I’m having treats. If I’m still hungry after a meal, I know I can always eat more.
I want to eat well. I want to nourish myself. I want space for cakes and treats as well as vegetables and salads and fruit. I want to be able to have my favourite drink at the pub – currently alcoholic ginger beer – instead of opting for the ‘healthier’ G&T.
It feels like I’m taking good care of myself and, with this level of self-care, it feels like I could eat this way forever.
So these are my thoughts and I hope they’ve been helpful to you, dear friend.
The truth is that I don’t know what tomorrow will bring – I may well have other periods of time where I feel like I’m holding my breath under water. But I’m grateful for the current reprieve and the beauty of loving myself, being proud of who I am and taking as much care of myself as I take care of my son.
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