We show our perfect faces for the world, yet behind the scenes we struggle with similar things. When we're vulnerable with those things, we risk connecting with others and realize that we all deal with similar emotions.
Lately, I've had this sinking bleh feeling. I'm blessed with many good things in my life, which increases the nagging self-irritation. There's nothing wrong with my life, so I feel as though I don't have a right to feel icky.
I remember saying the same thing years ago, when I was at the hospital's 30-day inpatient program. Some of the girls had massive family issues, arms and legs lined with scars, a past of drug addiction and prostitution. As we shared in group therapy, I sank back into the couch wanting to disappear, weighed down with the guilt of not having something colossal to screw me up. I had a good life with people who loved me and told me so all the time.
I wrote in my journal, "Sometimes I wish I had a horrible life just so I'd have an excuse."
Of course I didn't actually want a horrible life, and I didn't want anyone to have a horrible life either, but the guilt sucked. All I had to show for myself was that I wanted to be skinny.
Today, I see the ridiculous notion of debating worthiness to be in the program in the first place. I legitimately had an eating disorder. It was ruining my life and my marriage. Yet something in my sick, distorted brain whispered that I wasn't worthy enough to be at the hospital because I wasn't sick enough! I didn't deserve a place because I wasn't suffering enough.
Wow: I couldn't be good enough and I couldn't suffer enough? When would be I enough of something?
Although now, I don't question my admittance to the program, I do notice that these worth insecurities tend to cycle round.
There are times when I still feel the nagging sensation of not being enough. I can be hard on myself. I can judge myself without love. I'm compassionate with others, but then I forget to include myself in that compassion.
I've noticed that when I feel powerless my insecurities splay open like a gaping wound. (Usually I've given away my power without realizing it.) Instead of being kind to myself when I'm wounded, I notice my tendency to toss salt and kick myself when I'm down.
A friend reminds me that I've given my power away. "Instead of telling yourself you did an awful job (and throwing the baby out with the bathwater)," she says, "What if you said, okay, step one didn't work so now I can create a step two."
My therapist used to say that anxiety wants to be fed two things: information and reassurance. The anxiety and blehness want the situation to turn out the way I picture, but I can only control myself, not someone else.
What I can control is the creation of step two. I can see it as a progression rather than step one having been a failure. I can use what I've learned in step one to form a better approach for step two.
The reassurance part is to remind myself that I can do everything in my power, with an open heart. Then I must let go of the outcome I want, despite how hard I've worked for it. I must be willing to let things fall and trust that I'm able to deal with them, even if it might not be ideal. It is still possible.
When possibilities exist then we can still move, we can still make choices. Movement reassures us that we are not trapped and that we can keep going.
So how do we move?
A few years ago I learned the word AMALA which has three different meanings. In Sanskrit, "most pure." In Tibetan, "revered mother." In Spanish (or Italian), "love her."
The last meaning LOVE HER resonated with me. I saw myself in a photograph at eight years old, standing by the window with a shy smile and mischief in my eyes. It wasn't a question, "Do you love her?" but more of a command, so gentle it had power even in a whisper. It felt like open palms, arms spread wide in a field of tall grass, that nothing else was left but the choice to love.
When I thought about myself at eight, my heart opened and I wanted to be kind to that little girl.
Do you judge yourself? Feel powerless, depressed or anxious? Do you kick yourself when you're down?
Ask yourself this question! What's going on in my life that's caused me to give up my power? Where do I feel powerless right now?
Do this! Picture yourself or your best friend at eight years old. Better yet, tape a photo of your little kid self to your bathroom mirror. How would you treat that person? How would you talk to them? What compassion or kindness would you extend to them? Then include yourself in that kindness. Love yourself in the way you'd love that little child.
In this way we can truly love ourselves even when we're feeling bleh.
AMALA. LOVE HER. (Or him.)
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.