Today’s post is the last installment in the is 3-part series of my story of how I fell into my disordered eating, my experiences with Ana, and how my journey of recovery.
If you missed the previous two posts: feel free to catch up on the links below:
Today’s Part III post is focused on giving you a few tips on how to truly live in your body and feel good in doing it! Based on my experience with my eating disorder, much of it had taken up place in my mind, that I was no longer sensing / denying how my body felt. Yet, our body’s intuitive signals can be a source of guidance for us to feeling our best, if we learn to listen to it.
My recovery wasn’t one of those one step forward continuous uphill. On many of the days I felt beaten. There were days where I couldn’t discern which of my thoughts were me or were they eating disordered related thoughts, because by that time Ana had stuck around that she had become so much a part of me. The process was similar perhaps to saying goodbye to an old friend. There was a phase of sadness, realising that I had to say goodbye; but also there was a point of understanding (like so many of our friends) that having met and lived with Ana, I knew that the journey of releasing her from my life was one that was going to be a part of me forever.
It initially felt like an unfortunate vicissitude. Akin to a painful withdrawal.
Especially during the first few months. The battle to eat. and not eat. The cries of having eaten and then having to find a way to deal with the urge of over-execising. The nausea of having to go through another painful battle the next day. the worst part was that it was a battle inside my own mind. and some days I felt I was losing it. The temptation to go back and just live with Ana was strong, it was easier to not eat, it was easier to control. it was easier to not feel anything. At least when there was Ana, there was someone to turn to when the world felt it was crumbling down.
But I realised, that was why it felt so safe. How couldn’t not be? Ana had been an extension of an overly critical self for the past 8 years or so. The fact that she was my worst enemy at best didn’t matter because that was what was familiar to me.
I knew that returning back to my self-destructive ways was not the answer. I had grown tired of battling with my own mind, so I figured the way out of this was to get out of my mind (literally).
I found that the remedy to appeasing Ana was to not think; but to feel.
I wrote in part II of the difficulty of opening my heart and allowing myself to feel. I thought that it was safe to stay in the rationality of my mind. But I found this to be wrong. Our mind cannot survive without being fueled my our hearts. I thought that by counting calories, portioning my food, exercising for so and so many hours, I would be able to control life. That life would not be able to hurt me anymore. I would be able to get to the weight that I desired, and that when this was achieved, everything would be okay, that I would be finally safe. Safe from hurtful criticism. Safe from the pain of having to feel that I wasn’t good enough. Safe from any form of hurtful wounds that have haunted me in the last 10 years. My desire in putting up an externally ‘perfect’ facade would prevent me from getting hurt. My obsession with attaining the ‘perfect’ weight, was only a manifestation of my avoidance to actually attend to the part of me that I had neglected all this time. The emotional wounds of my heart.
My question for you is, is there a part of you that you have neglected that you find yourself being overly ‘busy’ with another part of your life? We can only run away for some time, until that part of us that needs attending catches up.
In attending to my feelings, I learned to listen to my body’s intuitive signals. Some of which were physical, which my mind had lost the ability to discern after two years of living with Ana.
The first was to Honor my Hunger needs. The feeling that comes with physiological hunger – the slight rumbling of the stomach, the dizziness that comes to the head, the cravings for sometimes sweet or savoury foods. After two years of being scared of being hungry, I needed to learn again that this was acceptable to feel hunger. So, I made a commitment to eat three meals a day and have snacks in between. This was not easy at first. But everytime the Ana voice came that told me it was not okay to eat, I would rationally talk back to eat and say it’s okay to feel hungry, that we need food to function with our daily lives, we don’t need to exercise first to eat, or we need to burn off all of the calories we have eaten. Feeling hungry is not considered weak but it is a natural biological feeling that all humans get. I would also do a mealtime meditation, which I have found to be very helpful. At every mealtime, I would focus on all the foods on my plate and say to myself that I am thankful for this food and that it will nourish my body to be healthy and happy. 🙂 Overtime, the Ana thoughts grew less and less, and eating became a habit again.
In relation to this, was to also honor my physical needs. I made a commitment that if I felt hungry, I would eat. If I felt my body needed rest. I would rest. If i felt i needed to go out for a run (not in the intention of burning calories) but if my legs were feeling lethargic or my body needed to break a sweat, I would go an exercise. These physical essentials became a priority for me because for such a long time, I had been putting off sleep or skip a meal for work. Or I would over exercise for self-punishment. I learned to attend to take care of my body’s physical needs all in the intention of feeling good and healthy.
The second was to attend to my Emotional needs. The feeling of fear, anxiety, sadness, was a big part of my life and had compounded with Ana. Instead of running away from it, (which I have for the longest of time) I learned to face my feelings head on. My one tip in facing your feelings is to actually name the feeling. It’s normal to feel emotions, but the thing with feelings is that it does not come from nowhere. Our feelings are usually linked to a thought behind it. So, when I was feeling a certain emotion, I would ask myself, what were you doing / thinking a few moments before feeling sad / fearful / anxious? I found out that much of my negative feelings came from my own thinking things of too far of the possible (negative) consequences, rather than actually living in the present moment.
The third was to attend to my Social Needs. The thing about eating disorders is that we can get very isolated in our minds and we become fearful of our own thoughts. But also at the same time, we endorse them that we believe every irrational thought that comes into our head. The good thing is that the remedy comes in talking or having a laugh with our friends put our thoughts in perspective. I found that when I was sharing my troubles or the feeling of pressure from the workload I was under, and to have another person that identifies with the feeling is comforting. There is healing in the vulnerability of human connection. We were made to live and connect with one another. And sharing our troubles, experiences, happiness is all apart of the healing our souls.
When our soul is comforted, our bodies receives nourishment too. Click To Tweet
It is love that conquers all…
I want to end this three part story with this:
Perhaps the one that strikes fear in us is the thought of fully becoming and embracing who we are. We don’t want to reveal our true selves because of we fear that we be ridiculed, isolated, and at worst rejected. The fearful thoughts of rejection are reasonable, but they are only often projections of a past that may have been filled of traumatic experiences. I felt safe masking under Ana because I could avoid expressing and being me. Ana manifested the core of my beliefs about myself. I believed that I was not good enough, not worthy, not deserving of happiness. However, these beliefs were not true. This was the world talking, persons, circumstances that were not of a loving nature. and I chose to believe it for so much of my life.
But our hearts do not come from this world, the core being of who we are is and will continue to be is love. Our physical selves is only a vessel for what truly matters, that is our hearts. When we busy ourselves obsessing how much we weigh, what we look like, what we can eat or should not eat, it could be an avoidance for looking deep inside of ourselves to what really needs to be healed. There’s a reason why we long to be accepted, acknowledged, and recognized; underneath all of these desires is a desire for true genuine love. It is essential that we learn to love ourselves, and sustain that love because not only it nourishes us, but the energy overflows from us to others. When we learn to love ourselves, we can connect so much more to others that we give them permission to connect to their hearts too. It is the love that we nourish ourselves with that help others to heal themselves; in giving love we allow them to become more of who they really are too.
I took the time to address the root of my beliefs. I decided to see the traumatic events from a heartful place, instead of what the world might say. I encourage you to do the same too. What I’ve learned from my recovery is that Our experiences do not define who we become, but they often do because we let our experiences have power over us. The past is the past, it only has power over us if we let it. I’ve experienced cruel criticism, been bullied, isolated, and rejected. I went through 2 divorces, physical and verbal abuse. In many ways, I had let these experiences define who I was. But, we can rise above our hurtful experiences, because they were only the doorway to revealing what to what we are truly made of. Life wants us to learn something and facing our deepest wounds holds the key to revealing our greatest wisdom.
We have been gifted with a mind that is wired for love and thus, we have the power to choose whether to react / interpret our experiences that will of benefit to our health or not. In choosing health and recovery, I uprooted my core beliefs and chose to believe in what was the truth all along. That we are worthy, worthy of happiness, love, health, and that we are meant to live a life that is thriving, and a life that fulfills us to our very core. We are uniquely gifted in our own ways, and our place in this world matters. We don’t need any external validation to tell us that; no weight, no number on a scale or a pant size can validate for our worth, because nothing can equate to our soul’s infinite worth.
The world can fuel our fear based ego, and if we believe in fear, it keep us small, and stuck. However, our hearts: the inner depth of who we are is much stronger than the world. We need to allow ourselves to feel, in order to heal. It’s time to get out of our minds; to stop bargaining to what we think we should be, and begin honoring our hearts calling. *on a side note, perhaps it’s the reason every particle of our blood goes through our hearts, when we can trust our hearts, it will fuel our bodies in the best way possible.
Recovery may be one of the most difficult things to go through, but it will take you on a journey of your mind, and hopefully it will lead you to your heart. You will learn many things about yourself that you didn’t know before and and I hope that this will give you a renewed perspective of who you are as a person and a greater appreciation of this gift that we have of life.
I hope that you continue to join me in this journey. I love writing and I hope this post has served you. If you have any recovery topics that you want me to do a blog post please do leave a comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sneak peek at this week’s recipe: