What is a real Woman?

Am I a real Woman?

“Real women have curves.” You hear this from many different places. As “plus size” women do we try to over compensate by declaring ourselves better for having curves? Are we fighting against what has made us feel rejected for so long?

By saying real women have curves we are enacting the same “us, them” attitude that has gotten us into this mess in the first place.

Real women come in all shapes, sizes, sexual orientations, races, talents, likes, dislikes. In fact, I would really like to take out the word “Real” all together. It implies that the opposite is somehow fake in some way. I have many friends without curves and I’m pretty sure they are real and I’m pretty sure they are “real” women.

Am I being too serious? Can’t we joke? Yeah, I mean believe it or not I am a jokester. But, as a society we have taken appearance and telling people what is or is not good wayyyyyyy beyond where it needs to go. But this is a serious issue in society and people do end up with eating disorders as a result of societal judgements. What role could humor serve though? Could making this issue more lighthearted among friends relieve some of the tense energy around it? I would say…maybe…and know your crowd.

I joke around with my friends all of the time in fact. We joke about our bodies, and everything really. But, to make wide-spread judgements and campaigns about what a real woman is or is not isn’t too funny to me.

So don’t worry ¬†anymore, get out there. Be a woman. Do your thing. Owning your “woman-ness” has nothing to do with curves or not.

Growth – a poem

A false sense of safety fills me as I peek out from the walls of my imaginary box.

For now, I will lay down in the corner of this space and wrap myself up in my warm comfort blanket.

Then, comes the time, that I will step forth out into the infinite unknown.

My breath will be taken for a minute, for my lungs only know expansion through a well defined space.

The familiar will become foreign and all sense of knowing will dissolve.

I will turn inward, then, to search for answers.

My heart will flutter as it scurries to make sense of what is happening.

I will try to crawl back into my box, but it will not fit and the sight of it will make me sick.

The feel of its cramped walls will make me scream as if it is suffocating me.

I will look around at everyone else in their boxes and feelings of envy will wash through me.

Look at how comfortable they are, sleeping so soundly.

Can I crawl in with you for a minute? Can I escape my new sense of uncertainty?

It feels good for a moment to have an escape and I welcome it.

But, as time passes, I recognize this is not my space, and I must leave in search of my own.

I hang on to something inside of me, a voice, a knowing that has always been there.

I hang on to the sound of unbridled childhood laughter.

I hang on to the sound of the ocean and the vantage point at the top of my favorite mountain.

I hang on to the wisdom of the great elephant and of my dream of the rhythmic river.

I hang on.

I hang on to cherish the mystery and to dance with the unknown.

I ask if the great mystery can be my new home.

I step out into widest deepest parts of myself and I take a deep breath.

I just keep breathing.

Appearances

I breathed in and out.

My breath an expression of a thousand moments of intimacy exchanged between us.

Of a thousand moments within myself.

A relief passes over me and through me as if letting go…or hanging on.

You draw conclusions from what you see and from what you hear.

Which will make the most impact?

Will it be the silent moments in between words unsaid?

I worry about people’s thoughts of me still. (Sometimes)

Not that they will appear to know me through their first impressions…

but that they will fail to know me through their judgements.

Will we both miss out, then, on this experience like coming to a river and failing to feel the water between our toes?

Will you know my heart?

Will my soul speak to you in the moments that it speaks its truth?

Will my truth ring loudly in your ears?

What do you see beyond my outward manifestation?

Do you see me…Do you see who I am?

I am still here.

Some realizations…for the morning.

Yellow Flower

I am writing a paper and am reflecting back on my life. I was doing this just this morning while sipping my coffee, sitting by the plants, watching the blue jays and letting the wind blow on my face. When, I thought of realizations…or quotes or something.

1. I am extremely sensitive. I feel the emotions of other people. I have binge ate many times just to dampen these feelings to a tolerable level. I am an open person, but I can also get tired interacting with so many people. I have had to create self-care techniques to combat this and learn to set boundaries. Not in a bad way, but a healthy way. So, I thought to myself, “Don’t be so open that yourself falls out.” I realized if I let myself open up so much, I have at times lost myself in the emotions of others. This is not healthy or helpful.

2. As a seeker of “information” I like to ponder things. I read and read and ask many questions. Which, of course, only leads to more questions. I realize I have to stop searching for the TRUTH and allow for the answers. This can really only happen when I am quiet enough to hear them. In addition, someone else’s answers are someone else’s answers. Can reading an inspiring quote offer a new insight? YES absolutely, but then stop and ask, “how does this fit into my life?” How do I personally feel about this. It can deepen the experience even more.

Just some morning ponderings!! Thanks! Good day!

Reflection on the discussion of the “ego.”

Lately, much discussion has centered around letting go of the “ego” etc. I have been pondering this lately and asking what does this really mean and is it good? I know in my life when I am making a decision I sometimes ask myself am I making this decision from a heart-centered place or an ego place? What do I mean by this? For example, would going to school for another degree fulfill me in any way? Am I trying to get another degree so that I feel good about myself or so that society can view my title and think I am more accomplished? This would be that type of question. The answer is I love school, I love learning, but yes having a certain title sometimes feels good and yes society loves titles. Do I NEED to go to school to learn? Do I NEED a title to have knowledge? No, not at this time and not about what I want to learn about. If I was going to learn surgery, sure maybe I would need a specialized skill.

So, the answer to this is not as easy as it may appear and in addition, it is based on mixed sentiment.

I think instead of the ego, I would like to call it belief systems. Belief systems can either stand in our way at certain times, or help us. I think it is a mistake to say the ego is bad or judge it in this way.

Why do I think this? I think this is because usually it is trying to protect us. An example is, I have fear surrounding certain things in my life. These fears have limited me in different ways. However, to say they are false beliefs also isn’t exactly true either. They were or are true for me at some point in my life, and served that purpose to keep me safe. Did they keep me safe? Maybe, Maybe not. Do I still need to hold on to them to reach new areas of achievement in my life? No. No I really do not need them.

Thanking these beliefs for being there is an interesting experience. I recently read an article and one of the things it mentioned was to thank the negative emotion for being there, for trying to protect you. So, I did this. What I felt inside was interesting. Instead of the usual sense of resistance towards emotions where I get mad and say, “uggghhhh I wish I did not have that fear.” I thought, “o, it was a defense mechanism.” The resistance went down a little bit. Is my fear totally gone? No, but my understanding of it is completely transformed. In a sense, it is like during relaxation exercise where I am imagining being by the ocean and the day’s list of “to-dos” comes into my mind, I accept that it is there, say hello, and allow it to pass. The more I focus on being annoyed or try to not think about the to-do list, the more I think about it.

Acceptance-This word/this theme comes again and again. What is it about acceptance that is so powerful? It is not giving in and saying, “I don’t care.” Instead, no it is taking a step back noticing and integrating that thought. It is like the river that finds a new way to flow around the rock.

So, I wonder, what is the point of fighting with “the ego”. What is the point of fighting our negative beliefs and emotions? What if we turn and face them and look at them. What if we thank them for trying to protect us? Will they transform us?

Just some thoughts…

Feedback is always appreciated ūüôā

Mermaids are awesome: finally finding some freedom from food obsession.

Image

 

I found this sign on a bathroom door. I liked it for obvious reasons. It does not have much to do with this post except that it is a mermaid. However, I will say the mermaid in the picture looks a little sneaky. I feel like a rebel right now in some ways, so I guess I can make that leap. Why do I feel like a rebel you ask? Well, thanks for asking. I will tell you. About 5 months ago I took part in a treatment program for my Eating Disorder. How did I come to learn I had an eating disorder? Well, through much reading and soul searching. However, I will tell you, my journey to the program actual started as a way to conquer my recent “inability” to stick to any weight loss program. I was gaining weight despite repeated and constant attempts to lose weight. I came to recognize that I was obsessed with food, my body image and weight loss. Was this a new thing in my life? No, it started at the young age of 12 when I began my first diet. I lost weight, sure, but I gained something else. I had unknowingly added a new obsession into my world. One, that I continue to fight to this day. You might ask, do I think ALL dieting is bad? Not really, I have actually seen a few people that want to lose some weight here and there and do not have an unhealthy obsession with it or their body’s. They seem to just do it without feeling like their whole world is riding on the results of it. Do I think overall understanding the body’s hunger cues, understanding intuitive eating, and understanding the emotional component to why we eat is probably a better strategy overall? Yes, I do.¬†

So, five months ago, I have to admit that I literally had nothing to lose when I entered my program. I was in deep with my obsessions and I knew it. I felt trapped. They told me, “this is not a weight loss program.” Ok, I thought, time to get real. Time hit my real problem head on. ¬†I just wanted to find joy and happiness again. I could not obsess any longer about food, dieting, my body etc. It was literally eating away at me. PUN INTENDED. I also knew dieting was out, since I literally couldn’t do it anymore. THANK YOU BODY! Thank you body for being smarter than me. So, my goals changed. Once I realized that I had to give up my goal of weight loss in order to achieve a different more important goal, everything changed. Believe me when I tell you that, giving up a goal that I had carried with me for almost 20 years was not the easiest thing I did. I can also tell you that I still work every day to remind myself why my healthier goal of ending food obsession is the more important goal. Some days are harder than others. Some people might read this and think, “but isn’t weight loss an important goal? Isn’t losing weight important for health.” I have many many thoughts on what I have written above, but for the purposes of this blog, what I can tell you is that, I was sure if I did not give up the goal of weight loss, I would continue to binge eat and gain weight. I know, it is crazy, but absolutely true.¬†

So, when did I realize I had made progress on this goal? Well, the other day, I was driving and I was talking to my friend. We were actually talking about over eating. I realized that my response to the conversation was completely different than it had ever been before. I have to tell you, I still binge eat from time to time. I am still recovering. HOWEVER, I do not obsess about food like before. I still have some obsession, sure, but it is much much less. As a result, my binges are significantly less and less intense. I eat until I am full most of the time. Also, I realized I do not have the same level of shame and guilt attached to eating as I did before. I do not always pick apart every morsel of food I put in my mouth. I do not need a perfect meal. Sometimes, food is just food. I am elated as I type this. I never thought I would get to this point. I am soooo happy to share this on this blog. If I can get to this place, so can anyone! 

My goal is to continue along this path. I notice that I mostly eat according to my hunger cues now. I also notice that I am full a lot sooner than I used to notice. In summary, I am more in tune with my body and my body is thanking me. 

I have read many books on mindful eating and the end of dieting. I have to say they have helped me tremendously and certainly added to my success! I am so grateful to the brave and insightful writers. However, sometimes these books make eating mindfully and intuitively seem somewhat easy. They have at times left me feeling encouraged, but then sad, when my attempts did not make the cut so to speak. Perhaps, it was because before my program, I was still measuring success by the numbers on the scale, or my pants size. Perhaps, it is because I had to dig through piles of pain to get where I am. Thus, no it hasn’t been easy. ¬†I now measure success by the fact that I believe freedom from food obsession to be a possibility. The books usually also seem to still hold¬†the goal for the reader to lose weight. I don’t blame the writers for this, this is most people’s goal when reading them. For me, however, I have found, only in my own personal experience, tackling my eating disorder meant truly giving up that as the end all be all goal. Do I hope my body will find a comfortable healthy weight that is a great size for my own personal body? Yes, I do. Perhaps that is now. Who knows really. I fight everyday to disallow the old voices of society or my teenage self to tell me I must look a certain way to fill some ideal. However, I merely hold this as a place card so to speak. In the here and now, I work on small goals. These small goals create small victories and the small victories build and come together into big victories.¬†

I want to add a confession, that dieting at all right now, or trying to purposely lose weight currently feels like a land I do not even want to go to or think about. When people bring up dieting or losing weight together etc., I usually say no thanks, I’ve got my own thing going on. What I mean is, “I’m rocking the plan I have now and my goals might be different than most of society’s, but achieving even a small amount of freedom feels amazing.” The saying, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” used to really resonate with me. Well, you know where that saying got me? It got me in a perpetual down spin of negativity and self-loathing. A new saying is, “nothing can compare to self-love, or having my own mind and self back feels really damn good.”¬†Or, “maybe you can’t see what your definition of what my “achievements” should be, but they have nothing to do with you anyways!!” HAHA I like that last one!! It is a little spicy!!!¬†

In addition, to freedom from food obsession, I have also found some freedom from my obsession with the scale. YES!!! Am I scared sometimes when I get on it? YES I AM. I am scared sometimes emotions will trigger me to stop trusting in myself or go back to my old ways. But, I keep trudging along, because right now, there really is no going back. There really only is looking ahead. 

My journey is still on-going. I remind myself daily that is ok to let go of that controlling voice and that it is ok to trust in yourself and your body. 

Goodnight and Glad to be back!

On Forgiveness…

To forgive, forgiveness….What thought’s come to mind when you think about forgiveness? For most of my life people have told me that I am too hard on myself, and perhaps they are right. What I have come to understand is that in some ways this has been a defense mechanism. If I am hard on myself, no one else will have to be. If I am hard on myself I am somehow controlling my environment so maybe things seem a little less out of control or “unknown.” During my program for binge eating disorder, I did a lot of work around forgiving myself for things. I wracked my brain, “why was it so hard for me to extend myself the self-compassionate gesture and say, “I forgive you self for not being perfect, for being human?” Why can I forgive almost anyone around me, but not myself? Again, perhaps the defense mechanism comes into play, but I also started to think about our society. We live in a very critical society. Even looking at the tabloids or the news, one comment someone says is taken out of context and bam they are soon the center of storm of hateful comments. People seem to want punishment. People seem to want to make people pay. I often wonder where the compassion is in these stories. Where is the human emotion of empathy? Sure, some things people do are horrendous and people shouldn’t just walk around without any consequences. But, that’s not what I am talking about here. When we judge people so harshly, especially without knowing the facts or a person’s true heart, it does something to us as human beings. I think it hardens us in a way.

So, enough blaming society…why else is self-forgiveness so freaking hard? Well, I can really only speak for myself. First of all, I had to take a look at myself and say, did I really do anything wrong? Sometimes I was blaming myself for things I had nothing to do with in reality, or I was feeling like I had to fly around with a cape on saving everyone. Sometimes, I did have to admit ok, yes maybe I could have done this differently etc. For example, I remember learning from someone, that comments I had made hurt their feelings and made them actually very upset. Learning this and admitting that I had caused someone sadness tore through me. I thought, “how could I have done something like this?” I beat myself up for that for a very long time. That is despite apologizing and learning new ways of communicating. Harboring those feelings towards myself in the long run really would not have helped my friend any, because most likely she had already moved on. Ahhh admitting life, and me, are not always perfect was hard for me. It meant admitting I was vulnerable and that people are vulnerable. This meant admitting that the world is not always a place of fairy tales and roses and days gone by. It meant admitting sometimes, things go wrong. Of course, I know all of this rationally. The imperfection of the world and myself are things that not only am I aware of, but are also realities that can be a bit scary, because again it means being vulnerable. I think my subconscious thought pattern went something like this: ¬†if I allow myself to be imperfect, it means being seen, being seen means being vulnerable, and being vulnerable means the possibility of getting hurt, getting hurt means experiencing painful emotions…and you get the picture.

 

Grief: When I began to take an honest look at myself and really accept the emotions I was experiencing, a strange wave of something passed¬†over me. What was this feeling? I began to ponder it, and then I figured it out. I was sitting with my emotions and allowing myself to offer me some forgiveness, when I felt some sadness. It was not just any sadness, but I began to recognize that I was actually grieving something. I had stopped using food to numb my emotions and things were coming up. I was grieving the fairy tale world where everything was “perfect”. I was grieving my childhood ideals that life is always sunshine and daisies, that everyone is always happy, and that nothing bad ever happens.¬†Again, I knew all of this rationally, but I guess maybe I just didn’t want to accept it.¬†I guess, I was actually growing up a bit. Soon enough, this feeling of grief passed, ¬†and I was able to find a new feeling in its place: a sense of accomplishment, growth and resiliency. I knew I could face myself and accept my imperfections, and more importantly, I could grow and learn from them. As I write about this now, it is easier to look back on this and paint it as events happening sequentially. But, it wasn’t and still isn’t like that. Some days, I am more willing to accept imperfection than others. Some days, I am more willing to offer myself self-compassion. Some days, I still get mad at myself and set unrealistic expectations. These skills are still very new for me and I can honestly say this journey is a continually adapting process. But, I would not have it any other way. Allowing space for self-exploration and kindness has significantly changed my life. Although it has been painful at times, it has also been beautiful and rewarding. Maybe perfect isn’t wrapped up in pretty little bows or presents under the tree on christmas morning. Maybe perfect is about staring life in the face and saying, “I see you and I see me and we are in this thing together.” Perfect is all of the little beautiful imperfections dancing in harmony creating our authentically constructed reality. Perfect isn’t about avoiding “the difficult” or pretending the mud doesn’t exist. My perfect now is facing the difficult and taking the mud and building a mud fort and staking my claim in this world. There is nothing really that exciting about perfect anyways.¬†

Yes, it is 3 am. Yes, I had double espresso at 6pm. This is something I never do, and will abstain from in the future as a rule, I require a lot of sleep. Thanks for reading.