Good morning to you all! I have been happily stunned by the response to my first post. Thank you so, so much for your honesty and overwhelming support!! Clearly this is a potent subject for many of us. It has taken me a while to write again—I’ve experienced so many feelings in this area and am extra sensitive to it now that I’m sharing. There is much to say and many directions to travel.
I’m pleased to report that since I wrote last time, I have lost 6 lbs. and now have 30 lbs to lose. Yes, there is still out of control eating/binging. However, there is something about intentionally being vulnerable and feeling the support of all of you—I have had less desire to numb myself from the intensity of life and more desire to feel alive. I am grateful! Yesterday I even returned to my vegan roots and drank carrot juice (from the R House in Baltimore’s Remington neighborhood). It was so good!
I’ve been thinking a lot about “alternative facts” lately, since, like many of you, I live in the U.S (apparently I Just had to bring this into our conversation😊. Please take it with a grain of salt!). I see a quite a few nuances here, even potential positives of alternative facts (another blog). For the sake of today’s conversation, I’d like to move this conversation into the realm of personal experiences. For today, I will begin by looking at alternative facts in the negative sense–as lies I believe about myself. And I will be asking you to do the same. Having lived with large amounts of shame, I can say for certain that it doesn’t do any of us any good. It may accomplish something in the short-term, but over time, it’s a disaster. For example, I think of how motivated I am to eat well when I look at myself and see my myriad flaws. Maybe someone else would go to dance class; I, on the other hand, go straight to the refrigerator.
So . . . . .
What alternative facts/lies do you tell yourself? There is a lot to this subject; our American society has created an “ideal” body type for women (men, I would love to hear about your experiences in this area). As far as I know, it has been this way for a long time, and the “ideal” changes. If you are in the “out” crowd, well, too bad for you.
However, society is made up of people. That means that if we each go on a journey of beauty with ourselves, we will cease to require “society” to tell us our truths (why do we buy those magazines anyway?). With that in mind, I’d like to focus on our personal truths, or in this case, the alternative facts (lies) we tell ourselves. I will begin by recognizing a personal non-truth. And I genuinely look forward to your stories!
Here’s mine: when I was 10 years old, I began believing I was fat. That sounds innocuous, right? But it was a HUGE lie! I was a skinny little kid! There wasn’t one shred of truth to my belief. There was also a judgment that being “fat” was bad, but I digress (another blog). Here is an old picture of my brother and I decorating Christmas cookies in Liberia—we had so much fun being jungle bunnies (and eating frosting)!
Another girl who was two years older and cool (I guess I wasn’t cool yet) was quite a bit skinnier than me. I judged her to be the standard of beauty, so therefore, I was lacking. Unfortunately, I didn’t have parents I could confide in, so there was no one to correct my alternative facts. Ever since then, I have judged myself to be fat and ugly, even when there was overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
When I look back at pictures of me as a teenager or young bride, I was beautiful. But I approached the world full of shame and not being good enough, and that is what I received. It’s so sad to think that I didn’t enjoy the beauty I had been given, and instead, questioned God about all my flaws. And yes, I still do that! For those of you who know me well, yes, I admit to it!
My ex-husband thinks I’m the most beautiful person ever, and he has never understood how I can’t see that. Did it affect our relationship? Absolutely! Here I was living into the shame of a damaging lie, and he simply wanted to enjoy our connection. Of course, there are other reasons why we have updated our relationship status to friendship, but the fact remains that my shameful view of myself hindered our closeness.
I know this is heavy stuff. Thank you for being kind and generous as I relate very vulnerable feelings. There is obviously way more to my story, but I wanted to share the timeline—how a lie begun at 10 years old can affect the circumstances of person’s life who is just a few years beyond 10 (had to get that in 😊). I also think about all the times I’ve been invited to a party and didn’t go because I didn’t feel pretty enough. Shame is so pervasive, and it’s time for all of us to face it and release it!
Now for the fun stuff . . . . . I’d like to begin a new conversation around this (or new for me). I’m going to write the next section as a series of questions—questions that use language that may appeal to me. If the language doesn’t work for you, I encourage you to translate it to your language, whether that is scientific, emotional, religious, etc. How can you treat yourself with sweetness in this area? Here we go . . . .
What if I, like everyone on the planet, am the most beautiful expression of myself there is? What if I am the only being in the whole universe that carries my personal spark of divinity? What if the orderly working of my body is incredible and to be honored? What if the pain I’ve suffered brings me closer to the meaning of life? How wonderful my legs are for carrying me everywhere I need to go! How interesting that they are lighter in the winter and darker in the summer! Isn’t it cool how the sun affects the color of my skin? How gorgeous all this weight is, for it shows me how blessed I am to have abundant food! How grateful I am to live in a part of the world where I have so much food to choose from! How wonderful that my double/triple chin so beautifully protects my vocal chords! What if my belly offers me the curves and softness that a grown women can give the world? And my hands—how beautifully they play the piano as well as offering Reiki to my friends, students, and clients!
I already feel different. What a beautiful way to think! I wonder if we all can begin to think along these paths of beauty and gratitude. My commitment to you is to explore this purposeful realm of thinking. I will share how it affects my binge eating, along with those times I do less than fabulously.
Love to all of you and I’m excited to hear your stories!!