aka ‘Is that it? That’s what made you bulimic?’ ‘No, there’s more!’
aka What’s the big IF?
So, by now you’re familiar with Mr. Dick (aka shame) and hairy Harry (aka vulnerability) and you get how that might lead one down the Food = Coping Mechanism road, right?
Well, there’s one more missing piece.
Fear of getting fat.
Fear of being rejected.
Fear of failure.
To start with anyway.
Fear is a funny thing. Sometimes you need fear. It protects you. It keeps you from driving off a cliff, or walking down a dark alley. It can keep you safe. When it does this, fear is a nice guy.
Kind of like a Tom.
You can’t not like Tom.
Except that Tom has a dark side too. He’s slightly bi-polar and all of a sudden gets too protective and slightly possessive. He wants to keep you all for himself in his little bubble. For sure you’ll stay out of harm’s way, but you also won’t grow. You’ll stagnate. Even wither.
Here’s what I’ve learned about fear.
There have been times in my life where fear served me really well and kept me out of trouble. It’s kept me looking both ways when crossing. It’s kept me driving the speed limit when it’s pouring rain with gale force winds, even when I’m running late. It’s partnered up with my intuition to give me signals that hey, that guy’s not good for you.
It’s done well in protecting me physically, and I’ll throw it a bone here, emotionally and spiritually.
Fear has also debilitated me. Created anxiety when I have felt extremely alone. Made me doubt and ultimately sabotage relationships that were inviting me to grow. He’s kept me procrastinating for hours, days, weeks, months, years, to make the call, the decision, that might just change my life.
Fear asks me to put on an act, some armour, so that my shame and vulnerability is shielded from the world.
In short: Tom sees Mr. Dick and Harry coming from miles away and tries to save the day.
Which is great in theory, except for these two things.
- The three of them duking it out turns into an internal shit storm. You don’t have to have an eating disorder to know this.
- You never get to have your own relationship with Mr. Dick and Harry if Tom does all the talking. You’re left unequipped.
I’ve only caught on to this recently, say the past 2 or 3 months. And it’s brilliant. Because now when Tom shows up, I’m like…
‘OH!!! Mr Dick and Harry are on their way! How can I prepare for them? What do I need to learn here? How can I grow?’
(OK let’s be honest, I’m not QUITE there yet. More like grrrr, clenched fists, a few expletives, possibly tears, and finally, I remember what I just wrote up there.)
Regardless of where you’re at now, the idea is that instead of letting Tom, Dick, and Harry, have their chaotic rumble, ask them to take their seats.
Here’s how this could’ve played out 15 years ago.
Tom, I get it. You’re worried that if I put on weight, I won’t be able to run as fast, and if I don’t run as fast and can’t perform, beyond that big ol’ F for Failure being stamped on my forehead, you’re worried that I might not have the relationships, the love and connection with others, that helps me thrive. I get it, you’re worried I won’t be able to survive with Harry hanging around.
Don’t worry Tom. I’d like to talk with Harry on my own.
Harry. I’ll admit, what you’re offering me does feel a bit scary… let myself put on weight AND run around the track half naked in spanks? But Harry, it only feels as scary as it does when Dick starts chiming in, so give me one sec.
Dick. We go way back so let’s just keep this brief. You might think that an extra 5 lbs is going to make me slow as molasses, that I’ll be ridiculed, and that it will prove that I am just ‘the thing’ and will never amount to anything. You’re entitled to your opinion. But guess what, that’s your opinion, and only your opinion. And here’s another thing, I figured out your secret; you need me to agree with you in order to stay alive. Sorry dude. Game over.
OK Harry, back to you. Here’s the deal. Yes, this is a new scenario for me and my body. Yes, it’s a change from the norm and I’m not sure how it’s all going to end. But I don’t need to know that right now. All I need to know is who I am when I get to the starting line. That I am strong, I am courageous, I am grateful for all my body has done for me so far. I am running with love, not fear. And I have everything I need to do what I need to do on the day. I have enough miles, squats, and situps, under my belt. I am enough. I’m going to have fun out there Harry, and whatever will be will be. Harry, I need you to know that I am ready to do this on my own. Without Tom and Dick around. So what do you think Harry? Will you dance with me?
Trust me, it’s taken me 35 years to even think about having that conversation with the three of them.
15 years ago, it was the shit storm. The fears of fat, failure, and rejection, consumed me. And here’s the crazy part: I didn’t even know it at the time.
That’s the other thing with fear. A lot of times you think you’re doing the right thing.
Why would putting on weight, getting dumped, flunking an exam, getting fired, or having a negative bank balance ever be a good thing?
I’ll give you one good reason:
So that you have first hand experience of this one simple truth: You do not explode into a million little pieces when those things happen. Your life does not end. It is not game over.
It can actually be the opposite. Those situations that Fear is trying to protect you from, can be the biggest game changers.
And here’s the big IF.
- You (lovingly) remind shame that the outcome is not a reflection of your self worth.
- You dance with vulnerability.
Use the opportunity of being stripped down naked to remind yourself of who you are. Who you really, really, are. At your core.
Remind your quintessential self that you are beautifully and wonderfully made… even if you ain’t got no stinkin badges. 🙂
Something to think about: How does fear protect you? How does it hold you back? What do you know about your quintessential self? How can you dance with vulnerability?
Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like yours shared there.
Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.
Nourish your Quintessential Self. The Nourish Circle, a private group for women to support each other’s journeys with food, body and self, is starting. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are and receive support for your own dance with vulnerability. Join us this February.