aka Was change easy for you?
aka How come the grass is sometimes greener right where I am?
I want to shed a bit more light onto what happens with decisions like, I’m going to stop purging, I’m going to start praying, I’m going to move to another country, quit my job, break-off this relationship, etc.
These were all key decisions in my journey, and while some felt easier than others, there was a common denominator across the board.
And that was the presence of fear.
Fear of not being able to have kids if I didn’t stop purging, and fear of how my life would turn out if I kept trying to do this on my own.
In those cases, fear was a good thing. It got me to take action.
Fear has also led me to in-action.
When I broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years, that was an overdue breakup by a good number of years. But I stayed in that relationship longer than necessary due to fear.
The fear of being single and alone. Would anybody else want me? If not, I’d have to face that voice of shame again. The grass was greener staying with someone who told me he loved me, even though at my core, I knew it wasn’t a relationship I wanted to be in anymore.
I resigned from a company that served me well for 10 years, but for 5-7 years, I had my eye on the door. My eye was there, but I couldn’t muster up the courage to do anything about it.
I had dreams of being a personal trainer, going to grad school, being a teacher, or that yet-to-be-named job that hacks trails in the woods. Within my first weeks of arriving in London I took a couple steps towards these dreams. I attended an info session to become a personal trainer. I had all the materials, all the information, at my fingertips.
I couldn’t do it though.
The financial security was a big factor. As was the question: Would I succeed in a new environment? That was the bigger questions that held me back.
I didn’t have the belief in myself that I could do it.
It was another 5 years when I finally did resign. By then a lot of healing had taken place and although I still was fearful, and was stepping into a lot of uncertainty, I did it.
In hindsight this is kind of funny in a really twisted way, but it was actually a binge on uncertainty. I got married, left my job, and left for a 9 month backpacking trip around the world with my husband all within 6 weeks of each other.
For 10 years I lay dormant, depriving myself of my dreams, in essence a ‘purge’, and then it was a case of, how extreme can you get?! (A pattern you’ll hear more about next week so stay tuned.)
The fear was still there though. Would it all work out? Was spending our first year of marriage while back-packing really a good thing? Each one in and of itself can create strain, would we last a double whammy? Would we run out of money? Would we know what we want to do with our lives at the end?
It was also coupled with excitement. The excitement of the unknown, and the possibility.
Park that thought there for a minute.
Because the other things that showed up with the Fear, was Shame and Vulnerability, the three amigos; Tom, Dick and Harry. These had brought me to those bathroom floor moments, and they were still there when the decision was made to go down a different road.
And while Fear can be a good thing and get you to take action, shame rarely will, and vulnerability, you gotta dance with it first, approach it with love.
So short answer, no, change is never easy for me. It either takes bathroom floor moments, or staying where I am for longer than necessary. I guess I have a high chronic pain threshold.
I am working on this though. Hoping that it doesn’t take 5 or 10 years longer than it needs to, to create the business(es) I’d love to have, to use my voice on platforms I’d like to share my message from, and to try out new things that I’ve always dreamed of doing… like going cross-country skiing.
I’m waking up to the fact that life is about LIVING. And LIVING can feel vulnerable and scary at times. But it’s worth it.
And so are you.
So here’s what I’ve learned about taking that leap, regardless of whether or not it has to do with an eating disorder.
- Change can feel scary.
- Change can also be exciting.
- Fear and excitement are like cousins, they stem from the same place and they both can lead you to action.
- Fear actions are ‘away from’ actions. That’s because the pain of staying where you are has become greater than the pain or fear of making the change. This is what happens in bathroom floor moments.
- Excitement actions are ‘towards’ actions. You don’t need bathroom floor moments for this. If you want to draw upon some courage without the break-down, look for the excitement and move towards that. Get curious. Be playful.
- A lot of times, the change is scary because we want guaranteed answers that everything will turn out ok on the other side (we’re trying to avoid vulnerability here.) The only thing guaranteed on the other side of change is possibility. Doors and windows exist that you didn’t know were there. The only way to see them though, is to cross over the line.
- Possibility shares a home with uncertainty. ‘I’m going to be completely exposed for who I really am if I lose the eating disorder, job, relationship. What will happen then?’ Instead of letting fear join in that question, as in, ‘What will happen then?!’, [zoom in on terrified look on face, and fingers in mouth biting on nails]… ask love to show up. ‘What will happen then?!’ [zoom in on eyes open wide and smile on face like when you first see presents under the tree on Christmas morning.] Oh wow! I don’t know?! What are the endless possibilities? I could write that book I am always reading in my head! I could teach English in a 3rd world country! I could get to know myself and my greatest talents and use them to help others (ding! ding! ding!).
- Shame will use this an opportunity to dig its claws deeper, and it will hurt. It will tell you that you don’t have what it takes to make the change. It will tell you you’re not worthy of having what you want. It will tell you that you are too broken, you’ve stayed too long, and that you have no chance of success. I find it helpful to realize that this is only true if we believe that it is true. It only stays alive if we feed it. Give it some air time, recognize the lies for what they are, and then tell shame his time in the driver’s seat is over. Sayonara dude.
- It helps to have a partner in crime. Ask someone to be in this transition with you. Someone who’s got your back regardless of the outcome. This is a version of unconditional love.
- It helps to remove items that are going to tempt you to stay where you are. I remember one Saturday afternoon I was picking out an outfit to go out in that night and I kept looking longingly at the pair of size 4 jeans that I had long grown out of. I always had in the back of my head, if one day I can just fit in them again… (sigh). They were bringing me down. So I donated them to my 13 year old cousin. Clear out whatever space you need in order to make room for something new. This is called letting go.
- Give yourself grace. Perfection does not live on the other side of change. (I know, I wish it did too sometimes.) If anything humility does. Learning how to navigate new lands, like a child learning to walk. You will fall. You will probably fail. But that is not a reflection on who you are, on your self worth. It’s taken me 35 years to realize that failure can be a good thing, and that I am not a failure just because certain outcomes don’t happen has planned. Guess what, outcomes that you couldn’t have dreamed up on your own happen instead. Leave the door open for that.
So wherever you’re at reading this, my hope is you don’t have to go through bathroom floor moments to say, ‘Allright already, I’m willing to change.’
Spare yourself the pain.
I get it though, you might not be ready to say, ‘I’m willing’, just yet.
If that’s the case, start here:
I’m willing to be willing.
I’m willing to be willing to be willing.
or even here:
I’m willing to be willing to be willing to be willing.
however many steps back from willing you are, be willing to take just one step closer to willing. You will get there.
Something to think about: Have you ever noticed that fear and excitement are related? What change for your life have you been putting off? Why? Can you be willing to be willing? Or willing to be willing to be willing? 🙂
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 soon. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are. A place to practice being willing and finding the courage to face fears. Join us this February.