aka Do you think you’re crazy?
aka You mentioned yesterday that you binged on uncertainty. I thought you could only binge on food.
Nope, you can binge on other things. Uncertainty being one of them.
Think of a binge as this: An escape from reality.
A purge: The [somewhat futile] attempt to create order out of the chaos. Put things right after the binge.
When I made three major changes at once, got married, quit my job, and travelled for 9 months, it was partly an escape from living the lives we were living and the reality that we didn’t know what else to do, and partly answering a call to adventure. To go find what it is we really wanted from life.
So maybe not a complete binge since there was an element of intentional choice in there.
But if I’m completely honest with myself, and with you, this binge/purge, control/release indulge/deprive cycle shows up frequently for me.
My house is either tidy or it’s not. More often than not, it’s not. Because we’re very much living in the moment, escaping from the reality that it takes consistent effort to keep order in a house. When the mess surpasses my pain point, then I will clean and tidy all at once.
I will let any admin, filing, accounting, etc that needs to be done pile up until I can’t take the messy piles of paper and the uncertainty of whether or not an important bill has been missed, and then spend a day or two plowing through it all, finding the order once again.
When I was working on papers or projects for work, I’d get the assignment weeks in advance of the deadline and do nothing about it, and then for the 2 days or so before the project was due, would cram and pour out an immense amount of work to meet the deadline.
Last year, from April-June I had a flurry of activity in the spring; blogs, newsletters, a radio interview, a 5 day challenge launched, a release of an 8 week self-coaching guide. Lots of activity to escape the reality that business wasn’t where I wanted it and I didn’t know why. Then July and August – Nada. Order once again because now there’s a good excuse why business isn’t working… there’s no action happening.
I literally said this out loud this past Fall, ‘Wow, even my business is bulimic.’
Heck, even this blog series fits the pattern. For 2 years, dribs and drabs of my story and lessons have been shared, but for the most part, I kept it close, not facing the music that sharing the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, will inevitably have to happen. And now the floodgates have been opened.
This is how I expressed myself emotionally as a kid too.
You wouldn’t know how I was feeling. I’d be keeping everything in, ignoring and repressing the emotions, and then bam, you were hit with everything as I let it all out.
The consistency that does exist across this binge/purge tendency is this:
With a binge, that escape from reality feels really good in the moment. A temporary relief of giving yourself what you think you want, something that releases all the right chemicals. Food, living in the moment, not having to do the menial tasks. But the high is overshadowed by the knowing of what’s going to come at the end. The inevitability of facing the facts. The painful reality that regardless of all you consumed, the binge didn’t solve any problems. You still don’t like what you’re seeing the mirror, or you still have to clean your house, or you still have to file the papers, or your business still isn’t working, even though you’ve had the temporary feeling of pleasure.
A purge, even though it might seem messy and out of control when it comes to food, actually is the opposite. It’s a way to bring things back to the normal state of being. And most purges, are actually relaxing in a meditative, robotic way. Like an out of body experience. You know what needs to be done and you just do it. You detach a bit and let something else take over. Like being in flow. The satisfaction of the release is pleasurable, and masks any physical or mental pain from the outpour of energy that it takes to vomit, clean the house, put the ideas down on paper, or organize the files.
Each act of binge and purge serves a purpose.
Two things to notice:
- There’s a lot pain thresholds driving the bus in these cycles.
- The extreme contrast of energy shows up most prevalently with any kind of creative or raw expression.
I’ve had to ask the question, is this just how I am, or have I learned this? The age old nature vs nurture question.
I don’t know the answer, but here’s a couple of observations:
Those papers, and projects that were done last minute, they were typically ace. Maybe needed a few tweaks here and there, but close enough to the mark that I never felt I had to adapt my working style to leave more time to create the finished product.
Even with the way I write now, I’ll be mulling things over, processing in the background, so by the time I sit down to write, it all comes out in a few hours.
What does that mean?
Maybe the binge/purge cycle somehow facilitates a higher level of creative functioning?
For a while I’ve resisted this. When I realized my business was bulimic, I did NOT think that was a good thing. How embarrassing! An old destructive pattern back at work. Shame on me!
All good business advice says, be consistent.
Well, I’ll tell you one thing. I’m consistently inconsistent. Or at least consistently going to withdraw while incubating, and then resurface with a flood of ideas.
I’m learning not to judge this, at least not the action.
I can get clear on my intention though. Check in to see if the binge/purge is going to tick the boxes of Nourishment and Pleasure or are they coming from a trying and hiding energy?
Last year my business activities were defo in the trying and hiding camp. Trying to make it seem all shiny on the outside, hiding that behind the scenes I was a fish out of water.
Compared to this binge/purge with writing #bu29days:
The difference here was that I was aware of the pattern and I was making conscious choices.
This January, I made a choice to withdraw, incubate, go within and enjoy the season of winter. I was binging on ‘me’ time. And because it was a choice, it was nourishing to my soul. It was pleasurable because I knew I wasn’t missing out. I was saying yes to things I wanted and no to things I didn’t want. It felt like it hit my sweet spot.
It’s also when I had the idea to blog daily this Feb.
Considering I didn’t write 29 blog posts all last year, 29 in a row is a bit extreme, I’ll admit. Clearly a purge of ideas that have been stored up for a while.
There were moments I was afraid. Would I have enough to say? Would I run out of steam? Have enough time? What would other people think of my ideas? Would they see that this is a purge? (Well, too late for that.)
After getting over the fear, shame, and vulnerability, I found the nourishment and pleasure.
This process has been filling me up. I’ve learned a lot. And it’s been fun.
I also found some love. I’ve gained a new acceptance for my creative cycles, whether that is a nature or nurture thing.
I can easily tell myself I ‘should’ be more consistent, even keeled, ‘normal’ like everyone else (and I have).
Or I can accept the fact that I can sustain periods of high intensity out pours of energy during which I can formulate quality ideas. And I can accept that before and afterwards, I’ll require periods of very little action.
I can accept that I’m an expert at being bulimic.
And yes, maybe that makes me a little bit crazy.
But I can either work with myself, or against myself.
For now, this is me.
Working with myself, seems a lot kinder.
I also found another kind thought about my food bulimia: perhaps the binge/purge cycle with food was mirroring a natural creative cycle of mine, but since the creative outlet was blocked at the time, it came out with food instead.
Food for thought.
And one more taster to whet your appetite…
I had a conversation with a good friend of mine last year about those on the bi-polar, manic-depressive spectrum, and how there is often a lot of negative stigma, an idea that those with mental health issues have to be fixed, but that there’s also a correlation between manic states and beautiful creative expression.
What we talked about next applies across the board.
What if instead of judging and trying to fix, we could all shift to a place of acceptance?
To work with a person’s hard-wiring, whether a binge/purge pattern, manic/depressive, autistic, dyslexic, or whatever other mental health and learning-related condition.
Use the ebbs and flows, whatever cycle they may be on, and however extreme, to allow for the individual’s most authentic and greatest self-expression.
To allow for someone to be their quintessential self, even if in some environments and some instances, it might look like it needs ‘fixing’.
Wow, now that would be a miracle of love.
Something to think about: What patterns do you see emerge in your life? Where are they conscious choices? Where is there room to navigate towards as balance of Nourishment and Pleasure? What natural traits do you normally resist, but perhaps present an opportunity to work with yourself?
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 explore and accept all of you. Join us this February.