Rachel is my spunky red-head friend who coyly christened Shame as Mr Dick. Rachel has more wisdom buried inside her than you and me put together, except that when I first met her, she didn’t know it.
When I met Rachel 6 months ago, she was caught up in that binge/purge cycle that stops you from realizing your self-worth. She was beating herself up for her every move. For doing the job she loved, for living in a part of the country she loved, for moving back home, for being a mess, for trying to clean up the mess but not doing a good enough job.
Yesterday, Rachel sent me an email that rocked my world. She was answering the question, ‘What’s been your favourite adventure in life so far?’
Her answer: Finding love for herself through her bulimia journey.
6 months ago Rachel was despising her bulimia journey. Rejecting it as we usually do, like a tumour attached to us that we can’t wait to cut off.
Except, as she found out, the only way to get rid of this tumour is to melt it away with an adventure of finding true love.
And, as she learned, you have to look no further than the tip of your nose.
Rachel never ceases to amaze me. Like the time she walked into our session carrying a book of poems she had recently written.
She was a poet and she didn’t even know it.
As Rachel has gone on her True You adventure, I have seen her creative expression blossom. This girl’s got talent.
Watch out world. The show’s about to start.
‘A Hidden Treasure’ – by Rachel Grayson
In the dusty planes of the African Savannah,
Lived Boris the bison and a hyena called Hannah.
Now Boris the bison was a musical fellow-
He could sing and break dance, and even play cello
Hyena Hannah always had to convey
to Boris how wonderfully he played
and as he grew cocky she started to ponder,
“What am I good at?” she couldn’t help wonder.
But one boiling summer the sun was so hot
the Savannah animals nearly lost the plot!
They’d ran out of sun cream and the lake nearly dried,
“What are we going to do, we’ll die!”
Boris, too thirsty to break dance or sing,
Sat in a dusty heap wondering
why Hannah Hyena was sniffing and straining,
why digging a big hole was so entertaining.
As she dug and dug at the dusty ground,
nobody bothered to check what she’d found.
But one scorching day she came bounding to take
them to see what she’d found- “CRIKEY, A LAKE!”
You see Hannah hyena dug such a deep hole
that water had filled it from down below.
The animals drank, and cheered “To Hannah!
Thank you for saving us from the Savannah!”
Now Boris could sing and dance again,
he realised he’d not been a very good friend.
He’d underestimated her and made her feel small.
“I’m so sorry my dear, and thanks for our pool.”
So they swam and played and surfed and floated
and the modest hyena not once gloated.
She’d saved her friends, she’d helped them through it
aka Is everyone who struggles with an eating disorder a creative genius?
That is a good possibility 🙂
Seriously though, I’ve seen a pattern emerge from the conversations I’ve had with clients and others who’ve developed eating disorders.
They are intelligent. They are driven.
They are living under the expectation to perform in left-brain environments.
The success of their left-brain activities have become part of their identity.
They are striving to achieve in this way so they maintain the love and acceptance from others with this perceived expectation, usually family members or a parental figure.
They have creative, heart centered interests that get buried, pushed to the side, in the effort to perform with their minds.
I first noticed this in a client of mine who’s step-father was big into sports, engineering, and typically male-dominated activities. She pursued a career in engineering, and has been very successful.
She also lost herself in the process and only now is stepping into heart-centered leadership roles. Leading women’s groups in her church, leading barre classes.
Her hidden dreams and desires? To be an actress. To make pottery.
Similarly I have a client who writes amazing children’s poems, with Aesop’s Fables type lessons woven throughout. She loves caring for the elderly. But that career path has been questioned by her family. ‘You are the academic one. You have the potential to ‘go really far’.’
I’ve met a number of young girls on the anorexic side of things who are going down the university path because they feel they have too. ‘I’ve been told I’m smart.’ ‘I need to keep my parents happy.’
And so their creative outlets dry up, as do their appetites for food, as do their bodies wither.
I was not immune to this phenomenon. My childhood dreams included: be a mom of 20 children; perform like Julie Andrews in ‘The Sound of Music’. In my free time I’d either have my nose buried in detective books, or be dancing around my living room to ‘Bolero‘.
I went to a magnet high school that offered a heavy science curriculum and was renowned for academic achievement. The name says it all: Staten Island Technical High School.
I excelled there, but while learning about alternating and direct electrical currents, calculating the sustainable load and pressure points of fictitious engineering feats, and solving the equation for parabolas, the right side of my brain didn’t get much stimulation.
It’s only been in the last year that I can create a dream board without an excel spreadsheet.
And only in the last 5 months that I recognize the value of my heart and my intuition. That giving all the credit to my mind, denies a part of me.
At the time I didn’t resist it though. I was quite proud of the fact that I did well in those subjects. My dad is an IT guy and we could have meaningful conversations about this kind of stuff. I could affiliate myself with him, be on the same playing field. In writing this I sense I needed that.
Thing is, these days, everything I learned in highschool is exactly what my husband needs to know to build our fish farm, and I have absolutely no interest in it, whatsoever. The only thing that interests me about the angles and support beams for the concrete shuttering, is that they don’t snap. I actually fled the scene when the cement truck showed up.
I’ll take butterflies and rainbows anyday.
Oh, and CIA dramas.
I am working through the classic book, ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron, a book designed to help recover your creative expression, to whatever degree that is.
It’s not just for artists with the potential to ‘make it’. Her stance is that we all have creativity buried inside of us, yearning to come out. And when it gets bottled up, it does us harm.
She talks about the same shame, fear and vulnerability that stops our creative expression, the same trio that sits at the core of an eating disorder.
And on page 98 she literally refers to it as ‘artistic anorexia’.
Wow, that’s a powerful statement.
And it totally makes sense to me. What I see is that when we are depriving ourselves of our own creativity, it bleeds across the board, including with food. We either succeed at great pains (anorexia) or compensate with indulgences (bulimia and binge-eating disorder).
Our creativity is our life force. It’s what got us here, it’s how we make more of us. It is at our spiritual core. If we disconnect ourselves from that, of course(!) we are going to wither! Individually and collectively I might add.
And our response? Struggle and fight to survive in whatever other capacity we can.
So for you reading this, regardless of whether you’ve got food issues or not, here’s today’s homework:
Reconnect with your creative self.
Julia Cameron recommends writing morning pages. Literally, first thing in the morning, fill 3 pages of a notebook with whatever comes out. It can be verbal diarrhea, or the first page of the novel you have inside of you. It doesn’t matter. There is no judgement.
The point is to recover your creative self-expression.
Write. Dance. Sit still. Draw. Colour by number. Sing. Play. Design. Construct.
Recover your quintessential self.
Find him or her on the pages of your soul.
Something to think about: What were your dreams as a kid? What creative expression have you pushed to the side? How can you reconnect?
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.