#bu29days: Day 29: Go be your Quintessential Self

aka What does Positraction have to do with bulimia?

aka Why would I turn myself ON?

Nine years ago my sister and a friend were visiting me in London, and after we watched ‘My Cousin Vinny’, for the umpteenth time, I remember looking at my sister and exclaiming, ‘There is positraction in my life!’

I don’t remember what it was that I was actually referring to, and to be fair I had probably had a glass or two of wine.

But the idea that ‘My Cousin Vinny‘ can explain my life and my story with bulimia is once again proven true.

This blog series started with the idea that we can get stuck in the mud sometimes, and that part of the answer is to go be your quintessential self. Today it ends with Positraction.

If you don’t know what positraction is (don’t worry, I didn’t either at first), picture this scene (bold emphasis mine).

Marisa Tomei’s character has been called to the witness stand and she’s explaining how you can tell which car made the tire tracks that were being used as evidence against the defendants.

Mona Lisa Vito: The car that made these two, equal-length tire marks had positraction. You can’t make those marks without positraction, which was not available on the ’64 Buick Skylark!

Vinny Gambini: And why not? What is positraction?

Mona Lisa Vito: It’s a limited slip differential which distributes power equally to both the right and left tires. The ’64 Skylark had a regular differential, which, anyone who’s been stuck in the mud in Alabama knows, you step on the gas, one tire spins, the other tire does nothing.

[the jury members nod, with murmurs of “yes,” “that’s right,” etc]

Vinny Gambini: Is that it?

Mona Lisa Vito: No, there’s more! You see? When the left tire mark goes up on the curb and the right tire mark stays flat and even? Well, the ’64 Skylark had a solid rear axle, so when the left tire would go up on the curb, the right tire would tilt out and ride along its edge. But that didn’t happen here. The tire mark stayed flat and even. This car had an independent rear suspension.

Now, I am not a mechanic and have absolutely zero interest in the inner workings of a car other than knowing they get me from A to B.

But here’s what I can appreciate about her testimony:

Positraction: Provides balance and keeps you from getting stuck in the mud. 

Independent rear suspension: Easily gets you over the bumps.

When it comes to bulimia, there is both mud and bumps, and we need our own version of Positraction with an Independent Rear Suspension to find a way out.

If you think back to that Layer Cake I talked about the other day, about what actually lies beneath the surface of an eating disorder, the muddiest place is in that trifecta of Shame, Fear, and Vulnerability.

What kind of Positraction is needed here so you don’t get stuck in the mud?

  • A sense of worthiness. A deep knowing that ‘I am Enough as I am’, regardless of any perceived lack.
  • A heavy dose of Love. Understanding what love actually is, and making choices that come from a place of Love instead of Fear; Because Love Never Fails.
  • The courage to Let Go. To let go of expectations for our lives, To let go of outcomes having to look a certain way. To let go of needing certainty and control. It’s OK to Let Go and learn to dance comfortably with vulnerability instead.
  • And with all of that, embracing the truth that I’m Free to be Me.

Even out of the mud there are bumps, and so you need an Independent Rear Suspension made up of the following.

  1. Truth Sets Me Free. The Truth of who you are inherently created to be. Accessing your vulnerable truth, whether that’s uncomfortable feelings or confusion about what you believe. And being able to sift through the should’s, have to’, need to’s, goods and bads, that get thrown at us daily, and find the truth instead.
  2. I am not Defined by What my Body Looks Like. Because your heart, mind, and soul is beautiful. And your body is beautifully and wonderfully made even it is doesn’t look like the airbrushed supermodel on the cover of a magazine.
  3. I Choose Me. Because your dreams, wants, and desires matter. Because you need to refuel before you can fully give to others. Which is critical because:
  4. I am Here to Shine. Your gifts, passions, talents, interests, personality, and quirks are uniquely yours. And the world needs them. It needs you to turn your light on and Shine.

Put all that together and you get another layer cake that looks something like this:

Cake (1)

And it tastes good too.

These principles, I call them True You Truths, helped me find a way out from bulimia, and they now help me stay connected to me on a daily basis.

It’s OK to Let Go: Then, I had to let go of fitting into a size 4 pair of jeans. I had to let go of being ‘a runner’. Now, I have to let go of how many people turn up to a workshop I am hosting for the first time, or how many followers there are (or aren’t) on my blog, or how clean or messy my house is, or what my marriage looks like compared to what I think it’s ‘supposed to’ .

I am Enough as I am: Then, I had to accept that even if I was still binging, the fact I had chosen to stop purging was enough. I was enough even though I wasn’t perfect. Today, I remind myself that my heart is enough. That my efforts are enough, even when there are still items on the to-do list. Another form of letting go.

Love Never Fails: Then, I had to face the fear of getting fat. I had to accept myself, and give others the opportunity to accept me even when I gained weight. I had to be kind to myself when I ate more than I wanted to, instead of punishing myself and make up for my ‘sins’. Now, I ask myself what is driving my actions, or the words I am choosing. Is it because I am afraid someone will say No? That I will be rejected and therefore I am trying to get them to say Yes? Or is it because I am genuinely excited for them and the possibilities for their life?

Free to be Me: Then, I had to start doing things that reflected my likes and interests. Buying blue suede shoes, taking Italian lessons, playing soccer again. Even if that didn’t fit the mold I thought I had to fit into. Now, this means creating a life and business my way. Finding places that light me up and meeting people there, even if it might seem somewhat unconventional to meet with an eating disorder client in a Food Emporium. Oh well, that is me.

Truth Sets Me Free: Then, I had learn to feel my feelings. Acknowledge that a relationship wasn’t right for me anymore. Acknowledge that my roots weren’t planted anywhere. I also had to realize that ‘fat’ in and of itself is not bad. Accept the truth that my body needs fat in order for my brain to function properly; that eating a piece of chocolate does not mean that it will automatically get taped to my thighs. Now, it still means connecting to my feelings and my most vulnerable truth. And it means that when I see a SHOULD barrelling down the street, I ask myself, what is true for me right now? As in, I *should* go out with a bang on the last day of the #bu29days series. What is true for me right now? I am relishing in the fact that I still have something to say and I want to celebrate that with you with a nice big slice of purple cake! Hehe.

I am not defined by what my body looks like: Then, this meant I could embrace my body as the number on my jeans kept getting bigger and bigger. And that I could bask in what it let me do regardless. ie play soccer, ride a bike, do yoga, swim in the Med in a string bikini. Now, this lets me forget about how much I weigh. If I am getting up on stage to give a talk, or meeting a client, or climbing into bed with my husband, it doesn’t matter if I’ve gone for a run, or exercised, or done yoga that day. I can turn up and focus on who I’m with regardless of what my body looks like.

I am here to Shine. Then, this helped me to realize that I was making my life all about me. It helped me break a habitual cycle where my free time was spent either running, at the gym, food shopping, eating, or thinking about any of those things. It helped me to focus on what I could give to others; tutoring, leading recovery groups. Today, this reminds me that I am here for a purpose. And that I can either bury my talents in the sand or share them with others and spread some light. This especially helps on days when things aren’t going as planned. Another reminder that It’s OK to Let Go.

I Choose Me. Then, this looked like me choosing to stop purging and start praying on those two bathroom floor moments. It looked like buying self-help books, talking with my doctor, seeing a shrink. It also meant choosing those shoes and Free to Be Me activities. Today, this looks similar. Any choice that nourishes me and/or brings me pleasure. Choosing my wants and desires. Listening when I am plugged in. Including writing this #bu29days blog series.

In any given moment, there is the potential for that muddy trifecta to show up, and so part of Choosing Me is making space in my life for tune-ups, otherwise I get stuck in the mud or I hit a bump and get thrown sideways.

Those days are never pretty.

So I make sure I have time to be still and connect to what’s true. I used to cram my schedule with plans. I’d go out every night of the week, and if I didn’t have plans, there’d always be the fallback of working late.

I didn’t want to be alone with myself.

Now, if I don’t spend alone time with myself, everything goes pear-shaped.

The impact isn’t just on me, but it bleeds to those around me too.

Like breeds like. If I bury my head, feelings, truth, light, love, in the sand, those around me are likely too as well.

If I practice the True You Truths, then everyone around me gets a chance at being their Quintessential Self too.

We all can be Free to be Me, without shame or fear of how others react.

Imagine a world where everyone was out there, doing their thing; acting out of love, letting their light shine, instead of dimming it ‘just in case’.

Just in case their brightly shining light wasn’t accepted. The idea that ‘I’d rather be OFF, or dimly lit, and accepted’ than ‘fully turned on and snuffed out’.

How about another 3rd option?: Be fully turned ON, AND turn someone else ON in doing so!

Inspire someone with your light.

You are here to Shine.

Go do it.

Go be your Quintessential Self.


That’s All Folks. Thank you for following along the #bu29days blog series. I hope you got something out of it even if you’ve never been bulimic. And if you have been or are bulimic, I hope it’s helped you wherever you’re at in your journey.

If you’d like to connect about anything you’ve read, email me at kendratanner121[at]gmail[dot]com.

And stay tuned for opportunities to explore the True You Truths further.

Lots of love.

PS If you still haven’t watched ‘My Cousin Vinny‘, what are you waiting for? 🙂

 

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#bu29days: Day 20: The beauty of the binge and the purge

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:

  1. There’s a lot pain thresholds driving the bus in these cycles.
  2. 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?

Yikes!

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 kendratanner121@gmail.com 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.