What I don’t want you to know about me

You know the show MythBusters? (OK so I’ve never watched it either, but I’ve heard of it too.) Well, I like playing a game that’s my own version of myth-busting. It has to do with shame-busting. Bust the shame, and you bust the myth about who you are.

The game goes like this:

What I don’t want you to know about me……

And then you fill in the blank with some deep, dark, shaming secret.

And by that I mean, the ‘blank’ makes you want to crawl into a hole and die, or melt into the floor like the Wicked Witch of the East, or you think that if and when others find out about this secret, they will laugh at you, spit on you, or go ‘Eek! I’ve bumped into the thing!’.

The point is to uncover the part of yourself that you ‘just know’ will make everyone run the other way…. including yourself.

And then you win by sharing it. Once it’s not a secret anymore, it loses its power. And you find out that you’re still a worthy human being, with or without the secret.

This game is always a challenge for me. The first time I played, my response was, ‘I don’t have anything I don’t want you to know about me. I’m an open book. Ask me anything, I’ll tell you.’

But the point isn’t for other people to get inquisitive. The point is that for you to get curious and search your soul long and hard enough to uncover some gems that sometimes are hidden even from yourself.

The bombshell for me the first time was this: What I don’t want you to know about me is that I will only fill in the blank with things that I have already come to terms with, and so they no longer feel vulnerable, and no longer really count as shame. What I don’t want you to know about me is that I am so well protected against vulnerability that I don’t even know how to show you my shame.

Wow. I had instinctively found a way to beat the game. Except it meant that I lost out. I missed out on the chance for me to practice shame-busting at it’s finest.

This week I got to play this game again, and while some of my answers were admittedly pre-meditated, I asked myself to go a bit further.

And while this answer didn’t come up for me in the moment, my subconscious was obviously working at it all week.

What I don’t want you to know about me is this:

I want to be ‘somebody’.

I have a prideful ego the size of this room. Possibly, my house. Heck, it’s the size of Wales.

I want to be in the spotlight, take center stage. I want the world’s accolades to flood over me like a silky balm.

What I don’t want you to know about me is that I read this and makes me feel physically sick. Like vomit sick. It is an ugly side of me that has always been wrapped in brown paper packaging tied up with string, rubber stamped with words like motivated, high-achiever, and going somewhere.

But if I am honest with myself and you, a lot of that ambition is being driven by pride.

That is a ginormous pill to swallow.

I’ve acknowledged my shame before, but never really knew where it came from.

Perhaps it comes from pride.

When I have pride… and not the kind of pride that google defines as a healthy dose of self-esteem…

…but the kind of pride that is driving, striving, pushing, because it feeds off of achievements in order for it to stay alive. The kind of pride that holds the reigns to my self worth.

…the kind of pride that shouts from the back seat of the car when your dad gets pulled over in podunk upstate NY to tell the police officer that his daughter goes to Cornell, and therefore should be exempt from getting a ticket.

(True Story. In what world does where you go to school put you above the law? In my f-d up prideful world where I was clutching at straws to make me feel special. Roll out the red carpet. Here she comes, the prom-queen has morphed into the pride-queen.)

When I have that kind of pride, it becomes the perfect breeding ground for shame.

  1. It’s clearly ridden with judgement (I am better than you.)
  2. It’s clearly a false sense of security. The reality is never going to meet the expectation, and so the falling short part is an ideal spot for shame to show up.
  3. The recognition of the prideful thoughts, whether conscious or not, feels like crap. Another dose of shame.

I’ve never really thought that I brought my bulimia upon myself. I’ve chalked it up to an accumulation of nature and nurture; a combination of ingredients that when mixed together produced a very sour dough.

Perhaps I did have a part to play though. At least my pride did.

The part of me that was willing to sacrifice love for myself and others in order to get what it wanted. The achievements, the approval, the acceptance.

The pedestal.

Funny how, the feeling that I now have when recognizing my own pride, I call vomit-inducing.

Hmmmm…

My epiphanic ‘what I don’t want you to know about me’ moment this week came as I was flicking through Brene Brown’s instagram account and saw a cartoon drawing that summarizes her career. It starts with this:

‘My TED talk was an accident.’

That stopped me in my tracks.

Brene Brown is someone that I admire and whose work has deeply touched me. And what I don’t want you to know about me, is that when I was preparing for an Ignite talk last year, my pride was trying to studiously craft and engineer a talk that would go just as viral as her TED talks have.

But an accident? No. I wasn’t ready for an accident.

Because an accident happens when you lay down your pride, your ego, your desired outcomes, and you humbly take each step for one reason, and one reason only: because you can’t not do it. Because it’s your calling, your passion. Because it’s in the name of love.

That’s my version of ‘an accident’ anyway.

I can’t ignore that this revelation has come to me right around Easter-time. A holiday while famous for it’s abundance of chocolate, egg hunts, and funny hats, has much deeper roots.

I grew up in a Christian house and culture, and for years have considered myself to be ‘a Christian’ (even though I really don’t like labels), but it’s only been recently that I’ve actually been asking the question, ‘Who is this Jesus dude anyway?’

And then I realized this: Jesus wasn’t famous until he was dead. (And then got back up again.)

His ‘TED talk was an accident’, too.

I highly doubt he sat there one day chillin under the olive groves with his fishing buddies and thought to himself, ‘How can I be the most well-known person in the course of history? Oh, I know. I’ll claim to be God, die on a cross, and then rise from the dead! Yes! That’s gonna do it!’

Yeah, not so much.

In my opinion, he just saw every breath of his as an opportunity for love. He did what he couldn’t not do. He followed the Love. And it led him to his death.

The ultimate act of Love.

And then he got up again; because Love Never Fails.

And so as I think about the Easter story in this way for the first time ever, and think about how my own pride has gotten in the way of my embracing and expressing love, I ask myself, what within me can die this week? What can I lay down? Put to rest? Surrender? Give up?

How can every breath of mine be an act of love?

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#bu29days: Day 28: Bulimic Bloopers

aka How to spot disordered runners.

aka How to pick-up an ex-bulimic.

aka One thing NOT to ask an ex-bulimic.

 

If I were a TV show producer, I’d make a show of all the funny things that can happen to you because of your ‘disorder’. There’s been a few memorable moments I look back on that make me smile. Some are funnier than others.

Note to my 25-year-old self: When you can find humour, you are healing.


 

How to spot disordered runners.

One evening when I was still living in Manhattan, I had planned to get a quick 5 or 6 mile run in before going out to eat with friends later that night. Sure enough 6pm rolls around and it is pouring buckets, no – sheets, of rain, as a typical hot and humid summer’s thunderstorm will do.

This didn’t stop me. I plowed on. Not the smartest thing to do since the nearby claps of thunder were so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think, and they were shooting out bolts of lightning.

But I had to get my run in.

This was when I wasn’t purging anymore, but still very much dependant on running and exercise for weight management, and the fact that I was going out to eat later that night meant I had to ‘make some room’.

So I’m running through the park, which resembled a ghost town, the usual posse of runners using better judgement and staying indoors this evening, and I come across one of the only other runners in Manhattan crazy enough to be running in this storm.

It’s a gym friend of mine. A girl I would go for 5:30am runs with occasionally; who was more dedicated to getting her runs in than I was.

I hadn’t seen her in a couple of months and as we’re running, both sloshing through puddles and soaked to the bone, in between thunder claps she proceeds to tell me that she just got accepted into an inpatient program for anorexia.

And I proceed to tell her that I am/was bulimic/am recovering.

I had known her for a good 18 months or so at this point. Go figure, it took an act of God to draw us out of our closets, to share our most vulnerable selves with each other, and to form a deeper level of connection.

When your disorder drives you to go for a run in life-threatening situations, you bond.

How to pick-up an ex-bulimic.

The first night my husband and I met, we were at a party and he asked me if I wanted to go outside and have a cigarette with him.

I tell him, ‘I don’t smoke but I’ll come and talk with you while you smoke.’

So we go outside and we’re chatting away, probably for like an hour or so and he goes…

‘So, you don’t have any problems that begin with ‘B’ that I should know about, do you? Because my last girlfriend was bi-polar and the one before that was bulimic.’

Best. Pick-up. Line. Ever.

He’d hit the bullseye!

How did he know!!!!?

Am I wearing a huge ex-bulimic sticker on my forehead? Or did I get one stuck to my foot along with some toilet paper when I walked out of the loo?

Considering this was in the ex-bulimic days, I wasn’t technically lying when I said, ‘Nope, not that I know of.’

Although the sideways glance, head tilt to the concrete, and quick change of topic should’ve given my secret away 🙂

And of course I’m thinking, what kind of guy keeps attracting these B-for-broken women?

But of course, we’re all B-for-broken aren’t we? We all have our mud.

So, anyway, a few dates later it somehow came up again and I told him my deepest darkest. I had been bulimic. Not anymore though, so he doesn’t have to worry if I head for the toilet at some point in the night after we’ve had burgers and fries (sorry chips).

But just for the record, yeah, you caught another B-girl.

One thing NOT to ask an ex-bulimic.

We were out for drinks and my brother-in-law was training for his first marathon. He leans over and goes, ‘Oy Kendra, you’ve run marathons, what was your nutrition like when you were training?’

I literally laughed out loud.

Seriously?

You’re asking me, the ex-bulimic, for training tips?

Me? The girl who had her head over the toilet bowl as part of her training regiment? And whose secret purpose for running them was to lose weight?

My nutrition was non-existent. Nada.

I tell him this and we’re laughing so hard tears start rolling down. Whatever you do bro, DO NOT do what I did. 🙂


A lot of times we try to bury our mud. We’re embarrassed, ashamed of it. We fear what others might think of us if they knew. It feels too vulnerable to come clean.

I share these stories because they make me smile and laugh, and they illustrate the progression of healing that is possible.

Ten years ago I wouldn’t have been able to laugh at my brother-in-law’s question. I probably would’ve regurgitated some nutrition info I read in a magazine or heard fellow marathoners talk about.

But today I can laugh about it because the wound has healed. The laughter itself is healing.

When my husband was unknowingly using the most appropriate pick-up line with me, I had healed enough that I could recognize his vulnerability in asking, and eventually be vulnerable in return; as opposed to fearing his rejection or judgement if I said, ‘Yeah, I’m a pro.’

Know that anything is possible. Your story, no matter how muddy, can open up doors. It can lead to connection. More love.

It’s starts with you embracing it. Knowing that you are enough as you are, even with the mud.


Something to think about: What shame do you carry about your story? How can you embrace your story instead? How are you able to find the humour, have a taste of the best medicine out there?

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.

#bu29days: Day 23: Why your story matters

aka Why do I sometimes think my eating disorder wasn’t ‘good enough’

aka The audacity of shame

Over the years, and as I’ve been writing this blog series, I’ve noticed a big gaping hole.

Where’s the sob story? The trauma? The drama?

So I got spat on; big deal.

And a so-called friend called me ‘the thing’; yeah, and?

My dad questioned whether or not a I looked good in a bikini.  I felt different from my peers and wanted to stand out in a sport. 

Whoopty-doo.

When I saw that therapist in NYC and her diagnoses was,’ you’ll grow out of it,’ I assume she was thinking the same thing, ‘Where’s the childhood trauma I can pin the bulimia to?’ And since she couldn’t find a good enough reason why I ended up as I did, presumably, she thought I’d grow out of it in the same way I grew into it.

I’ve listened to the stories of others with eating disorders.

Some were physically beaten.

Some were pimped out by their mom, or experienced some other form of sexual abuse.

Some were neglected by an alcoholic parent and were passed around to family members.

Some have been in and out of inpatient care for 20 years.

Some have been binging and purging on a daily basis.

Some have had multiple stomach staples to shrink their stomach and control their weight.

 

I hear these stories and immediately two thoughts come to mind:

  1. My childhood wasn’t traumatic enough to lead me to an eating disorder. What was/is inherently wrong with me that got me there?
  2. My eating disorder wasn’t ‘good enough’. It wasn’t extreme or dramatic enough to warrant me really bringing any attention to it.

This is what’s so f*cked up about shame. It can make you feel shame about your shame not being shameful enough.

Yeah, you read that right.

But this is what makes any shame-based living so isolating.

We think our story isn’t ‘bad enough’.

And our reactions not extreme enough.

Neither are headline-worthy news.

Once again proof that we, as a person, are not enough.

That is a lie.

To quote another Liberty Bain gem, ‘We can have very different experiences, but it’s in the feelings that we’re the same.’

Shame is shame, regardless of whether or not you end up with an eating disorder, addiction, or you find a healthy way to respond.

The same with fear and with vulnerability.

Each of us experience these things at one time or another. Some are able to respond in a healthy way. Brene Brown calls this ‘wholehearted living’. Others of us haven’t learned how to do that. Yet.

What I would ask of each of you reading this today is this:

Regardless of how much drama or trauma you have or have not experienced in your life, accept that you are the same as the person next you.

Stop comparing and judging your story, your external experience. You are not better than someone else because you didn’t ‘go there’ or get ‘that bad’, and they are not better than you because they did.

Our stories serve a purpose. They are windows into our souls. And from a meeting of souls, healing can happen.

Your story counts for what it is. It is enough. It is the exact window that somebody else needs to access and heal their own soul.

Own it. Share it. Tell it. Stop hiding from it.

Your story matters.

 


To find and heal your soul through some more windows, check out The True You Project’s Real, Raw & Related interview series and Angela Barnett’s FABIK blog.


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 experience first hand that your story matters. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 22: Are you really better?

aka What does freedom mean?

aka Do you still think of yourself as disordered?

I answered this question for the interview I did with FABIK (aka Fucking Awesome Bulimics [Angela Barnett] Knows) and in my typical vacillating fashion, my answer was sometimes no, sometimes yes.

I’ll explain.

No, from the point of view that when it comes to food, I can hand on heart say that my relationship with food is not disordered. I no longer look at a buffet table in simultaneous fear of what it will do to my thighs, and longing salivation, as a dog drools over a bone.

I am excited by food, curious about food, enjoy food.

It doesn’t control my thoughts and my life anymore.

I feel ‘normal’ with food, whatever that actually means.

I suppose more importantly, I feel free.

Free to be able to stand in my kitchen and munch on a bag of crisps that my husband left open when I get home later than planned and haven’t eaten since breakfast.

Free to be able to have three meals a day with a few in between snacks.

Free to have cheese and crackers and wine for dinner; no veg in sight.

That feels damn good.

I wouldn’t claim that my eating habits are ‘perfect’. They don’t follow any rules out there. But to be honest, I’m glad my eating habits aren’t ‘perfect’ because if they were, it would mean I am once again more worried about someone else’s version of life, and I’m disconnecting from what is true for me.

Right now I’m connected to when I’m hungry, when I’m not, whether or not something actually looks appetizing, what I’m in the mood for, what my body is asking for, and why I’m eating something.

If I strive for perfection, I lose that connection.

So Yes, I really am better. I really am not controlled by food anymore, and No my relationship to food is not disordered anymore.

For those of you reading this who can’t say that, have hope. Freedom really, truly, is possible.

On the flip side, when I look at all the layers that lie beneath disordered eating, the underlying causes and the sister disorders, I am very much still a Work In Progress.

Shame rears it’s ugly head more often than I wish to admit. Even in preparing to write this blog series, Mr. Dick took on the persona of the cross-examining prosecuting lawyer from My Cousin Vinny:

Shame: Does being an ex-bulimic necessarily qualify you as being an expert on eating disorders?

Me: No, thank you. Good-bye.

But then that other firm, deep voice from within, the ultimate judge said, ‘Sit down and stay there until you’re told to leave.’

And the voice of Truth spoke: Your Honor, her expertise is in general life knowledge. It is in this area that her testimony will be applicable. Now if Mr. Dick wishes to voir dire the witness as to the extent of her expertise in this area, I’m sure he’s gonna be more than satisfied.

Once again My Cousin Vinny’ explains my life.

Embracing the truth of ‘I am Enough as I am’… It’s one of those things that I know it in my head. Believing it in my heart? I’m not 100% there yet.

Fear? I still freeze or flight at first glance. It takes me time to work up the courage to make the phone call to the newspaper editor, put a date in the calendar for the workshop, get business cards made.

And that’s because I’m still learning to dance with vulnerability. We’re still stepping on each other’s toes.

The worst is when I’m face to face with someone.

‘What do you do?’ ‘What’s the event for?’ Nightmare.

I have no problem hanging a poster on a wall. But TALKING to someone face to face about my work? INVITING someone in the moment?

I clam up, stutter over my words, look down at my shoes or at the wall. Talk really quickly and try to wrap up the conversation as soon as possible.

No dialogue, questions, engagement or connection.

That whole, Free to Be Me thing? Flies right out of my head.

‘What do I say? What will they think?’… that takes over instead.

I’m learning to forget about me, and in the moment, hold on to the truth that I am Here to Shine; (So turn on the friggin light girl!)

It takes practice to undo years of ‘I am here to be Perfect’ conditioning.

While a work in progress, the beauty is that in these moments, I’m not running to the kitchen anymore. Nor am I running through the park for an endorphin high or stress release.

I’m feeling the feelings. Putting a name to them. And then practicing responding in a way that puts love and truth front and center.

Some other manifestations of the Tom, Dick, and Harry trio that I am working through:

  • People-pleasing
  • Setting healthy boundaries
  • Receiving beauty and abundance into my life
  • Fully expressing myself, including creatively and sexually
  • And I’m still working towards balancing the Nourish and Pleasure pair of scales instead of the Binge & Purge, Deprive & Indulge cycles across many areas of my life.

That’s the short list.

But unlike 10 and 12 years ago when I had those life-changing bathroom floor moments, I’m not trying to ‘fix’ myself.

I’ve learned that we can approach our faults with some grace. Instead of rejecting that part of me, beating myself up when I get it wrong, and putting it on the top of the to-do list, I’m learning to surrender.

And with that, comes freedom.

Yes, I wish I was more articulate on the fly when there is a difference of opinion. Yes, I wish I could find the words to take a stronger stand for what I want. And for sure, it would be nice not to say no to money when people offer it to me (I know, that seems like a no-brainer. I’m workin’ on it.)

But this is where I’m at. The surrender is to keep accepting that I am Enough as I am, even at this point. Even at ‘not perfect’.

It was easy for me to say that I’m glad I’m not perfect with food. It’s harder for me to say I’m glad I’m not getting it perfect in the rest of my life. While I can accept that’s not the point, another part still wants to ‘get it right’.

When I can wholeheartedly stop worrying about ‘getting it right’, when I can fully surrender, that is when I am free from the ‘disorder’.

I find that it is not a permanent state of being. I’m not sure that’s meant to be in this lifetime.

But when it happens, I hold on to the moments, celebrate, and have hope that there are more to come.


Something to think about: Do you believe that it is possible to 100% be free from an eating disorder? What does freedom mean to you? What does recovery mean to you? How easy is it to accept that you are enough as you are?

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.

#bu29days: Day 19: Willing to be willing

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.

When I had those two bathroom floor moments 18 months apart, one to stop purging, the other to start praying, fear was there.

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.

  1. Change can feel scary.
  2. Change can also be exciting.
  3. Fear and excitement are like cousins, they stem from the same place and they both can lead you to action.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!).
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

or here:

I’m willing to be willing to be willing.

or even here:

I’m willing to be willing to be willing to be willing.

or

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 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 practice being willing and finding the courage to face fears. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 12: How bad did it get?

Before you start reading, note that these stories might be triggering if your relationship to food is a vulnerable place for you.

I’ve thought about why I want to share these stores. What purpose do they serve?

Is it just a cathartic experience for me to ‘come clean’? Yes, that is part of it. I believe in the power of sharing stories where we currently, or have, carried shame. It’s part of the healing process. You don’t have to ‘go public’ for the world to see. One person counts. Even your private journal counts.

So is this just for me then? No. I also have experienced healing by reading other’s stories about things that I similarly struggle with. It’s a relief to know you’re not the only one. So part of why I’m sharing is for the person who’s been in a similar place, you might not feel so crazy and alone anymore.

I’ve wondered though, where is the line? Because I know from experience, that when I was looking for ways to manage my food and weight, researching options came into play. The saying ‘Knowledge is Power’ can work against you too. I’ll share more about that at some point. For now know that I am not sharing this to give you ideas. If you choose to read on, I hope that you will read other posts in the #bu29days series and find some good reasons not to engage in similar behaviours.

But I think the biggest reason I am sharing is to give hope. Hope that regardless of what dark places you are in or have been to, it is possible to find the light.

These stories I have carried shame about. Writing them has brought me back to uncomfortable places.

This is how bad it got.

The summer after graduating college, I secured an entry into that year’s NYC Marathon through my company. A couple other friends got in also and so I knew I’d have training buddies, and I thought why not? I’m probably in the best shape I’ll ever be in and training for the marathon will keep me on the straight and narrow with food.

Except it didn’t. If anything it added more pressure to perform. 

Especially since I somehow got selected to represent Staten Island in the 5 borough challenge the marathon sponsors were holding. Basically, one person from each of the NYC boroughs was chosen to represent their home borough, and then on race day, there was a ‘race within the race’ between the 5 of us. We had our own start and everything.

As well as keeping track of our progress during the marathon, the TV channel did a special on each of us and wove our story throughout the air time. We were interviewed before hand, filmed running in our favourite part of town, got a free pair of kicks and lots of other sports gear. It was pretty cool to be honest. But with this leap in visibility, I was extra worried about what my body looked like.

It caught up to me the night before the crew was going to film me running through my favourite woods on Staten Island. I stayed at my parents house, so I’d be there in the morning when the crew arrived. No surprise here: I binged and purged that night.

Can you imagine? The night before being filmed for national television, and there I am throwing up. This you should know. Throwing up is NOT SEXY and IT DOESN’T WORK.

Your eyes get bloodshot, your face and throat swollen. And you don’t end up getting rid of all the food, so you’re still absorbing extra calories, and your stomach looks and feels bloated. Plus it zaps all your energy so the next day you’re lethargic. At least I always was.

That is NOT a good look for the camera.

But it happened and I was mortified.

How could I ‘ruin’ this opportunity. Not so much ruin since the filming went ahead as planned and probably nobody noticed a thing. But more like, how could I stain this moment? Bring a negative vibe into such a positive thing? The idea of, ‘you had a perfect opportunity’ and I made it not perfect… I wasted it. I beat myself up for that.

I ended up binging a lot at work, hoping that it was in secret, but I have no idea if it was. I worked in the HR department and we were always having training classes and meetings that were catered. There were always trays of bagels, muffins, sandwiches, brownies, and cookies lying around.

I remember walking back and forth from my cubicle to the kitchen to bring food back to my desk to eat. I’d pretend I was going to the bathroom and then on the way back would take an item back with me, hoping that none of the colleagues I had to pass by would notice.

It was a real life walk of shame.

I’d do this repeatedly. Maybe twice an hour? I’d try to focus on work, but knowing that the goods were sitting there only 50 ft away was too much of a temptation.

One time I remember having a brown paper bag full of bagels. I think I had brought them into work from Staten Island for some reason, to show off how huge and doughy they were. (They really are the best.)

I remember sneak eating at least two of them at once, although there is a good possibility it was more. There was a dozen in a bag, literally hidden under my desk, and I would be staring at my screen, pretending to be intent on whatever I was working on and my hand would go into the bag, break off a piece, and bring it to my mouth. Over and over. And if I heard someone coming, I’d start typing, or rummage through a drawer. Anything to look busy.

I started working for a department that kept a stash of chocolate in one of the filing cabinet drawers. I’d go to get a file, either because I really needed one or because it was a good excuse to come back with a handful of Hershey’s chocolate bars. Either way, I’d come back with a handful of food.

The shameful part of all of this is how hard I was trying to hide. And not in the dark, but in broad daylight. I was trying to hide my binging, pretend that my actions were normal, and hope that people around me wouldn’t catch on.

‘This is my first time to the kitchen.’ (Even though it was my 5th.)

‘I’m just looking for another file.’ (Even though really the only reason I was at the filing cabinet was was for the snack drawer.)

I was so afraid I’d get caught out. Everyone thought of me as the marathon runner and hardworking employee. I did my best to keep up that facade even though if anyone had looked close, they would’ve seen a pile up of chocolate wrappers buried in my garbage can.

My job started to get demanding and higher profile as I’d have to correspond with senior management and get their approval on expat packages. I felt way out of my depth. International tax law, immigration law, calculating tax gross-ups, and proposing budgets for rental apartments in neighborhoods so posh, I’d never be caught dead in. This was the furthest thing from what I had studied in school.

There was a steep learning curve and not enough hours in the day so I started working nights and weekends on a regular basis. I’d go for a run in Central Park around 6pm and then put in another three hours from 7-10pm, go home, go to bed, get up the next day and do it again. In those 7-10pm hours, sometimes I’d be fine with food; pick up a sandwich from the deli and stop there. Sometimes I’d make a good dent in the chocolate cabinet and then guiltily replenish it the next day.

I remember distinctly when I’d have to send an email to the President of the company, I’d sit on it for hours, wordsmithing it over and over, to get it ‘just right’. I don’t know exactly what I was afraid of. Being told off? That he’d snicker at my recommendations? That the heavens would open up, and from his Executive Office on the 8th floor he’d boom down to the lowly earthling on the 6th floor: ‘I knew you were a fraud!’

Talk about vulnerability. And to numb that feeling, I’d be eating as I was staring at the email, reading it for the bazillionth time before pressing ‘Send’. Chocolate, pretzels, bagels, muffins, whatever.

I started premeditated binging. These would usually happen on days or nights where I was binging at work. I’d stop at the store on the way home, and buy a load of food fully knowing where this was headed.

The crazier thing here is that, I would never let myself buy the really ‘bad’ stuff. Say I wanted a large, moist, soft, chocolate chip cookie. I couldn’t buy it. So I’d buy these healthy cookies that tasted like ass. They’d come 5 in a pack. And I’d eat all of them.

I never wrapped my head around the concept of giving myself what I really wanted and then stopping there. Instead, I kept depriving myself of what I really wanted, and then ended up consuming more. It was the ‘healthy’ label that gave me permission to have a larger quantity, but the larger quantity never satisfied the initial craving. (To hear more about the importance of listening to your desires, tune into this Youtube video. You’ll hear how I am still recovering from this mentality.)

And then, since the craving was still there, I’d start searching for some more food to satisfy it. My roommate tended to have more of the ‘fatty’ food on hand, so, let’s not beat around the bush here: I’d steal hers.

Ice cream, cookies, chocolate, whatever she had lying around. She often would forget she’d bought stuff and it would be in the apartment for weeks and months. I figured she wouldn’t notice that it had gone missing.

Me? I kept a mental inventory of every food item in the apartment.

And then once I cleaned house, I’d throw it all back up.

What a waste. Sometimes I might as well have taken out a $20 bill and flushed it down the toilet because that is the only purpose the food served. It never made it into a cupboard.

There are more shameful experiences. I’ve wrote a blog post about them last year, which you can read about here if you are really that curious.


I started off by saying that one of the reasons why I decided to share all of this was to have the darkness give way to the light.

So to jump ahead and bring hope, here is a snapshot of where I am today.

I now have no idea what is in my cupboards (ok i do a little because I went food shopping yesterday and so it’s still fresh in my mind.) But on any given day, I am not aware of what is in the snack bowl until I feel like having a snack. Then I go and check. It’s a beautiful thing not to have your thoughts revolve around what is sitting on your kitchen shelf.

I eat chocolate on a regular basis. The real kind. I eat until I am satisfied, and in plain sight. The amount varies on any given day. Sometimes I have chocolate in the middle of the day. It doesn’t make me want to run or exercise or anything to burn it off.

I will sit and write for hours, and unless I am hungry, I won’t eat. I’ve written some vulnerable emails, sent pieces of writing to 3rd parties for publishing, (also vulnerable), and that process does not drive me to eat. It still feels uncomfortable, but I feel it. I don’t try to numb it.

Leading up to my wedding, a day with high visibility and attention on my looks, I didn’t run or exercise more than usual other than a 6 week yoga class that I took because I wanted to relieve some stress. The night before our wedding, I had a three course meal, including dessert. For breakfast on our wedding day I had a waffle, because that is what was served at the bed and breakfast I was staying at. I went for a walk with my sister to get fresh air and move my body. I have no idea how many calories I consumed or burned. I wasn’t trying to control how I looked anymore.

My last purge was in August of 2006. I haven’t had the desire to do that since.

Something to think about: How can you be grateful for dark days and the light ones? How would talking about some of the dark days with someone help you? What hope do you have for yourself? How is your light even brighter because of where you’ve come from?

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.Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are and receive support for your own dance with vulnerability. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 11: Floating down Denial

aka So was that it? For a few months you binged and purged, travelled around Europe, and was good to go?

Oh dear me no. That was just the beginning.

For April, May and June of that year I was OK. I didn’t purge and I’m pretty sure the binging was under control. The guy I had said goodbye to in Miami was coming out to see me. We had kept the long-distance thing going and I suppose part of what kept me from binging was wanting to look good for him ie not put on any weight.

That summer though, it started up again. I was working as a camp counselor at my university. I don’t remember how I was with food overall, but I do remember one incident where I had plans to run with my track coach one afternoon. I had been staying in the dorms to monitor the camp kids but this day I must have had off, so I went to the house where I lived when school was in session.

I don’t remember what came over me, but I do remember going through at least a pint of ice cream along with whatever else I found in the cupboards, within hours of meeting up for a run. I had to get rid of the food because, as any runner will know, going for a run on a full belly is a recipe for disaster. It will come out one end or the other.

So I tried to pre-empt the situation, made myself sick before going for the run, and still felt miserable during the run.

The next vivid memory I have was that fall. It was two nights before our division’s championship meet. I had had a decent season so far. My best one yet and good thing considering it was my last.

My time in the season’s kick-off workout made it into the all-time top 10 list, which was supposed to be an indicator for the rest of my season. I ran an 18:30 5K, my goal time, although it was on the flattest course ever so I didn’t really think it counted.

I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to close the season strong.

One thing I have noticed, and I probably knew then… I am not a good closer. I pick people off in the middle of a race, but I would always peter out at the end. The last three-quarters to half-mile of a race, my legs would get heavy, I’d feel like I was in slow-motion, and in my head it was a combination of ‘go faster, c’mon you got this’ and beating myself and my body up. Shame would show up with ‘Should’ve done more miles, eaten less, more squats etc.’

It was never pretty, as you can tell.

HEPS 2001
On the left: The face of shame. On the right: Quiet confidence.

 

I used to have nightmares where I looked and felt exactly like I did in the picture.

I recently read Gay Hendrick’s book, The Big Leap, and I can see now that what I was doing was a form of upper limiting. I inherently didn’t believe that I had what it took to win, place, beat the other girl, and so I subconsciously self-sabotaged, even though consciously I wanted to perform.

Talk about an internal tug of war.

And so that night, two nights before the championship meet, I binged on God-knows-what and had my head over the toilet bowl. For the record, that is NOT the best way to prepare your body for a peak performance. I don’t remember my time for that meet, but I don’t think it was even my best for that course.

The rest of my senior year I don’t remember specifics. But I know by the time I graduated and started my first job, I was at it again. The night before the interview, the night before the first day at work.

My mom had bought me my first suit that spring, and I was so afraid that after I graduated college and stopped running 60 miles a week and training so hard, I’d put on weight and wouldn’t fit into it.

Guess what, that fear came true because the only way I knew how to regulate my weight was through running. I grew out of it quickly. It became my benchmark though. On a good day I could fit into the skirt without it being too tight around the waist. On a bad day, I couldn’t even bear to try it on.

This is when I started having two wardrobes. The set of clothes that were between a size 4 and a size 6 for when I was ‘at my best’ and another set between size 6-8 for all the other days.

It was this first year out of college that the binges and purges became more frequent. A pattern started to form too. I was officially living at home at my parents on Staten Island but my boyfriend had an apartment in the city that was a 20 minute walk from my office.

Let me see, a daily 90min-2hour commute twice a day, or a 20 minute walk in the morning and a jog through Central Park in the evening? 

I think I’ll go with Option B.

When I was at my boyfriend’s place, I wouldn’t make myself sick. It was only when I was home. So my bulimia developed a bulimic pattern. 

I’d be ‘fine’ for days at a time, while staying with him, but I had to control my urges to binge. We’d get pizza for dinner and I’d always get the veg one even though the pepperoni one looked really good. We’d go to Gristedes and get ice cream or Pringles to snack on and I’d be terrified of eating what we bought and at the same time craving it. I’d try to subdue that internal battle and just act ‘normal’, whatever that meant. 

But then when I was  home, I could binge eat in secret. I could finally satisfy that craving and release all of the tension that had been building up from trying to control and hide my urge to binge.  I’d binge on binging. It was the epitome of the deprive/indulge model that I had learned oh so well.

These were dark times and it’s hard to find a silver lining.


 

The message that I’d like to highlight today is that while it’s not easy to hide in broad daylight, people around you are.

I’ll quote an amazing kindred spirit that I just met, Angela Barnett, who summed it up perfectly in a blog post; ‘Bulimics are cagier than Her Majesty’s Secret Service.‘ #truthbomb

We’re not the only cagy ones though. Anyone who has a vested interested in hiding shameful behaviours will go out of their way to keep their secrets safe and try on an act that makes everything look hunky-dory.

And this trying and hiding will make you a basket case. The dis-integrity of looking like you got it all together on the outside, meanwhile WWIII is going on inside. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re going for a run with a promising athlete, or interviewing someone with a great CV for a job, or welcoming a new employee wearing a beautiful suite on their first day of work, or filming someone for a prime time TV program (sneak preview for tomorrow). That person could be suffering inside.

They could be caught in a destructive cycle that is ripping them apart and you’d have no idea.

Except now you do have an idea.

I ask myself, was there anything that people around me could’ve done to help or to stop me at the time?

My honest answer: I don’t know.

I don’t know what would’ve gotten my attention then because I wasn’t at a point where I recognized that I had a problem. And as we’ve all heard, the first part of any recovery to so stop floating down the river Denial.

For sure one option is NOT to bash them over the head with a stick until they give up and say, ‘OK, OK, I’ve got a problem!’

And the other option of ignoring that there’s potentially a problem? Not really helpful either.

Third option?

For all of us to come out of denial.

Come out of denial that people you know and love could be struggling. And this isn’t just limited to eating disorders. We all have our struggles.

Accept that this is the case, and then raise your Awareness.

And then from Awareness, show up with Love.

Create a non-judgemental space for someone to just be in. Someone who is in denial and is doing their best to cover their tracks, needs to know that there is somewhere safe to turn when they are ready to get out of the river.

The presence of judgement and an expectation-oriented environment makes this difficult. It’s as if the alligators are on shore instead of in the water.

But creating a space for vulnerable honesty (which means you might have to show some of your mud first), and of acceptance, regardless of the mud the other person brings…. that is the best option.

We can each make a decision to practice living from a place of love. Consciously look to prevent and negate the impact of shame, courageously face our own fears, and start to dance with vulnerability.

Then we’re doing our part in helping someone who is still in Denial, come ashore.

Something to think about: Are you floating down da’Nile in some area of your life? What would help you come ashore?

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.Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are and receive support for your own dance with vulnerability. Join us this February.

 

#bu29days: Day 9: You don’t need no stinkin badges

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.

It’s fear.

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.

However.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

IF

And here’s the big IF.

  1. You (lovingly) remind shame that the outcome is not a reflection of your self worth.
  2. You dance with vulnerability.
dance
Dancing with vulnerability, just like real dancing, is vulnerable. And takes practice in order for it to be fun 🙂

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 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. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are and receive support for your own dance with vulnerability. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 8: Pretty girls don’t get spat on

aka What happens when you can’t say ‘I know’ anymore

aka ‘I find it hard to believe that bulimia could be instigated simply by vulnerability, control, and a box of Cheerios!’ ‘Would you like me to explain?’ ‘I would *love* to hear this!’

So, although I was starting to control aka adapting my food choices to get a desired outcome, in high school (Bagels and lettuce, and un-fried chicken), I don’t remember ever having the ‘feeling’ of vulnerability at that time.

Actually, wait a second.

You’re not gonna believe this.

I just remembered, I have a t-shirt that my aunt made me that has ‘I Know’ written in bubble paint across the front, because that was my MO as a kid. You’d tell me something that was supposed to be new to me, or explain something, or whatever, and my response: ‘I know’. 

Flippantly confident
Flippantly confident

So I guess I was familiar with hairy Harry. It’s just that I had found the perfect armour to protect me from the feeling.

‘I know.’ Code for: I’ve got it all together. You can’t teach me a thing.

But while the vulnerability feeling may have been stifled, I hadn’t found a solution for shame yet.

Not only was there the chronic shame of the reality of the situation (underneath that flippantly confident exterior was a boat load of not knowing and not having it all together), there were also a couple of bouts of acute shame.

Once when I was spat on in junior high by some random dude who probably didn’t know me from Adam, and the second time, when I was at summer camp, probably that same year, and the fabric of last year’s bathing suit was so worn it looked like swiss cheese. I wore a t-shirt over it the whole time so no one would find out.

Not only was I ashamed of my bathing suit, I bumped into a girl who I considered to be a friend and was greeted with a ‘Omg I just bumped into ‘the thing!’’

I had become the ‘the thing’ in the eyes of my peers. Clearly so ‘not cool enough’ to actually have a name, let alone want to be associated with, or touched.

I’m sure I felt vulnerable then, but only for a split second. What I remember more vividly was a subconscious resolution to not let it show that it bothered me.

Move on. Remain stoic. Don’t let her get to you.

I’m not sure where I learned that from. But for sure, where I learned that, I also learned, ‘don’t turn into a basket case’ and ‘don’t fight back’. Keep calm and carry on was the only other feasible option, since this new 4th option of actually feeling the vulnerability, letting it wash over, processing it, reconnecting to your worth and move on, was left off the curriculum.

I never told my mom, my dad, my sister, or any close friends about these incidents. They were too painful.

Instead, I buried them, and by the time I graduated junior high, I made a resolution with myself that I would be the prettiest girl in high school.

Because pretty girls don’t get spat on, or get called ‘the thing’.

Pretty girls don’t feel shame.

Another vulnerability-avoidance/control tactic.

So anyway, in highschool I protected myself very well. Hence why performance on the track was so important. No shame leaks please!

College though, was a whole new game that I was not equipped to play.

Part of my protection in high school was a really close circle of friends that I could confide in and who I knew would always be there for me.

In college, I got to start all over, and those ‘bosom friends’, ‘kindred spirits’ and ‘soul sisters’ were harder to find. I felt very much alone.

So take away a strong social support system, academic achievement that came effortlessly, athletic achievement that I had worked hard for and was recognized for; I was left in the sky without my Magic Carpet.

My identity was too dependent on things outside of me (friends, grades, times on the clock). I wasn’t able to replace the Magic Carpet with a more lasting one: a deep knowing that I am enough as I am, and I have everything I need to be me.  I couldn’t say ‘I Know’ anymore,

But I did know how to make that pit in my stomach go away. And there you have it: Cheerios to the rescue.

While it started off with Cheerios, soon they didn’t do the trick anymore. 

The tubs of icing that you could buy from the dorm’s 24-7 mini-mart that my roommate loved? They looked good too. Except I knew they were full of fat and so it at first it was only a half-hearted indulge.

I’d feel guilty afterwards, and started to worry about my weight as the indulgences moved towards foods that were normally ‘forbidden’.

For the most part, I kept it all under control. I’d be tempted by the lush food in the school’s 5-star dining halls, by my roommates and house-mates baked goods, by the tantalizing treats in the farmers markets. On a good day, I could say ‘No.’ And if I didn’t, it wasn’t anything a solid 9 mile run couldn’t take care of.


I’ve never really thought of food being my drug, or me having an addiction. And I’ve heard commentary from the founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, Marc David, that food can’t be a drug, because it’s a substance that our body needs, and therefore we can’t form a dependency on it.

And I agree, I wasn’t addicted to food. But at some point I’d say there was an addiction to the binge and the purge.

The easiest way to explain how you go from a couple of handfuls of Cheerios to full-blown bulimia, is to think about how people progress from weed to heroin. Not that I’m an expert on drug addiction, but… (supposedly) at first weed does the trick, but over time the high isn’t so high, you need more and only the hard stuff will do it.

And that’s the way it is with bulimia too. You start off with an innocent binge on innocent food. Then you progress to binge on food that isn’t so ‘innocent’; the real sugary, sweet, fatty, salty foods that taste so good and are oh so ‘bad’. Pretty soon you’re downing pints of ice cream, bags of chips, the whole box of chocolate, and you can’t let your body retain this, so you get rid of it. And that purge, becomes the new high. An escape from reality. It’s repeatable. It’s addictive.

Thankfully, unlike a heroin addiction that eats away at your brain, bulimia can be reversed, and the machine that your body is, can heal from any internal damage.

But healing isn’t just reversing the behaviours (although that is sometimes a great starting point and, sneak preview, one of my first steps). For lasting change, you have to go back to where you came from. To what got you there in the first place, and stare vulnerability and shame in the face.

Something to think about: What decisions have you made in life that still dictate your actions? Eg I will be the prettiest school in highschool, I will never be poor, I will never be alone again. What impact does that decision still have today? How would letting go of that decision change things?

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 True You. This February I’m co-hosting free weekly calls with Liberty Bain on Wednesdays; a time to have your questions answered and receive loving support about everything you’ve just read. Join us!

#bu29days: Day 7: It’s (not) all about the Cheerios

aka When did you start binging?

aka Are you a control freak?

aka I’ve never heard about vulnerability and eating disorders. I thought it had to do with control.

Such a good point! That word does comes up a lot when eating disorders are talked about. I can’t believe I haven’t brought it up yet! 🙂

When I first heard about the link between control and eating disorders, it didn’t make sense to me. First off, my life felt very OUT of control. And second, I was binging and purging, which is like the most chaotic thing ever!

I thought, sure, if you’re anorexic. They’re controlling. They control and limit what they don’t eat to keep the weight off. But me? I can’t control what I’m eating and the weight is coming on!

I was a bit off. Here’s what I’ve come to realize about how control fits into the picture.

First, let’s check out the definition of control so we’re on the same page. ‘Control’ according to google: the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events.

In my words: You do what you gotta do to get a certain outcome.

And what I see across the spectrum of disordered eating and eating disorders: You do what you gotta do to make the feeling of vulnerability go away.

Control is on the other side of the vulnerability coin.

It’s not that we’re all control freaks. It’s that we’re scared of vulnerability.

When you feel vulnerable, and that feels uncomfortable, you try to control situations so that you don’t have to feel vulnerable anymore. Duh!

And when the feeling of vulnerability shows up in your body in a place that you usually associated with food, food becomes an answer.

You either feel the hunger and eat (ie binge.)

Or you have a loss of appetite and don’t eat. (ie anorexic)

Or you feel the hunger and binge, but then try to undo the binge because there is more vulnerability and fear in the thought of gaining weight. (ie bulimic)

Trust me, I was not aware of this when I started to binge. All I knew is that I felt something in my stomach that resembled an insatiable appetite (you know, that one that got me to an 11lb baby).

And so I ate, and ate, and ate.

At first was a very mild binge. I remember halfway through Freshman year of college, sitting in my dorm room in front of my computer with a box of Cheerios next to me. I’d mindlessly, yet anxiously, move my hand from the cereal box to my mouth. Back and forth. Back and forth. It was practically a meditative act.

What were Harry and Mr. Dick up to while I was doing this?

Harry had reminded me that I had a paper due the next day that I hadn’t even started and I had no idea how to complete up to standard. And so Mr. Dick started hopping around with, ‘You really think you can succeed at an Ivy League school?’

Harry also reminded me that the guy I was supposedly dating hadn’t gotten back to me in weeks. Mr. Dick loved this one. ‘Ha! You think you’re worthy of having a boyfriend? You think you’re pretty enough? What about those cottage cheese thighs?’

The uncertainty of being in a new academic environment where excellence was expected, being stretched out of my comfort zone mentally, socially and physically, navigating failed romantic relationships while trying to keep my ego intact…. that all felt just a tad vulnerable.

That box of Cheerios? Comfort. It was a cereal that was always stocked in our cupboard at home. I was familiar with it. And it was safe. Not too many calories and low in fat. I could get away with a few extra handfuls in my diet.

And while from a health perspective, sure, I could get away with a few extra handfuls.

But the danger here was not in the behaviour in and of itself, but in the fact that it was a misfit response to a feeling.

Whether that feeling is vulnerability, loneliness, tiredness, boredom, sadness, grief, anxiety (which one might argue all fall under the vulnerability umbrella), a box of Cheerios does not solve the problem.

Acknowledging the feeling, talking with someone you can trust, and finding a fit for purpose solution does.

Now, I totally get it that this is not always an easy thing to do; unless you’re wired like my sister and wear your heart on your sleeve. I however, tend to filter my heart through my head before you get to see it. And it’s in my head where I can easily talk myself out of feeling the feeling, and in to avoidance mode.

I’ve had to learn to sit with the feeling. Allow for the pit in my stomach to be there. Here’s what helps.

  1. Know it will pass. As all things do.
  2. Breathe. Fill your belly on the inhales and force all the air out on the exhale. This physical movement in your belly helps soothe the tension.
  3. Write. Connect with what is behind the feeling. What are you worried about? What are you afraid of? What is true in the situation?
  4. Move. Dance, do some yoga, go for a walk. I recommend a physical activity that connects you to your body. Dancing and yoga is fab for this. I find walking a close 2nd, although more than connecting to my body it connects me to my soul. Running and cycling might work for you too. I used to use running as a tool, but I found it actually disconnected me from my body and became more of an escape. Find what works for you.
  5. Perspective. Talk to someone who will lift you up. Remind yourself of the truth of who you are: You are kind, beautiful, worthy, enough, and more.
  6. Face the music. This part is often the hardest, but trust me, the conversation isn’t going to get easier, the bank account won’t have more money in it, and the comments won’t be any nicer, by digging into some Cheerios. They will get easier when you remember:

2 enough as i am 900x900

 

Something to think about: How do you deal with vulnerability? Do you ever feel like a control freak? What do you think you are really worried about? What are you really craving when you start mindlessly eating? Do you like Cheerios? 🙂

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 True You. This February I’m co-hosting free weekly calls with Liberty Bain on Wednesdays; a time to have your questions answered and receive loving support about everything you’ve just read. Join us!