Adventures in Wholeness

I am in recovery from an eating disorder, specifically anorexia, with shades of orthorexia (obsession with healthy foods).  I want to share my adventure. Dealing with an eating disorder can be a tricky road, with plenty of slippery slopes. It has helped me so much when caring people have listened or offered counsel. I wish to do the same for others. If my words resonate with someone, I will be grateful.

Why “adventure”? It is a wild journey! Rough terrain, challenges, insights, discoveries, new vistas, and deep meaning along the way. Why “wholeness”? I need to pay some attention to the “dysfunctional patterns”, yet I want to live from my wholeness. I am NOT the disorder!

It is important to notice what is happening (rather than deny!) and feel my pain and discomfort. Yet, at my core, I am whole. My intuition, my heart and soul know what I need if I gently tune in and listen.

So, here is what it feels like when I’m stuck in the disordered pattern: The truth is, it feels good (for a while) because when I eat less (slightly under-eat), I feel lighter, and somehow safer. Yet, as I continue that for a while and lose weight, then I can feel it’s not good for me.  I get overly tired, experience heart palpitations and other symptoms, including anxiety. And I don’t like being too skinny anymore. I am in my early 50’s, and I have some thinning of the bones and other health issues, and I want to be stronger! I want to have some roundness and softness to my body and to be comfortable with that.

So, this disorder is elusive, and at times I can deceive myself and not realize I’m in the pattern. For one thing, my disorder is not severe (I have never been hospitalized) and being thin is very reinforced in our society. So most people would not think I have a problem.

It takes becoming uncomfortable with health issues to wake up (and sometimes caring others telling me I am TOO thin and they are worried!) Then, I come to my senses and decide to put on weight. But when it comes to this point, it’s really difficult to try to gain. Since I’ve been in the pattern for so long, if I eat more than I’m used to, I feel anxious and self-conscious. My digestion gets thrown way out of balance, and it all ends up backfiring, as I don’t feel like eating much at all.

I know how hard it is to recover, and yet also that it is POSSIBLE. Fortunately, I know I need support – anorexia is a tough nut to crack and it is nearly impossible to recover without assistance.  I  was wise and willing enough to see a therapist and a nutritionist, and I found supportive friends to talk with. This has all helped tremendously. The next step for me now is to share my journey.

To begin ~ I want to tell about some practices that have worked for me:

*Listening to my body, and following my intuition. Waiting until I’m hungry, (but not starving!) tuning in to what my body wants, sitting down, and enjoying a lovely meal. It is best to stop when I’m satisfied, and turn my focus to something else until next time to eat. (Read: try not to obsess about food continuously! 🙂 Focusing on other activities helps.)

*B.E.S.T. Each time before eating, I tune in to these words:

Breathe (I envision my mom, who had a sense of being comfortable in her own body. I let the breath fill my stomach and affirm that it’s all fine.)

Embody (I tend to have an automatic sense of discomfort and dislike for certain areas of my body such as my stomach and thighs. A dear friend and meditation teacher suggested that I focus my attention on the sensation in other areas of my body, such as feeling the back of my legs on the chair. This helps me settle into being comfortably “in my body”).

Soften (Allow my whole body to soften and relax).

Thankful (I am thankful for life and for this food).

Tuning in to these thoughts helps me be present and more able to let go of the patterns and enjoy and appreciate my food as well as the people I may be sharing with.

My intention is to publish thoughts weekly on this site. I would love to hear your responses.

Take good care ~