I spent 16 years battling bulimia and in deep self-loathing and doubt. I hid it well, often with a smile on my face and an upbeat and shiny attitude. Anyone who is in recovery of anything will tell you, the thing that you really master when in addictive or self-destructive behavior is hiding. You learn quickly how to hide what you are doing from others, always covering up your tracks and thinking five steps ahead of how you will covertly be able to do what you will need to do later on. Mainly, the person you get really good at hiding from is yourself.
What I can see very clearly now, that I wasn’t able to see when in the depths of my illness is how often I would turn to binging and purging in moments when I would find myself thinking too much about how I felt. And my emotions were not something that I had learned to navigate rationally or healthily. So instead, I was moved into taking some kind of action that would help me numb the feelings and focus the mind for a while, even if the focus was a self-destructive one. I would live for that little hit of oxytocin that would arise right after doing “the thing” so that both my body and my mind could live in joy again, however temporary and false it was.
That’s the thing, as human beings, we are often desperate to find joy or contentment or pleasure. We either run or freeze in the face of anything that is in contradiction with that. Culturally we are also programmed, especially as women, to believe that “being happy” is the ultimate goal of life. We have so much support for obtaining that happiness, often focused on an outside source or physical achievement of appearance. Our minds get so used to the “When (blank) happens, I will be happy” way of thinking. When I make more money, fall in love, lose more weight...the list goes on. All of it in the pursuit of happiness. Even our parents, unknowingly passed this along when telling us to “do what makes you happy”. And while I am clear about the love from which this stems, a problem arises the moment that the “thing” that once made us happy, all of a sudden doesn’t because inevitably it won’t.
This incessant pursuit of happiness causes us so much pain, that we aren’t even aware of. And so instead of learning how to navigate and move through all emotions of the human experience, we look for ways to just cope. We drink, we smoke, we binge watch tv, we eat. We numb out the feelings so that we don’t have to think about them for too long.
But here is the thing: We are emotional beings who sometimes think, not the other way around. We are always in the feeling of something. It's just that our level of awareness varies depending on how often we let ourselves be in those feelings. Emotions themselves are involuntary, neurological responses. We don’t get to choose them and they happen not just in our minds, but in our entire body. Each system responds to what we are feeling from the top of our head down to the bottoms of our feet. Everything is affected. What we do choose is whether or not we ignore that. What we can choose are practices and tools that safely and lovingly guide us through these emotional experiences and various states of being. Or we can choose to continue the practices and tools that keep us in our own hiding. All of them are tools. My bulimia was a tool in and of itself. It's just that certain tools have certain consequences both short and long term for overall well-being.
For 16 years I hid from myself because I didn’t know that I could choose differently. Not what I was feeling but how I took care of myself when feeling the intensity of certain emotions. I didn’t understand that there were tools that could keep my emotional well-being feeling nurtured and attended to, rather than disempowered because it was less than the state of happy I was always striving for.
Here is what I know now: This kind of work requires safe space to explore and to play. It requires regular and consistent practice in order to build the muscles of emotional resilience and listening. And it can be done by using two tools that each one of us actually use all day long: Movement and Stillness. But different from the movement you take to get yourself from point A to B or the movement of a workout to burn calories and shape your body into submission, I am talking about movement for the sake of feeling into your body to feel into your mind. And different from the stillness of sleep and rest that you take each night, I am talking about sitting with what is so that you can get quiet and really listen to yourself. Each of these when done with these intentions behind it have the power to take us out of the habitual hiding and into the healing of our own self knowing. This isn’t mysticism at work, this is science. The chemical and electrical response that our bodies have to our emotions are happening whether you choose to feel them or not. But when we do make the choice to feel what is here and either move with it or sit with it, we create agency within our inner world to have more choice, more care, more potency and more power. We give up the need to hide and the old story that happiness is the only option and learn how to be the emotional human being that we are, with grace, love and in connection with a deep inner wisdom that we otherwise forsake. We give ourselves options to find our way through and out of the exhaustion of always trying to “keep it together”.
I am sharing all of this because this is my life’s work. This is my own healing work. And what I did not know at the beginning of this year, among many things, was that it was time to bring them together and share them in my own way, in my own space, under one umbrella.
I am excited to share my new subscription program for Movement & Stillness. This combines my eMOTION Movement Classes with The Meditation Circle in weekly sessions that offer a safe space for you to get moving and get still with yourself. eMOTION Classes are something I designed out of the desire for a class that moves our bodies while having absolutely nothing to do with how that movement will make us look. Even in Yoga I was coming into contact with the harmful narrative that we move a certain way to look a certain way. eMOTION gets us moving in certain ways so that we can feel ANY way.
The Meditation Circle came to be right at the beginning of the pandemic as a response to needing to deal with our collective stress through feeling our stress. This community of women have come together every week, twice a week for 7 months now to get still with ourselves and connect to one another. I am inviting you in with wide open arms and heart.
When you choose to sign up for this subscription you get:
During this time of intense emotional turmoil and unrest, my aim is to provide safe spaces for us to learn about ourselves, together. To not feel that we need to hide from our human experience, but to embrace it with immense love and compassion. May we all find the Radical Self-Love within ourselves so that we can pour it out of our own hearts, words and actions and into the world around us. We so desperately need that. I hope you will join me.
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.