Recently I watched season 4 of The Crown on Netflix. There are a few trigger warnings at the beginning of some of the episodes because they depict Princess Diana actively in her eating disorder. I have also been re-reading Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed lately in which she too talks about her struggles with an eating disorder. All three of us have this in common, at one point in time we used food to fill ourselves up and then promptly purge it all in order to feel empty again. I cannot speak for either of them of course, but I can tell you that for me, it was all about feeling a sense of control over not just my body, but my life. I would usually turn to my habit of binging and purging when I was feeling overwhelmed and highly stressed about something that was happening in my life. Most often, it was something that was completely out of my control and so in order to re-calibrate my emotional status, I would turn to the sensations that came from gorging myself with delicious food and filing myself until I could burst. Then knowing of the consequences that this action could have on my physical body, I punished my indulgence. In truth, it was both awful and delightful. My secret way to deal with what felt impossible to face.
How often I have thought in these last 9 months how much this year would have been filled with that behavior had I not healed from it already. How sick I would be right now in both my physical body and mind from all the moments of uncertainty we have faced, had I not been able to handle them and had other tools, healthier ones, to turn to.
What is unfortunate is that likely today, yesterday and the several days that follow, there will be messages swarming our inboxes, social media and the likes about how we need to “work off” that turkey and mashed potatoes. This serves to do two things: every time we take a bite of something we love to eat, it comes with a side of guilt and shame. And then every time we go to move our body it’s with the determination that stems from that guilt and shame, making the action itself one of deficit and “not enoughness”. This is not sustainable. This is not healthy. This is part of a collective sickness that our culture has with body image and shame centered eating.
I share my own story and the publicly acknowledged ones of two women we have all heard of simply to highlight that we are likely not the only ones who have done this to themselves. Even if it isn’t the exact same actions and form of disease, this mentality is rampant amongst so many of us, specifically women. Before I was properly bulimic, I can remember being in my room at night as a young teenager and doing a million sit-ups and pushups and thinking to myself that I can’t let myself “get fat”. But it wasn’t only about how I would look. At the time my parents' marriage was strained, there were social pressures at school and I didn’t have a very strong sense of where I belonged. And because I didn’t have the language or tools to cope with all of it, I turned to the one thing that I thought could be my asset, because we are shown time and time again that it is for young women, my body. It’s insidious how it works, but ultimately what happened was that I poured my emotional unwell-ness into physical action because it was how I could feel the ebb and flow of my feelings in some tangible way.
The reality is, our bodies can and should be used for emotional connection. When we move into our bodies mindfully, with love and care we do actually give ourselves insight into what is going on with our inner world. It is a vital tool for our own self learning and understanding. But when served with shame and guilt and for the purpose of molding it into a shape other than what it is, we dilute the power that movement has. It is one of the biggest tragedies because we take a readily available wellness tool and turn it into an act of self-punishment. The solution actually becomes a part of the problem.
This post Thanksgiving I want to say two things to you:
The third thing I would share with you is that there is another way. You can still enjoy movement, you can still sweat and feel into your body all while loving what it can do. All while loving yourself. You can feel your feelings and honor them with respect and love and not feel the need to harm yourself because of them. I would love to show you how because that is what eMOTION is all about.
Until next Saturday, when you sign up for The Movement & Stillness Subscription you get an entire month free using code: SUPPORTSMALL. What this means is that twice a week you will have access to live eMOTION classes and twice a week live Meditations. And in the even that you cannot make any of the live sessions, each one is posted for you to come to at any time on a special page of my website, just for subscribers.
Let’s create a revolution together. Let’s change the way we relate to ourselves, our bodies and emotions so that our daughters may not be passed down the burden of thinking they need to be any way other than the way they are. May that line of succession end with us.
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is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.