While I don’t generally partake in the New Year’s resolutions fodder, I am a big fan of setting intentions and manifesting my desires. And one of my greatest intentions is to always, always be genuine. So today, on the eve of the last day of the year, I’m walking the walk.
2014 has been a year filled with courage and fear, hope and despair, overwhelming love and wrenching pain. It is the year that I began to truly question my purpose, crack myself open and explore the depths of my desire – and hit rock bottom more times than I thought possible.
Personally, I’ve always connected most with people who are willing to be vulnerable. I feel a silent comradery with people who have the courage to share their truth. And as I start a new chapter in my life – as a writer and a health counselor – I recognize and, finally, accept the power of my own vulnerability. I release the fear and embrace the radiance.
For the past several years, I’ve struggled with intense anxiety and a variety of disordered eating habits. What started as restriction evolved into binges – and a constant fear of food and the power it held over me. The need for control is the common thread – first in restricting what I ate, be it through a well-intentioned but destructive turn in veganism or fear of eating food I hadn’t prepared myself; and later through the shame and frustration of not having enough control over what I put into my mouth as the binges became a part of my daily routine. Each episode ramped up my anxiety and self-loathing into a frame of mind that made me unrecognizable to myself. I literally felt like I was on the outside looking in at this person who was so smothered by shame that she could barely function.
My day, my self-worth, was completely at the mercy of my eating habits; if I ate what I deemed “good” foods and avoided a “binge,” I might stand a chance of getting through the day without paralyzing regret. If I slipped, I literally couldn’t function until I slept it off and woke the next day with a fresh start and the promise that I would “be better.”
I was spiraling completely and utterly out of control and into the arms of a demon that grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go. I literally felt possessed; typically at night, after dinner, the panic set in. The logical part of me, the part of me that knew it was wrong and that didn’t want to do this to myself, was completely overshadowed by a frenzy that beckoned me into the kitchen – to jars of almond butter, tubs of Greek yogurt, frozen bananas. Those were “safe” foods to binge on. If, by some chance I had allowed other goodies into the house – cookies, pie, chocolate, and after a trip to Belgium, slices of marzipan – those were the sinfully forbidden targets.
What began as a single anxiety attack at my sister’s house just before New Year’s last year evolved into a regular descent into panic. The overwhelming rush of inexplicable fear, shame, guilt and regret left me breathless dozens – perhaps hundreds – times as I tested the uncharted waters of a new life direction.
The part that was bitterly funny to me was that I was finally pursuing my dream and had zero regrets about it. In fact, it was overwhelmingly amazing – to the point that I felt paralyzed. There was just so much that I wanted to write, to learn, to do, to teach that I didn’t even know where to start. And with that comes anxiety. Which leads to self-doubt. Which leads to fear. Which, for me, would lead to a binge.
The more I explore my vulnerability and willingness to expose it, the more I recognize how challenging it actually is. It’s terrifying to feel those feelings – much easier and less painful, at first, at least, to push them down and bury them in work, in other people’s needs, in a never-ending to-do list, in SVU marathons, in another cup of coffee, in jars of almond butter.
But eventually, those outlets are not enough. The missing piece is the genuine connection. I found it nearly impossible to connect to anyone – my amazing husband, my dearest friends, my wise sister, my supportive family – beautiful, brilliant people who mean the world to me, but who I felt incapable of letting in. But I’ve finally found the courage – and, perhaps, found the seclusion of being so closed off impossible to bear – I started exposing myself. And my world began to light up again.
It’s a struggle. Every day, I must make a decision to feel and write about what hurts, what challenges, what inspires me. I must ask myself what I’m really hungry for. I must make the commitment to treat myself like a goddess and treat my body like a temple. Does it always work? No. In fact, sometimes the harder I try the harder I fall. It’s an interesting process, and one that I think is important to recognize. It’s one that requires help and guidance from people I am learning so much from. And it’s part of my story. Which will, I believe, ultimately make me even more equipped to help others unbury their genuine self too.
I am grateful to you for reading and for, I hope, finding some peace with your own vulnerability. The more I explore it, the more I realize that it is the most healing way to participate with the universe. I so look forward to connecting with you on a much deeper level about the importance of desires, fear, courage and connection in the year to come.
So I’m starting my 2015 intentions a little early. It feels right to wrap up 2014 in a way that honors the journey of this past year. And, of course, as a celebration of all that is breaking on the horizon. Cheers to 2015!