Today is a 7.

Dear Bee, 

Finally, a week has passed without any eating disorder behaviors. This used to be an insignificant milestone for me. MONTHS was how I tracked it. Lately, however, it has been more of a battle, and, so I’ll take the small victory. Because I’m being kind to myself ūüôā

Six months of being a training therapist. Nearly 250 therapy sessions and groups. Kids as young as 4 and adults as old as 70. Couples on the brink of divorce. Recovering addicts. Personality disorders. Abuse of every kind. Physical disabilities. People all over the sexuality spectrum. Anxiety, depression, fetishes. Existential concerns. Suicidal thoughts and plans. Religion. Teenage drama and breakups. Cutting and drinking and drugs and sex and eating and withdrawing from the world. Shame, hope, frustration, tears, letters, therapeutic rapport, interpretations, expression, and, finally, some healing.

Every dialogue, every client teaches me something new. I love it all.

Life just moves differently now. More meaning. More purpose. More intuition. 

Someone told me that the other day,¬†One of your greatest assets is your intuition.¬†He was referring to my clinical intuition with clients (using my “gut instinct” to respond and interact with clients in a natural way), but that cannot be possibly limited to a therapy room. My intuition is beautiful. It guides me. It loves me. It keeps me safe. All I need to do is listen to it!¬†

I spend a lot of time thinking about the power of intuition over the power of compulsion. So much of what we do is engrained into us. It is our habitual thinking. We roam on autopilot. But to use intuition, to channel the inner voice, that’s where the healing begins. That’s where the individuality and uniqueness of human creation¬†flows.¬†That’s the stuff that defines WHO YOU ARE, rather than just WHAT YOU DO. It’s not easy: our intuition may move us directions opposite from the ways we are used to moving, but ultimately, it is so rewarding. Our bodies and souls are so smart‚Ķif and when we choose to channel them.

Once upon a time, I wanted to change the world. Interesting how that component never actually included myself. I didn’t want to look inwards. I wanted to focus on everyone else, on anything other than my own internal chaos.¬†

Today, my needs come first. I am my best friend. I expect NOBODY to put ME first, whereas before, I was disheartened when I was anything BUT first. My shift in thinking has allowed me to lessen on the perfectionism, embrace my unique flaws, and reach a happier place of self-acceptance. Sometimes, I’ll use scaling questions to ask my clients where their confidence/happiness/fear/etc. (concern of the day) lies on a scale from 1-10. And then I’ll ask them, where do you want to be? What do you have to do to get there? What does being (this number) look like?¬†

Today, my self-love is at a 7. It’s not a 10, but that’s okay. A 7 means I am happy with myself; a 7 means that I appreciate my body; a 7 means that I feel grateful and loved. A 7, indeed, is a lovely number to be.¬†

What’s your number today?¬†

 

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if your past is heavy, let your future be light.

Too often we get caught in this stuck image of who who we and what we have done rather than who we will be and what we will do.

Imagine if you were able to let go of any negative identity or preconceived notion about your past. Imagine if you could change yourself right now. Imagine if you had that choice.

You do have that choice. You have always had it.

What do you want for yourself? How can you get there? What do you have control over? What don’t¬†you have control over?

Hesitations. Apprehension. Doubt snaking in.¬†We’re afraid to start. Most of us are laced with perfectionism, and, as a result, we fear the risk of failure that presents itself when taking a new path. We stay stagnant. Comfortable with the discomfort. Trapped into routines. Slaves to ruts. Existing in old patterns that no longer serve us, and worse, harm us. We wish for a new future, a wish is merely a dream without a plan.¬†

If I focus on who I was, I see a compulsive, overachieving, extremely driven and dedicated person. I see the “perfect” golden child, the one who made everyone proud with her accomplishments and poise. I see the girl who tried her hardest to balance school, work, dating, and friendships, and, of course, tried to be “perfect” in all of those roles. I see exhaustion and fatigue. Anger and avoidance. She was drowning, but the only one who could save her was herself. Food meant everything to me. And when I say everything, I mean it. That control was more important than anything else in my life. I substituted food for love, as most of us do with eating disorders. I substituted control for spontaneity and discipline for forgiveness. I was hard on myself. I accepted nothing and always thought I could do better, be prettier, be more successful. In a sense, I wanted to be anyone but me. I was so wrapped in my own shame that I couldn’t distinguish vulnerability from weakness. And so, I kept my mouth shut, plastered a smile on my face, and learned how to take care of everyone else but myself.¬†

If I focus on what I did, I recognize that I maintained a double life. The “perfect one” and the eating-disordered one. The one where everyone thought I had it all, where I looked perfect on paper. Inside, I was crumbling. Food and control dictated everything. I measured my worth each day by what I weighed, what I eat, and how much I exercised. I was “good” or “bad,” a “success” or a “failure.” And with an eating disorder, you tend to stigmatize yourself far more as a failing, bad person than anything remotely positive. I binged. A lot. I felt great about myself when I could skip meals or push myself to the point of utmost fatigue. I became obsessed with watching the number on the scale fluctuate.

If I focus on who I will be, I see someone who is just as kind and compassionate to herself as she is to others. There is a fiery passion and constant zest for life. This is an individual who just feels free and weightless. When the world turns dark on her, she knows how to take care of herself and handle the situation. She can lean on others for support, but, at the end of the day, she is her own biggest fan and her own best friend. She knows when it is okay to feel in control, and when it is okay to surrender. She recognizes that perfectionism does not exist, shame is just poison, and, at any given moment, she has the power and the choice to do whatever she wants. She is not bound by any compulsion, habit, or pattern. She is only guided by her intuition and spirit, and occasionally, by the guidance of those she loves.

If I focus on what I will do, I see GREAT THINGS. I see myself giving and receiving tremendous love. I see a constant thirst for adventure and novelty and the willingness to do new things, jump on new opportunities, and seize the moment whenever I can. I see a career full of emotional and spiritual fulfillment for me as well as my clients. I see travel and lots of it. Marriage and children. Charity work. I see a constant lifetime of learning, growing, and expanding. Writing until I no longer can. Reading until I’ve read every book there is. Hiking trails and swimming in oceans. Capturing the world with my written word and a camera. I will do whatever I set my mind to, and my plan will be constantly modified, refined, and changed according to this flow of life.

If the past is weighing you down, only YOU have the ability to let go of the weight. Who else is going to do that for you? Who else is going to give you that permission? If you are defining yourself by your mistakes or flaws, only YOU have the power to show yourself in a different light.