Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How I Deal With Bingeing Setbacks

I recently posted a survey for readers. In it I asked what question they would like me to answer here on the blog. A few readers asked about bingeing. One asked how I deal with setbacks. So I thought today I would answer both of those questions together.

As you may have noticed, I treat this blog much like a journal, only sorting out my feelings through the act of writing. I never know what I'm going to say until I type it. So today's post is as much for me as it is for you. I'm trying to understand for myself how I've been dealing with a setback.

When I first found hypnotherapy, bingeing had already become a rare thing for me. I'd been struggling with it for a long time and in the last couple of years, that fight had calmed down immensely. However, there were still slips here and there, and I used self-hypnosis to help uncover some issues. After one particularly healing session, any urge I still had to binge just disappeared. I was aware that there were still problems I had to work through and that this wouldn't be enough. But at that point, it was such a revelation. I remember on more than one occasion thinking, "Oh this is when I would have binged in the past. But I don't really want to. I'd rather go take a walk." It was like a switch had finally been turned on in my brain, and now when I was tired/sad/had a bad day/etc., I could recognize the tight sensation in my chest as the feeling that used to make me want to binge. But it no longer had that power. I could detach from it, recognize it was there, and go do something else.

Miracle of miracles!

But as I said, I knew there were still core issues I needed to untangle and deal with. When one of those issues popped up in July, I found myself suddenly ripped back in time as if all those years of work had never happened. One night I ended up at the grocery store, buying a (gluten-free) pizza and bag of cookies, knowing I would go home and eat it all in one sitting. And I did. Another night I remember rustling through my pantry looking for the old candy I'd never gotten rid of. I sat on the floor and ate it like a petulant child, not even tasting it but mostly just mad that this addictive behavior had come back. My weight fluctuated wildly, as only those with such eating issues might understand. I knew what had triggered this relapse. I just didn't know what to do about it.

As the days turned into weeks and then months, I became only more frustrated. Not only did I feel like I was back where I had started, but having just made the decision to begin working with women regularly as a wellness coach, I felt ashamed of my own behavior. This blog had always been the place I could be honest about my bingeing, and for the first time, I wanted to keep it a secret.

That changed one day when I fell apart - more or less literally - in my boyfriend's arms. Sobbing as if someone had died, I confessed my secret behaviors and the stress that was eating me up inside. He thought I should write about it here, but I argued that I was supposed to be beyond that. How could my clients trust me with their problems if I couldn't even deal with my own?

He told me that people aren't looking for perfection. They're looking for someone human. That my own struggles are the very reasons I am able to help other women.

I realized something during this conversation. My attempt at presenting a perfect face on my blog was making me resent it. I seriously considered quitting, tired of the business side of blogging and my own desire to please everyone. For a couple of days, I sat with that thought. And then I had a conversation with my business coach that shifted my thinking. (Yes, I have a coach and he's think I have any clue how to run a business??)

I realized that I had two warring desires. On the one hand was my desire to throw in the towel and quit blogging. On the other hand was my need to speak up. I realized that my bingeing had less to do with the actual triggering event than it did with how I had handled it. When faced with a difficult situation with a family member, I chose to remain silent rather than speak up about my feelings. At about the same time, I went through a falling out with a friend, and once again, I chose not to talk to her honestly about how I felt. It hadn't occurred to me until then that it wasn't the old family wound making me want to binge. It was my silence.

And so I made the decision to keep blogging and to do it my way. The posts you've seen this past week have been the result of that. So has the release in pressure I've felt emotionally. Once I gave myself permission to write whatever I wanted on the blog, my desire to binge started to calm down.

I'm not going to lie. It's still there. I still have more work to do before I get back to where I was a few months ago. But I'm no longer feeling so discouraged. In fact, for the first time in months I feel like I'm back on the right path.

Many people have commented lately here and on Facebook about how wonderfully my life is going. And this is true. I am absolutely blessed and grateful for everything happening in my life right now. But of course there is more going on than I always want to admit. And as I honor the good in my life, so must I be appreciate the setbacks. I know there's a reason for them. I know I still have learning to do.

This is why I want to share some of the struggles with you. Not to complain and not just for my own sake, but also because I think it's important for us to see each other in all our humanity. I think if my own facade of perfection can cause me such strife, then maybe it's doing the same for others as well. And so as I encourage you to be strong and face your fears, I also ask you to be vulnerable and know that those things within you that may feel like a weakness...

Those may in fact be your greatest strengths, your greatest gifts.


Christy said...

With so much gratitude I read this post and pray to be vulnerable about my own struggles.

Peace Iris

Chelsey said...

Haha, vulnerability is one of those things. It's so freeing to be vulnerable with the people you love and whom accept you. It's an entirely different story to have that vulnerability pop up inconveniently (or conveniently?) with people your not sure about. Fear of rejection is what stops me. Will I be accepted with this person(s) when emotionally I feel like I could be knocked down so easily. I am working on stepping out in faith and staying open (read: speaking up) when I feel vulnerable in public. I would rather run away, but that is a lonely road of self dependance. It takes courage to be open about your personal setbacks. One step at a time I hope to get past fear robbing me of potential connections with other people!

Anne said...

I am a full time yoga instructor and kettlebell trainer ... and I struggle so much with the shame of hiding my occasional "slips" into my binge/purge/restrict habits after years of therapy and (finally) finding meditation and hypnosis. Thank you for reminding me that the goal isn't perfection - the goal is the process of healing. Lots of love :)


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