As Denise so eloquently writes, what often begin as our coping mechanisms as a response to some kind of trauma, can develop into unhealthy compulsions which we need to look beneath to discover the roots of the pain. Turning the pain into our ‘friend rather than foe’ can be the turning point on the road to transformation. It’s often a long and challenging process, but as Denise says, she has done it, and so can you …
Well Springs Within
I am currently re-reading ‘The Gift of Our Compulsions’ by Mary O’Malley. In a nutshell the book encourages us to see our compulsions as Gifts; gifts because if we can stay still enough to understand them, we would find that at the heart of compulsion is a deep Wellspring waiting to fulfil and nourish our every need as no external thing ever truly can. No compulsion can give us the relief that we deep down need; or even the relief we initially experienced when we first engaged in the compulsive behaviour. It is this very inability that makes the behaviour compulsive as it can never reach the underlying legitimate need.
Finding relief in compulsions is a bit like expecting eating a banana to quench your thirst when it is a drink that the body needs. Indeed, the only thing the banana can do is temporarily distract us from how thirsty we are. You can’t fool the body, though we can spend our whole lifetime trying. The body knows what it needs and will come back to get it. The body is well equipped at doing its job and is as equally committed to it. And its job? Keeping us well and strong, across the board. We give the body very little credit for this. Both we and the world very easily turn the body into ‘enemy’ then go on to treat it pretty badly, like it’s a robot without feeling and need.
In Mary O’Malley’s book we are also encouraged to not only change the way we view compulsions, but also to change the way we relate to them, bringing the light of much needed understanding and compassion to them, seen as they initially came into being to help us deal with and manage some great big difficult something. So, there’s a way in which compulsions could be more readily resolved simply by seeing compulsions as more friend than foe, and in so doing, paradoxically take the sting out of them.
Compulsions come to go, being set up to serve us at one time, not for all our lifetime. The process of allowing them to pass is not an easy one considering the condition of compulsion’s ferocious appetite: not easy, though possible.
It is a testimony to how far I have come in my general healing journey, as well as in my recovery from disordered eating, that I have not fallen back into bulimia’s misguided and crippling embrace, because currently and ongoing for a good few years, I have a couple of life events that are truly testing me. In the past these situations/triggers would have been good enough reason for me to fall back into my struggles with food; but I simply refuse to. Recovery wise, I have come too far to fall at this hurdle, and I am still 100% committed to living my best life possible, especially after a childhood marred by abuse.
The good news is, which I ought to remember and feel more proud of myself about, in the old eating disorder days (12 – 22 years old) I would have binged and purged for much less!
The only thing about my eating that can concern me a little at times is, on occasion, I can still tend toward emotional eating. But overall, like I said, I have a very good handle on my eating, and that is the way I want to keep it, least of all because I’ve put a great deal of energy and effort into my recovery and healing from Bulimia.
Being well on the recovery road, I can tolerate and contain my, at times, internal angst and delay- and/or not engage, those inner compulsive drives, in a way I never could at the beginning of giving up bulimia and happening on the recovery road. I know that these difficult and painful feeling states can and do pass and I am now more familiar with the felt experience of their transmutation. So, I no longer stand in process’ way because the reward and relief gained from this level of self-acceptance feeds and sustains me better than compulsively acting out ever did, or ever could.
I am currently re-reading this book because, like I said, I am feeling challenged on a number of fronts and I want to ensure that compulsion don’t try to sneak in through internal, unconscious, back doors. I want to keep that bolt on, as my suffering does not need, or deserve, more suffering added on!
In regard to self-care, I do all those mind, body and spiritual things to keep me well, like exercise, meditation, healthier eating, living more in the moment, and having greater self-appreciation and presence in my day-to-day everyday life. I have also taken to, these past 6 weeks, gifting myself with a ‘PJ- stay in bed all day- Saturday.‘ Even this is an achievement in and off itself as another one of my compulsions has been ‘overdoing’ and ‘keeping busy.’ Initially I had found taking this particular ‘fear of being still’ monkey off my back; taking it off my back and simply being, relaxing and doing no-thing in particular…
Being still and allowing myself relaxation at first felt incredibly painstakingly angst-filled, as well as mind-numbingly boring. Now that painful ‘Insperience‘ has too been mostly transformed from restless haunting into something that fills me more with Peace and Joy. Just being in the moment and enjoying it for all it’s worth, has been worth all the difficult feelings that initially accompanied doing no-thing. Sometimes it still takes me a minute or two to “come down” after being way too busy and up in my head for too long, but I now know the rewards of Mr & Mrs Peace and Joy.
All is a process and takes time. It’s taken me 33 years to be where I am today. It has also taken time to more fully realise that The Soul Food and The Joy is in the journey, not the destination. So, try not to worry yourself too much, because as such, we already have all the time in the world that we need, and we don’t have to wait ‘until’ some future date to truly In Joy our lives and Be Our True Selves. To quote the author,
“I am not offering you a cure; that is the old style of thinking in which your healing happens sometime in the future. This process is about inviting you into relationship with what is right now, (difficult or otherwise), for that is where true healing lies.”
Like a child reaching to be picked up by her mummy and be given her mother’s time-which probably was the kind of thing that was missing and/or lacking when compulsion first came knocking – we need to learn to reach down, pick ourselves up, and respond to our needs in more loving, appropriate and self-soothing ways. Why? Because we are worth it! And if you don’t know, I know it for you!!
Peace & Love, Light,
Would you like to share your journey of overcoming a life crisis in order to inspire others with hope that things can get better?
Our next pocket books in the KindaProud series are;
#EmergingProud through Suicide and #EmergingProud through Trauma and Abuse
If either of these titles resonate with your transformation journey, please CONTACT US – we’d love to hear from you!
Bringing you messages of hope from the community, The Kinda Proud Team ❤