The wound is where the light enters – Rumi
Sometimes it’s the wisdom of our body that speaks to us the loudest. Like Stella , sometimes we are made to stop physically so we can learn the lessons we need to hear – Stella found happiness in the very thing she had been running from for so many years; now viewing her body as her temple in which she finds sanctuary and joy, she has the courage not only to heal herself, but to also inspire others…
As far back as I can recall I felt out of place, different and uncomfortable in my skin. I had always had an unhealthy relationship with food and my body as a child. I would often over-eat, and I remember skiving off school because I was horrified that the only trousers I had to wear made me look fat. I was seven at the time. I hid those trousers like my feelings and no one found them. When I was eleven an older girl showed me how to make myself sick. I can only imagine that it was a kind of bonding exercise but what she was actually sharing was a weapon. Bulimia was a young girl’s weapon against the uncontrollable and confusing chaos of an adult world. By the time I was fifteen I was making myself sick regularly. Through binging I was letting myself lose control, it was always from a place of deep anxiety. Following this would come the purge, motivated by the shame of losing control and the need to regain it urgently. Not only for controls sake but also to adhere to an acceptable shape by society’s standards. As a young woman so much of my worth was placed on my body and that body was dictated to me by males and beauty images. The compulsion to eat I am sure was, and still is, about love, acceptance and comfort. It was born from confusion about what and who I was meant to be.
Over time my mental health improved and I would slip into bulimia less and less. In my early twenties I was well enough to have left it behind, and although I would still feel the compulsion, I would refuse to hurt my body. For me this was a radical concept, since I had never loved myself enough to lay that boundary of self-care. It was a start but there was a long way to go. At this stage I was still in denial that I had a problem. It was as if it was happening to someone else, I was detached from it. In not dealing with the issue of bulimia, let alone all the underlying causes, this familiar beast would soon grow a new head.
At twenty-five, during a time of upheaval and grief, I began dramatically changing my eating habits and focusing on vegetables, juicing and being healthy. I lost a lot of weight around this time and people commented on how thin I was with either concern or envy and it felt good. Over time this would develop into an unhealthy obsession with clean eating to the point where I would create strict rules on what I allowed myself to consume. I was skipping meals, restricting food groups and developing extreme beliefs around food. On a good day I was a healthy eater. On a bad day I was fixated by the idea that tumorous cells were multiplying inside me and the only way to prevent this was through cleansing my body with clean eating. Healthy eating is wonderfully healing but the extent to which I was obsessing was clearly not healthy. I would come to understand this obsession as orthorexia, a form of disordered eating that is becoming more recognised. I believe that the range of confusing and contradictory messages on health out there today is contributing to this growing condition.
Just over a year ago, after months of chronic fatigue, I was diagnosed with M.E and everything began to change. I had the opportunity to reassess my life, my priorities, and to make space for self-care. This health crisis cracked me open and sparked the realisation that I was and had been for some time in spiritual crisis. I started to explore mind-body connections and tried every holistic therapy I could find. I am delighted to say I am doing well and although I will always have to manage my M.E symptoms, I am happier than I have ever been. I know this to be down to re-learning how to connect with myself, my mind-body, my soul. Through these therapies and developing my own daily spiritual self-care practice I have begun to heal old wounds that previously consumed me and change my un-checked negative thought patterns. A turning point was the realisation that if I kept telling my body it was ugly I would make it true. If I told my body that it was beautiful it would be beautiful, the power of thought really is transformative. I found my voice and unlearnt all that poor self-care that was really centred on fear and a lack of inner knowing. Only once I had rebuilt my foundation and learnt to really love myself, was I able to confront my relationship with food out in the open. It will always be complicated and it will never go away. Some days are harder than others, but most days are pretty good. How I feel about myself today has little to do with the way I look and everything to do with self-love, acceptance and authenticity. In the past I was unkind to myself and taught others to follow my lead. Today I respect myself deeply and show others how I deserve to be treated with the hope that I can inspire self-care in those who need it most.
My body is my soul’s companion, it walks with me in this life and takes burdens and knocks along the way. It is not my prison, it is like a school in which I learn. It helps me reach new places. It is my temple in which I have sanctuary, comfort and joy. Give me courage to listen to my own story, to begin to know myself so that I can listen and be useful to others.
Thank you Stella, for baring your embodied wisdom in order to inspire hope to others – we are KindaProud of you! ❤
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#EmergingProud through Suicide
#EmergingProud through Trauma and Abuse
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Thanks for sharing Stella – my story also included a long battle of about 15 years with othorexia which thankfully is in my past now. Would love to meet you and chat one day, maybe we will meet at the Soulshine Flashmob? Isn’t it wonderful how our bodies have been so forgiving then such shining lights for what inner work was needed? I resisted spiritual practices even though I was interested in it all until my body forced me that way too!
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Thank you so much for sharing sparklymum75! I’ll share your comment on the Facebook post as Stella may not see this x