Tag Archives: shame

So, if you didn’t go to treatment, what did your recovery look like?

So, if you didn’t go to treatment, what did your recovery look like?

Asked one very intelligent student of mine at the recovery center one night during a special Q&A class during which I already shared much of my recovery story. I said I never went to treatment and rarely sought out therapy during the throes and early days of my eating disorder. (I do recognize the value in BOTH of these things, I just was not aware they were even available to me. And so I healed myself through the worst of it.)

In response to her question…

Messy. Is the word that flew out of my mouth.

Shit, I thought to myself. Should I have really said that out loud? It felt like the most honest response because, well, my early recovery was a fucking mess. And I had to make peace with that and the fact that, as I quickly learned, recovery is not linear and it takes many many different forms.

I paused then explained:

Everyone’s recovery path is going to look different and I did not know what kind of help was available. No one in my little college world talked about this stuff [Eating Disorders] except in the context of “it’s an easy way to stay skinny.” My recovery might have been expedited had I been aware of help available or had I not been so ashamed. [There’s that buzzword: shame!]

I didn’t tell most of my friends, I didn’t even tell my mother because I didn’t want her to take on the burden. In retrospect, I wish I had gone to more people because now, over 10 years later, I’m learning the value of being vulnerable and asking for help.

I went on to further explain, my recovery was beautiful and multi-faceted. My recovery was introspective. My recovery was difficult. My recovery looked like surrounding myself with people who lifted me up. It looked like me in my bedroom surrounded by yoga books, putting together sequences, noticing what felt good in my body and what didn’t. My recovery smelled like patchouli and armpit body odor and looked like the tiny yoga studio in Bloomington that accommodated 15 students at most. Always cheering each other on. (And, by the way, it never looked like cute yoga outfits.)

My recovery looked like brutal honesty with myself and daily reminders that I was making a choice to get better. My recovery looked like trust in myself that I could do this. My recovery looked like my college boyfriend as my rock, a person who believed in me, reminding me to believe in myself. It looked like the one tiny old woman therapist who told me “one day at a time, honey.” Those words were gold. It looked like undiagnosed depression and massive bouts of what I now know were anxiety attacks.

And those were just the early days. My recovery from an eating disorder turned into recovery from negative body image and body dysmorphia. And then recovery from not believing in myself. And now it is recovery from any thought, belief, person, or thing that does not bring me to light.

My recovery looks like setbacks sometimes. It looks like hours spent talking to a therapist and life coach. My recovery looks like journaling and writing and meditation. It looks like time spent in the woods. It looks like allowing myself to feel pain and uncomfortable feelings, but not to dwell in them. And if I notice I’m staying the the pain for too long, my recovery now looks like asking for help. A helping hand to pull me out of my hole.

So now my recovery looks like feeling ALL the feelings. Even the ones I thought I had done away with years ago. It looks like processing old breakups and the losses of friendships. It looks like celebrating my triumphs today and from years back. It looks like bidding farewell to always trying to control and avoid pain so that I’ll only feel good happy things.

I am pleased to share with you that today, my recovery looks like imperfection. And I’m beyond OK with that.

What does your recovery look like? Please share below in the comments!
And sign up for my newsletter to receive a totally free body image coaching consult today. XOXO

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I share my story because: HOPE

Wednesday night I arrived at the eating disorder recovery center 10 minutes early. I set up my electric candles, lit palo santo, and turned on soft music. We practice in one of the therapist’s office and it helps to have some items to spark the senses and shift the energy.

The house was full that night – 6 women, ages 19 to 58, and they were all in attendance for class. There was a buzzing energy. They seemed in good spirits. They seemed excited.

As they set up their mats and props the more outspoken women announced they were all on the same exercise level and informed me they could MOVE more. I nodded, said OK.

We talked about the day as we all settled in and took our seats. I had them take a deep breath, close their eyes, and asked for a one word check-in from each.

I heard:

Insecure…

Frustrated…

Numb…

Sick…

Excited…

And then I heard:
Maggie, last time you were here, you said you went through something [eating disorder]… it helped me a lot to hear that. Can you tell us more?

I felt like the librarian at story time. I opened my eyes and looked at her. I said of course.

I told them they could open their eyes if they liked. I told them I had an eating disorder. I told them it was serious 10 years ago. That was my bottom. I told them I never received formal or clinical help beyond a few visits to a therapist. I felt misunderstood. I only told my boyfriend at the time and best friend. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone. I felt so much shame.

But, I said, I felt safe in one space. All the time. And that was in my yoga practice.

I told them recovery is not linear. That I had several setbacks. Not necessarily becoming bulimic again but severe anxiety, bouts with mild depression, and then most recently I started using excessive exercise to curtail my weight and had to put the brakes on endurance training and racing for a while until I could create homeostasis with that.

You see, I told them, recovery is not a one and done deal as I’m sure you know.

It’s a daily commitment to yourself. Letting go of the shame about my eating disorder was a huge part of recovery too. Being able to write about it and talk about it openly is part of recovery.

They nodded in agreement.

Another woman chimed in:

It’s so helpful to hear you say that and then to see you standing here in front of us. Like you’re using your story to help other people. You made it.

It gives us hope, she said.

I realized in that moment that for these women before me, hearing my story was as empowering if not more than learning any yoga pose. But what spending 10 minutes at the beginning of this class did for our asana practice was powerful. I saw more smiles, felt more energy, and gained more of their trust than ever before.

By being vulnerable, I instantly felt a deeper connection with these women. They knew I understood what it feels like to be in their shoes. They knew I understood shame. About my body and about my story. And they knew it was possible to move through it and beyond.

Leaving class Wednesday night I felt an exchange between myself and the 6 women. We gave each other incredible gifts. I gave them hope, and in return they listened, they lit up, and they reminded me to keep sharing my story. That I am on the right path. And I choose every day to keep on going.

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This is hard to share… [But allows me to step into my power]

Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I hate what I see.

Like when I’m naked after a shower. I’ll wonder why I wasn’t born with perfectly toned arms. And why did god give me such soft cushioning around my hips?

Thankfully this is the exception now rather than the rule.

I consider it residue from my eating disorder.

I consider it residue from years of hating and bashing my own body.

For as long as I can remember {we are talking 5 years old here} I’ve been aware of my little belly – this little pooch – and was obsessed with “how do I get rid of it?”

Before I understood how a woman got pregnant, there was a time when I’d worry my belly contained a baby in it. {Maybe only 9 years old at this point.} I felt relieved for a while, knowing it would probably just go away.

When I learned what crunches were and that they’d give me washboard abs like the women on MTV’s Spring Break, I counted crunches. And then always wondered why nothing was changing…

I snuck cookies from the cookie jar and then felt overwhelmed by immense guilt and tried to eat more carrot and celery sticks to make up for it. Especially since I learned you burned more calories chewing celery than you could consume from them … something like that…
One of the only full length mirrors in our house growing up was in my parent’s bathroom and I vividly remember tracking my progress. Standing sideways as I looked in the mirror, flattening my tummy until I achieved the look I was going for. Flat as a pancake.

I was determined to one day get there.

So determined that my negative body image and horrible relationship to food spiraled into a full on eating disorder in college. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be sticking my finger down my throat, making myself puke into a dorm room toilet. I did this for years and one day someone told me “take it one day at a time” – after this I was on the path to recovery.

It took a while and many ups and downs and exploration of self. And more pain. But once I jumped on the path I have never looked back. I only see glimpses of the residue my eating disorder left behind. The moments when I look in the mirror and for a second step out of my power.

And now when I sit down with other women who tell me they too had an eating disorder and that THEY TOO hid it from most people closest to them my heart simultaneously aches AND feels joy.

I ache for the fact that they went through the pain alone. They blamed themselves for everything. They sought control through food and exercise.

The joy comes from knowing the relief that accompanies sharing. When we share our stories of struggle, grief, and pain we unburden ourselves of shame.

It’s because I let go of shame about my body that I can stand in front of myself in the mirror and say “hell yeah!” to my body. I can embrace my little belly and the cushion around my hips.

So what’s your body image story? What are you carrying with you that is creating blocks from seeing your own light? From saying “HELL YEAH!”?

If you feel like sharing, I have time this week and would love to listen and guide you toward releasing body shame. Click below to set up your free discovery call.

http://www.maggieconverse.com/apply

Here’s to stepping into your power,

Maggie

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Webinar Series: Release Body Shame

I’m excited to announce a brand new webinar series I am launching this summer – beginning June 16!

Release Body Shame

Experience freedom from the entrapment of body shame.

Why Release Body Shame? And, what is it anyway?
I spent the bulk of my early twenties battling an eating disorder. It was primarily through yoga and a mindfulness practice that I was able to heal myself. My journey continues to this day as I work toward releasing my own body shame (buried deep within my own trenches) through developing a more rich practice that supports me as I get older.

Release Body Shame will be an experience that allows you to begin the self-inquiry pertaining to your own relationship with your body. We will open the conversation about body image as it pertains to our culture and ourselves as human beings.

Throughout the webinar series we will work with the 5 A’s: Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection, and Allowing – to better understand how we can change the story that we tell ourselves and how we can begin to better release the shame we hold onto about our bodies.

Click here to learn more and sign up today! XO

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