All the years of eating disorders lasted so long because I didn’t know how to sit with my pain, how to befriend my discomfort. Some people do drugs, others abuse alcohol, I developed an eating disorder.
Welcome to Day 7 of #31daysofselfcompassion.
Today the theme is “making room for pain”
It’s a weird kind of situation, to feel like you are trapped in a prison you can’t escape. Wanting to crawl out of your own skin, feeling unwanted and unwelcome to yourself, but nowhere to go. All the times I spent kneeling on the bathroom floor, those were desperate attempts to get away from myself. I was convinced that some 20 pounds away, lied freedom and bliss. I wanted to do anything to avoid the feeling of worthlessness, to not confront my own pain. That, coupled with the new wave of positivity spirituality, I was well versed in covering my brokenness with glitter and positive affirmations.
But all this pretense was eating away at me, both physically and emotionally. It was exhausting, it was self-destructive and more importantly the feeling of being trapped within myself was just getting worse.
Then I remember reading a poem from Rumi, called The Guest House. It says,
“The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond”.
The idea of befriending my darkness as a divine guide, was like an aha moment for me. It was liberating to know I didn’t have to constantly run away from myself, to know it was ok to make room, invite in, and listen to my pain, listen to what my inner most self wanted to say. It was allowed to feel all my feelings.
What this poem taught me aside from listening to myself, is that it’s ok not be ok. When we focus on positivity only, we force ourselves to constantly be in “fix-it” mode. We become afraid of our own darkness, forever chasing the next positivity high, or at least avoid feeling anything at all. This is what enabled my eating disorders for all these years. I thought weight loss by any means necessary, would fix my sense of worthlessness. I was binge eating and throwing up, spending hours in the gym, staying in relationships that were no good for me, and running from people who genuinely loved me. Anything to not have to stop and bear witness to my own pain. By doing this, I became more relaxed with myself exactly as I was, and less afraid of the unknown because by getting to know the dark corners of my emotions made me bolder. I was encouraged to go after the things I want, but also comfortable sitting with myself no matter where I am emotionally, because I learned not to bang on the bars begging for someone, for anything to get me out of myself.
Sometimes, It’s ok to stop running. It’s ok to open the door, welcome the darkness, and listen to what it came to teach you.
Sometimes it is at rock bottom, over tea with your pain, that you unearth your biggest breakthrough, that you start revolutions, that you shatter the status quo. Don’t let pain further chain you down, let it help you break free.
But honestly it can take some time, so breathe.
For right now, it’s ok not to be ok.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.