One of the most discouraging feelings on the “food” journey is hopelessness – that sticky, mucky despair when we feel like we’ll never heal; where we collapse and say, “Forget it!” and give up. In a word, this giving up is a form of doubt.
I’ve gone through periods in my life where this collapse has been the chronic refrain, the undercurrent in every area of my life – food, of course, but also in money, relationships, general health and more. Everything felt unworkable. Everything felt like a mess of, “It’s all going to pot!”
How do we move out of collapse? How do we move out of despair? How do we find encouragement when our journey feels so, so long, and we wonder, “Will I ever break free?”
This past spring I started writing The 30 Day Lift, a program on compassionate habit change. I’ll confess that I felt *greatly* resistant to writing this program because I don’t like boot camp, 30 day, “balls to the wall” programs that can be self defeating. And for a while, I just didn’t want to. (I think a part of me knew that writing the program would mean doing the work myself. A hum.)
And yet as I opened my heart and I actually started writing the program, I saw that I was being changed by doing it, by using the tools that I share in it. Through Divine grace, the way I relate to hopelessness and despair has been gently, slowly changing.
In this post here – one of the most popular I’ve ever written – I shared the connection I see between insecure attachment and food stuff (in particular, overeating and food addiction.) I exhibit what experts term “insecure attachment” style, meaning, in so many words, that my “normal” has been to feel insecure in my closest relationships – to feel unattached; to second guess that I am safe and loved. I can easily see that I transferred this insecurity to food. In so many ways, food has been my mother, my surrogate parent. And my relationship with food has also been insecure – an “I love you and yet I also hate you/will push you away” dynamic through decades of eating disorders. I loved food as much as I feared it.
I’ve spent years working through my food stuff. And yet those feelings of collapse, of despair – of I’ll never feel whole and free on the deepest levels inside – remained, even when I wasn’t bingeing on an entire cake. As one astute woman in one of my classes put it, “How can the physical manifestation of an eating disorder go away, but the cruel thoughts of inferiority stay for so long?” These feelings of “not safe,” “unattached,” “not enough” would rise up in me nearly every day – this deep, deep pain of feeling cut off and separate from everyone, from God, from love. It was like having my heart carved out with spoon. I felt so hollow and empty inside.
In writing (and doing!) the 30 Day Lift, I’ve been working with that hollow, separate feeling and the feeling of collapse. Through the daily prayer/meditation practice and the daily tools, I’ve been shifting that “normal” of insecurity. I feel more held, more attached, and I’m able to step back and observe my feelings of separation more than getting caught in them. This feels like a miracle.
I’m slowly experiencing/learning that collapse is just a habit – and one that can be retrained. The message of collapse comes from my fearful, primitive, old brain that tells me, everyday, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” I am learning that while the feelings are real they are not true. They are not based in reality.
What’s rising up in me is a new voice. It’s the voice of the Divine that says, “I am with you always. You are never alone. I love you and I will never forsake you.” It’s a feeling of deep, deep rest – of being held by something that loves me unconditionally. It is the deepest safety – of being securely attached.
This safety, this deep rest, is how we change. It is the container for growth. It has been changing me.
Lately, as I’ve been triggered I’ve found that I can pause, breathe, and tell myself, “You can handle this!” The voice of collapse - “It’s all going to hell! It’ll never work!” - which was so loud and insistent – has quieted. This is true even though the past few months have been difficult for me and full of challenge. This is true even though I have decades of experience of going to collapse. This feels like another miracle and makes me feel hopeful – for all of us.
What I’ve learned through this experience is that it’s the doing that creates the healing. I’ve been an avid reader for decades – if only change were as easy as reading a book! But it’s been through my daily practices in my 30 Day Lift that I’ve seen growth and change.
I felt hesitant to share this experience with you because it can sound like “Rah, rah! Go and buy this program.” (A part of me also felt more comfortable sharing the struggles in my journey rather than the parts where I found healing….) But as I sat with my heart I felt compelled to write this post even though I felt a little uncomfortable, because what I’ve learned feels too valuable to keep to myself.
I’m no different than you. I don’t have anything special that you don’t have. I know the healing that I’m experiencing is here for you, too. You have so much strength inside.
I invite you to play with this idea in your own life – what have you been reading about or thinking about that you could translate into doing – into a daily practice? And how might that daily practice transform you?
May we all find healing, freedom and the peace that comes not in control, but in grace, in belonging, in inner resilience, in the faith of yes, we can handle this…
Wanting more hands on help?
If you’d like to learn more about the 30 Day Lift – a compassionate, structured audio program to create habit changes with food - or if you’d like to purchase the program for yourself, you can check it out here. What I found most helpful about this program is its focused structure. The structure of the program helped me relax and focus on my tasks rather than trying to figure out what to do everyday! As someone who struggles with structure – it doesn’t come easily or intuitively for me, even though I feel so much better with it! – this was very, very helpful.
More articles for you:
If you liked this post, you may also enjoy reading these articles:
- More on the connection between insecure attachment and overeating
- You can handle this.
- Soften the impulse to eat sugar.
- Finding comfort when it’s uncomfortable.