by Christine Kane
In our last episode, I wrote some general thoughts about bulimia and the process involved in creating a healthy relationship with food and your body and your life. Whether you are still actively bulimic, or you’re simply working on some of these issues, the suggestions below may provide some guidance for beginning that work. They aren’t linear. They aren’t magic. They take commitment, but not force or rigidity. Practicing them helped me enormously.
1 – Set your intent.
This step isn’t really a step. It’s a requirement. Most people who talk to me about their struggle with food want out. They’re tired of it. They’re tired of their own illness, all the voices, and the overwhelm. My sense is that they’re as much addicted to distraction and overwhelm as they are to food. At least when there’s distraction and overwhelm they don’t have to face the monsters they know are down below the level of the distractions. One remedy for this is to set intent. (Another is silence. More on that below.)
In one of her lectures, Caroline Myss made a passing remark that I love…”One powerful prayer (intent) beats a confused cathedral any day.” I am convinced that human beings are, as Marianne Williamson said, “powerful beyond measure.” I know that I am no longer bulimic because I simply decided that I had had it. I was over it. I was tired of the struggle. I decided to heal. I committed. I set intent.
You need to decide to heal. And you then need to remind yourself again the next morning that you decided. And the next. Write it in your journal over and over. Tell your voices their days are numbered. This doesn’t mean you go on a diet, begin an exercise regime, or find any other ways to beat yourself into submission. Consider this a non-step… the opposite of every diet you’ve ever started. This is deeper.
Decide to heal. Pray. And do that everyday. Trust me on this. You have no idea now how powerful this will be. But it will be and it is — especially if you gently take a single action that reinforces this intent. You may find a possible action among the steps below.
2 – Stop reading women’s fashion magazines, People magazine, and fitness magazines. No exceptions. (While you’re at it, just stop reading magazines period.)
I know this is a hard one for some people. I did this without even getting advice to do it. I believe it to be the most revolutionary step I took. One day I just realized that these magazines made me miserable. Every time I finished looking through one, even briefly in grocery store lines, I felt like the life had been sucked out of me. I don’t need to go into the reasons why. You have to check in with yourself about it. Write in your journal about it.
We all know that the only way to keep a magazine going is to sell advertising, and the only way to sell advertising is to sell products, and the only way to sell products in high volume is to keep people emotionally hooked into the belief that they’re not okay as they are, where they are, and who they are. This is the energy behind most fashion magazines. I don’t even read O magazine. And I like Oprah. I just don’t like her magazine. Try it for a month. Really, I promise, you’ll be happier. (And just think — you won’t have to witness Dr. Phil bitch-slapping people around anymore.)
The part of us that gets hooked into these magazines is addicted to self-loathing. I see it as an inner Dementor that actually feeds on our negative feelings in order to stay alive. This keeps the whole system called “eating disorder” functioning. And even though you feel slightly worse and a little more depressed after a harmless bout of Glamour-gazing, you are comfortable. You know this place. The Dementor has been sated. You’ve made yourself small again. The Dementor loves this.
Do yourself a favor and stop it. Look away. Take your magazines to recycling. Cancel subscriptions. It would be more productive for you to sit and stare at the wall and feel wildly uncomfortable, than it would be to open Cosmo and flip through the images generated by an industry that needs you to keep feeding the Dementor. (By the way, when you don’t feed the Dementor anymore, it starves and dies.)
3 – Get a massage.
Energy healing. Acupuncture. Homeopathy. Massage. These are a few of the widely expanding areas of alternative medicine. Try them. The reason alternative medicine works is because it works on the body, mind, and emotions. It does not fix. It slowly heals. I’ve tried almost every form of alternative medicine. My favorites are massage and acupuncture. I also did extensive energy healing work, mostly because I happened to meet a master practitioner and I knew she was excellent. And tell the practitioner what you are working through. Tell them I told you to tell them. This will help them help you. And you need lots of compassion during this process. Allow people to give it to you.
“But I don’t have time! But I don’t have money!” If you’re saying these things, go back and review Step 1. When I first started this process, I was making minimum wage. I began working with a homeopath. The cost was high and not covered by insurance. (Not that I had any.) I decided it didn’t matter what I had to do, I needed to go at least once every three weeks if I wanted to shift. The doctor was compassionate and gave me an enormous amount of attention. I eventually moved on to acupuncture. Again, I was making very little money.
Your commitment to healing will have to involve some action steps. You set your intent, you make the commitment and then you back it up with action. You say yes to your intent, and then the universe says yes back to you. It’s just how it works. And you won’t know this until you do it. (This is why they say “Leap and the net will appear.”) This is what I did. I never went into debt. I got healthier and stronger. When you get healthier and stronger, your energy lifts and you naturally attract more into your life.
4 – Please, oh Please, Stop Drinking Diet Soda.
The homeopath I saw during the early stages of healing bulimia never offered food advice. He knew better. One day, however, he said quietly that he’d like me to stop drinking Diet Coke. He explained that NutraSweet has been reported to be a depressant and bad for the brain. He didn’t get all dramatic and hyper and judgmental. He just stated it calmly in about two sentences. Because this man had never once said anything like this to me, I trusted his advice.
I switched to regular Coke and regular Pepsi (I don’t drink soda at all anymore, but back then I couldn’t imagine life without fizz.) The first thing was that I lost a good deal of weight within about a month. The second thing was that I really did feel emotionally better. I’m not a “medical expert” (is there really such a thing?) so I can’t document this step with data, but I believe that diet soda is one of the most vile substances you can put into your body. And I also know what it’s like to be addicted to it. So, I understand how challenging it can be to let it go. Would it help if I told you I don’t even think about having it anymore?
5 – Stop Reading the Fear-Based Way-too-Mental Medical Articles on Eating Disorders…
I decided to add this step as I was searching the web for a few factoids to back up my beliefs about women’s magazines. As I was reading the very self-important medical world’s take on women’s bodies, I felt my heart racing with fear. And I’m not even bulimic anymore! It reminded me of how I used to read article after article about eating disorders when I was in college, sending myself into panic and terror. This doesn’t serve anyone.
I vacillated between reading women’s magazines, which kept me hating my body, and reading the medical industry’s studies and articles, which kept me terrified of my body. I realize that I was in a constant state of negativity. When I actually did begin recovering, the medical industry and all of its components no longer even mattered to me. Their articles only kept me scared. It wasn’t until I began meeting compassionate, wild, funny, loving people did I let go of all the fear messages.
6 – Allow Silence and Boredom.
This isn’t the same kind of “bored” I wrote about in “The Way Clouds Do.” That was high school, and kind of a violent boredom. This is conscious boredom.
I call this step “boredom” so that you won’t take it and make it an assignment to meditate or “do” something with the silence.
Bulimic women love assignments. They take them on and know they’re going to do them perfectly. And this works for about 3 to 5 days until they miss a day. Then they hate themselves and give the whole idea up because they messed up and they think they’re no good at anything. At least, that’s how I remember my own process…
So, given all that, this is a non-assignment assignment.
Just five minutes. Try sitting quietly. Don’t turn on the tv. Don’t grab a book. Bite your nails if you must. Just sit there and deal with the silence and listen to your body. When I facilitate retreats, I surround all the activities and writing work with long bouts of silence. I don’t call it “meditation” because that words makes all the obsessive compulsive people jump into their poses and make it into a “meditation assignment.” Just get bored. Sit there. Try it.
There’s a huge amount of information, emotion, and stuff coming at us at any given time of the day. Women who have eating issues tend to be ultra-sensitive to this stuff. They don’t seem to have filters. It all just seems to come in. If you are this type, then you need some process time. You need silence. You need to just sit there. You’ll get how much better it makes you feel, I promise.
You need peace. But maybe right now you can simply get a little freedom from the panic. You’re not alone. You can heal this. I know that because I did. No, it wasn’t easy. You’ll probably have to cry a lot. Really a lot. But it is so worth it.
I will be writing more about eating and eating disorders and my own process. If you’re reading this and you have questions or issues you’d like to ask, please email me or add a comment to this section. I will address your question or comment in another blog. Like I’ve said, I’m not an expert, but I’ve gotten through it and I can speak from my own experience.