Today, (11/21/11) for me, was one of those days that we might dream about for years and years, hoping it will come true but truly wondering if it ever would. Perhaps from our little girl selves at the age of 8 or 10, and then again, with greater emphasis and clarity in our teens, and then early 20’s and maybe during some dark times too, that dream would keep us plugging along, one seemingly cement-laden foot in front of the other.
Today I had the experience of educating a group of 160 nursing students on The CEDRIC Method. Now, that in and of itself is rather frickin’ cool! Getting to educate up-and-coming front line health care providers on a respectful, simple, effective way of perceiving and supporting their clients who may struggle with eating disorders or substance abuse issues is an incredible honour. Period. That’s a pretty cool day.
But, it gets better!
It was at a college that I went to many years ago. At that time I was a grade 10 drop out. A pot smoking, binging, isolating, depressed, anxious, insecure, totally – and I mean to-ta-leee – codependent young woman who couldn’t make eye contact with anyone without breaking out in hives!
I used to literally slink onto campus, keep my head down in class and try not to interact any more than necessary with any other students.
I could relate to the teachers amazingly well – even was asked and agreed to attend staff functions (aka pub crawls!) from time to time. But I felt so totally fat, gross, and just plain geeky with my peers (aka the cool people), that I didn’t make one friend in 4 years. Not one.
I remember how my brain used to immediately attach to how fat my stomach was, how many rolls I had, how my pants were size 16 or 14 or 12 or whatever they were during that time – they weren’t a size 2 like some other girls. Those size 2 girls were smart and pretty and worth getting to know. I, on the other hand, was fat. Which at that time, in my mind meant: stupid, ugly, lazy, and unworthy of taking up space on the planet. That’s how I thought anyway.
I wasn’t a whole lot of fun to hang around with to say the least, if you could actually get me to make and then follow through on a commitment in the first place, which was highly unlikely.
Group projects? Not good. Of course, no one else would do as good a job as me, so I was instantly resentful that I had to depend on anyone for any part of my mark. And then the fact that I actually had to interact with my peers! Come on! Just burn me at the stake and get it over with!!
I wasn’t really a very happy person. But perhaps you guessed that already?
I was a reliable worker – it actually never occurred to me not to be. I had to show up on time, work hard – harder than anyone else because I was fat. I had to stay a little longer and make sure the boss knew it, or I’d get fired because…well, because I was fat.
I actually liked working because the boundaries were clear. I knew exactly what was expected of me, I didn’t have to socialize – in fact it was frowned upon so I could freely judge those who gossiped and chatted about their night or their romantic issues or lack thereof. I was definitely doing alright in the self-righteousness department that’s for sure. Which actually really means I was doing great at feeling so insecure that I couldn’t feel good about myself if anyone else had anything good about them. Not a really stable or happy place to be.
Any who, I digress….
Today, I parked my car (which I love and have dreamed of having since I was 10!) and, after paying for parking (only $3.00 for 2 hours I noted happily– in Vancouver it would have been $15!!) I retrieved my presentation materials. I headed for the building where I was meant to present this class, which just happened to be my very favorite building of my entire educational career!
It’s a lovely old building with great character and fond memories – my favorite math teacher taught me how to enjoy math in that building; my favorite anthropology teacher taught me about evolutionary anthropology in that building – never mind that I failed one of the tests, I loved the subject so much I didn’t care – (and for my 99%! Why didn’t I get 100? – self – that was saying something!).
The building had lots of nooks and crannies and I’d hole up in one to study between classes. I loved that building!
As I was rolling my favorite little briefcase on wheels along the campus grounds, I knew I was making a truckload of noise. The little wheels are hard plastic and on the bumpy concrete with tall concrete buildings all around it sounded akin to a 747 during take-off! And what do you know? I was totally at ease.
I felt this sense of peace and ease, a sense of excitement for sure but a sense of “I have a right to be, to take up space, to make a little noise, to make eye contact, to smile, to make small talk even; I am equal to you, you are equal to me. Ain’t it grand!?”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I feel and think this as a natural state and have for quite some time in my life. But this place was a place where my most common experience was feeling small and dirty and bad and wrong and geeky and stupid – so, I think you could say that the contrast in how I felt today was amazing.
I had a flashback then, as I wheeled noisily along, I recalled me, hiding in a corner of that old fabulous building, dreaming of being recovered; dreaming of helping others; dreaming of teaching others how to help people recover from eating disorders; dreaming of feeling confident and secure in my own skin; of being loved by a wonderful man whom I loved equally; having a family (that I loved and wanted!); having friends that I felt truly loved and safe with; having a life!!; oh and did I mention dreaming about not binging every bloomin’ day!? And of feeling secure in my body and truly comfortable in my own skin? I am sure that world peace and an end to global warming were in there too but those were the things that stood out to me today as I rumbled along.
I have all those things now.
I pause for tears of joy to flow.
I have created my ideal life. And I did it, not by binging and focusing on how fat and gross I was or how unworthy I was or by believing that everyone else was better than me.
I did it by reminding myself every time I felt anxious and insecure that I had been trained to have flawed thinking; I had been trained, by some fairly confused people who were desperately insecure themselves, how to be in the world. That means my training and therefore, my thinking was flawed. I couldn’t trust it. And if I wanted to feel and behave like a confident person who had a right to take up space and was equal to everyone else, I had to stop behaving like those people who taught be how to be a perfect f’d up codependent.
I reminded myself that I couldn’t trust my perception of things, nor did I want to just trust everyone else’s – there’s a lot of people out there who had similar training to myself! Therefore, I had to find myself one or two people whom I had good reason to believe had their heads screwed on straight and I had to let them be my guide. I had to commit to deferring to them when I was confused about how to handle a situation or was feeling anxious or insecure. Reminding myself that I knew my training and approach to life was flawed and had never helped me to feel more secure, only less.
Soon I realized that there were some very basic concepts about being happy and secure as a human being and that if I focussed on mastering those, everything else would come.
So that’s what I did.
I focussed on mastering the concepts of:
- Practicing good self-care: Eating well and reasonable amounts, exercising moderately, getting good rest, hydration, and feeling confident in my right to say no to others if anything they are asking of me doesn’t meet my needs or fit with my values. This is both the core element of true self-esteem and its outcome. It’s a reciprocal cycle. The more I take care of myself and set boundaries with others, the more strong and adult and secure and clear about my rights I feel, and the easier it gets to take care of myself and set boundaries with others and so on and so on and so on to happiness, peace, passion and fulfillment.
- I have just as much of a right to take up space as everyone else.
My opinions are just as important as anyone else’s.
- If I make a mistake or am wrong about something I am not stupid or bad or forever flawed, I am simply wrong about that thing or made a mistake. I can apologize. I can learn and do things differently/better the next time around. I am deserving of forgiveness and a second chance. And if the folks I’m around don’t get that and can’t forgive; or feel the need to judge me or put me down I can tell them that’s not okay, “That doesn’t meet my needs for trust or safety or respect,” and give them a chance to apologize to me themselves. If they don’t I can separate from them and find people who get that life is for learning, mistakes will happen, and that it’s whether I learn from them and grow that makes my life purposeful and well-lived.
- My responsibility is to my own needs and feelings first – period.
This is the blueprint for a healthy, rationally thinking, balanced, peaceful, happy, passionate and fulfilled being.
There is nothing on this list that you can’t have, do or be with a little practice and a willingness to acknowledge that your training in how to be a good human was facilitated by disciples of the Spanish Inquisition School of Humanity!
My self-imposed role in your life is to help you to get to this place of true peace and fulfillment as quickly as possible.
Whether you binge or purge or restrict or use alcohol or drugs or spending or isolating or relationship obsession to manage your stress and keep yourself numb and preoccupied, I’m here to help you through. All of these patterns stem from the same place and therefore, one approach will show you how to overcome any and all of these patterns that might be in your life or the lives of people you care about.
I had a very precious moment today as I was gifted with an opportunity to fully realize that my little girl dreams had come true.
My wish is that every one of you reading this will, one day, if you don’t already, feel exactly the way I do today and know that you created it. You made it happen. It’s yours. It’s not a fluke; and no one can take it from you. You are safe. You are secure. You are worthy of love and acceptance from yourself and others. You deserve to be treated with dignity and respect by yourself and others at all times. You are loved.