We think of courage as bold overtures, soldiers storming into battle, a child bravely fighting cancer. Most of us hardly think of getting help for our eating “issues” as courageous.
To admit that you’re struggling in a big way to yourself is hard enough, but to vocalize (or even email it!) it to another feels a little like peeling off your skin and exposing your vulnerable insides to grave dangers. You’re not going to die from exposure, but for a moment it feels like you could. Putting it all out there – even to just one person puts us immediately on guard. We anticipate harsh judgements, embarrassment, ridicule even.
Why do we have so much fear sharing what’s really going on with us? Especially when you consider how much ridiculous shit we share online – with perfect strangers even!
The fear comes from the idea that we’re alone in it. We’re walking out into an abyss and no one else has a clue about it. That there is something wrong with us for having this problem – because everyone else seems ok. We think that we’re the only ones stuffing our faces, struggling to eat “normally” and revolting from our bodies. But the truth is, everyone has insecurities and stuff they are freaking out about inside. Maybe it’s not their food life or their body – it might be their marriage, it might be that they suffer from anxiety, maybe they feel like a total fraud at their job, maybe they have major social anxiety, the list can go on and on. Most of us keep it bottled up inside (unless you’re like me and you share way too much all of the time) – but we’re all hurting in some way and we all need someone to talk to. We all need to feel heard, understood, supported and most of all, not judged.
As hard as it is to suffer with an eating issue, it’s so hard to extend out our hands to get support. It may feel courageous to keep it inside and “handle it” ourselves but there really isn’t courage in that (at least in the long term). That’s based in fear. Fear of being seen as we really are – a complex imperfect human being!
Getting to the point where you finally reach out because you recognize that it’s actually even scarier to not seek help (and remain the same) takes immense courage. It takes guts. It takes a willingness to fall harder on your face than you already have. It is a risk.
But it’s one you have to take if you don’t want to feel this way anymore.
It takes so much courage to finally say, I need help, I’m stuck. I can’t do this on my own, I’m flailing, floundering and feeling fragile.
I talk a lot about what it takes to heal our relationships with food and loving our bodies and feeling our feelings. I talk about the need to take action and put things into practice instead of just wishing things were different but I don’t often acknowledge what it has taken the person who is in the process to even get to that point. That’s a whole journey in itself.
No one can tell you when you’ll get there, when you’ll be ready to get help, when enough is enough, but you. You’ll find that point someday where your quality of life is compromised enough that not getting help seems worse than sharing your struggles. To allay some of your fears, last time someone was brave enough to share with you something they were struggling with, how did you react? Did you make fun of them or tear them apart? Or did you let them know they were heard and understood? I’m guessing you may have seen yourself in them and said “Me too.”
If you have spoken up and are working to get better – with a coach, with a therapist, with a friend, with your journal, then you are courageous. You are fierce. You are strong. You are looking your fears directly in the face and saying “Is this all you’ve got?”, even if there are bumps along the way. You are brave.
If you’re not there yet, that’s ok. We’re all here for you and will be ready to listen when you are. I can’t wait for you to feel the relief that comes with being able to share your story with another person who gets it and who isn’t judging you. It’s like taking a deep breath by the ocean for the first time. It’s a big chunk of the healing just to get there. When you’re ready and want to talk, contact me.