I don’t often write about my personal struggles with disordered eating, because with a span of more than 10 years (starting with anorexia and merging into bulimia and orthorexia); it is more of a memoir than a one-page blog post.
Eating disorders are complex.
While I agree that cultural messages, genetics and family dynamics come into play; so does a sense of spiritual disconnection – the kind of disconnection that comes from being unable to satiate your deepest needs.
Eating disorders provide a vehicle for meeting emotional needs, in the best way known at the time.
By attempting to suppress hunger or refusing to nourish your body, you can also quell a deeper hunger for love, self-acceptance and inner calm.
Once you do that for a while you not only suppress the need, you also become less able to clearly identify the need in the first place.
This rejection, denial and suppression of hunger and need is relevant to us all because, whether we like to admit it or not…
We are all needy.
We cannot create the oxygen needed to breathe.
We cannot force our body to function in the way we need it to for survival purposes.
We cannot create rain fall for crops to grow and it is difficult to live an abundant life without a sense of love and connection, both towards ourselves and others.
While most of us are more than willing to meet the needs of our lovers, our children, and even our wider communities; how many of us are less comfortable acknowledging our own needs?
I would attest that most of us do not have a giving problem. Certainly, for many mums I know, it’s far more challenging to be open to receiving.
To accept that you are needy or are yearning love and a sense of belonging.
To ask for help or emotional support.
To be able to accept that you can receive without having to ‘earn’ it.
So, my message for today is simple:
1. Know that your needs matter and that you matter.
When it gets to the end of the day and you are exhausted and empty from hours of kid-wrangling or trying to run a solo business from home; instead of reaching for that third glass of wine or a sticky dessert, try instead, to observe your feelings and acknowledge your hunger. If you can’t attend to that need right there and then, make a mental note of it and promise that you will attend to it when you can.
2. Get in the habit of identifying your needs correctly.
If you are able to accurately pinpoint what you are feeling and what you need at that point in time, you will be able to self-help better.
There is a lot to be said for being your own best friend and coming to your own rescue.
~ Spending hours mindlessly on the interwebz, may stem from a need for connection, fun, or play.
~ Wishing that your employer would thank you in the next staff meeting for your help on a specific project may indicate that you are seeking recognition or approval.
~ To have five minutes where your kids do not squabble or scream, might indicate you are in dire need of some alone-time and solitude.
Are you open and accepting of your neediness?
What are your needs today and what can you do to ensure they are met?
Can you address your needs with the same sense of compassion you share with those closest to you?