Clarity, Focus, and Action

On the surface, I was a vibrant soul, full of dreams and ambition who loved a good story (I still do). I was also grateful, I’d even say, too grateful, for what little I received as a return on investing my time, money, and energy. I embodied “toxic positivity” before there was a term for “toxic positivity”. 

Beneath the surface, I carried a burden that weighed me down both physically and emotionally. I felt frustrated, disconnected, discouraged, and angry. There wasn’t enough positive will to change my circumstances. 

What I needed to do was believe in “myself” – my ideal self image at my goal weight. 

How do I believe in a version of myself that doesn’t exist or I surrendered? One that feels incredibly far from where I am now. 

By age 16 I knew how to “lose weight” – I’d done it before. Quickly and significantly.

Losing weight was easy because my identity was that of someone who was overweight and lost weight. I even had a specific weight I gravitated towards – an outcome I always expected, no matter what I did.

I lived in a cycle of stress trying to escape reactive and routine negative emotions, sensations, and self-talk through work, TV, education, self-help books, socializing, shopping, . . . And when those didn’t work to distract me, I pushed onward with toxic positivity and emotional stuffing

What I didn’t realize – even as I got older – was that there were beliefs in place that were driving my behavior,  keeping me stuck in a loop of self-denial. 

I believed that needing or wanting anything was a weakness. It was a cultural belief that to acknowledge I needed or wanted love, security, support, or acceptance was a weakness.  The expression of such needs, even after trauma(s), were often met with apathy and par for the course – this left no room for post traumatic healing/growth. And trusting an expert or professional would require an admission of failure.

I believed that deserving (and in turn receiving) was determined by sex (male) and birth order. This was a cultural belief that became a personal belief. It was very hard for me to accept myself as someone who can be, feel, do, and have the lifestyle that supported my goal weight, financial outcome, status, milestones, etc. because it was not modeled in the home for me. <- I’m leaving it at this. 

As a result I learned to abandon, neglect, and disown my needs, wants, and therefore my ability to receive. This was my lifestyle, my process. And it showed. 

A combination of unsupportive relationships, a stressful job, pregnancy, home ownership, and a 3 hour daily commute took their toll. I was too tired to invest any energy into caring for myself beyond making sure the baby received the best nutrition I could offer. I was too tired to move, let alone exercise or portion control. 

I gained 70 lbs during the pregnancy, outside what the baby weighed and needed at the time of birth. And that was on top of the 15 lbs I gained after adding a 3 hour work commute for several years. 

After the baby was born, I noticed how hard it was for me to move physically. I was exhausted emotionally, mentally, and physically. I wasn’t sleeping well and too tired to move. I spent close to 12 hours alone. I was going through one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, and I was physically at rock bottom. 

I didn’t remember what it was like to be “me” anymore, but. . .

. . . there was a silver lining. 

While some areas of my life seemed to be falling apart, others were coming together. 

I learned what it was like to love unconditionally. What it looks like. What it feels like. And how to give and receive it.

I also allowed myself to recognize that my childhood was not loving, nurturing, patient, encouraging, secure. 

By acknowledging and accepting the truth, that I had needs and wants and they were not fulfilled, I was able to start the grieving process for what I believed I lost. 

It took work to get out of my go-to coping skills, intellectualization, emotional stuffing, dissociation, and avoidance. This work is what led me to understand food wasn’t the problem, but that C-PTSD was the problem. 

As a result of feeling more secure within myself, I got out of my head and into my body – reluctantly

By studying and applying a combination of Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence (EQ), NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), somatic and self-soothing techniques, and EFT Tapping, I was finally able to answer the following question:

How do I believe in a version of myself that doesn’t exist or I surrendered? One that feels incredibly far from where I am now?

When you feel that far from what you want, you dare.

So, I dared.

I dared myself to believe, with unwavering certainty, in a new identity. One in which I would be worthy of what I would want and need . . .  and that I could be, do, feel, and have it.

I created a positive self-image. A vision of my Next Level Self with shiny, new goals and healthy habits and boundaries . . . . 

. . . A vision that every fiber of my being fought to abandon, disown, and reject with more limiting beliefs, fears, bad habits, traumatic memories, and emotional dysregulation that held me back from setting clear and compelling goals in the past.

This time I DID believe.

I believed in a version of myself that felt incredibly far from where I wanted to be, and while there was no guarantee she would ever exist – I persisted.

To keep the belief alive I invited glimpses into “her” lifestyle. I called up memories of when I weighed that weight. I remembered what I thought, felt, and did that supported that idea of myself then – as well as what devalued my self-worth around it.  I provided myself with a new outcome on which to focus.

And while these memories became guidelines for better, healthier boundaries and milestones for little and big goals, some of them were painful and led to setbacks and challenges. 

I found that as I addressed the fear, hurt, and sadness that drove resistance and procrastination, I began to change emotionally, mentally, and physically in subtle and not so subtle ways.

Sure, the physical exercise helped. Yes, the portion control helped. 

That was easy on the days I got enough sleep, I drank enough water, everyone in my household was happy, there weren’t obligations, or I wasn’t triggered in general.

It was staying true to the vision when I hit a plateau, my body was too sore to move, I felt deprived, was stretched too thin, wasn’t sleeping well, the household was sick, and I desperately wanted more support.

Working through those issues – when I didn’t want to, didn’t do that well, didn’t believe the solutions would work, and didn’t have the support I wanted – became my cathartic process for release. It became my new lifestyle. A new part of me.

In daring to believe in an idea with unwavering certainty, I surrendered some of who I was for who I could and wanted to be.

I accepted myself as worthy of what I want and need . . .  and that I can be, do, feel, and have it.

In less than a year, I overachieved by 3 lbs. I released an old idea of me weighing 103 lbs. more. 

Today, I believe in a version of myself who exists. One that feels incredible where I am

Now that I know I can be, do, feel and have better, I want more out of life..  

It’s time for a new starting line, an old question, and endless opportunities to grow.

How do I believe in a version of myself that doesn’t exist? One that may feel incredibly far from where I am now. 

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