I recently read a book by Brene’ Brown The Gifts of our Imperfections. One of the things she talked about is owning your story. For too long, I have let certain elements in my life define me or better yet Own ME. My idea with starting a blog is to shed light on topics or realize that they aren’t really that bad. They do not have to own me, rather I can own them. They also do not have to define me or make me who I am, they are pieces that come together to make up a whole person.
It’s fascinating to me the things in one’s life that are “easy” to talk about or aren’t that bad. I often would describe myself to people as the Hogwarts Library. There are many things in my life that I will share with people or talk about with people and then there are the other things which I pretend do not exist so they belong in the “Restricted Section.” No one is allowed in there, or some are allowed in there – especially if they had the “invisibility cloak” but they could only brush by the topics and see what’s in there, but do not actually get to know the details. Things in which I believed if I didn’t admit that they were there they weren’t a problem, Right? wrong. So wrong, it was if the more I pretended those things weren’t there or existed they controlled me more and took over my life slowly but surely.
With coming to terms with some of my “books” from the restricted sections, others of them were easier to expose and share and shed light on. But there’s one , -there’s always one- that still lingers or you attempt to own the story and share it. Embarrassed or feeling judged comes to mind when I think about this particular story. When that wasn’t necessarily the case with the other ones. When I would own up, or share the stories, I felt brave and proud of myself for being able to not have to hide in the shadow of those experiences. However, the reality is that the exposing of some of the books was still masking a bigger thing. One of the books was still covered up, the real problem, the real issue.
I felt that some things are more culturally accepted or are more understood than others. So, in sharing my stories with people, there was a reliability or a familiarity with that. Admitting I was a heavy drinker, partied a lot, did a bunch of dumb hurtful stuff to people I cared about, or stupid – did she really just do that – stuff was easy. Yeah, I use to get black out drunk and then try and cook some food but would fall asleep and then wake up to my fire alarm. I only ruined and burned 3 pans this way. Yeah, I cheated on my ex-boyfriend. Or I could drink a whole bottle of whiskey. Or yeah, I drink all night then wake up to go to work at 9 in the morning so I just drink a bunch of red bulls and coffee and start the cycle all over again. At one point this was hard for me to recognize as bad, because I saw it as just “being young.” It wasn’t until the real issue, my eating disorder, continued to get worse. I saw drinking as helping because the only time I could eat food was if I was drunk. Trying to get food any other way was simply not going to happen. So therefore, drinking was helping me eat so it was doing good for me. However, how out of hand my drinking was becoming, or the harm I was doing to others and myself was a story I began to own, and would openly talk about with people that I am currently not drinking because it was getting out of hand. And again, I felt that plenty of people know about alcoholics or understand it to a certain extent. With my eating disorder though, there is was a shame factor that existed.
Even though I struggled with an eating disorder for many years, I would join in jokes with people who would poke fun at people with eating disorders. As if the reason many people struggle with an eating disorder is all image related. Missing the deeper problem that is really happening. The judgement, I felt if anyone knew I struggled with an eating disorder, “what would they think?” “How would they react?” “What are they going to say?” “Oh my god, what the fuck do I say back to them?” These thoughts would cause me so much anxiety. It made me feel weak, or a typical girl in the entertainment industry. Also, because I often would make jokes, I felt so hypocritical. I would laugh along with my friends as we would talk about a girl who was extremely picky with the food she ordered, but then I would be in the bathroom throwing up.
I finally decided to enter into a treatment center for my eating disorder and it was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. I had no idea the journey I was about to embark on. It has rocked my world upside down, left right and all over the place. I still feel like this is my one story I haven’t 100% owned. The amount of people I opened up to about this I can count on one hand, excluding my family and partner. That is partially because I do have this belief that not everyone deserves to know your stories, to know everything. Also, when I would open up to someone that I was in recovery about my eating disorder all of the sudden it was if they became the food police and without fail I could catch them looking over at me if I was eating….how much of this was all in my head, because I knew they knew my “secret” – probably a big percentage of it…but I felt on a spotlight around food now. I felt my body, weight and food were on display and people were hypersensitive of it around me. I think that more of that was ME being hypersensitive of it, ME, feeling this pressure, ME feeling like that was how people were reacting.
I began to realize that I had more control of it than I was letting on, that I was allowing people to make me want to hide behind the shadows of my eating disorder still. That most of the beliefs of how people were reacting were because of ME. Having shame around it, or getting all quiet like a little child when I would talk about it showed the hold it still held on me. I was giving the power away, even though in my recovery I was stopping behaviors around it, I was still allowing it to be a shadow in my life that held me back. Finally, I decided it was time to OWN this story of my life. To take away the power 100%, to not have 85% of the power, like”Shhhhh…don’t talk about it, No one say anything.” Leaving my house and hoping that no one was going to make a comment that would trigger me into guilt and shame around it. Rather, allowing comments or remarks to be a chance to shed light on something I have been working on overcoming. Again, letting this experience be a piece of the puzzle that makes up my journey in life.