Dividing the Pain

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I received an email last week from a dear high school friend detailing the failing health of her mother.  I immediately picked up the phone and called her.  My plan was to let her know she is in my thoughts and prayers + how much I love her and her family.

But as soon as I started to speak, my words turned into a hot mess of jumbled words and tears.  I choked up as I realized the depth of my love for my friend, her family and the role they all played during such an important season of my life.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in myself for my ramble as I had wanted to be “strong” and a rock for her during this tough time. I felt a bit like my message was a burden and that did not sit well with me.  A few days later, I wrote my friend and apologized for my hot mess of a voice mail message and more coherently articulated my sentiments.

Minutes after I fired off my apologetic email, I received a voice mail message from my friend.  She was so gracious and noted how touched she was by my expression of emotion in addition to being encouraged knowing how her mom had impacted me.

(Note to self: authentic and sincerely expressed sentiments are ok.  Lighten up on yourself for not being “perfect”.  Yes, I am a recovering perfectionist.)

And then my friend said something so beautiful and brilliant.

“When you have things like this happen, you just want to divide the pain.  When I sent the email message to those I love sharing the bad news, there is some comfort I received in dividing that pain and having others hold it with me.  So, thank you.”

My friend shared more about the path that was ahead of her and her family as they seek to make her mom comfortable while her body slowly shuts down.  This led my mind to race with memories of how our lives and families intersected over the years:

  • time at her childhood house;
  • getting ready for homecoming;
  • sleep overs;
  • sneaking out and skipping school during state tournament season;
  • late-night swims;
  • eating at their kitchen counter;
  • getting in trouble at their kitchen counter;
  • practicing our cheer routines;
  • going to her cabin;
  • flying to California for my sweet sixteen/golden birthday birthday;
  • double dates;
  • mean girl drama;
  • jerky boy drama;
  • family weddings;
  • and few other memories that are best to remain private. 🙂

I love my friend’s statement about dividing our pain and am very aware of how so many people I know personally and professionally keep their pain silent within themselves, often for fear of being rejected or a ridiculed.  And some do not feel like they can manage the vulnerability of being seen in their pain.  Then there are those who do not have safe community they can reach out to and trust when they are struggling.

I really believe lasting healing happens when we divide the pain by giving witness to our hurts and invite others into our experience to share our load, our burden.

And for many of those I work with at Potentia, I have had the honor of giving witness to their pain, struggles, shame and fears.

The power of sharing your story, receiving support + respect instead of shame + judgements is medicine for your soul.

Let’s be honest, it is risky to be open about your heart struggles. To allow yourself to be seen – with safe and boundried people –  as not strong enough, tough enough, perfect enough allows the lies of these negative beliefs to dissipate.

I really think we miss out on incredible healing opportunities when we do not divide the pain and instead put on masks telling people, “It’s all good.”  or  “It is meant to be.” or  “It could be worse.”  My friend could have minimized things but instead she leaned into her safe and loving support system.

I wonder, what are the negative beliefs that are keeping you from reaching out?

What one risk can you take today to reach out and divide the pain?

Never forget: Real+Safe relationships heal.

Having a safe and sincere relationship with God, yourself  and others is crucial to managing the curve balls of life + experiencing the blessings in life to the fullest.  Shame says, “stay hidden”.  Truth says, “You are worthy to be seen”.

Dividing+Conquering  –

Rebecca

PS – Thank you Mrs. A for raising an amazing daughter who blessed my life richly and for loving me – along with the rest of the young women in your world of influence  –  as one of your own.

 

 

The ABC’s of Self-Love: B is for Beauty

                                                                       Source: everythingfab.com via Rebecca on Pinterest

 

I am excited to participate in my first ever Blog Crawl (find out more about The ABC’s of Self Love Blog Crawl + Treasure Hunt here), hosted by Molly Mahar of Stratejoy  celebrating the upcoming launch of her Fierce Love program.   I really appreciate Molly’s commitment to helping others discover the power of truly healing your relationship with your body and your story.  Molly would say how important it is to “adore yourself” in such an infectious and genuine way that you can’t help but take pause and believe she is on to something.   So when she tapped me to be the writer for the letter “B” with the topic of Beauty in her Fierce Love blog crawl, I was humbled and excited

Beauty. It is a tricky word and hard to define.  Defining beauty is very subjective, personal, intimate.

There is also a narrow standard of beauty, dispensed by the multi-billion dollar advertising industry, which has left those who believe this definition with intense body hatred, low sense of of worth, depression, depleted bank accounts, anxiety, fear of intimacy and dangerous food and body issues.

Some of the many lies perpetuated from this narrow definition of beauty state that you will be loveable, feel more confident, life will be more tolerable: if you weigh a certain amount, your body looks a certain way, you dress a certain way, you play by everyone’s rules and act a certain way, your (fill in the blank) is (fill in the blank).

It is time to stop the crazy-making, take back the power that has been externalized to the opinions of the “collective other” and (re)claim how you define beauty.

How do you define beauty?

I must confess, I spent years believing a flawed definition of beauty.  I was a slave to what other people thought of me.  I worked my body hard and rested little.  I hated what I saw in the mirror and was an approval junkie.  I was unsatisfied, frustrated, disconnected from God and my own values and dreams. I was lost.  And really tired.  All because I wanted to be beautiful in the eyes of others with the hopes I would then in fact be beautiful.

I thought the world’s definition of beauty = being enough.  I was just drinking the Kool-aid.

But thankfully, I healed some infected wounds, fought some battles, had a gun held to my head (twice – that is another story) and experienced some fierce love from myself, God and some incredible people.  I woke up to the lies I was telling myself about my worth and value and regularly fight back the desire to play the lose–lose game of comparing myself to others.

I now revel in the awe-inspiring beauty of courage, generosity, gentleness, kindness, sacrificial love, compassion, vulnerability, motherhood and respect.

I discovered confidence, the power and importance of surrounding myself with safe people. I say, “No thank you,” a lot and “yes” to my calling on this planet therefore putting the “shoulds” and “have-tos” in permanent time out.

I regularly push back on the lies shame tells me and now know that being perfectly imperfect is a whole lot more life-giving than striving for perfection. (This one can be tough on some days…)

I believe the state of my heart, character, integrity are more powerful indicators of beauty verses my outside image.

How do you define beauty? Is your definition is keeping you stuck, in pain and shame or is it is life-giving and freeing?

What changes are you going to make in how you talk about beauty so you do not inadvertently collude with the world’s definition of beauty?

With fierce love –

Rebecca

 

 

Find out more about  Molly’s “The ABC’s of Self Love Blog Crawl + Treasure Hunt” here.

Is your definition of health keeping you unhealthy?

I had the chance last weekend to meet Jess Weiner, a self-esteem and body-acceptance expert.  It was a real treat to meet her as I have been aware of her advocacy work for some time and I have come to really respect her voice on issues dear to my heart.   She authored an article published in Glamour that hit the stands on Monday in the states that is bold, courageous and honest.  I encourage you to check it out.

Jess expressed some trepidation with being so transparent about her shift in ideology that involved a newly focused attention to her weight and her labs.   I could see she was bracing for criticism and comments of betrayal by many as she boldly stated her previous definition of health was keeping her very unhealthy.  Personally,  I think Jess’s story brings up some important issues around health and numbers.

As an eating disorder treatment expert, I have worked for years helping men and women detox from the diet mentality and the shaming effect of our “thin” obsessed culture.  Part of their recovery journey is the process of letting go of the stronghold of numbers (on the scale, sizes on their clothes, calorie counting) which have become entrenched in their identity.  For many, the Healthy at any Size movement created a space to seek true health while not focusing exclusively on scales and charts, such as the antiquated BMI.

I speak and advocate to my clients and large groups on theses principles of the HAES model:

1. Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes.
2. Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include
physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects.
3. Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes.
4. Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger,
satiety, appetite, and pleasure.
5. Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather
than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss.

Yet, discussing numbers is a touchy zone for those of us treating those struggling food and body issues.  On one hand, there is an importance to letting go of the numbers that can plague us and rob us of our peace and true worth.  But for many, if and when the individual is ready to manage this information appropriately, gaining awareness of how one’s body is functioning and performing ( ie: knowing labs and weight) can often be an important part of recovery in healing one’s relationship with food and their body. Truly empowered body acceptance involves making sure your body is operating at it’s best.

This can be a scary place for many who spent years obsessing about the number of calories they ate or burned at the gym. Many people, like Jess, who are in recovery from an eating disorder, understandably swing to the other direction and want to avoid numbers and doctors as they were a significant trigger and source of shame. It comes as a welcome break to not think about the numbers and many end up avoiding good health care for fear their brain will grab onto the numbers like the jaws of life if they go there.

Yet, denial is not a part of true health.

Neglecting your health is not true health. It may take a while, but finding the right doctor, as Jess did, who is knowledgeable and not shame based about such matters may be an effort but is necessary.

I remember when I was first asked by a client, “Is it ok for me to want to lose weight?”. I have since heard this question frequently in my office from women and men of all shapes and sizes. I respond by asking “What are your motivations and what is the meaning for you if you lost some weight?” Flushing through the answers to these questions is important to assess as you seek to make sure your definition of health is not going to keep you stuck or do your body harm.

The sole focus on weight in regards to health has and continues to be harmful. Shaming someone for being overweight does not motivate someone to make true change and reduces the chance of someone hearing important information about their body.

I still despise the scale. It really is a trap. Yet, totally neglecting our physical health in the name of health is not wise or recommended. For many, if their labs are ok, it gives them a reason to still engage in their eating disorder behavior. I see this a lot. If an individual is using numbers as a reason to avoid doing important deep soul work, than it is time to re-think this approach to living life because it will eventually spiral to a dark place.

I believe Jess is adding an important and much needed dynamic to the size-acceptance discussion. She is taking ownership of her choices and putting herself out there sharing what she has learned. I also believe she is doing this responsibly by giving out information with full disclosure and context. I am excited for a provocative discussion to follow up as a result of her leadership.

This is a nuanced and highly personal topic for many.  I am always inspired when I meet someone who walks their talk.  I especially admire those who have put themselves out there and adjust previous held beliefs while holding their head high and standing strong.  The journey towards true health in the public eye is a gutsy one and I thank you, Jess, for being you.