Take a Journey from Self-Loathing to Self-Care
*settle in, this is a long blog post*
Recently I sent out a quick survey to everyone on my email list and was pleasantly surprised when so many people answered the multiple choice questions.
One of the things I was most surprised about was that the majority wanted to know more about self-care.
I thought that most people had that sorted. That they knew how to look after themselves, love themselves even.
It appears not.
That for the majority of us, perhaps we see loving and caring for ourselves as an indulgent time-wasting pastime. That it’s much much easier to love others and make their well being a priority.
I started to write this blog about my own journey from self-loathing to self-care with the intention that it might somehow spark off an internal dialogue in you and perhaps you might join me on a 7 day self-care challenge.
It’s probably the most vulnerable blog post I’ve ever written as I don’t have this figured out yet. I’m still learning and that voice dripping with self-hate still whips me with her vicious tongue.
So, here goes…
Back in May this year, I wrote in this in my notes pages on my phone:
“Ok, so I finally get it. I’ve been trying something out for the last 10 days and it’s having a profound effect on my life.
I knew I knew it…but I didn’t actually, you know, Do it.
You might know I’m big on self-care. But what does that actually mean? Why is it important? Why make a big deal about it?
I constantly talk about it with friends, clients, and family – not to mention on social media. I even did a #100daysof self-care when I was pregnant.
It took a session with coach extraordinaire Ruby McGuire to live in the questioning around my self-care strategy.
There are two types of self-care: coping and managing. When you are coping, you see and feel the warning signs and think ‘must do some meditation, exercise, have a tap, early night’ and then shoehorn it in with vigor.
When you are managing ‘caring for yourself’ it’s part of your daily routine – it’s non-negotiable.
I believed that there was no way I could have a regular routine. Uh-uh not me. Not with two small children who I need to attend to in the morning. All the stories and excuses came out. Yet, with careful questioning I realised I could do it in the evening as soon as the children go to bed. I will bypass the sofa, the lure of the laptop and take my half an hour to bring me back into myself. Light a candle, settle into my energy and Tap away any annoyances of the day, meditate and sing (well chanting kinda singing). “
So I did this self-care management every day for about 6 weeks and it had a great effect on me. I could use it to DO MORE! I was using this extra time as a boost to my already over-crowded schedule. Then in June I ran three weekend workshops and completely exhausted myself.
Then the dark days came in July and August. I don’t suffer from depression so I won’t pretend it’s the same thing, but all I know is that I didn’t feel right. I shut people out. I couldn’t get a hold of myself. It certainly was a period of growth and lots of dark old patterns came up for me to heal. Especially around emotional eating. I wasn’t ready to share the below blog post until now.
“Since Christmas I’ve been battling with food and my body. It’s a private battle and I’m ashamed of it. Or I was until I sat down in front of our Buddha shrine tonight.
I think sometimes that people expect me to have all the answers as I’m so passionate about Tapping and have a book out. Well, I don’t. And the emotional eating thing had got me cornered. Or it did until today.
For the last few months, I’ve been buying giant bars of chocolate and then refusing to share it with my husband. I’ve felt ashamed that I haven’t lost all my baby weight. I’ve been so angry with myself for not being able to get into my old clothes. I know that many people will read this and say ‘oh, you don’t need to worry’ or ‘I’ve never lost my baby weight 18 years on’.
Honestly, I don’t care what you think of me or whether you think I need to lose weight. The one thing that matters is how I feel about my body. And I’ve been punishing myself something crazy recently. The other day I was actually exhausted at how I was trying to turn negative thoughts into positive affirmations. I was in a play centre with our boys and surges of hot bile-like jealousy kept rising up when I came across a woman who had a baby who was younger than Sebastian (8 months) and was thinner than me.
The feelings I’ve had have reminded me of when I was a teenager. I was a self-harmer. I used knives and razors to make little slits in my hands and arms to force myself to diet, to punish myself for being overweight. I was angry with myself all the time and unsurprisingly this spilled out into the relationship with my family and I escaped from myself any way I could.
Recently I also found some old diaries from this time. This didn’t help. The pages dripped with self-loathing. I didn’t realize it was that bad.
I would usually reach out for help when stuff like this comes up, but I didn’t this time. I felt like I could do it on my own. Or perhaps, as I now believe, this is the end of the pattern and something I just had to go though.
I know I’ve gone into chocolate comfort mode to make me feel cared for, to feel loved and supported. I get the conscious connection. Life can be tough with two small boys and a business to run. I do practice self-care and, yes I meditate, I exercise, I eat pretty healthy (bar the sugar) I tap and for the love of all things holy, that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have shit to sort out.
Quite a lot of the time.
So, here is the shift and the gratitude.
I am incredibly lucky to have Jemima Eames in my corner. Seriously, this woman has listened and tried to guide me with these food issues, for, well, it must be a few years now. Every week we use Trello to check in with each other and set some heart felt goals for the week. I haven’t done mine for 3 weeks, as it was too hard. So…she gave me the nudge and I sat and wrote the answer to the question:
What resistance came up this week?
Ok, full disclosure – I can’t figure this food shit out. It’s got progressively worse since January. I am binging so badly it’s almost like I’ve got an eating disorder. The self-loathing had got worse and really dark. Exhausted from trying to keep a lid on it. I can’t seem to get past it. Joined slimming world again but this made me feel even worse. Despite being 3lb lighter than when I stopped going 2 months ago. It’s not very conscious eating. I am literally stuffing myself and I don’t know what to do. I’ve been working on this for so long, why is it still this bad? It feels like I’m punishing myself for something. Exact same feelings as when I was self-harming. Sick of it.
As I wrote this down, I realized how bad it had got. That no one was going to rescue me. That I had to do it for myself.
I sat in front of our Buddha shrine, lit some candles and was inspired to read Jessica Ortner’s book ‘The Tapping solution for Weight Loss and Body Confidence’. I’ve had this book on my shelf since it first launched, I’ve even met Jessica and she gave Karl and I an endorsement for our book. I thought I knew it all before even reading. I’ve used some of the tapping scripts from time to time, flirted with it a little bit but I haven’t actually done the work.
Within three pages I was in tears and tapping on my panic to lose weight. The constant judgment, the feeling that I’m not my best self unless I drop the last stone I’m carrying, the disgust I felt looking in the mirror, the pressure I feel when I meet up with friends who are all slimmer than me, the weight of the weight, the sick feeling when I look at my stomach. In short, I let rip how much I was in battle with my body.
With tapping I then shifted to a place of tearful love and appreciation for my body. I was hugging myself, succumbing the beauty of my body, how it is so strong, has been able to birth two babies completely naturally and pain free, how I managed to breast-feed, I can run, I can lift quite a lot of weights, I swim like a fish, I have beautiful eyes, I give great hugs. In short, there is a lot to love about my body. The Part 1 of the book is about releasing the panic about losing weight and I sure did that tonight.
Right now I’m exhausted and I’m not even sure that I’ll post this blog – yet it just poured out of me. It needed to be written to mark this next part of my journey with my body.
Thank you Jemima, Thank you Jessica”
It was a year of a big self-care shift that I’ve gone from my normal mode of constantly ‘doing’ to ‘relaxing’. The self-care alleviates the judgement, whether I emotionally eat or not!
Since I stopped pushing and judging, life got much easier. The money flowed, my weight dropped (despite eating a ton of chocolate) and I started doing things like baking cakes and making home-made pizza (including the dough!)
I was always looking ahead to the next milestone on the journey. When we buy this house, or become that size 10, or get back into yoga, juice every day, start/write the next book, find the linchpin for my business.
Never stopping to look in the rear view mirror and simply enjoy where I’m at right now. Caring for myself right now. Loving myself for who I am right now. All we have is right now – so why waste it? Isn’t that what self-care is for anyway?
If I had one year to live would I really give a shit about being a size 10?
No. I wont be on my deathbed saying, “Man, I really wish I’d been at my dream weight”. No I won’t. All I will care about is having people I love near me and loving them the best I can. And that includes loving me the best I can.
From being at the extreme end of self-hate and self-harming to consciously bringing more self-care and love into my life feels like a constant learning curve.
When my head feels busy and I’m judging myself for every little thing, my new favourite question is ‘Who would I be if I wasn’t judging myself right now?’ (Thanks Robert Holden).
In August I wrote this:
“I’m breaking through. It’s been a tough few months. Returning to work with only 5 hours of childcare and not-enough self-love. I have a bully in my head. She taunts me, ridicules me, belittles me, confuses me, and judges me. She is part of me and she is hunting me. I have a long list of things to do to improve myself; lose 2 stone, get super fit, organize my accounts, hit my financial goals, use organic skin care, help my children learn, be a better lover, mother, daughter.
When am I enough? How long will I let this bully in my head make me unhappy?
I am evolving, changing from this judgment this bullying and self-hatred that rises up every chance I give it. I don’t want to feed this monster, this bully who is exhausting to keep in check.
It’s ok. That’s over now. I’m going to re-focus on me and what I need. I was a woman on the edge and I’ve pulled myself back.
Kate I love you, I really love you. You are perfect just as you are.”
This new self-care regime isn’t so new anymore. Having half an hour to myself is now a priority and I manage it 5 times a week. That’s 2.5 hours of me time. When I don’t do it, it doesn’t slip straight away, I still feel fine for a while. Then bam, something happens and I’m straight back into self-judgment and hatred. That’s why I will continue to make it a priority. I used to make charts to tick off things I’d achieve in the week (meditate / tap/ have a luxury bath) but now I simply give myself half an hour every day and choose what I need in that moment.
I didn’t plan on writing this very long post today, it just kinda poured out of me when I began writing about self-care and the journey I continue to be on.
My question for you is; how much time do you allocate for self-care?