An Interview With Susan Who Recovered On Her Own After 40 Years With Multiple Addictions to Drinking, Drugs and Binge Eating.
Click the arrow below to listen to an audio interview and hear Susan’s bulimia recovery story.
In this interview with Susan who was generous in sharing her bulimia recovery story with us you’ll hear how she found her way to lasting recovery. After trying many traditional methods of therapy she found some alternative methods that she applied to her compulsive need to overeat and after a lot of inner work she changed her patterns and is now living happy and healthy ever after.
There’s no substitute for hearing her words, but I’ll try to summarize some key points I took away from our conversation.
A Need for Security and Safety At Early Age
One of the stories Susan told from her childhood, age 14 I believe she said, happened when a father figure in her life was suddenly shot and killed. There was no warning and I believe the sudden-shocking impact this event had sounds like Susan’s young mind made up that “the world isn’t safe” or “I’m not safe.”
Susan tells about how she went on to take her safety and security very seriously after that. As a young girl believing that “if this could happen in the world, then what…”
She talked about how she did whatever she could from that point NOT TO FEEL.
Talk about emotionally shutting down and yet somehow have the ability to go on and still live her life. While she wasn’t killed in that event, it sounds like the impact this event had on her was incredibly life important and changed the course of her life.
As an aside, in the 1:1 coaching I do with women I hear 100% some situation or event as children or young adults changes our perspective and our adolescent minds make up a formula for how to survive. I call it a “winning strategy” – a survival technique they come up with for how to go on in the world with this new information or experience.
Unfortunately, the situation often conditions our impressionable young mind and our minds become hard-wired to see the world through this [now] limited paradigm. In time we see evidence for it so it grows and our experiences living from that paradigm of thought and quickly a belief is formed.
When we wake up to suffering and struggles decades later and find ourselves asking “why the hell do I keep doing this?” or “why does this keep happening to me?” and we feel like things are happening to us or we’re acting in ways we don’t even mean or want to – it’s because this limiting belief was planted in our subconscious mind and we’ve forgotten about it. We live FROM that belief and yet we also have new experiences or desires or after decades of not having our needs met the inner self grows so uncomfortably desperate to get things back on track we wake up to the fact – hopefully – that we’re doing this to ourselves.
I call it the illusions or lies we tell ourselves that keep limiting beliefs in place.
Until you first discover the culprit belief, work to debunk it and replace it through new conditioning, you’ll continue to see the old patterns play out in your life – willingly…or against lots of inner angst.
A Common Story: A Need for Love Leads to Restriction
As Susan continues to share her story as a young girl looking to survive in the world, I hear another very common theme emerge. The young girl who makes up that she needs to starve herself – or be thin – to get attention, connection and/or love. She tried starvation, but when the body rebelled and turned to binging, she turned to purging to have her need for connection and attention fulfilled.
She convinces herself that it was ok to throw up. Today she barely remembers how she did it, but now realizes she must have done that because that’s what she started to feel about her behaviors.
She also convinced herself it wasn’t ok to ask for help from those around her because he cousin came out to the family and it wasn’t well received. The family saw her cousin’s eating disorder as a burden to everyone around her and Susan made up that she didn’t want that.
Her primal brain had her in safety mode and taking the brunt of her family’s judgement and disapproval went way too far against her need to feel safe and secure in the world. Getting family help was not a solution to her back then.
It’s Not OK to Feel
One thing you hear throughout the interview with Susan is how in touch she is with her emotions and needs after years of practicing what I call a “self check-in.” She is aware that her emotions create thoughts and conditions in her body and she’s become super aware of the experience she’s having inside that relates to the world she’s interacting with outside her body.
This new way of relating to her body, her emotions, and her needs is in sharp contrast, she says, to how she lived most of her life. She tells how feelings were just not things she wanted to experience. At all.
The drugs, drinking and binging were ways to check out and anesthetize herself to feeling anything.
When we as children experience painful emotions, suffering or trauma it’s more common than you may realize for our child self to seek strategies for avoiding those pains inside. Those of us with bulimia and addictions turn to food and other stimulus to numb out the feelings. Sadly, numbing ourselves to the bad feelings keeps us from often truly feeling the good feelings. We dim our experience to a narrow band of comfortable emotions – our comfort zone shrinks.
In the process, we often come up with ways of being, strategies for living in the world and an identity (self-image) that we think will help us achieve what we want in the world.
For Susan, she tells how this led to becoming a people pleaser and perfectionist. Also very common among bulimics. We try to look the way we think people want us to look and do things for others so they’ll like us.
All of these behaviors and strategies usually leave “us” out. They don’t take into account what our true self – our highest self – most wants. We struggle with the inner turmoil of doing things to please others, make them like us, make it look like we’re succeeding on the outside.
However, all the while we’re committing emotional suicide as we stuff, ignore or medicate (food/drugs/drinks) our emotional suffering to avoid not tuning into what we most what.
What feels like a better-feeling strategy only leads to greater suffering and confusion. When we let go of the belief that we are broken or our emotions are a bad thing, we can then tune into our true self, our inner longings and needs in healthy and beneficial ways.
An Approach to Emotional Self Mastery
What I love about the transformational work Susan’s done along her road to lasting recovery is she now has a healthy way of relating to her emotions, she’s caring for her needs better and she can relate to being her Self for herself and not trying to meet the never-ending demands of what she thinks people want or who they want her to be.
A great teacher of mine, Abraham Hicks, would say “we can’t stand on our heads enough to please everyone.” The idea that we can make everyone happy is a flawed premise. First, I don’t think our purpose in this life is anywhere near that. I believe our own happiness needs to be the guidance we follow to know what’s best for us. Sometimes in the process of meeting our own needs, making ourselves happy, we’ll make people around us uncomfortable or not like us. Oh well.
You’ll hear in the interview how Susan and I talk about filling up our own well of self love and self care before we then give to others. It’s the idea of when a plane is about to crash they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first, then help others.
Living An Emotionally Healthy Life Today
There is so much more I could share about the conversation, but I hope you’ll have the opportunity to tune into it for yourself.
My final take aways are these…
We need to remember “I matter. I am enough.”
We work so hard to matter to others, to be enough so others will like us, we strive to prove ourselves and rise in their eyes, we forget the best sales job is to sell yourself on these two ideas. When you come from a place of “I am enough” there is nothing you need to do.
It may take a few readings of that last paragraph to let this all sink in. Convincing ourselves that we’re enough and there’s nothing we EVER need to do to be enough is such a powerful place. I believe it is the foundation of self-worth.
Another take away is that self-love is the way. Loving ourselves along the way, being kind to ourself when we are doing great or not, is what unconditional love of self is about. If you can begin to belief that you are a divine spirit here to be YOU and that’s plenty enough, then you can start to tap into the greater energy surrounding you at all times and there to give into your every wanting.
You are here to be a creator and you create with your thoughts. You also destroy with your thoughts. The inner dialogue of self love begins in your mind. Talking kindly and lovingly to yourself is part of the work. And it plain feels good.
Susan tells me she tells herself several times a day “I love you.” For me, I’ve gotten into practice of affirming regularly “I am amazing!” Whatever you’re ready for, give it a go. Start warmly, but grow that inner loving self talk is crucial to living an empowered life you love.
What Will You Choose…?
If you’ve read all the way to this point or listened to the recording my request of you is this…
What’s one thing you’re beginning to see for your own life out of this? What are you now aware of that you want to explore with a curious compassion? What is one step you can take to begin to change the course of your future? Remember a decision to not do anything is also a choice. It’s choosing to put your past into your future. If you want a different future, pause for a moment right now and make one decision that can support you in the direction your heart most wants?
<<Update: Susan and I recorded a second call and you can read the summary and listen into our call click here.>>
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