Lies I embellish and truths I diminish
19 April 2019, Sarah J. Reed
I’ll start with a truth I’ve denied for a very long time:
I have an eating disorder.
There. I said it.
I’ve never, ever told anyone (until yesterday).
And I’ve been in denial about this because it isn’t “clinical” like we would think of a diagnosis of anorexia or bulimia. But my eating patterns and thoughts about food are undeniably dis-ordered.
I feel guilt and shame around this confession, and this is a truth I’d prefer to minimize. It might even feel better to ignore it all together (but it only feels better for a little while).
I convinced myself I was NOT the kind of girl who would live with an eating disorder for 25 years.
That’s a long time to perpetuate a lie.
There’s so much to understand around the nuances of dis-ordered eating. I’ve barely even scratched the surface here.
That’s a truth I only admitted to myself in the last 24 hours.
When I was a young teenager, maybe 14 or 15, my mom took me to the family doctor about my weight. I was “skinny” enough to worry about. He wrote me a “prescription” for a Big Mac. It feels a little insensitive now, but I do believe at the time his heart was in the right place.
Back then, my eating disorder was still just a whisper.
And the really sad truth about that moment with the Rx for a damn cheeseburger? I hated my body.
Even back then I thought I wasn’t skinny enough (even though I was underweight).
I feel anxious just thinking about it. And that’s likely because I still feel like I’m not skinny enough. (As I type “likely” I realize this is a truth I’m diminishing…but I’ll leave it in to prove the point.)
But for what? Who even cares? What is the story (lie) I’ve told myself that I need to be skinny? For whom?
And I tell myself that it’s a good habit for weight loss to track every morsel of food that goes into my body (lies). Now I’m not saying it isn’t a good idea to keep a food log. This habit is successful for many, many people. But it does not serve me (truth).
Or what about stepping on the scale a little too often? How about that big, fat lie?
(Yes, pun definitely intended.)
For some people, this is simply a tool to track their progress. Awesome. For those of us who have some tension between perceived effort and expectation of what we think the scale should say, it is not helpful. It’s harmful for me because it distracts me from my bigger mission (truth).
My birthday is in a few weeks and I think to myself: “I’m too old for this. I’m supposed to have it all figured out by now.” These are lies I let fester in my head.
Friends, this is not the definition of health or wellness.
Here’s another truth I disguise as a healthy habit: I am obsessed about counting calories and tracking macros. I think about food and alcohol A LOT.
“What’s for dinner?”
“Should I even eat breakfast?”
“If I eat this now, I won’t eat xx later.”
“Am I supposed to eat 6 small meals, one big meal, 3 square meals?” (What’s a “square” meal anyway?)
“I’m gluten free (except for this crouton).”
“I’m dairy free, but I make exceptions for Rubens.”
“Or the 9763rd time I announce that I’m going to quit drinking for a week so I can sleep better, only to pour glass of wine at dinner. And then I justify that because I’m not a lush (I’d like to think?). It’s just a glass of wine. “It’s been a long day,” I say. “I deserve it.”
I diminish the emotional chaos this causes inside me. I deny it. I pretend it isn’t there.
And I endure it completely alone. No one around me knew about this until yesterday.
The lie I tell myself is that because I run a business in the health and wellness space, I need to be 100% perfect all the time. No way I could ever let anyone see how messed up I feel. No way I could ever expose the cracks in my façade.
The truth I knew but didn’t want to embrace is that the key people close to me love me even more now that I’m on the other side of my confession.
I reached out for help. They answered with love, and I’m better for it.
I can take action in truth now. My truth.
I’ve been writing the word “surrender” in my journal for what feels like a week now.
Do you have any idea how liberating it is to surrender the concept of what I’m “supposed” to do (what society told me) and embrace the idea that I already know what to do (what my body tells me)?
This, my friends, is what I think freedom tastes like.
And another truth I’ve diminished, but I’m pulling up to the surface is this: I’m betting this freedom will only get bigger and better the more that I exterminate the lies and promote the truth. My truth.
As a health coach, I want to set a good example for my clients.
To that end, I told myself this story (lie) that I had to be a shining example of perfect health and resilient energy. The truth in this story is that I just need to be myself. And I can choose to promote behaviors and skills that support my personal development and build habits that serve my mission.
I am a very motivated, high-achieving individual. That grit has gotten me this far.
I am blessed and beyond grateful for everything I’ve created and discovered and built and manifested so far in my journey on this planet.
This is a great truth to spotlight, don’t you think?
Instead of shining the spotlight on where I think I’ve failed, I can focus on the successes I’ve already achieved.
Come on. Who else lets the negative Nancy voice in her head lead the way? How many lies has she told you? And you believe them because you’re too busy being proud or humble to admit the truth. Your truth.
It’s time to flip the script. I want to embellish my truths and diminish the lies I tell myself.
Will it be easy? No.
Do I know what will happen next as I navigate professional help to unpack my deeply rooted behaviors around food? No.
Is that comfortable? No.
Is it necessary? This is true.
Can I handle it? YES I can.