Freedom. I’m constantly motivated by it. In my more disordered years, I thought “freedom” meant ending my binge eating, slipping into the tiniest size possible and perhaps not needing to eat at all! Thankfully I was able to find my way out of that mindset! Further along down the road, “freedom” looked like abandoning every food rule I’d ever adopted. I spent years aching and striving for a state of perfection and my mind was filled to the brim with all the “facts” about what I “should” be doing: “Eat all raw foods!…Scrap that, just drink juice!…Y’know what, you might as well just be a breatharian, transcending your need for food will totally get you out of this mess.”
I wanted to be free as a bird. No food rules, no schedule and nobody telling me how to live my life.
So with my dietary agenda scrapped in favor of eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, I danced forth into freedom!…or did I? Well, for a little while, it was just the sort of freedom I needed. An opposite extreme to balance out a lifetime of restriction. The binge and emotional eating that I’d struggled with for so long slipped away. And since I was no longer trying to “fix” myself, I realized I could simply love myself as I was. But over time, I had to admit: I didn’t feel awesome in my body.
While I once used to wake up feeling sparkly and clear-headed…I was now waking up groggy and tired.
While I once had fairly light and pain-free periods…I now had terrible PMS and heavy bleeding.
While I once felt strong and flexible…I was now experiencing stiffness and increasing joint pain (the most worrisome of all).
So how does one find balance between these worlds? Is it possible to feel completely liberated, love oneself, have no issues with binge and compulsive eating and live in a body that feels amazing (even if it takes a little more intention)?
I’m still in the experimental phase but so far I want to say “yes”! It is at the very least, possible to embark on a healing journey without being a crazy person. It’s possible to live with restriction and still feel like a free bird. In fact, I would say that true freedom actually thrives with the support of a little gentle discipline.
My mind feels more free with a regular meditative practice.
My work feels more free when I pencil in what needs the most attention.
My body feels more free when I feed it in a way that allows it to thrive.
While I used to be so opposed to any form of “discipline”, thinking it hinged on my desire for a free-spirited nature, here’s what I’ve discovered…
When we are trying to “fix” ourselves because we feel we aren’t good enough.
When it’s based on external knowledge rather than internal wisdom.
When we keep pushing, despite our body saying “no”.
When it’s rooted in self-acceptance.
When it’s stemming from a spirit of curiosity and a desire to feel the way we want to feel.
When it brings us closer to ourselves rather than further away.
Where I used to think that “free” meant no structure, no rules, no discipline…I now realize it means my OWN structure, my OWN rules, my OWN disciplines.
Not discipline for purely external purposes (so I look “good” or have a certain body) but discipline that effects my internal experience (which ends up effecting the external anyways).
I’m disciplined about the way I talk to myself (no disempowering or shaming language here).
I’m disciplined about the rituals that connect me to myself (yoga, fresh air, meditation, writing).
I’m disciplined about eating to feel good (which is holistic and dynamic rather than dogmatic).
How does it feel to you?