Wild Feelings and Loyalty to Yourself: Part II


LhotseMountain.jos.500pixIn eating disorder recovery you experience times of wild emotions.  You feel that you are raw, out of control and so very disheartened about your lot in life.  Yet, being loyal to yourself and your experience is vital and reassuring to your recovery. What does being loyal to your experience look like?

Take a long and lingering look at the photo.*  The mountain remains present during turbulent conditions.  The mountain is solid and permanent, like the core of you.  The storms come and go, like your emotions.  The mountain remains present for all conditions, just as you can remain present for all that you experience.  The mountain is loyal to itself.  You can be loyal to yourself.

You have many ways to manifest loyalty.The core of your effort is to be steadfast as you go through what you go through with respect for your experience no matter what it is.

A vital point is that we can give ourselves compassion, caring, respect and loyalty for our experience without acting out our feelings.

So if we are mad, glad, sad, frightened, outraged, lost and confused we acknowledge that these feelings did not come out of the blue. They mean something to us and give us clues about ourselves that are valuable for growth and development. We remain loyal to ourselves in that way.

We also are loyal to ourselves by restraining our actions.

  1. Mad - don't hit.
  2. Glad - don't go over the top in spending energy or resources.
  3. Sad - don't isolate.
  4. Frightened - don't ignore signals and don't do anything destructive.
  5. Outraged - don't let self righteousness destroy what you value.
  6. Lost and confused - don't surrender your power to others.

Be loyal to your experience so you can think it through and make healthy, sane and caring decisions for action. Get to know the mountain of solidity in your core.


*Lhotse as seen from the climb up to Chhukung Ri. Taken by Jamie O'Shaughnessy October 4, 2003 and released into the public domain.


0 # I like this post. I'm struggling with bKymL 2012-07-30 12:35
I like this post. I'm struggling with body image right now and as hard as it's been, I think I'm staying loyal. I haven't relapsed because I'm committed to my recovery. I have this theory when I'm "stuck" or struggling I will "do no harm," meaning I may not feel like I'm moving forward, but I will not move "backwards." I'm also "faking it until I make it" with my feeling towards certain body parts. I've been OK with them before so I'm continueing with the same treatment as before the switch. I "danced" my body parts in my dance class yesterday as a way to celebrate them. I've also been using lotion on them in hopes that I'll feel better about them.....can't hurt.

So I like the idea of being loyal...can't say it's easy, but I do agree that it's very helpful.

Thanks Joanna!
0 # My pleasure, Kym. Dancing is a wonderfulpinkjoanna 2012-07-30 15:49
My pleasure, Kym. Dancing is a wonderful way to integrate! Balance, movement, music, coordinated effort - all terrific. Every body part does its
"part" to make the dance complete. I like it. :-)

Your lotion practice sounds loving and caring. I'll bet it feels good, too.
0 # I am hanging in there despite feeling somylifex2 2012-07-30 18:41
I am hanging in there despite feeling so depressed for so long. I am so tired of everything right now. Being loyal to my experience I guess would be just getting up everyday and putting one foot in front of the other, when all I want to do is stay in bed and close the world off. I think I am more loyal to my love for my kids right now, knowing that if I give up they will have such a hard experience. I keep moving for them. But this takes strength, as I see so many people in my life who give up despite having children to live for. I feel like there are such huge mountains in front of me all the time. Climbing them seems so tiring a thought. But I do keep moving. I think that not giving up completely is a form of endurance.
0 # Looking at the mountain as a call to clipinkjoanna 2012-07-30 19:11
Looking at the mountain as a call to climb is very different from getting into the psychological frame where you ARE the mountain.

It takes some meditation practice, and it makes a vast difference in how you feel and respond.

I've been thinking about you and your posts on the forum. And yes, "just getting up everyday and putting one foot in front of the other," instead of "staying in bed and closing the world off" is an act of courage, determination, loyalty and... drum roll please....... solid recovery work.

AA says, "trudge the path to happy destiny." And sometimes we have to trudge. It pays off, Tracy. Trudging pays off.
Laura R
0 # I've got tears while I'm reading this poLaura R 2012-07-30 19:25
I've got tears while I'm reading this post because I have not been loyal to myself lately and all of this makes sense. I was doing well and then I let the emotions get to me and I let things slip for a couple of weeks and now I'm back in anxiety land with blood sugar swings and messed up ED appetite signals and physical pain. I guess I abandoned myself. If I switch over to the mountain theory, I guess I never fully left myself, I just wasn't loyal to my needs. I have been loyal to many people. So I guess I just need to be loyal to me now.
0 # thanks, Joanna. I am glad trudging is okmylifex2 2012-07-30 19:44
thanks, Joanna. I am glad trudging is ok. I never heard that AA saying. I need to be honest here and admit that my problem is not only with my ED right now. I have started to slip back into some substance abuse in an attempt to numb myself a little. I know that I am on a slippery slope here. I know that I have been in very precarious situations when i have been under the influence when feeling so badly. I am scared to tell my therapist because I have worked so hard to gain her trust in my sobriety. I haven't lied to her, I just haven't been open. I have a lot to work on here and feel ashamed that I have opened myself up to potentially more problems than I already have. I think this has been one thing weighing on my mind. I feel like I am in a vicious cycle right now.
0 # I stood up for myself and my needs toighKymL 2012-07-30 20:20
I stood up for myself and my needs toight in NIA (dance) class tonight. I recently had to switch studios bcause of a safety issue at my old place. I'm really struggling because this studio has a full wall mirror and seeing myself dance is triggering my distorted body image. Last week there were curtains drawn over part of it and I asked if we could keep it closed. The instrutor agreed and many others joined me in that section. So tonight (same instructor) I asked if I could close it again and she agreed. While she stepped out, a woman (who wasn't there last week) tried to open it (although she always dance in another place). I told her we were keeping that part closed and and she told me that I needed to expand my experience and use the mirror. I know if I explained why I wanted it closed she would understand better but I thought, why do I have to expose myself to someone I don't know just to get her blessing. I thought "Lady, until you have to deal with my demons, don't judge me!!" and I just told her that she could the same thing and try it closed. When the instructor came back she didn't know what happened and she spoke about the virtues of dancing without the mirror because it keeps your attention outwards instead in inwards and urged everyone to spend time in that section. Love it!!!! Got what I needed to enjoy my dance experience and I didn't have to expose myself! I also didn't give into the "shoulds" which told me I should be able to do this with mirrors, but I honored where I'm at now which means mirrors are hard. Yeah me!!
0 # Eating disorders are amazing. I truly bpinkjoanna 2012-07-30 20:42
Eating disorders are amazing. I truly believe that if you have an eating disorder you have everything you need to recover. Eating disorders pull, twist and distort your vision and direct your energy into anti-self feelings and behaviors, tricking you into believing you have no choice.


all that energy and ability to focus is yours. The loyalty you give to your eating disorder is yours.

Recovery work is about clearing and claiming your vision and directing your energy toward what is really good for you.

Laura, Tracy, Kym, if you've spent time being "loyal" to the destructive calls to your eating disorders, fears, drugs, hiding, people pleasing, please know that you have every right to turn that loyalty around to caring well for yourself.

The energy is there. It needs to be directed toward your well being.

And in the beginning, it feels like "trudging" because you are changing direction. Once you are on your new and authentic path, you can skip and dance (with occasional trudging. )

Kym, I'm so glad your instructor reinforced the validity of your choice. :-)

Laura, we all have to go where we need to go to get the awareness we need for recovery. Sounds like you got it. :-)
0 # Joanna thanks for this inspiring photo aJan 2012-08-01 00:27
Joanna thanks for this inspiring photo and It's metaphor, this really resonated with me today and have now placed the photo as my screen saver. I find so much strength from its colors and vibrancy, feels kind of majestic!

I am having a very difficult time just now, trudging yep sometimes it has felt like through quicksand but like Tracy I am putting myself together every day and sometimes it,s hard. I understand yes this is a huge time of change in the right direction. My loyalty unfortunately has been to others and have learnt the hard way not todo this anymore so am learning now to be loyal to myself.

The most difficult part of recovery for me is relationships and my role in them. People still try to put me in a "box" my family and friends who have know me for a while and it really started to make me angry and frustrated as they still wanted to see me as "sick" . Am in recovery not sick!! The result then is isolate from these people which also doesn't serve me . Gives me time to focus on being loyal to myself though doesn't it! Right am going back to look at my mountain !!
0 # Dear Jan, Just to make the photo andpinkjoanna 2012-08-01 01:11
Dear Jan,

Just to make the photo and the inspiration it inspires even more wonderful, did you read the *acknowledgement and reference?

*Lhotse as seen from the climb up to Chhukung Ri. Taken by Jamie O'Shaughnessy October 4, 2003. Jamie O'Shaughnessy, a real person, took the photo himself while he was mountain climbing.

This shows in such a dramatic way how we can affect others we'll never know in ways we'll never know by following our authentic desire.

Of course, I don't know for sure, but I don't think Jamie, in 2003, had a clue that he was taking a photo that would inspire you, Jan, in 2012.

I think this is an example of the awe and wonder of human connection and our power to influence and support each other's well being by following our authentic heart's desire.

I applaud you for working on being loyal to your personal heart's desire, Jan.
0 # :) :) Thanks joanna - I hadn't read abouJan 2012-08-02 03:45
:-) :-) Thanks joanna - I hadn't read about the photo until you mentioned it but for sure am grateful to Jamie and applaud his courage too am sure he would be thrilled to know how it is inspiring me! Its interesting as am not into "art" as in paintings etc at all- but I do so love and appreciate photos which capture such beauty as this - Music used to be my passion playing it, but not anymore - But I have started to now find some music I love and start to have it playing more in my life and this has really made me feel quite happy and singing again!!

As always appreciate your support Joanna and love the way your posts just "pop up" at the right time for me and am sure many others :-)

0 # I awoke this morning with a new determinmylifex2 2012-08-02 13:29
I awoke this morning with a new determination to "fake it til I make it". If I stop for a minute and think...I can say that I have not been taking care of my needs, emotional or physical for the past few weeks. I am in the midst of a med change and I need to remember that med changes often cause me to have some mood issues. So I just need to hang in there and see if the new medication will work. I have also been neglecting my workouts. I used to go running or weight lifting everyday. I have not been going as much because I have been so busy with my daughter's therapy and because I felt gross and sluggish from some weight gain. I really need to start running again. Running always makes me feel good. I realize that I am doing the best that I can. I need to recognize that numbing myself with drugs or alcohol is not going to make the problem(s) go away. I know all this. I have just gotten so bogged down. I am going to go running today and try to clear my head some. I am going to try and not punish myself for feeling depressed, but recognize that it is what it is, and that I have gotten through it before and hopefully, will get through it again. thanks for your supportive words, Joanna.
0 # This is great news, Tracy. Periodicallypinkjoanna 2012-08-02 21:29
This is great news, Tracy. Periodically we wake up to new or renewed commitment to our right path. Sometimes it involves changes. Sometimes it involves getting back on track.

Regardless, it's a terrific feeling to rededicate yourself to your own well being.

0 # Hey, I just wanted to report that I'm doKymL 2012-08-04 12:14
Hey, I just wanted to report that I'm doing much better with my body image issues. I got a couple more days of dance with the mirror covered and without that distraction I relized that I'm getting much more flexible and have gained a lot more indurance!! So I've been trying to stay focused on that instead of my body dislikes. Had dance last night with the mirrors open and I Managed to stay focused on the movements, their sensations, and the things I can do so much easier now!! Feels so good!!!!
0 # great job, Kym :) I have logged some mimylifex2 2012-08-04 15:43
great job, Kym :-) I have logged some miles these past few days running to clear my head. I don't know if the days offered me the time or if I MADE
0 # Sounds great, Kym. I'll be speaking apinkjoanna 2012-08-04 15:45
Sounds great, Kym.

I'll be speaking at the USA Body Psychotherapy conference in Boulder, Colorado next week. Thinking about the theme of the conference gives me different perspectives on the issues you are raising.

I started to write about them in this post, but every time I got two sentences down I already disagree with what I was saying! :-)

What does seem clear is that when you are free to be in your body without distractions and judgments you become more integrated with yourself. You move in a more unified and coordinated way. Sounds like that would continually feel more wonderful. :-)
0 # of if I MADE the time for me. I know thmylifex2 2012-08-04 15:49
of if I MADE the time for me. I know that my mom had made some stinging remarks a few months ago - that I was neglecting my kids because I went to the gym everyday - and I think that is part of what started my reduction in gym time...I admit, I was overdoing it a little in going every single day...but my kids were having fun at the gym while I was there, so I hardly would call that neglect...they also were getting in some excercise which is healthy for them...that being said, I am so glad that I am beginning to get back into the groove of things. I felt less stress and I felt better about myself when I was running. I am going to keep it to 4 times a week this time around, I hope. I have been freaking out over some weight gain and I truly need to lose a few lbs by any I want to do it in a healthy way. I have been binging very badly since I started eating again, and the cycle has been hard on my body. Taking it one day at a time, i guess.
0 # still struggling with some wild feelingsmylifex2 2012-09-01 10:56
still struggling with some wild feelings. I can get very bogged down in my depression and anxiety. My doctor is working very aggressively to get my meds straight. the last one we tried made me terribly anxious and suicidal...that's no way to feel, so we stopped that one as soon as we knew how dangerous it was for me. So, as I "trudge" through this time, trying to hope that things will get better, I have come to terms with some very important facts. I need to change my career. My current job is too stressful for me and constantly reminds me of my own depression and anxiety issues. I am in a job where I am supposed to be helping others feel better, but i can hardly get to work...My mountain, my strength, my core, is my ability to keep steadfast and do the things I need to do everyday to get through the day. I get to work, I take care of my kids, I pay my bills, I am there for my friends, I help my aging parents, I carpool and PTA....perhaps slower and with less will and desire, but these things get done. I am not giving up right now. I do feel like it often. I am so grateful for a therapist who nudges me to keep going. I don't think I will be able to keep working in the field I am in, and I believe that if nothing else has come of this horrible time in my life, I have learned that I need a career change. It is imperative. I just need the energy, and we are working on that. I have been placed on yet another medication for anxiety that may cause weight gain....but you now what? Right now, I just want to feel better. I can't worry about both right i guess prioritizing these issues is a move in the right direction as well. I am totally meaning this as a positive post, so I hope it is being read as such. I am glad the site is back up and I am so happy to be able to talk to you guys again!

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