And here we are again.
Another week of not knowing my boundaries, my limits, not setting my priorities right.
I have had the most awful week.
Awful is in the eyes of the beholder, I guess. But for me, it really is an awful week when I feel lost, alone, worthless. When I over eat. When I binge watch stuff that does not contribute to my self growth, self development, serve the achievement of future goals and dreams.
I do not know how to begin this story. Partly because it is shameful to write about it. So shameful indeed that for a split second, I contemplated not publishing it at all.
But I promised myself that I will be honest in my journey, and I want to be authentic. Thus, there is no way around getting this stuff off my chest and out into the world.
If I continue seeing these setbacks as setbacks, they will be setbacks. So I choose instead to transform them into a learning curve, and into something that could actually benefit someone else.
That alone is the motivation I need to publish this in spite of my shame.
Where to start?
Friday, 28th of October
My hosts had just been gone for two and a half days. Last winter, doing the whole farm sitting thing, it took a toll on me. Putting a lot of pressure on my with all the responsibility for livestock and working dogs and pets; their needs are my highest priority, it is why I am here. I forgot to take care of myself too though and ended up overworked with feelings of not being good enough, not doing enough. This time around I thought I will wing it. Having made the experience before, there was no reason why I should go down the same road again!
And the first days were exhilarating: I was back on the island, I had a car that brings me and the dogs to the most stunning places to walk and experience, I was taking care of the cattle and sheep and chicken. What was there to moan about, what was there to be depressed about?
After spending a lovely afternoon in town with a friend of mine, I had movie plans (virtual ones) with another friend. I decided to indulge myself and enjoyed two fabulous pieces of vegan cake that my hosts left behind, I had a wonderful movie night and a great talk, stayed up late, enjoyed life.
Saturday, 29th of October 2022
Saturday was equally wonderful and because I kept all my deadlines and finished all I wanted to finish in this week, I decided to replicate the movie night. This time without a friend, just for myself. And again, I did not feel remorse for indulging myself into some chocolate I found in my backpack, I rejoiced and even had a Coca Cola and crisps!
Life still was good.
Sunday, 30th of October 2022
By Sunday I knew that two days in a row of staying up late, eating garbage and not keeping up with any of my healthy routines such as Yoga, meditation or journaling, I was beginning to over indulge and treading a risky path of not finding my way back.
This knowledge brought me into a state of stress. I was being stubborn and fought with myself, argument whether or not, I could just let it go and wanted to be left alone with all of this over-achieving, high standard crab for once. And (not so happily) continued the same pattern: binge watching anything that would take my mind off of me losing my way (or at least the feeling of it) and binge eating, this time around without even cooking anything healthy beforehand, diving straight into the salt and sugar trap. The only hours that I felt like myself and full of joy was when I was out on my hike with the dogs or taking care of the livestock. As soon as I came back to the house, I could not keep my hands off food. I started to devour stuff, not out of joy or indulgence, but out of a bad behavioural pattern. I promised myself that this was the last day, that nothing was lost, that this was just a three day weekend, still settling in to a new routine and new responsibilities and new environment.
All would be well come Monday.
Monday, 31st of October 2022
Come Monday, I was in a rut.
Caught in a downward spiral that triggered me to be full of self loathing. A new week had started and I felt totally off, out of sorts, out of routines, out of discipline, out of body, out of self.
The workload exploded, seemingly out of nowhere: My client work, the work I do for friends, my own private creative work, the collaborations with other freelancers to enhance our portfolios, filming footage for the next Vlog, making good photos… all seemed to rise up into the air like a mountain, simultaneously rambling down like an avalanche to bury me beneath it.
I had two or three times where I shed tears because I had to acknowledge the fact that I had now definitely lost my way.
I was drowning in my own nasty attitude towards myself and life. I gave myself too much time to sleep, too much time to read, too much time to do anything else than work.
I was being dismissive of anything that I did and thought that I was absolutely loosing it. My will to continue freelance work, the pressure to take on more clients, cope with all of it, be balanced and healthy and happy and content.
I was devastated.
Over the last months I had established such a healthy attitude towards food. My last binge eating attack (real binge eating attack) was back in June. My Yoga journey and my healthy attitude towards food began to show on my body. I felt comfortable in it again, I liked what I saw. I was so proud of my relationship to food and consistency in Yoga and mediation!
I felt good about myself and my looks. Never before in my life was I this fit or this proud of myself.
All gone. Within a few days.
Days that stretched and felt like weeks.
Alone in my own head, in my mind that was whispering negative self talk all day long.
The only solace I found was during the walks outside, or during the zoning out of binge watching TV and binge eating food. And being outside helped tremendously too. It sparked joy within me, gave me the breath of life- as soon as I came back to the house all was gone, as soon as I saw my laptop and knew I should turn it on and get to work to keep atop all of the things I wanted to accomplish, my chest got tight and I had a hard time to breathe.
Tuesday, 1st of November 2022
On Tuesday I had a break of being stuck in my own head.
Friends of mine came over because I invited them for dinner and I knew in order to get everything done, there wasn’t even time to question my choices.
Surprisingly I got up in the morning and even managed a quarter of an hour of a morning Yoga sequence. Straight from there to baking a cake and preparing the curry for dinner and from there getting out and about to take care of the animals. With all of my other chores done and a lovely evening behind me, I should have ended up just doing a meditation and maybe some reading before bed.
Instead what I found myself doing was self sabotaging a good day.
As soon as my guests had gone home at around 11:30 pm, I grabbed the last slice of cake and started a binge watch episode that lasted into the night, with the cake not being the last thing that fell victim to me that night. And because all of the vegan stuff had been eaten up at this point, I did not even stop there and simply started eating non-vegan stuff like milk chocolate and all else I could find.
Wednesday, 2nd of November 2022
Needless to say that when I woke up on Wednesday my body dysmorphia had kicked in as well: Suddenly I did not see any clue of the healthy, well-shaped, fit woman I had seen just a week ago. I looked into the mirror and I was disgusted. So disgusted at the fact that I diminished the four months of working consistently. Diminished the pride I had felt for myself.
Now that the days had become shorter, due to a meeting in the afternoon, I had to get up early on Wednesday to get all of my farm responsibilities done while it was still daylight.
By the time the meeting finished, I was exhausted. And exhaustion is not a good motivator for cooking healthy and starting to look after yourself again. On top of that I was beating myself up for not having taken the camera with me once since I got here, blaming myself for not getting my friend’s projects (mainly a logo, an image film and two website designs) further along and not working on evolving my portfolio on my own website, not getting myself motivated for the paid client work that was scheduled for the end of this week- I can tell you the pressure was on. And there was no energy left to even think about getting back on track.
I felt like two metal plates on both sides of my existence were trying to crush me, ever getting tighter and tighter.
Thursday, 3rd of November 2022
Thursday morning started off with an unhealthy breakfast and did not end until I was due to go out. I binge ate the whole morning and by lunchtime I was near contemplating throwing up. My whole system was trembling because the last thing I wanted to experience was getting back into the habit of bulimia. Under no circumstance whatsoever did I want to get back to this one. So instead I pulled the last energy resources out, pulled myself together with the thought that the farm routine of going out and caring for the animals would ease my inner turmoil. I chose a relatively easy route along a track for the walk with the dogs, to ease my own inflexibility and range of movement due to an overfull stomach.
But something was off. And when I arrived home two hours later, I felt nauseous.
Of course you might say now.
Who overeats, does heavy lifting of feed bags and then attempts to go on a two hour walk and feels alright afterwards? But this nausea and sickness to the stomach was not caused by overeating. Trust me I know the difference.
After I fed the dogs and went inside to just lie down and be done with the day, I had cramps and was hurting and unable to find peace or retreat into sleep at all. Something was severely off. For hours I would stumble back and forth between the bathroom to throw up until nothing would come out anymore, and back to bed shivering and sweating at the same time. The whole night and the following day I was in a daze of sickness, tiredness and helplessness.
Friday, 4th of November 2022
Lunchtime on Friday came and I knew, that the animals were waiting.
I got up and accomplished the feeding of the livestock, at first without taking the dogs with me. I was not sure if I could even contemplate a walk with them anyway. But surprisingly, when I returned home, I felt weak but also strong enough to give them at least just over an hour to run around an enclosed area up at the top of the village. The strangest thing was that although I had just survived a horrible night, my brain would not give me any rest and the craving for food to fill an emptiness within would not subside.
It took all of my willpower that evening and night, to stay out of the kitchen and only drink cold water.
Again, my mind dragged me into loathing myself for not being able to stop my craving for food when I felt like this. When my body was purging, when my body could not take anymore! Why was I like this? Why couldn’t I be normal? Why was I such a failure? What was I doing anyway? Why would I continue on this wrong path and why was I running against walls? There was no reason to believe in myself anymore. Why not give up because I am lost and I do not know what I am doing. Shouldn’t I be further along on my journey anyway? Shouldn’t I be able to handle the pressure of freelancing since I should be taking on even more work rather than the little I am doing at the moment?
I felt lost, alone, shipwrecked. And I did not reach out to anyone. All those people that always say that they are there for me, that they want to be there for me: I did not share anything, I kept to myself. The total opposite of what one should do when one feels like this, right?
Saturday, 5th of November 2022
Saturday came. Weak still, but my mind had somehow cleared. As though the purging of the two nights before had cleansed my mind as well. I took it slow.
After the morning routine of letting the dogs out at 7 am and feeding Marjorie, I gave myself a free pass to return to bed. I did not wake up again until lunchtime, restrained from eating anything and continued to simply drink clear, cold water.
Again, I managed to feed the cattle and the sheep, which entails to lift a huge, heavy bags and carry it over the to the throughs. I took it so slowly that a task that usually takes me an hour, took me nearly two then. Still, I managed it, stayed and watched them eat and felt a sense of accomplishment.
Wasn’t this what it was all about?
These living beings that needed me to take care of them? Wasn’t that more of a purpose than any other pressure I put onto myself?
And then the dogs! Every time they jump into the car, eager to go with me wherever I choose to take them, the joy every single day to see me- why was I putting so much pressure on myself when the things that brought me joy, the animals, the most important purpose I came here to fulfil, was so beautiful?
The walk with the dogs was awesome then. Yes, I felt weak, but I also felt lighter in a way. The pressure that I put onto myself subsided. And I genuinely cannot put it into words. I have no words to describe why this happened, how it happened. But Saturday evening, when I ate my first bowl of plain rice to ease my stomach back into digesting something, I felt dizzy with relief.
The only pressure I experienced, is created by myself.
And so is the joy also created by myself.
The joy of experiencing this island that I so craved to come back to for this whole year.
The joy of being in the present moment on all of my hikes with these wonderful dogs.
The joy on the top of a mountain or by the side of a waterfall that turned into a water-rise because of the gusting winds.
The joy of being able to go anywhere and meet anyone I love on this island.
The joy of cooking fresh and healthy meals, nurturing my body.
The joy of breath work and retreating into a meditative state after an accomplished day.
The joy of not caring and watching TV instead of reading a book while eating crisps and not carrots.
Where did all that joy go?
It went away because I put pressure on myself to be a certain way, live a certain way, feel a certain way, do certain things.
And only when I ran out of energy to even care anymore, only when my body rejected everything even water, only when my mind was so tired of thinking, was I able to let go of this pressure.
I did not have the energy anymore to go against me, myself and I.
Sunday, 6th of November 2022
And then Sunday morning came around.
I had to accept the fact that sometimes binge eating and binge watching may be a coping mechanism for something, even if I did not know I had to cope with anything in the first place.
This thought of not having energy to go against my demons, against me, popped up while I was doing some folding of laundry that came out of the dryer, and simultaneously something was said on the podcast I was listening to.
‘If we continue this unhealthy societal comparison, we will drown in the ocean of what if’s and should have’s. And if we try to hold onto something that we like, at some point it will snap away from us. And if we try to fight off something that we don’t like, it will snap back at us. Suppressing either feeling, be it judged good or bad in our perception, will fire back. Let it go and accept all parts of yourself, all parts, even the ones that you might not like about yourself.’
Obviously I heard that before- still at this very moment, it made more sense than ever before. I was so rigid about keeping my healthy routines, keeping my body in shape, keeping my todo lists in check, keeping all of my duties in line. And then a week of self loathing was born out of my unforgivable self sabotaging mindset that no change is welcome, all needs to be right how I have planned it. There is no room or even the slightest possibility for change or a different approach.
The only pressure I experienced, is created by myself.
And there is healthy pressure.
Like wanting to stay consistent in your efforts to achieve a future goal.
There is also devastating pressure.
And it throws you off balance a hundredfold, causing you to doubt that you will ever even be able to achieve a future goal.
The podcast ended, I started chopping vegetable for a soup I wanted to eat for dinner later. I felt nurtured. I felt as though I integrated the ‘ugly’ part of a me that I tried to suppress. The ‘ugly’, ‘notorious’, ‘home-wrecker’ part that brought everything out of balance, when in reality this part of me acts as a helper, a friend, a supporter.
All this part really does is making it clear that I overstepped my boundaries, that I in fact cannot see my priorities clear anymore.
It tells me that I am off balance and that the more I pressure myself to get that balance back on track right now, right this instant, the more it will backfire.
So, when I woke up today and my brain felt at ease and my body (dysmorphic as I still felt it was, I did not once glance in the mirror) might not feel as fit and in shape as a week prior, but I have learned something.
Maybe there was something even more important than the worldly accomplishments of a To Do list and the external validation of attaining a certain body type. Maybe out of this week I could emerge like a phoenix and be even more proud of myself for overcoming it?
Maybe overcoming it is the wrong phrasing to being with.
Thus, I turned the page and reset my counting from 4 months since my last binge eating attack to 0 days.
Holds a lot of prospect and possibility.
That is good.
Relapse is part of recovery, is what they say, is what I experienced for the last 7 years of working on myself.
All will be well if I start to see the ‘ugly’ as part of me, as a sign that tells me that some indulging is alright, that letting myself off the hook at times is alright too.
No need to be perfect, there is no perfection anyway.
I feel pretty good right now.
My heart is light again.
My chest is open.
My breath is calm.
My soul is soaring again.
Like the eagle that I saw during this very last week.
An eagle! I have no idea how the next week will go but if you are able to see an eagle while out hiking with a pack of dogs: Can there be anything more wonderful?
I will take it day by day.
I don’t know how any of those days will be, how the weeks will go.
I will try to appreciate myself more and pressure myself less.
Thank you so much for reading this, supporting me on my journey. If you want to share this with people you know who struggle as well ,or reach out to me by commenting or emailing me- feel free to always do that!
From my heart to yours, as always,
Love and Light
Nadine (& a snoring, content Marjorie)