A journey from self-hate to self-love.
One year ago I freed myself from the shame of my disordered eating. I sat down and I told the world my secret when I wrote I Am Jennifer, a Compulsive Overeater. I was a compulsive overeater. I was a food addict. I was a career dieter. I had no regard for my body. I had no self-love. I had no self-care. I had spent years stuffing my authentic-self deeper, and deeper into the abyss while I kept waiting for someone, anyone, anything to save me. “Please, just save me.” Wishes, dreams, desires, and fantasies consumed my waking hours. My mantras we “if only”, “maybe someday” and “why me?”.
The person who could save me, who was coming to scoop me up and tell me it would be ok, was me. It was me all along. I just did not know it. Everything I ever needed to soar through this amazing life was right inside of me all along and I just didn’t see that I had the power to give myself all the things that I so badly wanted. However, my journey would not be this story if I had known how to love myself. This is my story from self-hate to self-love. This is my truth.
To own my journey I had to tell the world how I had treated myself, if I was going to fully step into the new me — the me that I authentically always believed I was. She was this voice inside of me that had been screaming to get out — a voice I quieted with food. I had to own that I spent over three decades staying small and hiding from the life that called to me. Don’t think for one minute I did not consider hiding my past life as an obese person. Who has to know? Why do I have to share my shame and rock bottom with the world? I can just be me, a new, better, more improved version of myself.
Career dieters have this daily fantasy. Here is how it goes: I walk into a reunion, a wedding, a business meeting, a get together, a party, or show up on a trip and I look thin, beautiful, sexy, perfectly perfect. Everyone tells me how great I look, and I tell everyone thank you, kind of pretending I always looked this fabulous. No one talks about how I was obese, or overweight, or fat, or unhealthy, or sick. We just cheers, smile, laugh and go on with life. I am like everyone else, and everyone else is like me. Same: same. Life is good.
So back to the question, “Who would ever know, or remember the old me?” The answer to that question is, I would. I would know. I would always know who I had been and who I had tried to outrun. I would know the truth. I would know that the pain, the heartache, the self-doubt, the self-loathing, the self-hate had defined me for a lifetime and I could not outrun that story. That story would always haunt me, if I did not face it head on.
We like to think we can reinvent ourselves. We cannot. We like to think we can erase the past. We cannot. We like to think we can forget the past. We cannot. We can always be a better version of ourselves and live a bigger, better version of our lives, but the price for that is ownership. Did I need to tell the world I shoveled cheeseburgers and M&M’s down my throat in order to heal, and be the best version of me? Yes, I did. I needed anyone who would listen to know that I was not perfect. I am a flawed human being and I wear that as a badge of honor. I am Jennifer, and I am enough, flaws and all.
Cheryl Strayed said to Oprah on a recent SuperSoul Sunday, “If you take that risk, if you take that chance, if you tell the truest, hardest, deepest story you have within you, you are not going to step into the light and find that you are there alone…but find that you are surrounded with people who are there with you and say “me too”.” This is exactly what I did. I stepped out into the light and I found I was not alone.
When I shared my story my tribe appeared. A village of women who said, “Me too.” I was not alone, and neither are you. I have worked with many women these past few years and here is what I can tell you: we are more alike than we are different. Meaning, we all have shame, secrets, aspirations we do not chase. We worry what others will think. We worry about failure. We worry about success. We fear rejection. I can also tell you I have seen one amazing woman after another step into her truth and her village has also appeared. How can your tribe find you if you do not say, “Here I am, this is me.”
I am free from the script I allowed to define me and confine me. I will never, ever again allow my authentic voice to be silenced by an internal dialogue that tells me I am not enough. Every single day I walk through life reframing doubt, it is not always easy, but it is powerful to tell a new story. Gone are the days of hiding behind excuses, toay I seek solutions. I am here to tell that you don’t have to be a victim of your circumstances. Choose you and be the architect of the life you dream about. Build it. You have all the tools, everything you need is right inside of you. Your only obstacle is you. Get out of your own way and march into authenticity, vulnerability, and self-love.
I am Jennifer, I am ENOUGH.