Sunday, December 29, 2013

Shame Loves Secrecy

This post has been simmering for a while.  Always there.  Always in my thoughts.  Never really able to bring myself to serve it up.  At moments of energy I would visit the pot, give it a quick stir, smell the ingredients, take a little taste and think it is just about right.  Then, somehow between putting the lid back on and going to the cupboard to retrieve bowls, I paused.  Questions started to roll.  Uncertainty left me feeling no one wanted what I had to give.  It wasn't ready.  Something was missing. There was to much of something else.  It had not cooked long enough.  Now it was to mushy to serve. 

So I hid.

My creation was neglected. I let it crust over. Dry out.  I couldn't even bring myself to clean everything.  It just sat there.  Abandoned.   

Until . . .

On the day after Christmas, December 26, I opened my For Today daily reader from Overeaters Anonymous.  There I found the following:
Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over.
     F. Scott Fitzgerald
What injustice to think myself a failure because I have to begin again!  So I slipped, or relapsed; so what?  Starting over is what all creation is about; it is part of the fabric of success in enterprises ranging from spinning a web to splitting an atom.  Willingness to make a new beginning is a sign of growth.  It means I am returning to the program with a deeper understanding of myself and my illness.  Far from wanting to hid in the back of the room, I feel I have something of value to contribute.
The words spoke to me.  I felt them.  I was hiding.  There was no denying I had gone to the back of the room. Thoughts of writing, coming back, filled my heart.  I went to my laptop.  Nothing came.  Tears.  Tears came.  Sorrow.  Shame.  Fear.  Emotions filled me that I was not prepared to feel out.  I was not ready to try them on.  My laptop was closed.  The emotions were silenced.

Although I wasn't ready to write or talk about what was going on with me, I did feel the need to make some changes.  Thursday, December 26 (after three months of indulgence) I ate clean.  Feeling in a complete state of chaos, the desire to get back to serenity, to peace led me to my practice of abstinence found in OA.  There is no longer a local group.  Phone meetings are the only way I can connect with a group.  That day, at different times, I joined two phone meetings.  I just listened.  Their words filled me.  That night, I went to the gym.  Not prepared to get in my gym clothes, I hid in the shielding support of a water aerobics class.  The class was great.  Feeling and pushing my body felt thrilling.  However, at the same time, I was clouded with overwhelming shame.  When normally I feel water to be restorative, hiding my body in the water brought sorrow, guilt and anxiety. 
Friday morning I decided it was time to weigh myself.  Hiding from the scale needed to end.  My clothes were no longer fitting.  My skin felt uncomfortable.  Movement was restrictive.  It was time to face the scale. 
261 lbs
Yep, that's right.  I was exactly 20lbs higher than my lowest of 241 lbs in June.  The number was crushing, yet I already knew.  My body had told me over and over what was happening.  Never could I bring myself to listen.  
During my lunch hour I started reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. My therapist had been encouraging me to read her work for the last few weeks.  Finally, after receiving her book as a Christmas present to myself, I took advantage of a few minutes to begin her book.  On page 9 I found myself in a realization that had been forming for a while.  I read the following: 
Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story.  It hates words wrapped around it-it can't survive being shared.  Shame loves secrecy.  The most dangerous thing to do after a shaming experience is hide or bury your story.  When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes.
Being in a dark shame place (for not days, not weeks, but for months) was getting me further into a place of shame.  After work, I joined in on another OA meeting.

So what am I saying?  Where is this going?

I can no longer hide in a dark place of shame in the back of the room.  I need to wrap words around my shame.  This is not news to me.  For a long time, sharing my story was a way for me to work it through.  The struggle released its grip on me when I shared it with others.

Maybe I needed this time to truly understand why I need to share my story.  I had originally gone into hiding thinking I simply needed a break.  Parts of my story were to hard to expose.  I wasn't ready to face them, let alone share them with anyone else.  I refuse to speculate if that choice was right or wrong.  It happened and here I am.

I am returning with a deeper understanding of myself and my illness.  I can no longer pretend, I Got This.  I am powerless over food and my life has become unmanageable.  It is my belief that a power greater than my own can restore me.  The decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God has been made. 

Today is Sunday and I am half way through my fourth day of abstinence.  My thoughts are clearer.  The chatter in my head has diminished.  I don't know if any lbs have dropped.  I won't be weighing until 7 days abstinent.  Right now I am just focused on getting back, making the daily actions of my plan part of every day. 

I am reading.  Praying.  Meditating.  Moving my body.  Eating clean nourishing food.  I am being mindful.  I am getting on OA phone meetings every chance I get.  I am opening myself up to the idea that I am not in control.  I am finding grace in the knowledge that my mistakes bring me deeper understanding.  I am connecting with individuals that only want for my success.  I am withdrawing from relationships that cause me angst.  I don't have the capacity to refill each time they drain my energy stores.

Today is a good day.  As I wrap up my post I turned to today's reading.  This book is always perfect in bringing me what I need when I need it.  In closing I leave with you the reading from For Today:
As I see and feel this moment, all else in my mind is blocked out.  I am free of the past and the future.  I am living in the now.  Aware of sounds and colors, light and shadow, I look outward from myself - and that is freedom.  I can notice another, listen with energy.  I live life a moment at a time, leaving the moments lived yesterday and those to be lived tomorrow where they belong.
Joy comes from living in the NOW.
For today: I free my mind of yesterday's mistakes and tomorrow's hopes.  I live in this moment.

 Today is an abstinent day.  I am living in this moment and this moment is good.


  1. You can do it Tara!!!!!!!! I have faith in you that you will achieve whatever goal you set for yourself and just like there rest of us there will be times that we slip and forget that goal but the most important part is getting back up, dusting ourselves off and starting over. I love you girl, keep it up!!!!!

  2. Oh you are brave my friend. Clean the slate and begin again, that's the cycle of things. Somewhere buried in success is just simple consistency. Perfect doesn't exist, but getting up and trying again make us realize our own worth. You're worth it and I'm standing right here holding your hand friend!

    PS - I just wrote a blog post myself for the first time in're inspiring me to return to things that help with the consistency...and ultimately the progress. xo