“I LITERALLY CAN’T GO ONE MORE DAY JUST BEING WITH MYSELF!!”
I remember saying this more times than I can count.
I’d just left an extremely busy job where I wore too many hats to count and didn’t have a moment to myself- I was expected to be available at all times and spent my days hustling for approval, hoping I could somehow feel like I was worth the position and responsibilities I had been given as a young professional.
Eventually (around 4 years later, lol), the exhaustion of the job, the emotional upheaval I was experiencing on the reg, and the constant looking outside of myself for approval caught up with me.
I was miserable.
Enter disordered eating and exercise.
After a year or so of wavering if I could “take a step back in my career” I found a new job.
Outside of management. Working on the front lines as a social worker “worker bee” as I liked to call it.
Back to my roots of being a social work in the inner city.
Here’s the thing about the job I took…
- I drove 45 minutes to and from West Philly everyday.
- I was in the car doing home visits all day.
- By myself.
- No one checking up on me.
- No one to complain to or about.
- No one screaming my name or pointing out what I hadn’t done good-enough.
- Complete autonomy.
I’ve gotta tell ya, at first, it was freeing AF!
I did my job, took care of my clients and went home. Phone was off after 5 and I didn’t have to worry about being expected to answer to anyone outside of work hours.
Eventually, though, the time I was spending by myself caught up with me. And like I told my husband everyday for months, “I think I’m driving myself crazy!”
Here’s the thing...
- I’d never spent so much time alone.
- I had no clue how to cope with the shit talk that was running rampant in my own head.
- And as each week passed, it seemed like it was getting louder and louder.
- Because I had no clue how to be alone and be ok.
I didn’t realize that the busyness and hustle I’d been engaging in for years had actually numbed me so much that there were super strong feelings and experiences under the surface that hadn’t been touched… even with a 5 foot pole.
And between the distraction of work and using disordered eating and obsessive exercise to cope, I felt like I was wearing a tool belt without any tools to “fix” myself.
It was like one of those lightning bolt moments when I realized that what I needed to do was learn how to be with myself.
Connect with myself.
Rely on myself.
So, like I typically do, I made it my mission to figure it out.
And what I realized along the way was that continuing to believe that I was broken only perpetuated the problem.
“Fixing” wasn’t what I needed.
Sure, I had to relearn some coping skills to hang on my metaphorical tool belt.
But, I also had to learn to stop buying into everything I was thinking. How to move through emotions and trust that I would be ok. And most importantly, reconnect with who I was and start treating myself with kindness and compassion.
Ladies, I’ve gotta tell ya… Learning to be with myself actually saved me.
From continuing down the path of disordered eating and over-exercising.
From jumping back into the job that had drained my spirit (yes, it almost happened!)
From playing small when what I wanted was a big life.
Being with myself taught me how to start respecting myself.
Now, I’m not suggesting to isolate yourself so you can learn how to deal with your shit. LOL.
What I am suggesting is that you slow down.
Slow enough to hear how you’re talking to to yourself.
Slow enough to notice if you really know who you are and what you value.
Slow enough to consider if how you’re treating your mind and your body actually feeds the bigger picture of what you want for your life.
Slow enough so that you can recognize if you’re caught in searching outside of yourself to “fix” some part of your body or your world.
Slow enough to consider if you’re distracting yourself with unhealthy coping tools.
Simply slowing down, giving yourself a moment of pause to tune inward will help you reconnect with yourself. Which, if you ask me, is the most important skill any of us can learn.
Because you're the only you you've got!!
I'm a self-love, body image and eating disorder therapist in Horsham, PA.
I help women and teen girls to make peace with their minds, bodies and food and learn how to see, appreciate and love all that they are.
I specialize in binge eating and helping women learn how to stop dieting and really start living.
Questions? Get in touch here!