July 29, 2014

A Beyond Survivor's Story: Abandonment

This week, I am super excited to begin a series written by Margie McKinnon, founder of The Lamplighters. Over the course of the next few weeks, Margie is going to be sharing with us her perspective on a variety of topics that are key for any survivor of abuse. I know you are going to be touch, inspired, and supported by her amazing words and wisdom.

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I need only close my eyes to relive the years when I had abandonment issues as the result of incest. If I let it, it would all come rushing back, covering me with fear and anxiety, spiraling me into a world of suicide attempts, poor choices, an inability to set boundaries, severe depression, low self-esteem, manic-depressive behavior and all of the other behavior patterns that are waiting for one who is sexually abused as a child.

It didn’t take much to set it off. The feeling that I was isolated, almost quarantined, and desperately needed someone to rescue me from the consequences of my own actions rolled over me with crushing finality year after year. There was no way out. I’d grab a cigarette and begin chain smoking, used alcohol till I was too drunk to feel the abandonment, or worse, use sex as a way to numb myself from the feeling of helplessness and the apprehensive uneasiness that seemed to smother me. Eventually it would go away and I seemed to stabilize. I say, “seemed” because stability was never really mine. All I had done was managed to “act” as if everything in my world was going well. Only that deep inner part of me, where, in the depths of the night, I could not deny the truth, knew the real story.
 

I am a very fortunate woman. I say fortunate because had I not married my
third abuser, a man so evil, so sadistic that my therapist said I would not survive living with him, I would not today be healed, a woman who makes only healthy choices. I like to think that God sent me an alcoholic in my early years in hopes that I would get it. When that didn’t work, he sent a second alcoholic who cheated on me, beat me up and tormented me with constant intimidation. Surely, she’ll get it this time. I still didn’t. The next 15 years I roamed from man to man always in hopes of finding someone who would rescue me.
 

I found him. He was the most wonderful man I’d ever known; one who treated me like a queen. We became engaged and since he was my daughter’s father-in-law, we already had a grandchild together. He was a very handsome man with a high powered job where he made good money. He adored my kids. We bought a beautiful showplace of a home. All was rosy and filled with joy. Finally, I had my Prince Charming. There was a down side. One day, while we were talking, he said something bad must have happened to me when I was a child. That was the only way I would have wound up with so many abusers. I became terrified. My father had told me when I was in my mid-thirties about our incestuous relationship, something that caused such horror in me that I refused to believe him. I remembered the first time but my mother had told me it was just a nightmare. Now, here was this man of my dreams trying to dredge up something so ugly that I wanted nothing to do with it. I tried to give him his ring back, saying I couldn’t marry him. He refused to take it. He said the only way he would leave me was through death.
 

A few months later, he was dead of lung cancer. I thought the grief would tear my mind in two. It didn’t. Within a month I was, not only in bed with a man I barely knew, but had let him move in with me. God had finally decided that he would send the worst of the worst into my life and then I would get it. Two years later, almost beside myself with despair and suicide attempts, I could no longer deal with the torment of my third abuser. His continual rapes, his mental abuse, his constant control over everything I did, what I wore, who I was allowed to speak with on the phone, his continual jealousy over the most minor infractions, the realization that he was cheating on me, and especially his continual hounding about my former sexual sins began wearing me down. He had found the journal I had been keeping for years along with love letters and cards I had received from many different men. He had a powerful weapon. If I protested, he threatened to leave me. Abandonment issues swirled around me bringing acute anxiety so bad that I began displaying what I later found out was what happens to people coming down off heroin. Constant tremors, dry heaves and vomiting, and an inability to talk straight caused me to do whatever he wanted.
 

I went to my family doctor for sleeping pills and anti-depressants. He had known me for years and he asked me once again if my father had ever sexually abused me. Again, as I had responded many times before, the answer was no. This time my doctor said he wasn’t going to buy it. He gave me the name of a therapist who was a specialist in child sexual abuse and told me to get started. That was the beginning of my recovery. I’d finally gotten it. Two more years of horror awaited me, along with time spent in a woman’s shelter, more failed suicide attempts, severe anxiety and abandonment issues whenever I tried to say no to my abuser.
 

I initiated a program of my own, creating what was later compiled in a book called Repair Your Life. Diligently, I began to fight back. The anxiety and feeling of abandonment began to diminish. Before I was able to rid myself of my abuser I had to find the real me. I had to go back in time, rid myself of all the ugliness that had happened when I was a young girl and replace it with only good stuff. It wasn’t easy. There were times when I thought I didn’t have the courage to keep going across what I was beginning to call the bridge of recovery. But the thought that maybe, just maybe, one day there would be no more abandonment issues, no more severe anxiety, kept me going.
 

Today, I’m happily married to another really good guy. I have had no feelings of abandonment since I completed recovery. Today I make only healthy choices.
 

You can too. Get a copy of Repair Your Life and begin working the program. Eventually, once you complete Repairing yourself, you too, will never feel the agony of abandonment again.



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Marjorie McKinnon is an incest survivor who ran away from home at the age of 18 after five years of sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father. She spent the next 27 years going from one abuser to another until in her mid-forties, while married to her third domestic violence abuser, she entered a program for recovery of her own devising that she later called REPAIR. During recovery, she found out that her two older daughters had been sexually abused by her second husband. Her youngest daughter was raped at gunpoint by a masked bandit when she was 17. This accents the reality that child sexual abuse and incest is a multi-generational problem.  Children of an untreated incest survivor stand a five times greater chance of being sexually molested themselves.

Marjorie is the author of fourteen books and four volumes of poetry.  Her memoir, I Never Heard A Robin Sing is currently in Kindle version on amazon.com. Six of her books have been published by Loving Healing Press: REPAIR Your Life: A Program for Recovery from Incest & Child Sexual Abuse, REPAIR For Kids, REPAIR For Toddlers, REPAIR For Teens, The REPAIR Your Life Workbook and It’s Your Choice! Decisions That Will Change Your Life.  All are available through any major on line book distributor.  Six of these books are in 101 libraries throughout the world.  She also has five novels and two other non-fictions that are available as Kindles on amazon.com. She is the founder of The Lamplighter Movement, a rapidly growing international movement for recovery from incest and child sexual abuse that emphasizes the importance of REPAIRing the damage. There are currently 82 Lamplighter chapters in ten countries. Two of these are in women’s prisons, a project near and dear to Marjorie’s heart. She is working to get chapters in all of the women’s prisons in the US. The Lamplighter Movement website is at http://www.thelamplighters.org.  Marjorie’s writer’s website is at
http://www.marjoriewrites.thelamplighters.org/index.html.

Marjorie and her husband, Tom, were both McKinnons when they met on a genealogy website. After a 16 month long distance courtship they were married in the year 2000 in Melrose, Scotland, taking their final vows in the ruins of Melrose Abbey.  Tom is the illustrator of her children’s REPAIR books. They live in the Sedona, AZ area along with their Golden Retriever, Guinevere.

July 14, 2014

How to Find Freedom from Using Food to Cope with Pain- Part 3

As we started to explore last week, we are looking into the places where the effects of trauma and the actions of eating issues overlap.  This week, Natalie explores how to choose fulfillment instead of hopelessness and love instead of unworthiness.

If you are interested in learning more about her work, I encourage you to not miss out on her special complimentary Food Freedom Consultation.  During this session, we will get crystal clear about where you are now, where you want to be and you walk away with some tailor-made suggestions and tools that you can implement immediately.  Go here to schedule your session now.  

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Fulfillment Instead of Hopelessness


I remember in the darkest times of my eating disorder, when I was totally certain that there was no changing my eating, my emotions, or my life.  I was completely hopeless.  I felt sure that I could keep binging every night and that I would be stuck in these awful patterns forever. 

One day something snapped.  I remember waking up with the horrible heavy feeling the morning after an especially bad night of binging.  I was so used to feeling this way, and so sick of it.  Somewhere in me, somewhere in the midst of this, there was a tiny glimmer of possibility. 

When I look back at that glimmer now, I realize it was the memory of moments when I felt really alive, engaged and on purpose.  This is when I really started to look for help.  Even though I felt hopeless, It seemed like it was worth trying to do something.   It was worth trying to move toward that feeling of aliveness that I remembered.

I remember thinking, “This is no longer what I am going to consider life. There has to be more than this.  I remember more than this.”  I was no longer willing to be hopeless and to let life happen to me.  It became time to start to stand for myself.

It was not easy to slow down the hopeless train and get it moving back in the other direction.  I am so grateful that at just that moment, I reached out and found a coach who supported women to find out what they were truly hungry for, and to shift patterns around eating. 

I was so surprised that the work that helped me the most during our coaching wasn’t any particular skill to avoid binging, but instead, it was the work that I did around looking at life fulfillment.  I figured out what I really cared about in life, what really lit me up, and I started to actively create moments in my day when I felt that sense of aliveness. 

What do I really care about?  Why change?  When it came down to it, none of the reasons to change had anything to do with my body image or my actual eating patterns. It was everything to do with what I actually care about in this life.  What makes me feel joy?  What makes me feel fulfilled? 

When I choose fulfillment over hopelessness, I start to get in touch with that deeper place again.  What are those deep hungers? So these days, when I feel that hopeless sensation, I know that that is the time to go back to my core values.  I choose an action that will help me live more in alignment with what I care about. 

Gratefully, some of the things I care most about are rest, relaxation and kindness. So an easy choice in a hard moment is to take a nap or a shower.  Often, this kind of caring action that is in alignment with my personal fulfillment is all that I need to snap myself out of a hopeless fog. 

Questions to help you identify your fulfillment map:

  • What do you most care about in life?
  • What make you feel the most at ease?
  • What do you love doing?
  • What makes you really upset?  This is often a great question to identify when values are being stepped on, which in turn helps you identify those values. 
  • What was a time in your life when you felt most alive?  What were you doing? Where were you?  Where there other people around?  From these questions, you can pull out your values. 

Love Instead of Unworthiness

 
Unworthiness.  Unworthy of love, of acceptance, of kindness.  These are the plagues of so many people who struggle. The sense of being unworthy is a trait that bridges between sexual trauma and eating disorders. This feeling of unworthiness can easily turn into a vicious cycle.  Because we don’t feel worthy of others love, we would end up binging.  Because we binged, we would feel unworthy. 

It was so easy to feel unworthy when I was sitting in a pile of binge-trash.  How could I be worth anything? I couldn’t even take care of myself.  I couldn’t even control myself.  I was a total failure.  It was at these moment that I would purge.  The whole cycle felt like punishment for being unworthy. 

Now, I hear those sentences of self-hate, and I wince because I know how untrue and unkind they are.  When, I notice these kinds of thoughts run through my head these days, I surround them in loving kindness.  I can just imagine readers saying “Well, isn’t that nice for you, but it doesn’t work like that for me.  It’s not that easy.”  You are right, it isn’t that easy when you first start.

Usually, we keep “love” in our minds as this concept up in the clouds surrounded by cupids.  That is why I like to remember that love is actually also a verb.  It is something we can actively do. 

What is it to love myself?  It is to take actions that are kind and caring, and that show adoration for myself. 


For me, loving myself looks like taking a walk, getting a pedicure, sitting in my garden, making a bouquet, or eating a brownie at my local coffee shop.  It looks like any number of things, but certainly it is about choosing an action that shows care for myself. 

When I really take care of myself, through loving action, I am able to actually create worth for myself.  By showing myself care, I am showing that I value myself.  Inherent in valuing myself is a sense of self worth.  
So, how do we get started with treating love as a verb?  Start by identifying a list of 10 actions that show love to your self.  Once you have created the list, go back through and identify what is the micro-action that would get the ball rolling.

For example, if sitting in my garden is the action, then the micro-action is walking to my back door and unlocking it.  Once I get far enough to unlock the door, I will most likely step outside.  Once I do that, the loving action will support me to cultivate loving kindness within my thoughts. 

Identifying the list, and then identifying the micro-action creates the framework so that the next time you dive into the well of unworthiness, you can have something to grasp onto and pull yourself out.   




This is my last post for Rachel!  It has been such a pleasure to do this guest blogging.  If you are interested in learning more about my work where I support people to find freedom from the inner food battle, I would be honored to give you a complimentary Food Freedom Consultation.  During this session, we will get crystal clear about where you are now, where you want to be and you walk away with some tailor-made suggestions and tools that you can implement immediately.  Click here to schedule your session now. 

If you are curious to find out more about what I do, check out my website at natalieforsythe.com.



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Natalie Forsythe is a transformational eating coach who is dedicated to helping people find freedom from their inner battle with food.  She is so passionate about this work because she recovered from an eating disorder that plagued her for ten years.  She works one-on-one, is a group facilitator and holds workshops.  She currently ives in Berkeley, California where she loves to play in her veggie garden, make things with power tools, and ride her bike to the farmer's market.  


Natalie received her BA in Psychology from Marlboro College and her C.P.C.C. coaching certification from the highly reputable Coaches Training Institute, as well as being certified by the International Coaching Federation.

July 9, 2014

How to Find Freedom from Using Food to Cope with Pain- Part 2

As we started to explore last week, we are looking into the places where the effects of trauma and the actions of eating issues overlap.  This week, Natalie explores how to choose awareness instead of numbness and how to create practices instead of feeling out of control.  

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Choosing Awareness Instead of Numbness

 
Food felt like my only friend when things were really unstable as a child.  I knew that the peanut butter jar wasn’t going to forget about me or scream at me.  It was always going to be there.  I knew that it would give me sweet moments of comfort and care. 

As I got older and I kept using food to reach that comfort place, all that food started to have a different effect.  Now it created a sensation of deep numbness.  The cycles were vicious. I would reach for the nearest food.  I would eat it until it was gone, and keep reaching. 

The more full that I would get, the more numb I would feel.  The less I felt, the less I was present to experience all of the moments of life.  Things would happen around me, and I would have a vague notion of emotion.  Then I would stuff it down with the next round of mac n’ cheese. 

Looking back, I now realize that another big reason why I numbed out with food is that it helped me to feel invisible.   Using food this way made it so that I was unable to interact with people.  I was either passed out in my room with a food coma, or I sat in a corner somewhere trying to not be noticed. 

The self-judgment that I felt about “being fat” allowed me to check out even more.  I would be disconnected (read last week’s post about Connection, instead of Secrecy) from the people around me and totally in my own world where I felt disconnected from everything, especially my body and mind. 

Escaping from our physical bodies can be a powerful tool.  In moments of incredible trauma, it can be a saving grace.  However, prolonged self-inflicted numbness and dissociation is a recipe for a life that is deeply unfulfilling and unkind to our selves.  

Now is the moment of choice.  Once we recognize that we are numbing ourselves out in order to not experience the fullness of life, we have the opportunity to make different choices.  I offer that creating deeper awareness is the key to overcoming numbness. 

When we are aware, we start to learn what we need to satisfy the deeper hungers of our life.  These are some of my deepest hungers of life fulfillment: love, care, creativity, exploration, learning, connection, etc. We each have our own idea of what fulfillment is, and when we choose awareness we begin to gain greater knowledge about our own personally fulfilling life.  Identifying these deeper hungers is some of the most exciting work that I do with my clients.

Awareness can be uncovered in a myriad of ways.  Today I am going to suggest

a super basic and simple awareness exercise that is an incredible way to choose more awareness in your life.  It’s all about the micro-pause. 

Micro-pauses. This is definitely one of my favorite tools.  It doesn’t require a dedicated 20 minute meditation practice.  All it requires is one moment in which you choose awareness.  One pause, when you take a couple deep breaths, where you are able to come back to yourself and whatever you are experiencing in that moment.  

One example of how this could work is to put a chair in front of the refrigerator and do an experiment with your self.  Each time before you open the fridge, sit down and take a micro-pause.

Explore what it is like to sit down in that chair and take three conscious breaths. Where are you feeling the breath move through your body?  What body sensations arise?  What thoughts are present?  Ask yourself: “What would really satisfy me right now?”  After these three breaths, you can stand up and do whatever you want.  Get more ice cream from the freezer.  Go to the living room and read. 

The more awareness we cultivate, the more we are able to choose our actions.  The more we choose our actions, the more we are able to create our vivacious life from this moment.  Micro-pauses are an awesome tool to begin to cultivate the sense of awareness and give us the knowledge we need to satisfy those deeper hungers.


 

Creating Practices instead of Feeling Out of Control
 
Those of us who have experienced extreme amounts of pain and trauma use the best tools that we have to avoid any more pain.  Often the pain we are avoiding with such vehemence is not of the same severity as the original wounding, and still we desire to escape from it.

People cope in all kinds of different ways, whether or not the way they cope is effective.  We can feel so out of control in our lives and what we eat can become one of the primary things that we can actually control.  My go-to method was to eat as many chips and chocolate as I could.

I remember overwhelming feelings of getting in my car after work and feeling so panicked by all of the things over which I have no control.  I would rush to the store and buy food so that I could go home and binge.  While binging, I felt like I was the one making the decisions.  No one else was telling me what to do or making me do anything. 

I was still suffering when I binged.  But at least it wasn’t the same kind of pain as before.  At least I was in control of this pain.  I did this to myself. 

Paradoxically, over time, I realized that this way of eating actually made me feel incredibly out of control.  While trying to control the effects of my emotions on myself, I ended up creating a “practice” of binging for myself that left me feeling totally crazy.

Instead of trying to create control, which is always an illusion, I offer that we are able to create practices for ourselves that help ground us.  When we are grounded, we can feel incredibly resourceful and capable.  I define a practice as a set of actions that one is committed to doing over a period of time in order to live a more fulfilling life.  


Envision your ideal practice for yourself.  What qualities will it have?  I
personally wanted to create something that activated my body, my mind and my spirit.  And I wanted to do it in the morning so that it would set the tone for my day. 

At first, I envisioned a practice for myself that was incredibly intricate: 20 minutes of meditation, a half hour yoga practice and writing at least 750 words.  And if I didn’t do it all then, it wasn’t worth doing any of it.  If I didn’t have an hour and a half, then why bother. 

This black and white thinking did not serve at all.   Learn from my experience.  Start small.  Get down to the core of the practice. From there, explore what is the smallest action you can take to get to that core part of the experience. 

I learned that taking a few conscious breaths, doing a downward dog and scribbling a few words of reflection could take me 5 minutes. Even if I just did the 5 minute version, the rest of my day felt more grounded.  I felt more capable of making choices throughout the day that honored my intentions.  The need to be in control dropped away because I was now choosing how to live my life. 

Now that I have had this morning practice for years, I can tell you that it has been one of the single most important parts of recovering from the eating disorder.  It has been the foundation upon which I have been able to grow this rocking life that I am now so grateful to live. 

What might be the building blocks of your practice? 
 

Look for next week’s installment where we will explore choosing fulfillment, instead of hopelessness, and love, instead of unworthiness. 



If you are interested in learning more about my work where I support people to find freedom from the inner food battle, I would be honored to give you a complimentary Food Freedom Consultation.  During this session, we will get crystal clear about where you are now, where you want to be and you walk away with some tailor-made suggestions and tools that you can implement immediately.  Go here to schedule your session now. 

If you are curious to find out more about what I do, check out my website at natalieforsythe.com.



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Natalie Forsythe is a transformational eating coach who is dedicated to helping people find freedom from their inner battle with food.  She is so passionate about this work because she recovered from an eating disorder that plagued her for ten years.  She works one-on-one, is a group facilitator and holds workshops.  She currently ives in Berkeley, California where she loves to play in her veggie garden, make things with power tools, and ride her bike to the farmer's market.  


Natalie received her BA in Psychology from Marlboro College and her C.P.C.C. coaching certification from the highly reputable Coaches Training Institute, as well as being certified by the International Coaching Federation.

July 6, 2014

The Healing Act of Writing

I am excited to be participating in my first ever blog tour which is an awesome way to help normalize the conversation about sexual abuse in this country by expanding the number of people who get to hear my message! So this blog is going to focus on what is compelling me to spread my message about healing from sexual abuse through my writing and why I love to write.

I want to thank Xanet Pailet for inviting me to be on this tour.  I loved reading about her mission to spread the word that sex is amazing, intimacy is possible, and how through her writing she is sharing her expertise in this area to change the lives of men, women, and couples.


Now ... why I write ...


When I was thirteen years old, I was still reeling from the sexual abuse I had experienced starting at age 10 -- even if I was doing a great job of keeping up appearances. In the midst of the confusion, pain, and feeling like there were parts of me that I just wanted to reach inside and rip out, my mom decided a poetry workshop was just what I needed to deal with my teenage angst -- and she was right.

I recall sitting in a circle with women 10-20 years older than me and yet feeling completely accepted and free to put onto the paper what I was terrified to say out loud.

Sometimes what came out was quietly painful:


Halted

Blue light shining on the stolid figure below.
Words pounding the corners of her mind,
tossing her from self-hate to doubt and back
to the beginning where everything went wrong.

Clean lines, soft folds of tarnished, burdened skin.
Seamless eyes with no hope lying within.
Rusted feet from standing in one place too long.
Dripping fears tracing a body no longer occupied.

Fury, rage grasping the muscles.
Her hands still tremble, still reach,
and still hold a dream.

All else is still.



Sometimes what came out wasn't so quiet:


Inverted (excerpt)

Ever seen an angel fly without wings?
Mine have been burned by the obscene,
the unclean…

The rigid muscles of my lover’s back
say more than his kisses ever did.

Tangled web I wove,
    Swallowing me whole.

Tramping through the muck and mire
    that others call my mind.

Dumb, Stupid, Low-class
    are the only words left to define…me.
 


... and sometimes, the hope, the love, the desire to press on won:


like a flower –
tender but resilient,
beautifully complicated –
intricate,
yet simple to care for –
light, nourishment, and a moist foundation
to be planted in



Through it all, words became my escape. They became the method of taking all that felt ugly, unclean, forbidden and giving voice to it -- unashamed, uncensored.

Fast forward to twenty-four years -- I'm sitting in front of a computer screen with a page in front of me that just says, "Beyond Surviving" ... and then it happens, everything in me switches on and the story of pain, tenderness, discovery, heartache, revelation, insight, clarity, freedom came pouring out.

Six months later, "Beyond Surviving: The Final Stage in Recovery from Sexual Abuse" was finished and six months after that it was published. This was my new poem -- granted without meter and stanzas and a tad longer (perhaps as inspired by Homer). Yet, writing, once again, had proved to be a salvation. This time in the name of healing, moving on, refusing to a be a pawn of the past any longer.

It's only now two years later that I'm fully aware of the underlying mission that drove me to write this guidebook -- which turns out to be a yearning to fundamentally change the way we think about and heal from sexual abuse. To share the truth with others that we do not have to remain forever burdened by the pain of the past, but we can heal, be restored, and move on with our lives.

And wonderfully, I predicted this end oh so long ago:


M and E

M so far from E –
so much lost in between.
Self placed high on a warped shelf –
leaving me to walk a lazy, winding
path lined with withered branches
on thick trunk trees.

Truncated existence birthed on
a summer porch swing.
Now clawing and clambering to
pull M closer to E.

Shallow waters running deeper –
the current is gaining speed.
Climbing steadily higher –
self no longer so far out of reach.

Identify and recognize the segregators:


M    molestation    E
M    abandonment    E
M    humiliation    E
M    manipulation    E
M    deception    E

Been renewed, no longer confused –
unearthed those healing elements:


M    Spirit    E
M    Respect    E
M    Trust    E
M    Friend    E
M    Love    E

The gap is steadily closing –
By and by M will rest securely next to E –
simple, happy, inseparable…
             ME.


And, so, I write. Blogs, books, seminars, even still poetry sometimes so that my voice and then hopefully the voice of others will refuse silence, shame, and fear and instead be a "barbaric YAWP" that reverberates around the world and says we will not be our past -- we will be free.

 

Now! The best part of this tour is I get to introduce you to three more amazing people. Please check out their blogs and find out what they are passionate about:



Irene Lyon:  Blog URL: http://irenelyon.com/blog/ 
Irene's trip on the mind-body-brain healing and teaching path was kick-started in 2001 by a series of debilitating knee injuries that forced her how to relearn how the body (her body, in particular), is really meant to move. Through this experience, she came to believe that human beings must learn, find growth, and heal using methods and modalities that recognize the entire body, and, most importantly, that recognize how this body interacts with its environment, people, circumstances and all that life brings. Beyond her academic training – she has a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science and a Master’s in Research in the Health Sciences – she is also a Certified Practitioner of both Feldenkrais and Somatic Experiencing. Combining all her education and her professional training she has created a versatile tool-set for helping people learn self-care and optimal healing practices. Her private practice is in Vancouver, British Columbia and she now offers group online courses. For more information visit her website: www.irenelyon.com





Misa Leonessa:  Blog URL: http://misacoach.com/articles/
Misa Leonessa is a counselor, life coach and spiritual director specializing in trauma recovery, relationships, and spiritual growth.  She has walked the path from surviving to thriving herself, and has a passion to help people heal from childhood abuse and those who are committed to pursuing greater relational, emotional and spiritual wholeness.  





Natalie Forsythe: Blog URL: http://natalieforsythe.com/writing/ 

Natalie Forsythe is a transformational eating coach who is dedicated to helping people find freedom from their inner battle with food.  She is so passionate about this work because she recovered from an eating disorder that plagued her for ten years.  She works one-on-one, is a group facilitator and holds workshops.  She currently ives in Berkeley, California where she loves to play in her veggie garden, make things with power tools, and ride her bike to the farmer's market.  


Natalie received her BA in Psychology from Marlboro College and her C.P.C.C. coaching certification from the highly reputable Coaches Training Institute, as well as being certified by the International Coaching Federation.

July 2, 2014

How to Find Freedom from Using Food to Cope with Pain - Part 1

I am so stoked about this upcoming series brought to you by Natalie Forsythe, Transformational Eating Coach and amazing woman. She'll be with us for the next three weeks sharing her story of overcoming an eating disorder and knowledge as to how we can win the battle with food.


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The heart of Rachel’s message, which I connect deeply with, is to move beyond recovery from sexual abuse into living an empowered and flourishing life.  It is powerful to choose to be a survivor instead of a victim.   It is even more powerful to choose a life that is beyond simple survival.  This was part of my own journey when I recovered from an eating disorder.  I am no longer a victim to the disorder.  I choose to be a warrior for my own best life and for the lives of all people who are struggling with an inner battle with food.

As I deliberated about what was most important to share with you all during this blog series, I explored the connections that exist between sexual trauma and eating issues.  I found these threads: secrecy, numbness, feeling out of control, a sense of hopelessness and unworthiness, which I shall weave together with choice, in order to create a rich fabric of a fulfilling life. 

During this series, we will explore how to choose:

  • Connection, instead of Secrecy
  • Awareness, instead of Numbness
  • Creating Practices, instead of Feeling Out of Control
  • Fulfillment, instead of Hopelessness
  • Love instead of Unworthiness
Today, we start with Connection, instead of Secrecy!

My Story

 
When I was three years old, I remember sitting in the pantry while I listened to my parents screaming in another room.   I would take one spoonful of brown sugar into my mouth and let it dissolve.  As I did, I would feel a little bit more comfort, and a bit less anxiety.  Then, I would take another. 

As I grew older, the way that I used food to cope became the only way that I knew how to deal with what I was feeling.  It eventually turned into a full-blown eating disorder.  I spent 10 years of my life stuck in the vicious cycle of binging and purging.  

I felt totally out-of-control and hopeless.  Eating was simultaneously something I would do to comfort myself and to punish myself.  I felt crazy, racked with guilt and shame, but I didn’t know what else to do. 

I am deeply grateful to say that I survived that decade long battle with an eating disorder.  I found the support that I needed from a coach, and learned a whole bunch of powerful tools and skills.  I recovered more fully than I ever imagined possible.  I see the sparkle in life now.  I listen to my deepest hungers and I gleefully feed myself the food, love and creativity that I long for.  Now, all I want is to support other people to find their own version of freedom from the inner food battle.

Finding the Gift within the Pain

 
The largest point of pain in our lives can be our greatest gift, depending on how we react to it.  To be very clear, I am not saying that any of us deserve any pain that others inflicted upon us.  I am simply saying that it is through the hardest moments that there is an opportunity to learn what our core needs are and how we can satisfy them.

If we learn to move away from the negative coping patterns, and instead start to look inside the patterns to see what the deeper hungers are, we uncover the keys to create the life that we really want to live.  Go here to read more about this in my last blog post called the "3 Steps to Move Through Dark Cravings Without Overeating".


Weaving in Choice

 
Choice is one of the most empowering tools that we have. When we are suffering, we can choose to honor our deeper hunger and meet that need.  Since I have flexed my “choice muscle” enough, I know that when I am upset, I am now capable of really choosing an action that honors my deeper hungers. 

Sometimes I choose to eat the Doritos.  Sometimes I choose the walk around the block.  Both options are great, because now I am choosing, instead of feeling like a snowball rolling down the mountain straight into Doritoville.  My hope is that this series will help you to see some moments in your own life when you can make purposeful choices that help you create your most engaging life.  

Connection instead of Secrecy

 
Secrecy is an inherent part of both sexual abuse and eating disorders. Here are a few of the poisonous thoughts that make us keep our pain a secret:

We are afraid.  We don’t want people to judge us.  We don’t want people to know.  We are scared what would happen if they found out.  We are ashamed and we feel guilty.  We are afraid everyone would abandon us if they found out.

I am here to banish this kind of thinking.  Secrecy causes more suffering.  I speak from experience. 


I went ten years without anyone knowing about my eating disorder.  Ten years!   Can you imagine how many lies I told to the people that I loved?  How many times I abandoned plans with people so that I could retreat into the cave of numbing myself with food?  How many snack wrappers I hid in the trashcan so no one would know how much I was eating?  My heart hurts remembering all of the effort I would go through to hide what I was doing, even though I desperately wanted help. 

Ok, great, but how do we make the transition away from secrecy?  My antidote is connection.  Once I found a coach who really understood me, I was able to really talk about what was happening.  I grew a little more comfortable with my reality of having an eating disorder.  I started to tell people around me. 

The compounding suffering that I experienced because no one knew was infinitely more painful than the process of stepping out and speaking my truth.  I have been amazed in my own journey about how compassionate, loving and non-judging people were when I told them about my eating disorder. 

Now I know that the moment that I want to hide is probably the perfect moment to reach out.  When I feel the snowball of a possible binge building, I know that finding someone to be with really helps.  We don’t even need to talk about what ever is going on.  Connection is often enough. 

My relationships have gotten infinitely better.  Now that I am not hiding anymore, I am actually able to connect, have deep friendships, and an incredibly powerful romantic relationship. Connection is simultaneously the antidote and the reward to coming out of hiding. 

A Few Suggestions for More Connection:

  • Get involved in something you love. Meetup.com is great to find local activities.  This is great first step because you don’t have to expose what is happening, you can just go straight to the activities that support you, while connecting with others. 
  • Find an animal to pet.  Seriously, physical touch is so important and animals don’t care about what is going on in your life.  Start creating more connection with other living beings!
  • Explore support groups, either in person or online- Facebook can be great for this.  Dip your toe into this relatively anonymous pool.  You might be amazed at how freeing it is to tell a group of people what you have been hiding, even if you don’t know them. 
  • Find a professional who understands what you are going through, and stick around long enough to be courageous and tell them what’s happening. 
  • Make dates with friends or family members.   Build up to the point where you are ready to tell them about the pain you are experiencing. 

If you are interested in learning more about my work where I support people to find freedom from the inner food battle, I would be honored to give you a complimentary Food Freedom Consultation.  During this session, we will get crystal clear about where you are now, where you want to be and you walk away with some tailor-made suggestions and tools that you can implement immediately.  Go here to schedule your session now. 

If you are curious to find out more about what I do, check out my website at natalieforsythe.com.



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Natalie Forsythe is a transformational eating coach who is dedicated to helping people find freedom from their inner battle with food.  She is so passionate about this work because she recovered from an eating disorder that plagued her for ten years.  She works one-on-one, is a group facilitator and holds workshops.  She currently ives in Berkeley, California where she loves to play in her veggie garden, make things with power tools, and ride her bike to the farmer's market.  


Natalie received her BA in Psychology from Marlboro College and her C.P.C.C. coaching certification from the highly reputable Coaches Training Institute, as well as being certified by the International Coaching Federation.

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