“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a Bud was more painful than the risk it took to Blossom.” ~ Anais Nin
For so many years I stayed tight in a bud.
I was so concerned with what others thought and obsessed with needing to make sure I was doing things right and not messing up that I stayed in a very small world of rules and rigidity.
I wanted to get things under control.
But more importantly I wanted you to see me having things under control. How you viewed me meant everything.
So I didn’t try or do anything that I didn’t already know I was going to be good at. I wouldn’t speak up unless I was absolutely positive that it was right and I was constantly watching you for clues that you liked and approved of me.
In fact, there was little space in my small world left for anything else.
Except food. Food got the corner office with the view.
If I wasn’t thinking about what you thought of me, I was thinking about food – what I was going to eat what I should be eating, what I shouldn’t be eating, what I wanted to eat, what I needed to do to make up for what I had eaten…
I don’t actually know how I made it through so many years performing well and succeeding in so many ways while hardly being present for any of it.
I had relationships. I had friends. But I always felt this detached distance from them. Like I was living in this parallel reality that they would never get.
My reality included spending 3 hours trying on everything in my closet and winding up cancelling plans because I felt fat.
My reality meant that I didn’t ever want to be intimate with my boyfriend because I was always bloated and gassy and feeling gross.
My reality meant I could be sitting at a dinner table with colleagues, family or friends and not be able to focus on anything but the food.
This was the world I lived in.
And even though it was stuffy and small and fraught with anxiety, obsession and addiction, it was the only life I knew. And so I clung to it.
Because that world still had those few, fleeting moments of escape – when it was just me and the food.
Food was my only pleasure. My treat. My reward for dealing with everything I was dealing with.
So there was no way I was going to give that up. Ever.
And that’s how I lived for most of my life. Always feeling like things would turn around after the next achievement or life event. But no matter what I achieved,
I still felt empty.
So I stayed, tight in a bud, trying to figure out how to squeeze happiness out of my life, while also too scared to take a risk.
It wasn’t until the pain of living like this – the constant anxiety, agitation and emptiness – finally outweighed the fear of the unknown that I got the courage to step beyond my small, familiar world and into a path that has continued to blossom with more freedom and happiness than I ever thought possible.
While that was almost a decade ago, I want to share with you what I needed that allowed me to take that leap.
Because what I find is that these are some of the practices and truths that continue to help me experience new levels of freedom, fulfillment and happiness.
So whether you’re still acting out in your addiction, or you have some time away from it but you are facing a new area in your life where you’re playing small, I invite you to consider the following and hopefully these tools provide useful for you too.
I had to reach my bottom.
As a successful high achiever who looked together and who was an inspiration to many, it wasn’t obvious from the outside that I had hit bottom. My life still looked pretty good.
But what felt like a bottom was that I knew I was meant for more. I knew I had a big calling and was here to help others and that there was a life of freedom, fulfillment and joy that was currently eluding me.
So even though I maybe wasn’t lying in a gutter somewhere or had lost my job, I felt lost, disconnected and like I just wasn’t ok.
There was a pain. A deep pain.The pain of unfulfillment and staying stuck. And I was tired trying to pretend I was ok. It was exhausting.
This exhaustion proved to be such a gift because it allowed me to get honest and be with what was so.
And by getting honest about what was so, I was able to access a deep, desperate desire for something new and the willingness to take action towards it.
I had to believe it was possible.
I had to have hope that if I left my familiar world, that it would work – that I’d get the freedom, the fulfillment – the better experience and better life that I had always wanted. I needed to believe that it was actually possible for me. Otherwise, why put myself through that?
I was already so embarrassed about the food and how I couldn’t get control over it. So the last thing I wanted to do was set myself up for more disappointment and a confirmation that I really am a failure.
I had tried so many things that had failed. So I needed to understand why this time was different.
My journey brought me to learning two vital truths that became essential to my getting free from my addictions:
Firstly, I had to get that I wasn’t the one fixing me. Instead, I was able to access the power that was solved my problem and helped me break free.
I also learned that the power to change came in the leap.
As long as I stayed tight in a bud, I lacked the power to change or get free.
But something alchemical happened in my taking the leap that ultimately led me to freedom. I gained the power that wasn’t there before.
I needed support.
For me that took the form of a mentor and a system that worked. I had so many ideas and theories about who I was, what my problem was, what I needed and what I was supposed to do.
And all of that was blocking me from the freedom that I so desperately wanted because it kept me regurgitating theories and tools that kept me up in my head – in obsession and fixing mode.
What helped me move beyond what was blocking me was setting all of that aside so that I could start with a blank slate and take tiny steps that had more to do with everything I didn’t know vs everything I did.
I also took comfort learning that I wasn’t alone in my journey and that there was a reliable path laid out for me. All I needed was to focus on was the next step right in front of me.
I could probably write a book (and one day I will) on all the tools and insights that not only helped me to get free from my addictions but that I also use to this very day to continue to break new barriers that are holding me back so I can continue to grow and live a life of fulfillment and freedom.
But I hope that what I shared helps you, wherever you are today, access a new level of freedom and start on a path that will ultimately help you to blossom, flourish and thrive in every area of your life.
In dedication of all things raw, real and recovered,