I was thinking about intuition this morning. As ya do. And I realised that this was something I was confused about for ages. I used to read stuff online about ‘intuitive eating’ and ‘listening to your gut’ and be so puzzled as to why it didn’t seem to work for me. Why didn’t I just KNOW what to eat or do in my life? How did I keep ending up in behaviours? Why didn’t I have that sureness that other people seemed to have about life decisions? I was usually on the fence, humming and hawing. Doubting!
I think while we have ED we are totally cut off from our bodies. The head does all the work, and it’s like the motorway is closed down to our ‘gut instinct’. That’s also a reason why I wouldn’t recommend trying to listen to your gut in the early stages of recovery. Sure we haven’t a clue what’s best for us when we have ED, because if we did, we wouldn’t have ED in the first place!
It’s much better to go with mechanical eating until the body&mind is more connected, and the values have shifted towards self support and away from self destruction. I’ve read books telling me to eat intuitively- eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full, and eat whatever my body wants. That’s a nice little idea for the regular folk out there, but if there’s a dictator in the head shouting instructions and ramping up fears and assumptions about foods, then how on earth could an intuitive decision be made? I used to think I was intolerant to certain foods, and other foods made me sick. I convinced myself I was listening to my body, but on reflection I realise I was listening to the ED.
I used to mix up intuition and assuming. Intuition is about being connected to who we really are, what matters to us, rational thinking, and most importantly it’s about being connected to the body and our sensitivity. But assuming is just a form of distorting thinking. It’s tricky to be sure you’re not just assuming things about a situation when you’re in early stages. Well, that’s how it was for me anyway!
These days I realise that I made a lot of decisions under the guise of ‘intuition’. I avoided things that would have been good for me, because I told myself my intuition was telling me it wasn’t a good idea. Really the thing that was speaking was FEAR! It’s funny how we can delude ourselves.
I suppose the important thing to realise is that sensitive people are very intuitive people. Yay for us. And that we all have the potential to execute this powerful intuition once we rid ourselves of the condition. In the beginning I seemed to double-check ALL of my decisions with other people, both inside and outside of MTC. (Other times I was making decisions on my own, because I thought I knew best, and it was only with time did I realise I’d made such poor decisions that weren’t helpful for my recovery). With time I have become surer of myself, and seek much less external reassurance. Though, it’s not a bad thing to be seeing reassurance the odd time, because we’re all human!
I’m trying to figure out some life stuff at the moment in relation to work and housing and family. And although I feel a bit lost and as though I’ll never have clarity on what the ‘right’ thing to do is, I seem to have a strong trust in myself and my future that it is all going to work out. (Trying to not sound crazy when I tell people I trust my future as though I am a bit of Mystic Meg is a bit more challenging ha). But I do trust that I can make decisions in my best interest. I trust that I can live a life where I am the driver. I may drive us into the ditch the odd time or down a cul-de-sac, but at least I’m the driver.
I think I got to the point of being able to trust my decisions and ‘my gut’ by being mechanical in the beginning. I had to learn the theory in order to start moving through the levels of competence/intuition. I figured out who was on my team, and who shared my values, and I leaned on them for a few years while I made some big (and small!) decisions in my life. The time came when I needed to stand on my own two feet, but I gained this confidence over time by allowing other trustworthy people to weigh in on my life.
I also thought I’d never get to the point where I’d know how to feed myself. I feared I’d forever be relying on old lists of suggestions from sessions, or what some vegan extremist on the internet told me to eat. But here I am, listening to my body and fully trusting the signals it gives me. I’m by no means perfect, but the famous ‘intuitive eating’ that I read about on the internet and in books all those years ago is actually a natural state that solid recovery brings you to. It’s not forced, it just is. It doesn’t need a label, it’s just about eating with more than the head. (I like the idea of giving the head an opinion, but not a vote!)
I’m at the point in recovery where sessions have wound right down. I don’t need them. I’m free to live my life, and if cracks appear, I know where to go. But at the same time, I trust that I’ve got this. The theory has been married to action, and I just need to take full full full ownership of this freedom of mine. With a rich history of deluding myself into thinking things are more ‘fine’ than they are, I decided to double check last week. For old times sake, like. lol. And although I didn’t need the confirmation, it was nice to hear that I’m not deluding myself. I’m as real and authentic as I’ve ever been. I’m looking to the future as a strong, independent woman (lol writing that) who chucked out the red, and painted my mind green. I’m living intuitively, being guided by my values.
I just want to say to not give up hope. It’s possible to find your way back to yourself. To be able to trust yourself, and to feel whole again.