How my wellbeing journey began when I took off my mask?
I didn’t start off my journey as being healthy…far from it. My mum was a cook by trade, yes, but she was unhappy in her job, bless her, therefore cooking was a chore for her. She would come home stressed from her day and just bring us leftovers because money was tight and she had nothing left physically and emotionally to give. So I didn’t learn how to cook, I didn’t learn about the enjoyment and nourishment that food can bring. I learned that when you are stressed, sad, happy or emotional you take a biscuit or some chocolate to feel better. I learned that as girls it is not ok to feel anger, sadness, boredom, frustration otherwise my parents would not be happy with me so I put on a smile (or what I now know now as a mask) and pretended to be a ‘good girl’.
Sounds good…no I suppressed all my emotions just as my parents and their parents did before me and how did I do that….through food. I ate down my feelings because as a generation of women in my family that’s how they coped. I developed bulimia around 13 yrs after being bullied at school and even then when my mum found out she ignore it, practically and just told me to stop so I hid it even better and continue to binge that way for the next 20 yrs on and off.
Now I am not blaming my mum, yes I did feel that way for years, for a long time we never got on. Now I know that she was just doing the best that she could do to survive, raise her kids, keep a household, be a wife with the best knowledge and emotional guidance system that she had been given. My mum was not brought up in the best environment with the best emotional guidance system (let’s face it who is!). Her dad was an alcoholic and got quite angry at times, a lovely, kind man but like many of us not equipped on how to deal with the stresses of life so went from anger to guilt to remorse and back to anger and used drink as a way of suppressing the anger until he drank too much and all his emotions came out. My granny was stressed most of the time living in this environment whilst trying to raise 5 kids, put food on the table and keep the household going so she kept everything in then blew her top once it all became too much which happened quite regularly. Everyone has their story and should never be judged for not knowing what was best…most of us are just trying to survive. These habits and beliefs have all been passed down to me and although I am not an alcoholic I have used food in the same way that my granda did with drink, I suppose you could have called me a ‘foodaholic’.
Like many I did not become aware of this pattern of destruction of suppressing my emotions and feelings until my late 20s when I was working in a corporate job, doing long hours, feeling constantly stressed out and angry, going out every weekend binge drinking, then soaking it up and nursing myself the next day with junk food. It would take me until Wednesday to feel normal. I would feel depressed, moody and paranoid in work until Thursday came and then I felt a bit more human and would start the process again. Then I moved to Dublin with my work in 2002 for an amazing job opportunity with a huge responsibility and boom my body had finally had enough and needed to speak to me. The stress of the move, living in a city without knowing anyone and keeping this mask on 24hrs a day trying to pretend I was superhuman and not allowing myself to be me, to make mistakes, to not know the answer to something or to show my emotions….. I was not being my true authentic self!!
When we suppress emotions (fears, worries, anger etc) they eventually show up as physical ailments in the body so that we can attempt to deal with them and get rid. The problem is that most of us are not aware that this is happening and sometimes until it is too late and disease has manifested. Thank goodness I found this out before too much damage had been done to my body. At this point, those signals manifested as painful migraines, neck tension, insomnia, back pain, extreme tiredness, anxiety, sluggish bowels and tummy pain. I went to a holistic osteopath who was recommended to me and he suggested I have a food intolerance test done and I did and my life changed there and then.
Unfortunately or fortunately for me, depending on how you want to look at it they were not trained in nutrition so I had to research and work out what to eat and where to get the foods myself and the most interesting thing happened. It felt like I had woke up out of a deep sleep mentally and physically. Yes, I experienced physically detox symptoms at the start which were tough but I knew that the body needed to detox but once I had got past the two-week mark I started to detox emotionally also and that’s when the mask started to become apparent. All those feelings I had been holding in over the years where literally coming out so I need to really retreat and spend some time in nature, walks by the sea, reading self help books ( my first book was ‘The Secret by Rhonda Byrne’ and my ultimate favourite now is ‘Ask and It is Given’ by Esther and Jerry Hicks) and of course nourishing my body with good food. This was probably me at my most vulnerable state and it felt uncomfortable which I now know is a great place to be it just doesn’t feel that way at the time. This is why it’s important to spend some time with you, especially as a woman…we are brought up to put others first, to be that good girl, to raise a family and sacrifice in a way or put our needs 2nd. I remember reading the book ‘Why french women don’t get fat’ by Mireille and the answer is they put themselves first! French women enjoy and savour their food which is why they spend hours over courses, they don’t feel guilty eating cake or drinking champagne. Most importantly they see the importance of the the parents relationship in the family unit for optimum wellbeing…the husband and wife spend time together before family time, making sure their unit is strong, they understand that they are individuals also and have their own hobbies. They make sure their cups are filled up first and then they give to the kids from that full place and the results are outstanding. The kids are stronger and more confident as a a result happy to play, to take time out, to read rather than being stimulated through gaming devices or phones.
In summary the results of the food intolerance tests gave me somewhere to start from, good nutrition gives that foundation from where to grow and now 15 years later I have introduced (in moderation) all of those foods that where problematic to my system as I don’t believe in depriving my body. As I started to nourish and change internally things started changing in my external life to compliment this change in vibration(as the Hicks like to call it). I was starting to attract a life that worked for me, that brought me happiness, joy and contentment. I left my job (must to the dismay of my boss) and took a soul searching year out in Australia and started to do short food as medicine courses and when I returned I knew I needed to retrain in food and nutrition so I found a course in London at the College of Holistic Nutrition. From there I continued to heal myself emotionally through energy work but thats another blog post in itself lol! I found yoga and became a yoga teacher last year and now I teach and coach others on their health journey to optimum wellbeing for themselves and their families.
All of this came about as a result of finding and accepting the true me, accepting the shadow sides of myself, the parts I don’t particularly like….my anger, my anxiety, my strong intuition, my weakness around chocolate, my neediness to be loved and accepted…finally I have been able to take of the mask that my family and generations of women have been wearing so that my children don’t need to wear it…so that they can be free, so that they can accept themselves (warts and all) and help other so the same….know that its never to late to start and remember its a journey and I stand by your side guiding you along the way but ultimately it will be lead by you.