This morning I met with a small group of women for a regular meeting. We’re eight women, from our 40s to our 80s, and we’ve created a small group to nurture our interest in the Divine Feminine.
I took our bimonthly call in my car, as I was waiting in the parking lot after a last minute soccer practice for my son.
As I sat in the summer heat, the windows rolled down, and listened to each woman share – and as I shared my own struggles and heartaches – I was struck by how much of the healing journey is about softening shame and isolation.
With these women, I shared a struggle that I’ve shared with very few people, outside of my therapist’s office and a close friend. And I felt relief and care wash over me as they held me in love and support.
One women said that I could be telling her own story, 20 years ago, and she mentioned that I could call her, any time I needed help.
I left the call feeling unburdened and supported. And more importantly, I left the call feeling more gratefully exposed: when we share ourselves with safe others, we begin to dismantle some of the burden of trauma that we carry.
The walls gently come down, one brick at a time.
The burden of shame when we’re sensitive and caring
One of the greatest challenges of depression, anxiety, trauma, and food compulsions is the way they foster shame and isolation. This is especially true if we’re sensitive, heart centered, and spiritual seekers.
We can feel shame and like we’re ‘falling short’ when we care for the remnants of trauma and the nervous system dysregulation that accompanies it.
We can feel shame about the relationship struggles we have.
We can feel shame about our compulsive or addictive behaviors.
We can feel shame about recurring feelings of self doubt, or sadness, or fear.
Why self study isn’t often enough on its own
Books and self study, yoga and therapy, meditation and spiritual practice are powerful allies – they can bring so much healing.
And when we join other like minded souls in groups or listening partners, support groups or communities, we receive another dimension of support that breaks the isolation and heals shame.
Being in connection with others also gives us something else: it allows us to gently, ever so gently, let ourselves be truly known.
The particularly poignant vulnerability of food compulsions
Yesterday, we were talking in the Growing Humankindness community about how food compulsions can feel so tender because we wear our pain on our bodies, often in our body size.
We may not want people to see our bodies because we don’t want them to see our pain – to see our inner distress on the outside. This was true for me when my body changed from chronic illness.
My body’s changes brought up all the old vulnerabilities of my eating disorders, and took me on another round of healing. Just when we think a wound is ‘complete,’ a deeper healing may be awaiting us!
Because of the ways our pain is visible, overeating is a particularly vulnerable coping strategy. By contrast, if your coping strategy is working or overdoing, you might be super successful – something that looks like ‘successful coping,’ not an ‘inability to cope with the pain.’
Each time we dive into the river of healing, we find gold. There is gold there, for us. The healing that holds us – the river we float in – also holds the integration we need.
The longer I walk on my own journey, and the more I witness others’ healing paths, the more I trust that we are being carried. The healing we yearn for is within us, like an acorn within an oak tree.
We take one step towards our healing, and it takes ten steps towards us.
And it’s so much easier to find the gold and to go through this alchemical journey when we journey with others.
A sangha of the heart – The Growing Humankindness community
Here at Growing Humankindness we’ve created a sangha of the heart – a membership community for heart centered seekers who self soothe with food and who want to come home to themselves.
This year our group intention is to ‘nourish our well being.’ If you want a group space to nurture self compassion, self awareness, and healing in your relationship with food, the community is for you. You can learn more about the community here.