The ditch: observations on recovery


In my last blog, I talked about going through a rough time. I also told you how I had picked up the pieces and had managed to crawl out of the ditch I created for myself. Today I want to give you an update on that. I’ll be honest: it’s not easy. I came from this wonderfully clean and detoxed state, physically and emotionally. I had no longing for sugar or flour at all. And suddenly, my sabotaging part managed to take over and mess it up again.


What happens when I get lost in the ditch

What often happens when I am in the ditch, my old thought patterns come up, and suddenly wanting to lose weight becomes a huge priority again. Even though I know that losing some more weight would be wise, I do not choose to focus on that – just because the weight loss mindset is not the mindset that is healthy for me right now.

It quickly becomes obsessive because there used to be a lot of anxiety hidden under that mindset. Only recently, I became aware of how much fear there is, and I fully understood how important it is to deal with that. Going back to that state is not going to provide me with happiness. I choose joy over weight loss.

Losing habits in the ditch

Looking back, I saw that I had dropped all happiness building habits over the last few months since Apil. At first, when COVID-19 hit us, I did an excellent job. I worked at home and started the day with all kinds of healthy habits like a walk and meditation, but at some point, I dropped off. Soon I began to feel tired and unmotivated. I wished I didn’t need those feelings to find out that I hadn’t walked for weeks,  had replaced water consumption with coffee, and was short on sleep.

Last Monday, during my first walk since I decided to reinstall the happiness building habits, I thought about how we use the discussion about our weight to prevent talking about the hole in our energy body. For some reason, we feel less than others, critique our mistakes, make jokes about ourselves that are not funny, deny ourselves to be brilliant at what we love doing,  or let others rule our life. We cope with the inner struggle by filling it up with our preferred substance or activity ( food, alcohol, overwork, drugs, running, gambling, sex, or whatever). But we never fill the hole that is there.

No matter how you try to fill it, it is not about food, alcohol, work, drugs, running, gambling, or sex. It is the physical, emotional, mental, and often spiritual nutrition that we lack.

Coping in the ditch

In the case of food addiction or binge eating, we know that there are no healthy nutrients in the stuff we use. I’ve never heard of someone who coped with life by eating broccoli.

What we lack are healthy, self-care habits, healthy thought patterns, compassion, and some spiritual practices. What we do instead is ruining the physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual balance even more. Therefore, I dare to say that people who struggle with food addiction (or any other excess illness), are not addicted to food but to feeling not good enough and making it even worse for themselves.

It is for that reason that I always say that food addiction or binge eating recovery is not, and will never be about the nutritional program you follow. Personally, I feel good on a no sugar and flour plan because these substances have a direct effect on my emotional balance and how much physical pain I have. As a nutritionist, I also know that you do not need sugar and flour in your diet. It can be easily replaced nutritionally.

What the ditch is really about

It is the addiction to thinking you’re not enough, telling yourself you’re not doing things right or that it will never work that is the real addiction. If we’d believe in ourselves, life would be so different. This not only goes for people with a substance or habit addiction but all people. We all need to work on feeling not good enough – it is a global illness. Especially now that there is so much hurt, anger, and struggle around on. You are good enough, so get it in your head once and for all. How many examples of the opposite (that you’re good enough) do you need?

Suddenly, I had this huge longing to be gentler with myself. I was so tired of being stern and nasty with myself. To quote Dr. Phil:

“How’s that working out for you?“

Well, crappy! It wears me out, leaving me with an urge to fill the ditch with food.

My life long energetic hole

I’ve had this hole all my life. I come from a family where it was good to work extremely hard, be productive, take action all the time, and create a better version of yourself, always. How that made you feel was of a lesser priority. I could not keep up with the expectations, and so I copied them to repeat them over and over to myself. I created a hole in my energy body, where I could always feel guilty for slumping.

My Future Self has no hole

Growing up with that hustle-and-go energy made it hard to adopt a loving and compassionate attitude. Recently, what helped me was to imagine the energy of my Future Self and imagine her actions, thought patterns, and feelings.

My Future Self does not have an energetic hole, nor does she need to fill any missing part of her with food because she feels whole and okay with herself. She is patient and talks nicely to herself, plans in a lot of me-time, and takes time to read a book or go for a walk. She agrees with Ralph Waldo Emerson when he says:

“It’s not the destination; it’s the journey.”

It means that I am allowed to enjoy my time while I’m on my journey. I can enjoy learning new habits or learn what works when things go wrong, and I end up in the ditch. My Future Self will lovingly sit with me while I spend my time in the ditch until it is time to get up and crawl out of the ditch to go back to the journey again. She will help me dust off my clothes and walks with me while I get back into the groove still. She will ask questions from curiosity instead of critique to find the lesson to learn.

Inviting divine energy into the void

She will tell me that it is okay if something goes wrong – like I would say to a child or my best friend. My Future Self is the Divine female energy in my life. To become more durable on the journey again, she will hook up with the Divine masculine energy to choose at least one aligned action to help me become stronger again. For me, that is almost always going on a walk. There is nothing as healing as walking for me.

In a way, she is as patient as you’d be with a child that needs to learn to ride a bicycle or needs to learn to write. I want to learn to listen to myself and to find which words have healing energy. Besides that, I want to keep on journaling, working with my tarot cards, and practicing excellent self-care to keep myself in working order. It is the only way.

Foto door Alex Fu

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