Firstly I want to thank all those people who left such excellent comments to the last post on shame. They are definitely worth a look if you haven't already. To give you a flavour: Natalie (my kashi diet) felt that she was rarely motivated by shame whereas Amy H. (no to the deuce) thought that shame serves a positive purpose in society and had motivated her to lose weight. Pamela, who was the original inspiration for that post, made the distinction between guilt and shame and left a link to Brene Brown's site http://www.brenebrown.com/watch-video-excerpts/ which has three videos discussing these issues. I found them illuminating. Brene's definition: "shame is this intensely painful feeling or belief that we are flawed and somehow inadequate and unworthy of connection [with other people]". Her basic thesis is that shame acts to disconnect us from other human beings and is highly correlated with continuing bad or destructive behaviours, whereas guilt is about wanting to put right what we have done and therefore about reconnection. Leslie (something brilliant is brewing) summed it up perfectly in her comment "shame is not productive ... it is destructive and perpetuates self-hating behaviours. Guilt or even regret can motivate self reflection and eventual change. Shame sends me to despair about WHO I am, not WHAT I've done."
In writing that last post I was trying to deal with the crushing shame I have felt recently over my eating behaviour and consequent appearance. Shame has certainly acted as a motivator for me to lose weight in the past. I would reach the point where I felt such intense shame over my appearance that the only way to ease it was to get off my butt and get dieting and walking to lose the weight. And as I was walking I would be thinking every step of the way about how great it would be when I could go out in public again and not feel ashamed of myself and my appearance. So shame can be a positive motivation if it is about reconnecting with others.
But on the other hand if the ONLY way you can be acceptable to others is by being thin then ultimately this is not a positive thing. And this is the down side of the way that I used shame as my motivation. I felt (and still feel) that I am unworthy of connection with other people unless I look as perfect as I possibly can. This is a legacy of my family's ethos that I have no right to exist unless I am perfect. This is a situation in which I can never be worthy of existence as of course no-one is perfect.
It would be much better for me to feel that I was acceptable to other people based on my personality, SOH, caring etc rather than my weight. To echo Leslie, my self worth should be based on WHO I am rather than what I weigh. And in that sentence is the whole problem. That who I am is essentially a flawed, unlovable and unlikable person - according to my family at least. So in the end all I had left was trying to look good, to make the outside as good as it could be because the inside was never going to be worth anything anyway. So this is how I have come a cropper. When I was unable ever to feel thin enough (see 16th sep post) I was f*cked.
To feel worthy of connection with other people must be about the inside of me, not my appearance. This is the way forward.
And guilt? After noting Brene's ideas about the positive effect of guilt I realised that I have never felt guilt or anything approaching it over my eating. Not ever. Why? Because I could never feel guilt about hurting myself; I am just not worth it. I thought, OMG, is there something majorly wrong with me; am I some kind of psychopath incapable of feeling guilt? But no, I feel terrible guilt if I ever even accidentally hurt anyone else. But to feel guilt about hugely destructive behaviour towards myself is an alien concept to me.
The best thing here then (if you're still with me!) would be to love myself and care about myself and therefore feel guilt for feeding myself total rubbish and making myself fat and feeling ill all the time and reducing my quality of life to nil. Then to resolve to feed myself better and get some exercise so I can enjoy life and feel healthy. This is the ideal. This is what I should be aiming at.
In the meantime guilt over the fact that my bingeing has hurt someone else is at last proving a motivator to turn this thing around and get myself going again. And at this point I'm glad to have this motivation.
Here's the story: a healer who I used to go and see weekly at her house had sent me several texts over the last few days trying to reach out to me as I haven't been to see her while I've been in this current crisis (2 1/2 months now). But I didn't get them because of a problem with my phone. Then last night all the texts suddenly arrived and I felt SO GUILTY. She said how worried she was about me, she missed me and she wished we could talk. There were three texts like this. I felt so bad that she has been worrying over me and feeling upset, even though it wasn't my fault the phone isn't working properly. I feel so upset that this connection with such a sweet, caring person has been broken due to all the bingeing and excessive eating I've done recently. I cried and cried over it and am still crying now.
So this is my motivation to get better. So that I feel able to go and see her again. She is so good to me and sends me healing when I don't see her. She is a true friend and I am hurting her by staying away. I have to stop all the bad eating. I HAVE to get healthy enough to walk up the very large steep hill where she lives.
The shame over my behaviour has not been enough to stop me this time - it has just made me feel very bad about myself and caused me to hide away from other people. But the guilt over hurting someone else really makes me want to change.
I wrote her a letter today apologising about the phone and about not being in contact with her, and the florist will deliver it tomorrow evening with a large bouquet of flowers.
I AM going to repair the damage I've done - for her sake and ultimately for mine too.
2 hours ago