Kaleidoscope 27/40: What needs to see the light of day?

Kaleidoscope 27/40: What needs to see the light of day?
Let them out!

Heads up — this post talks about eating disorders. If that's not for you, go ahead to the next question!

Hey Friends,

Sometimes I hide.

I hide the truth from others. Sometimes, I even hide the truth from myself.

This often results in an increasingly negative feedback loop — I'm ashamed, so I hide, which makes me more ashamed, which makes me lean even more into the destructive behavior I was hiding in the first place.

For others, the feedback loop can look quite different — I once managed a person who would get incredibly and uncharacteristically angry when he was feeling ashamed. Once I figured that out, it was much easier to handle because...

Shame spirals wither at the light of day.

What needs to see the light of day?

One of my worst and most acute shame spirals happened in college when I experienced a pretty severe eating disorder.

I found myself retreating away from many of the things I had always enjoyed, got my lowest grades of my entire college career and, generally, was not feeling myself.

I managed to interrupt that pattern at the end of the semester, using a fresh start and a lot of willpower.

And although several of my friends at the time knew, I always denied it, never talked about it and generally hid it from the world.

But from time to time I would relapse. Finding myself kneeling in front of a toilet filled with a soup of terrible emotions and thoughts.

I hated it. And I hated myself for doing it. And I just couldn't seem to shake it. And it went on like this for years.

Until, one day, some guy — I can't even remember his name — said something really degrading about women with eating disorders.

Something snapped inside of me —  fuck you buddy — and I just proclaimed to the group that I had an eating disorder in college and that it sucked and that it still followed me to that day.

I was slightly mortified and quite terrified once it came out of my mouth.

But rather than anything terrifying, two wonderful things happened.

First, it became clear that I was not alone. The number of people (almost all women) who privately shared their struggles — many far more intense than mine — was astounding. And incredibly sad.

By offering my shame up in the light of day, it was a permission slip for others to share theirs with me.

Secondly, it was as if I was miraculously cured. That was probably 15 years ago and I've had one short relapse since, which I brought out into the light of day quickly and it, again, evaporated.

I think the shame was the worst part of the entire experience.

My shame projected the terrible things I was thinking and feeling about myself onto others. But by sharing, I was able to debunk that and significantly reduce the negative echoes in my mind.

It's hard to explain how unexpected all of this was.

And while I'm hardly perfect at it today.

I still sometimes hide. I still experience shame.

I do my best to bring stuff out to see the light of day. It's a gift to myself and its a permission slip for others to bring their own, conflicted, complicated messy realities to the surface.

Until Tomorrow,