My peers at the rehab became my community. We were all from different walks of life and we were all looking out for each other. I didn’t need to drink to bear my soul anymore. I didn’t need to be a body shape for anyone. I was being fed with the right amount of food which was essential because I didn’t even know what the right amount of food was anymore! In that moment I surrendered and was there for a couple of months. I spent a lot of time in the garden, smelling the roses, sharing with my peers. Here I think the seeds were sown for the rest of my life, but they didn’t all flower at once.
There were a lot of reasons I felt shame about who I was but gradually I was restoring a sense of value in myself and eventually I left rehab, and was living and working in London again. As a young girl I had lost my soul and joy connection, and eventually by working the 12 steps of AA, I found my spirit with others; instead of trying to fill this void inside of me with food/alcohol, I was dreaming again, learning how to enrich and nourish my soul and my joy. I had a moment I remember as clearly as the moment I felt high on starvation: I had an embryonic sense inside of me of a bright warm light and I allowed myself to grow trust in this.
At the time, I was going between two opposing worlds: from work where I had friendly, but highly business-motivated and alcohol-fuelled colleagues to sharing with my sober, sensitive and somewhat protected heart in the AA support groups. I felt really out of place in the corporate world but it took for a relapse into drinking to settle that score, because I couldn’t find a soul there; you weren’t allowed to be vulnerable and had to keep everything under wraps.
I found a counsellor and eventually let go of AA and Overeaters Anonymous meetings, which I owed a lot of my initial recovery to, but now seemed to only offer a certain story about addiction, which was fitting me less well as I grew within myself and my soul journey.
I realised that I wanted to and could work for something more meaningful: I cared about people and wellbeing. I applied for work in addiction charities and trained up to be a counsellor over the next 3 years, volunteering at Samaritans and other voluntary sector and university counselling services. I awoke to a broader sense of my sexuality in therapy, met a woman who became my partner, moved out of London to Lancaster, and began to feel the world was becoming my oyster. I was taking responsibility for my life and discovered some great mentors.
The next major awakening I had was in 2008, literally on Morecombe bay, with a guide leading us into the mud flats and around the tidal river flow, whilst we were engaging in a creative dance workshop! I did not consider myself a dancer, but it was the most beautiful 3 days where I found my way into ‘somatic’ dance, where you use the body senses to guide your movement and shape experiences and your imagination.
I fell love with somatic movement practices, and soon after, a new MA course in Dance and Somatic Wellbeing was launched in the neighbouring town, which I did part time. This all opened me again! I was being invited into this room full of different body sizes, and the main message was that our bodies are wise, intelligent, guiding us towards truth, balance, health…
My partner was pushing for us to have a baby and I felt in my whole body and being that I couldn’t manage parenthood now. Sadly, we separated and I moved on, opening into an adventurous trajectory that took me south to Gloucestershire in 2011, where I met my current partner of 7 years. I’m a somatic body and movement therapist, loving my work, which offers clients the opportunity to rediscover and connect with the sensate wisdom in their own body, no matter what they are challenged with.
I can honestly say that I am really grateful to my eating disorder and this journey towards healing and empowerment, discovering and nurturing my truer self. It is my context for working therapeutically with myself and with others. I feel my body is my barometer and when I slip into overeating, I recognise I’m neglecting something important so I have to stay awake! But generally, there are no taboo foods/drinks and I enjoy a glass of wine now and then and eat as much organic and raw food as I can. I try to buy local seasonal food and be connected to its source. In my local community we are blessed to have a lot of small, organic farms for which I feel blessed.
20 years later, I now know my connection to the ‘feminine’ in relation to Earth, nature and ultimately, balance. I am focusing on my wellbeing as a source of support for others as clients, friends and family. It’s testing and fulfilling and it’s my true way.