How I went from an anxious, self-critical, eating-disordered isolate without a regular job, to someone who meets with people daily, runs retreats to share the profound practice of The Work of Byron Katie, and explores stressful stories about life with joy (most of the time).
I haven't exactly experienced life as a smooth ride. Certainly not a bowl of cherries. (Although funny that a food reference comes in right from the start--since I was plagued by a terrible eating disorder for over a decade that almost destroyed my life).
But most of us haven't had it all easy.
My depression, sense of anxiety, frustration and fear grew clear with my departure to college.
Leaving home, I began to read books about calming down, meditation, inner freedom. I rarely felt it. Off in a dorm, despite external success (the lead role in the campus theater for example), I began binge-eating and purging, running faster, longer and harder in my cross country training, and withdrawing from friends.
I dropped out, exhausted and confused in spring of my Freshman year. The therapy began.
My studies of the human condition grew more acute, and wondering "what life is for"? A huge life event causing immense grief was the death of my father from leukemia. How could he die when I was only in my twenties? Feeling terribly lost, I went to group therapy (little did I know how much that would help) then met a lovely man, and had two beautiful babies. I finally quit binge-eating after ten years of torture. I couldn't believe I felt stable or happy enough about life to have kids.
Parenting brought out all my fears and perfectionism. I home-schooled, then gave up. My ability to say "no" clearly or wanting my kids to have a good life and not be screwed up like me made parenting tinged with fear.
I enrolled in graduate school and got my master's degree in Applied Behavioral Science. So curious about the mind, and still feeling life was hard.
And then, one of the most devastating experiences of my internal life: abortion. My husband said he absolutely could not handle a 3rd baby. He cried. I cried as I went through the procedure.
I had my first panic attack, a brief nervous break-down, following this experience. Absolutely desperate, hating myself, shocked that I could do something I didn't really want to do. I couldn't stop crying.
I found out about Byron Katie, and I went to the School for The Work.
Life changed from this point forward. I understood that anything I had gone through, from depression, binge-eating, obsession, self-condemnation, death, fear, lack, resentment, feeling abandoned....all of it I could hold in a different attitude. It didn't mean that what I went through wasn't heart-breaking and painful, but I found a resilience and peace beyond my thinking was possible--I could notice that in reality, I had survived.
“Not even knowing what’s true—just knowing what’s NOT true is enough, because what that leaves is the great surprise. And all you can know about it is its nature. And so, you begin to live a fearless existence…” Byron Katie
But little did I know.....it wasn't "over". There was more adventure ahead.
After the School, to understand that my mind was filled with fearful, scattered, wild, insecure thoughts....but that life itself was brilliant and mysterious....made sense for the first time.
Leaving my first school in 2005, I felt a profound love and forgiveness for myself, for life.
I got to put my newfound awareness immediately to the test the night I came home.
My husband said "I'm glad you had such an amazing time. I don't want to be married anymore."
Then I got a cancerous tumor on my leg. We lost the big dream house. My financial savings plumetted to zero. One of my best friends betrayed me.
And....I had The Work now for these troubling events and traumas that were a part of life.
I even understood my years of insane eating and obsessing about food after that first school. All concerns about binge-eating dissolved away.
“I have a disease—is that true? You can either scare yourself or you can question your mind.” Byron Katie
I've felt abandoned, betrayed, hurt, criticized, attacked, diseased, terrified, lost everything, despairing, suicidal, full of regret, depressed, enraged, compulsive….but even so, I could do the Work.
Today, while I still experience stressful thoughts and difficult emotions, I am so grateful I have this tool called self-inquiry; the four questions. Life is easier with them.
To do The Work, all you have to be is willing to imagine who or what you are without your story.
“Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.”—Eckhart Tolle
My sincere commitment is to walk through the muck with you, as a companion on this journey, and discover how to be at peace with your life, whatever has happened.
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