I had a humbling wake up call and I want to share it with you hoping that you might get some value out of it.
I had a humbling wake up call in this last week and I’d like to share this experience with you. Because this is a really good recovery lesson for me…and maybe there’s some value in it for you too…
Some of you will know that I’ve recently started a free weekly Tuesday evening food addiction support group. My intention has been to build an Australian food addiction recovery community, as I hear so many people say that they have nobody to share their food addiction experience, strength, hope and challenges with confidentially. I absolutely love facilitating groups and I’ve really enjoyed our evenings in the last month.
But I’m going to need to suspend the Tuesday evening group for now. Let me tell you why…
Some of you may have heard me speak about how we each need to find our own recovery truth. What I mean by that is finding our own unique recovery non-negotiables; the things that we absolutely must do (or not do) to guard our recovery and vitality. This may include a particular food plan, regular exercise, spiritual practice, rest, social contact etc etc. It’s different for everyone. I like to apply the lens of Internal Family Systems (IFS) to the process of finding and living our recovery truths. This means that, while parts of me may interfere and want to or don’t want to do what I deeply KNOW is needed, my body always knows and will tell me. And Self - the wise me that listens to and lovingly directs all of my parts - also knows! So the key is, firstly, to listen to the body. And secondly, for my Self to tend to the parts of me that have fears or concerns, and give them what they need so that they can be empowered to work to their strengths within my system. Ultimately, then I can drive the bus, and not my parts, and life flows with ease and grace.
So let me tell you how this relates to me needing to suspend the weekly evening group. From a Self perspective, my counselling work is the one of the most life-giving and meaningful parts of my life. It flows well. That’s the essence of it.
And…I have parts who are VERY passionate about healing and want to do everything at once, including offering the evening group. Yet there have been parts of me that have been concerned that it might be a bit too much, working all day, and then running an evening group. But my enthusiastic parts said, no, let’s just do it. We compromised and I said I would do it until 31 July and then re-evaluate.
I’ve received feedback from my body very swiftly. Being of an addiction and complex trauma background, my body is quite sensitive and needs plenty of care, rest and recuperation. Addiction and complex trauma bodies are often like that. Bessel van der Kolk talks about that in his book The Body Keeps the Score, a must read! We hold trauma in our bodies. For me, after decades of hypervigilance, this manifests in a nervous system that needs a lot of calming in a 21st century fast paced and over-stimulating world. My body doesn’t do too well when the days get very full. So then I get sick. That’s what happened last week when I got sick with a nasty virus that is causing a lot of nerve pain, yikes!
Because I know my body so well and am usually quite good at maintaining my recovery truth, I know I need to act straight away. I need to recognise my truth: Doing an evening group when I’ve been working all day isn’t going to work for my system. My body needs the evenings off (except occasional things of course). It’s simply my truth.
So, here is what I have committed to doing for my recovery:
I will suspend the evening group for now, even though parts of me regret that because I love it! And I will also postpone the July Saturday IFS group until later in the year. In the meantime, I will continue working on some plans for more future offerings. And of course, I’m here for 1-1 sessions and will continue to offer daytime groups.
Now, I have parts that are not wanting to share this with you, my clients, because that is so uncool and vulnerable. After all, I’m meant to be the big therapist, right? Therapists always have it all together, right? I have parts that are ashamed that I have to admit defeat over my physical capacity. I have parts that think I should be able to do more, that I’m weak. I should have fully healed myself by now. In short, I should be a bit more Buddha-like.
But my own IFS and other personal healing work, and my connection to my personal higher power, which I call Spirit, has enabled me to bring enough Self-energy to this situation to be transparent and humble. After all, if I am to guide and support anyone on their journeys, I need to do the same for myself. Because I’m in recovery too and recovery is a lifelong commitment.
So, with all that said, let me express my heartfelt warmth to all of you who are on your own journeys and how much I enjoy participating in it. I get it. It’s a journey. And I shall look forward to connecting in future groups, workshops, courses and sessions.
Oh, and don’t forget to join Dr Vera Tarman’s Sugar Free for Life Facebook group where I continue to provide free support along with other food addiction counsellor colleagues from across the globe.