Labels. I'm trying to learn not to label people because I haven't appreciated being labeled in my lifetime. Here are some labels that people have used to define me throughout my life: cold, aloof, insensitive, strong, fat, bitch, manipulative, passive-aggressive. Nowadays, friends and people I know would not believe anyone would have ever referred to me with the aforementioned terms, but it's true, they did. Thankfully, I feel I've worked hard to shed the majority of those titles and I've come to accept one that I used to view as weak. That word/label is sensitive. There's another word I haven't liked in the past that I'm trying to mend my relationship with and that word is vulnerability. Again, a word I used to equate with personal weakness.
In my work with the "Dynamic Duo" (my therapist and dietician) I've learned that people who struggle with eating disorders/food issues are often the more sensitive ones in the bunch. I've also come to realize that yes, I'm strong in many ways, but I, too, am sensitive. And vulnerable.
By equating sensitivity and vulnerability with weakness, I learned to hold in my feelings and not share my true self with others, including my family. I've become much more open with others in the last 10 years or so, but still, there are friends and family members who don't know I write. They don't know that I'm dealing with food and eating issues and seeking treatment for the same. Clearly, I have a long way to go as far as sharing myself with others goes. Blogging, writing and joining online support communities are all ways I'm learning to open myself up and accept myself for who I am. I'm also learning to accept the fact that being sensitive and vulnerable actually STRENGTHEN you in the long run. This is a crazy concept for me to embrace, but I have to admit that by opening myself up to others, I've enriched my life. I was scared to death to share any of the writing I'm doing for my memoir, but I shared it with the Dynamic Duo (DD) and the ladies in my writing group and guess what? Everyone responded positively. They only had supportive and encouraging things to say. Had I not shared this vulnerable side with others, I wouldn't know to keep writing and keep moving ahead with this project. Sharing myself with others is very scary for me, but I am seeing the benefits of doing so.
I feel lazy doing this, but I'm going to link to Anne Lamott's recent posting where she talks about being labeled a sensitive child. I believe it's an excerpt from her latest book, Stitches. I love Anne Lamott. She's a wonderfully gifted writer who has learned some hard life lessons and come out on the other side a better, stronger, more self-actualized human being. I like these kinds of people because they prove to the rest of us that no matter how difficult things get, no matter what life hands us, if you're open and willing to learn from your mistakes, you can go on to live a happy, fulfilling life. They prove that no matter who you may have been at age 10 or 20, doesn't have to define your whole life, or into what kind of person you (hopefully) evolve. Her article really spoke to me, and for those who may be reading this and have no idea who Anne Lamott is, it's a great introduction to a sensitive and vulnerable writer. I hope to be like her someday when I grow up. ;o) Here's the link: