The Three Cs of My Identity Crisis

Laurie with styled long hair in suit and pearls - corporate headshot
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My headshot for corporate speaking gigs. How do you like seeing me in my corporate shininess and make-up? Yes, I can clean up good when I need/want to. I just usually go for function and comfort. I dug it out for one of the sites where I audition for voice work, and my coach says it still looks enough like me to use.

Feeling Like I’m Missing Something…

Still been in a bit of a slump. Getting off my ass and recording Day 117 helped me somewhat. I was proud that I made it up the mountain in the horrible heat. I was proud I’d kept my commitment to myself and YOU, the BCs, to keep on delivering shows despite how well or not well I am doing in the compulsive/intuitive arena. I was proud that I made an effort, when frankly, I felt like curling up on the couch and giving up.

Whoa! Strong words there Laurie, what’s happened? What’s up with you?

Cs are Missing

Ok, we get you LOVE alliteration, but huh? What the heck?

Remember I told you about how hard it was to be suddenly retired? How my identity shifted suddenly and I was lost. It’s a hard thing to lose your sense of self. It was weird to go from corporate go-getter to stuttering homebody. It was weird to go from business casual to PJs and T-shirts overnight. I floundered quite a bit. Of course, I DID get a redecorated house out of that deal. Poor Mark had to help me find purpose some way, and that one fit the bill. (Plus we’d needed repair and revision for many years, and me becoming our remodeling/redecorating liaison let Mark continue his day job for a while longer, with the wondrous prospect of him NOT having to paint and repair the first six months of his upcoming retirement).

Anyway, back to the story…

I finally found podcasting as a way to get over my stuttering and fear of speaking. I loved it, and had high hopes. Well, you know how my first show went. Popular with listeners, but not with participants. I found myself growing more unhappy as I recorded fun shows in a vacuum. Now many podcasters only care about listeners, so that is not a bad thing. It’s just that I realized that it wasn’t fun for me. The conversation was the fun.

As my unhappiness and lassitude grew, so did my waistline. (As I wrote about here). Finally an unexpected photo jolted me out of inaction, and like a train on a track, I was back on my well-worn diet side of the binge/diet cycle. I felt better the MINUTE I decided to diet (like always). When you have a plan, you can address the benefits of it in a wonderful fantasyland – bypassing the work and actual discomfort said plan entails and zoom straight to the hosanna future outcome! This time will be different! This time I’ll DO IT! This time I’ll get this weight off for GOOD and my life will FINALLY all work out!

As you know, if you are a listener to the show, I also decided to look under my compulsive chip behavior and see what saying the unsayable would do for me. Would it make a difference? Would it help me stay on my diet and be different and lose the weight and keep if off for good?

Nope. It didn’t.

I still gained weight when I ate more than I burned. Damn physics.

My diet cycle didn’t magically adjust and become easier.

BUT I did find something I had never found before.

The First C – Companions

When I first recorded Compulsive Overeating Diary I had no idea that so many of us were out there. I felt I was a crazy-weird aberration of nature doomed to be alone for all time. That I had to hide myself away like the Phantom of the Opera behind a mask of socially acceptable smileyness and hatred of my size. We all know it’s ok to be fat AS LONG AS YOU HATE IT! This buys into social norm. You can be on a diet, or wishing to be on a diet or at least gazing with wonder and approval at those who WERE showing fortitude by sticking to THEIR diets. In short, we buy into that Fat is bad, Thin is good, we don’t deserve anything when we are fat. Look at Oprah! She is one of the most powerful self-made successful women on the planet. Yet she herself has written many times in many decades that she still felt a failure due to her weight struggle.

When you accept this story, you are one of the crowd. An outlier maybe, but still one of the herd.

When you BCs started to communicate and accept me, EVEN WHEN I DIDN’T DIET, I was astounded. There were others in the world who could value me and my thoughts apart from the social norm. I struggled to shed my 50 years of wrong-headed thinking and you were right there. Giving support, comments, participation. One of my early BCs, and one of the first to disappear, once described me as leading a rag-tag band of rebel companions in the brave fight to self acceptance and meaningful life. Wow! Was I doing that? Sounded good anyway.

I truly enjoyed the sense of having others like me, a tribe, kids to play with who wouldn’t always pick me last. It was a new feeling. To be myself and still have people stay around.

Until they didn’t.

I know, I know, ‘Don’t take it personally’. It’s them, not you.

Well yes and no. Partially it’s the breaks of who the audience would likely be for Compulsive Overeating Diary. If you think in ways similar to what I experience, you have, like me, possible mood swings, love/hate relationships with people, programs, things, obsessiveness and the love of new and shiny next things. Distractions are good. Easy to move onto other priorities and fascinations. Our podcaster/listener/participant relationship if we’ve been together through all of these episodes is more like settled married couple than sexy new daters! The energy is different. We’ve been there, done that, and it is more about stability and familiarity.

So reasons BCs might leave are many (and most don’t really include me):

  1. Life
  2. Busyness
  3. Other Priorities
  4. Plain tired of hearing it
  5. Wanting something new
  6. Deciding they actually disagree and don’t want to listen to this approach any longer
  7. Not feeling well
  8. Feeling REALLY well
  9. Moving Up
  10. Moving On
  11. Moving Away

No person can please everyone. I certainly can’t.

Anyway, when a few of the participating BCs are away, I do feel the lack, but move on pretty well. Even when weeks go by with many of participating BCs being busy or otherwise engaged, I do fine. But for a few months now, MOST BCs are away. Or at least not participating or communicating with me as they once did. Now some do, hugs Dawny and eM for your comments on my last episode. (And Dave who commented even as I was writing this yesterday). I so appreciate it. But the amount of BC participation has grown so slim, it’s a trickle compared to the river it once was.

So I’m back in the identity crisis. I’m trying to be brave without the companions. My rebel leader hat has fallen off and I’m trying to again find my place in the world. Which leads to…

My NEXT CRISIS of C – Certainty

The show used to give me something I never had before — the certainty that I actually knew, deep down, what is right for me. I could finally tell if one path felt like it was resonating or not. Lately, I’ve been struggling again. Another reason it’s hard to do shows. Talking to myself is very hard after being used to your feedback. It is especially hard when thoughts of dieting come back and tickle my ear with promises of everything being ok.

I still hate being fat. There I said it, out loud (or at least put it in writing). I do!

But I don’t hate MYSELF for being fat. That’s the difference. Still, when I am sad, or lost, or feeling alone, that diet talk beckons me, ‘Come back to the fold. Be one with society again. Don’t fight it.’

Dang, I hate when that happens!

In therapy I discovered that the dieting feeling and my body discomfort is more about my perceived lack of control. I can’t control YOU (nor do I want to), I can’t control if or when I’ll be hired for voice work vs. spending money on training, I can’t even control how my body reacts to my age. Both Mark and I are subject to more aches and pains. It’s part of life, but annoying. All I can control is myself, and when I’m in a panic and unsure, what is my goto method of control? Dieting! And what will CONVINCE me to diet when I know I don’t want to? Ramp up the inner criticism about my body. Bring back old ghosts to haunt my head.

My comfortable identity is fat chick wanting to be thin chick.

My new identity is fat chick wanting to be ok as is – even if a different body type would be nice.

The new identity is very hard to maintain in the hard times, the lonely times, the self-doubting times. But it IS these trials that forge the strength I need to develop…

The Final C – Consistency

Consistency is our ability to be true to a path as long as we truly feel it is right for us. Those of us in long term relationships, like marriage or family or long held friends, know that there are times when we don’t FEEL like we are clicking and all is not peaceful and fine. That is part of growth and being individuals. Over all, it is the sum of the ups and downs and the time we are together that creates the relationship. It is stability and consistency that makes it safe and known and familiar.

To date, I’ve had 50 years of disordered relationship with food – even though this is NOT a great relationship, it was consistent. It feels familiar, it feels safe. My NEW relationship with ME feels awkward and bumpy and difficult. I don’t KNOW what it entails in the way I know what bingeing and dieting entail.

To gain mastery in any skill, voice acting, sports, writing, intuitive eating, takes consistent practice. Each time I forgo the chance to pay attention and practice one of these, I lose out on the chance to progress. Sometimes I’m just too tired to grow. But there is a difference between resting and giving up. My 50 years of compulsive thinking tells me, when things get hard, or boring, or are no longer great at distracting me, GIVE IT UP. Move on to the NEXT GREAT THING!

It is taking grit and fortitude that doesn’t feel easy or fun to maintain my course. I know that voice acting is possible, but a career is still years away in practice, skill, and sticking with it. Writing is improving, though time and time again, I forgo the book I wish to write for TV, a time suck of the highest order. Maybe it isn’t the book for me? Or maybe I am too afraid to try it for real? It is a dark and murky place, sorting my feelings. The show is still good. I enjoy my old episodes. I’m proud of the work and that so many of you trusted me with your stories, voices and thoughts, but it also points out to me again just how many BCs there were who used to participate and then disappeared.

Am I stuck and you are moving on? Are we moving at different rhythms and I just don’t perceive you there? Is my lesson to learn to give without expectation? Is my lesson to focus on myself? Is my lesson to just let the world be what it is and understand there are good days and bad days for us all? There is no perfect life. There is no perfect day. There are only moments when we consistently notice that we are alive.

Comments box:

17 thoughts on “The Three Cs of My Identity Crisis

  1. Dawny

    OH EM GEE!!!!!

    Laurie your soooooooo awesomely AMAZING!!!!!!

    I LOOOOOVE LOOOOOOOOVE this!!!!! Your Fantabulous! This post makes my day

    Thanks for sharing what’s in your head.

    I struggle with the fret of who’s there for ‘me’ & although a struggle each day I’m a bit more & more accepting of the fact that ‘I’ am there for ‘me’ and that’s my only guarantee. I can hope for something different. But in the end….. That’s the TRUTH!!

    I’ve said before…. I love the friend I have in you hear & here and that you never judge or anything only support & encourage no matter what I’m rambling about. Cod related or not.

    I luv you gal FRIEND

    Reply
  2. Fionna

    Laurie, so much of what you wrote here is EXACTLY what I myself have been dealing with. I would describe it as a feeling of burnout. I feel less motivated to work on things, create things, and when I look around and see people around me aren’t jumping for joy about what I’m doing, I feel even LESS motivated. When I started my sweet moments challenge, I was getting loads of likes and comments. Now I’m lucky if I get one. I tell myself that I write for me, to get my thoughts organized and to challenge myself, but I think there is a deeper layer that is all about seeking attention and praise. I have a need to be seen by others- not just seen for who I am (warts and all), but I need to be seen as great. I would rather no one see me at all if I am feeling less than my best. If I am feeling overwhelmed, vulnerable, unmotivated, fat, ugly, or dumb, I won’t reach out, because I don’t want others to mirror back what I am feeling. And, like you, when a project gets hard or I feel uninspired, more often than not it’s on to the next thing. Maybe we need to periodically ask ourselves what we are missing in our lives, as you have here. And then we need to take it upon ourselves to ask for what we need. I don’t like asking for help for ANY reason, but I believe it really is necessary. We can’t exist forever in a vacuum, alone with our crazy-making brains! This is the work and this is LIFE, the good and the bad. The pain and the joy. We don’t need to be happy. I truly believe that the goal is to allow ourselves to BE, without beating ourselves up about it. I don’t have to tell you- you are not defined by your listenership or how many BC’s stick around.

    Reply
    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Wow Fionna! I think you have hit upon a universal truth. It seems that the drive for perfection may be to cover up what we perceive as flaws. You know, it is true that women often had to work twice as hard to get half as far in the corporate world. You always had the feeling that you must give 150%, impossible as that is.

      but I need to be seen as great. I would rather no one see me at all if I am feeling less than my best. If I am feeling overwhelmed, vulnerable, unmotivated, fat, ugly, or dumb, I won’t reach out, because I don’t want others to mirror back what I am feeling. And, like you, when a project gets hard or I feel uninspired, more often than not it’s on to the next thing.

      What you write here resonates with me in that I have always felt so ‘less than, so flawed, so NOT great’ that I always put in superhuman effort to overcome my flaws and convince you (really myself) that I am indeed worthy and OK. Lately, this has been less so. So this latest attack of the ‘pathetics’ freaked me out! In fact, I wrote most of this post yesterday, and almost didn’t publish it as it felt pathetic. Then after therapy, I realized it wasn’t pathetic, it just happened to be how I felt. My therapist said something new to me also. She said it didn’t matter if from outside appearances everything was indeed going well or not. I was entitled to feel it wasn’t. That people sometimes just like to feel a blue mood and whine and moan for a season. Wow! I’ve always been ashamed of that tendency, and now I find out it is normal. I decided to let the majority of the post stand and edit to include what I’d learned that had helped me. Often I forget what I write AFTER it’s written. Once it’s out of my system it’s out of mind. SO I like to re-read my postings to remember where I was and what I had learned. Your sweet moments remind me of that. It is such a great POV to look for the good. When that’s what you see, you forget the sweet is OFTEN mixed with the bitter and the mundane. But when you DON’T record the good, it is easy to forget it existed. It is so much easier to remember the negative. You are also correct that I know very well I am not defined by BCs or even listeners (though THOSE are up, btw, the listeners are coming to the show in droves), but while I no longer define myself as good or as pathetic based on numbers or quality of feedback, I, like you, am impacted by it. I decided that it is OK with me to be honest about how I feel, that it isn’t manipulative, and has value for me to admit the good, the bad, AND the pathetic. I am a mixture as we all are. I need to be ok with boring days and feeling how I do on any day and not be ashamed or so care taking I don’t want to mention it. But with all of that, I want YOU to know that I appreciate your brave comments here and also how talented as you are, that you can feel a lack. It’s part of our humanness my friend. You (from my perspective) are loving, caring and talented in all of the best ways. I have every faith that you will find your way. After all, without this silly drama how would we have stories to tell or songs to write? It’s our paintbox my dear. Our paint. xoxoxoxoxox

      Reply
  3. Sue

    Wow Laurie, loads to think about again. I am really just touching base after timetabling season and the mad dash to the end of term. I will need to work some of the school holidays but not most of the time so will be able to catch up with everything that has been going on in the last couple of months. Anyway, I am still around, honest. Big hugs! You inspire me. Xoxox

    Reply
    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Hi Sue, thanks for stopping by! I know this is your busy time. I’m hoping you are feeling well and can enjoy some of your holiday. You inspire me as well! You never give up and you keep moving forward. Moving forward is a theme here, I think. Hugs and :::smooches:::: xoxoxoxox

      Reply
  4. Amy from WI

    Hi Laurie,
    Once again, thank you for your honesty, and for the bravery that such honesty takes! There was a lot to think about in this post, so I broke it down by your three Cs.
    Companions – I have seen this phenomenon again and again, in my own life and in friends’, something is big and interesting for a season, a reason, or forever. Perhaps the season has passed for some BCs, perhaps the reason has passed for some BCs, but some of us are around for the long haul (although we may be quiet due to some of those other reasons you had listed). I can say with a high degree of confidence, that the vast majority of people who moved on didn’t move on because they are no longer struggling with food. They moved on because you didn’t have the magic cure that we all so desperately want. You are giving us the real-life, long term, slow moving struggle that is recovering from compulsive overeating. A small note for those of us that are in it for the long term….you used to do frequent, shorter shows. For me, that helped me to stay in contact because you were frequently in my feed and talking in my ear. Also, I could leave a quick, short comment, without having to compose a lot of thoughts on a long show. Was it easier for you, as well? Is your perfectionism telling you that you must have lots to say and deep thoughts before you can record? Just something to think about…

    Certainty – I can join in with you in saying that I also hate being fat! I do not hate me, or think that I am a loser, or feel that I should hide in a dark room because of my fat. But, I really do not like having all these rolls around my middle or two freaking cantaloupes on my chest as I try to move through my day and lead an active, interesting life! Intuitive eating wasn’t my path, but it sure seems to have been the right path for you. Stick to your guns and keep being as honest as you can about how much and why you are eating. Although you have been eating intuitively for over a year, that is still relatively new and you will continue to make progress. I find that including more activity in my life makes a big difference. Have you been walking and biking as much? Could you find a place to swim to beat the heat?

    Consistency – Everything you said is right on in regards to consistency. What I’ve been learning about in my book “You Are Not Your Brain” lines up with what you said, but from the scientific side. You’ve formed many neuropathways that support your old relationship with food. It takes time and effort to change these pathways, but it can be done. Every time you choose the new way, you are strengthening the new path and weakening the old. So, keep it up! Easier said than done, I know….but we are here to support you!

    ~Amy

    Reply
    1. Dawny

      Oh me oh my Amy. I concur!!!

      And agree!!!

      And thank you soooooo much for your compilation of thoughts.
      Very well thought I might add

      Reply
    2. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Wow Amy, you have written so eloquently here. I think you are so spot on. I think part of my own ennui is that I am sorry I didn’t stumble on the ‘magic answer’ either. It was also more exciting for me when the show was newer and discoveries were flying into my consciousness and the feeling of shiny-newness was in the air. Now it is a slog. I’m refining on a micro level those pathways of which you speak. I no longer binge in my old way, I no longer diet in my old way. The habits and feelings I need to recognize and change don’t make a dramatic result. I’m no longer trying new activities, I’m refining those I discovered. I AM happier than I was before, but for a person of my temperament, it is VERY new to just stick and not wildly swing from one path or activity to the next. I guess I’m a Peter Pan who is starting to behave in a mature (grown up) manner and regrets at times the loss of Neverland. I agree with the early shows being easier to produce and comment on. It isn’t perfectionism now that changed the content or the timetable. When I began, I was hanging on everyday to stay on my diet. I was obsessed and using the show to help support me. Then I started to realize my true issues, and again, used the show to support me. As I began to get better and deal with my life, my life expanded into the other areas I’ve talked about, and some I haven’t. I began to lose my obsession (or at least modify it), and spend more time on singing, or acting, or keeping in touch with friends more than before. So I have a double whammy to the format. I no longer have time to produce as many shows (even the bonus, unwritten shows, take quite a bit of time to edit and publish), and my new thoughts aren’t coming as often. I need more time to ponder what’s up, as they are not as surface-based. Does this make any sense? Perhaps what I’m feeling now is the loss that comes from moving on. I’m not saying the show is over, or that I want to give it up, but Compulsive Overeating Diary is no longer what it was. You are right! It is the long slow documentation of how my compulsive eating is slowly being replaced with healthier living. It’s kind of boring, my eating stories these days. Hence I’m more interested in my other activities and stories from the BCs. So imagine my frustration when the stories aren’t there. However, I don’t resent it, or blame the BCs. I’m just sad I don’t get EVERYTHING I want tied in a nice Laurie-Centric bow for me. 🙂 I still have the Cinderella hope that the glass slipper will fit and I will be the princess that someone was looking for. But as Dawny has written, and you have written, I am princess in MY story. I need to find ways to be authentic to what I feel, process the losses and move forward into what is now. Denial and regret in the past led right back to chips. And dang it, chips no longer work. You are also correct that with my busyness and hot weather, our exercise has been limited. This is a bad combo, not only for my weight, but for my mood. Today, I’m celebrating the 4th by cleaning the heck out of the downstairs. Doesn’t sound like me, does it? But I will feel much more peaceful and I need to learn to celebrate the idea that doing what I can is enough and is a very good thing indeed. I also need to focus on the new BCs and the long term BCs who ARE here. Each one of you is a blessing and a lesson for me. I do appreciate the time and thought and care you spend with me. Many of you have said I make a difference. I say, YOU make a difference, to me. xoxoxoxox

      Reply
      1. Dawny

        Yahooooo. More realizations. More thought provoking Thinklings and your still telling my story too lol. Exactly what you’ve said. It’s kinda weird how that works too. Lol

        Your not alone Laurie. I too am celebrating Independence Day by ridding more junk & clutter on my path to freedom & minimalist lifestyles. Weeeeeeeee. I committed to at least an hour or so. Working diligently

        Reply
        1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

          Well I’d say have fun cleaning, but I’d feel like a hypocrite 😉 Have fun appreciating your fortitude that you are sticking to your plan to improve your life. Speaking of which, the evil machine – er vacuum is calling. Happy 4th!

          Reply
          1. Dawny

            Nice. Ironically I’m excited to vacuum a misfortune led me to a brand new one yesterday and I’m kinda excited to try it out. Lol. It’s really the little things lmao

          2. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

            Hope vacuuming was fun! I could have an entire store of diamond-studded vacuums and I would still be bitchin’ and moaning’ They’ve yet to discover anything that cures my anti-cleaning gene. Sadly, even if it were in our budget, my compulsive mind can’t TRUST anyone else to clean as well as me. I’m screwed if I can’t get over this. At least I now can allow Mark to help and not complain over his methods. :::sigh::::

  5. Sue

    Interesting thoughts from everyone here. I wonder if it is a good sign rather than a bad one that more of us are engaged in a wider variety of things. I am so thrilled to hear about Laurie’s voice acting , singing and biking adventures. Many of us have full time jobs, which from time to time become very time-consuming. I know from past experience that when I have extended time away from work due to illness or other reasons I can jump into the online world rather than experience life face-to-face. It is so frustrating when you are relying on others to engage in the same activity online; I found this to be true when I used to host Backgammon/Canasta tournaments. I also know I have a tendency to find some sort of past-time that I obsess over for quite a while, then I drop it and move on. Sometimes I even go back to doing things I used to enjoy.

    I have learnt so much from all the BCs as things people share often act as a mirror. Each pearl of wisdom helps me to accept myself a little more. I also love to hear about the wider things you are involved in as it shows you are living your dreams, or testing your dreams. That is so much more healthy than exclusively focussing on “I am so disappointed in myself because I am too fat etc”. I love the direction this show has moved towards and the bravery shown by many is inspirational and gives me courage to try new things too.

    Reply
    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      You know Sue, I think this conversation from my 3 C post has been REALLY helpful for me to see the truth of what you write here. It is a good thing that folks are out in real life. If *I* have found bravery to be in real life and it cuts into my online time, then it is only reasonable to assume that other BCs are experiencing the same. Of course, some of the not so positive reasons may also be true, but what good does that do me to dwell in the negative? I know for a fact the many BCs ARE out having adventures and feeling better about their lives, even as I do. So I shall do my best to remember your wise words, and the words of the other BCs and let it all go. I celebrate all of our progress, and the show will be whatever it becomes. I can’t promise I won’t ever again get into my pathetic, abandonment moods, but I think I CAN promise, they won’t last as long. Thanks again for sharing with us Sue, and I hope your holidays give you a chance to relax and enjoy your new adventures too. xoxoxoxo

      Reply

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