The Dam Issue of the Tissue

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

She sits in the chair, her head hung low, the tears falling so quickly they land, not on her cheeks, but on her shaking arms. Her pain so palpable you can feel it in the small room, you can see it in the bodies of those witnessing and watching her sob. Often the others in the group shift in their seats, wanting something to interrupt the sounds of her cries, something to make them more comfortable as they watch her cry, watch her pain, and see her let it out.

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In my job as a Mental Health Practitioner, I sit through scenes like this every day. Hour after hour of group therapy where women and men feel safe enough to allow their true and most deep feelings pour out of them. And when they do, I often want to cheer, “Yay! Good job you did it. Way to go!”

But usually something else happens, something that makes me want to jump out of my seat and stop it before I see the movement. It is movement by the others in the room and I see the scanning of the eyes looking for the box of tissue.

The tissue looker is no longer paying attention to the one in pain.

They see the snot coming from the nose or the wiping of the tears on the sleeve and they are now focused on one thing, get this girl a tissue!

I don’t. I sit. I wait. I allow her to have the full expression of her emotion without interruption, without words, and for sure without jumping out of my seat to find her a tissue.

I can’t tell you how many times patients in the room have said, “Why didn’t you get her a tissue? Can’t you see she is crying?”

Yes, oh yes, I see she is crying, and what a beautiful and amazing thing it is. That she feels safe enough with us in this room, this room sometimes full of people she has only known for a short time, to trust us enough to hold her emotions safe.

When we jump up and grab a tissue, or when we say, “Oh do you need a hug?”

We stop the flow.

While this may be a compassionate response, it often sends the message, “hurry and stop crying.” Also, as we move into the role of caretaker, we are, in essence, able to avoid our own fears of darkness descending as we rush to physically remove or pat dry the evidence of sorrow.”  - Don’t Offer Tissues

We are now a dam blocking the water from the natural flow of where it needs to go…out and through her body. 

I don’t cry in front of people. Hardly ever. I know, it is a total hypocrisy that I sit every day with people and encourage them and celebrate their ability to cry, because I can’t seem to do it.

Part of why I don’t cry in front of other people is because of what I am describing. Dam workers. People who have stopped my flow. Metaphorically and literally. “Stop crying, you should only cry if you are bleeding!” My parents would say. “Don’t be sad. Don’t cry!”

Phrases said so often they now come without prompting in my brain, don’t be such a baby. You feel too much. That is not something to be crying about.

Guess what? It was and it is. And so because of these phrases, I learned at a very young age, crying is for the privacy of my room. And unfortunately, it is still that way for me. I try to allow others to see it, my tears, to allow them into my world, but the tears stay holed up, my breath stopped and everything waits…until I am alone. Only when I am alone.

Is it like this for you too?

And this keeps me from deeper relationships. Keeps me from being fully me around others, I am working on it, and it is a struggle. The truth is, expressing our full emotions and allowing others to witness our pain, is an honor to them. It means you trust them to hold your pain, your sadness, your hurt.

I am so honored by the patients I work with that trust me with their tears. And eventually, it is my hope that I will be able to do the same.

But if I do, please please don’t offer me a tissue.

crying

 

Xo

Lee

What Makes You Enough?

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for LifeLee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

What makes you enough?

“I realized I would rather follow my heart, even if it is really hard, that is worth taking a risk on.” Says Michael John, an aspiring Magician on this season’s America’s Got Talent.

“These might be the most important 90 seconds of my life so far.” Michael says before he auditions.

Handsome, humble and super adorable. He rocks it.

(Photos from Google Images.)

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They give him a standing ovation, they tell him how good he is.

He responds, “It is what I love to do.” He then begins to cry and says, “It feels like a dream. This is all I have ever wanted to do.”

And Howie says, “Your dreams are coming true.” He begins to cry.

michael crying

Validation. Enoughness. Finally someone is saying what he has always wanted, YES! You can do this. Yes, you are good at this!

I remember the day I received my book contract. I had the exact same feeling. The feeling that finally I was being validated. Someone telling me I could do it.

Validation is wonderful and necessary to live, but dangerous when we rest our identity on it.

The contract didn’t just mean I was an author, it meant someone was telling me that I meant something. The publisher didn’t say that. They didn’t call me up and say “Hey lee. You weren’t an accident. You were meant to be a successful author.” But, that is how I felt, and I imagine Michael felt the same way.

I felt validated, heard and finally someone recognizing that I had a voice and story to tell.

It buoyed me to a place I know I had been striving my entire life.

If you read my book, Table In The Darkness, you know I spent most of my life rarely feeling accepted for my choices in my family environment since I was so overly emotional, went to Christian camps, and loved theater. I didn’t fit. The book contract meant I was something. Finally after eight years of early mornings, of constant rejections, of draft after draft and hundreds of dollars at writing conferences…it was happening.

A dangerous alter to set my identity on, to believe that I mattered now because I was an author. To believe that I finally deserved to take up space in this world because someone believed I had something to say. I couldn’t help it. I was starving for the acceptance. I was striving for the acknowledgment.

What makes me successful? What makes me worthy? Is it the validation and the acceptance of others?

Is that what you are longing for too? 

The thing about Michael’s story is the even more inspiring backstory. There always is. He was a baseball player recruited to play pro. But he took the other path, the path to be a magician. Everyone thought he was crazy. Everyone thought he should have taken the baseball contract. He wanted to be a magician.

Last night, Michael returned to the AGT stage to perform again and he was quickly ripped to shreds by Howard stern. Howard buzzed him out before he even finished his act.

“Look Michael. It is hard to get worked up about what you are doing.” Stern says. Wait? Weren’t they singing is praises a few weeks ago?

Mel B. chimes in for a softer blow, “While your magic is good, there is a mismatch in how you perform. You will get that in time, so don’t be discouraged.”

Michael says, “All I can do is have faith and keep pushing forward.”

Well, until a better magician walks on the stage, “Piff” the dragon, and he is given the golden buzzer. We see Michael tearful, discouraged, and beaten down.

Compare and despair. In the world of books I see a million Piffs. Other books that are selling like wildfire. Other authors who are able to make a living off of writing and I lose my wind. I lose my desire.

When we compare, we will inevitably despair. 

So is he still a magician? Will he press on?  Which example will he remember going forward? Will he believe what they said the first time, or will he live in the darkness of failure?

A few weeks ago a false tower that I had built my confidence on came tumbling down just like Michael. A quick phone call with my editor as she relayed the sales numbers of my book.

“Wow.” I said. “Wow.”

“Yes,” she said quietly. “Yes, so odd that it just hasn’t reached the numbers that we projected.”

The voice that haunted me most of my life slithered back in and told me what I have always known. See? You are a failure. See? You don’t matter. And it has paralyzed me. Everything I have been working for, sacrificing hours and hours of my time, and this is the response? Am I a writer? Am I worthy?

I could end here and quit. I have been thinking about it. What is the point? Who cares?

No no no. There, of course, as there always seems to be in life, a valuable lesson. One I am learning, yet again, and that this young man hopefully will learn.

I am valuable and I am worthy because God says I am. I am worthy and deserve to live, not because I have published a book or make money and not because I fall on my face over and over. Neither determine my worth, or yours.

I was doing it backwards and instead I need to operate out of a place of worthiness that doesn’t come from the world. Then the waves of failure and success won’t be so defeating.

What are you falsely putting your worth in? Thinness? Success? A relationship?

When He created us… He said, “It was good.” It is good no matter what I do or don’t do.

There is nothing wrong with achievement. Nothing wrong with success. But when we rest our identity on it, as if the validation from the success makes us ok, that is dangerous. I know because I am slowly crawling out of this trap I once again found myself in. Once again numbers began to define my worth. Geese I am slow to learn.

I refuse to let it. I hope Michael presses on, trusts in his worth and the desires of his heart, and believes he is good enough, and keeps performing magic for the pure joy of it.

I will keep writing, because I love it. Simple.

I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4:12 (The Message)

Am I enough when the world tells me I am, or am I enough simply because God says I am?  

And how about you?

You are enough. You are adored. Live out of that!

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Xo

Lee

When You Feel Like You Have Lost The Wind For Your Sails

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

Wind keeps sailboats moving in the direction determined by the stern or the bow or the skipper. I know nothing about sailing, so I just picked these words since they are sailing words.

I do know that the wind is necessary and crucial for sailing.

I have lost the wind.

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I can’t find it in the morning. I can’t find it in the evening.

It is as if it was never here and it is never coming back. I know it will, in my wise mind I know, but in the moments of waiting, it doesn’t feel like it. I stare at the leaves waiting for a brush of wind, for a tiny little blow and nothing happens. There is no movement and the boat sits. The water is becoming stagnant and the view monotonous. I ask God, “Am I supposed to move the sails? Am I supposed to do something different? Or am I to rest and wait? Whose move is it to make the change, to stir up the wind?” There is no answer.

Do you ever feel like this? This losing-of-wind-in-your-sails feeling?

This is how I am these days. It has kept me from doing the things I love like writing, kept me from the deep laughter and soul filling fun, this season of “something”.

I am not sure what to call it except a season of no wind.

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Sometimes people can be uncomfortable with my uncomfortable. Because my former uncomfortable led me to a very dark and scary place. Please hear me and know that this is not what I am talking about. My season without wind is not my normal me, but I trust that there is learning here and I am not running from it.

Are you in this season too? If so, it is important to know that what formerly might have worked, might no longer be of use.

So find what works.

For me, I have found a few key comforts in this awkward space. Maybe they will help you too?

  • Prayer – I have been having a hard time with prayer, so instead I have been repeating the Lord’s Prayer over and over. When I find my anxiety and worries flooding me, I quietly whisper it. The repetitive nature and not having to think of words to pray is soothing.
  • Music – I am also finding music to be the balm to my ache. Listening to some of my favorite artists like JJ Heller or Sara Groves, helps put words to what I can’t seem to express.
  • Rest – Without the wind moving me I am finding that instead of making life happen and trying so frantically to make the sails move, I rest. Allowing the time to rest is so helpful for resetting the mind.

So if you have lost the wind in your sails too, try some new soothing things and trust it is ok.

Just let it be what it is.

Find what soothes you, be gentle with yourself, and trust in the season and eventually the wind will rise up again. It always does.

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xo

Lee

 

 

The Lifesaving Skills Pixar’s New Movie ‘Inside Out’ Is Teaching You And Your Children

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

I came into the world screaming with a voice meant for outdoor sporting events and an energy level rivaling a teenager filled with Red Bull.

With this gregarious personality also came a sensitive little spirt that was hell-bent on rescuing every wounded animal. This was how God made me, but it didn’t quite fit into the tidy world where “ladies” were supposed to be polite and quiet. And ladies were NOT supposed to be bubbling over with buckets of tears.

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So I learned to zip myself up into the person the world was comfortable with while stuffing the emotions down into a dungeon covered by thick bars and an unlockable chain.

Now I am learning to chip away at this armor that I believed once protected me and in reality only left me in fragmented pieces.

Here I am in my 40’s struggling to become a whole person who can ride the waves of emotions without guards threatening to send this part of myself back into the dungeon.

What would have helped me? What would have possibly prevented me from a life of compartmentalization, an eating disorder, and depression?

A movie like Inside Out. (Images from Google Images)

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This movie  is offering exactly what every young person trying to understand their own selves’ needs.

  1. An ability to understand and accept emotions and feelings that are the fibers of being human.
  2. A safe place to fall and find repair when these emotions begin to wreak havoc on the body and mind.

The young girl, Riley, in this movie is trying to make sense of her life after moving to a new city. Pixar’s adventurous and creative storytelling so poignantly shows us how she is offered these two simple yet lifesaving things.

Emotional intelligence is one of the biggest prevention strategies we can offer ourselves and our children to needing an alternative coping skill to having emotions.

These days, academics, education researchers, principals, and teachers are discovering—or maybe rediscovering—that reading and math alone may not be enough. “We know that the emotional piece is really very important in terms of a child’s overall well-being and capacity to learn and grow,” says Dr. Jerlean Daniel, deputy director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and chair of the Psychology in Education department at the University of Pittsburgh.”-Scholastic News 

Riley experiences the range of emotions that everyone experiences and then is offered a safe place (her parent’s arms) to land in the process. A place where she is free to be herself, to have her own feelings without someone telling her to “stop crying” or “get over herself”.

Within this literally cerebral tale, there are clowns, vacuum hoses, glassy globes, a unicorn, a being that cries candy out of his eyes, and a literal Train Of Thought. But there’s no intruder. Nothing in Riley’s mind is ultimately tagged as not belonging or not wanted, because nothing in her mind can be separated from who she is. She is made up of the same things that cause her sadness, fright and disgust — those little emotions are her and she is them. There’s nothing to defeat; if anything, what Riley is fighting against is the impulse to exile the feelings that embarrass her.” –  NPR

I didn’t understand this as a child, and it most definitely harmed me. Now I am having to radically  accept this idea that emotions are for feeling, not for stuffing and it is healing me. The same is true if we offer this to our children.

As someone who works in this field of mental illness and has struggled with it, I can tell you that what this movie is teaching is lifesaving if you can implement it in your own homes with your children as well as allowing the waves of emotions in your own life.

This means being real and vulnerable and letting people in.

It also means learning to tolerate your children’s distress without trying to fix it, change it, or make it what you want it (or them to be).

Why it is crucial for your chidren?

1. Feeling understood triggers soothing biochemical; that neural pathway you’re strengthening each time he feels soothed is what he’ll use to soothe himself as he gets older.

2. Children develop empathy by experiencing it from others.

3. You’re helping your child reflect on his experience and what triggers his feelings. For little ones, just knowing there’s a name for their feeling is an early tool in learning to manage the emotions that flood them.”  - Aha Parenting 

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(Yes, I was the one sobbing loudly at this scene where her parents embrace her. The kids around me were staring. Oh well :).)

These are crucial skills we all need to learn, even in preschool and kindergarten. And common sense — along with a growing body of research — shows that mastering social skills early on can help people stay out of trouble all the way into their adult lives.

Here are a few more resources on this topic:

Child Parenting – Teaching Empathy and Emotional Intelligence 

NPR – Why Emotional Literacy May Be as Important As Learning the ABC’s

Can you do this? YES! You can. Let us all be the messy-creative-emotional-human-people that God created us to be!

In the meantime, go see this beautiful, profound and deeply impactful movie Inside Out

Xo

Lee

 

8 Tips To Remember When Watching The Rachel Dolezal and Rachel Farrokh Media Storm

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

Rachel Dolezal and Rachel Farrokh.

Two Rachels. Two very different stories plastered in the media.

Yet, when side by side the similarities are striking. Both fighting for missions they deem to be worthy of attention and both pointing shaky arrows at the target. Most likely you have heard about Rachel Dolezal, as she has been interviewed on multiple media outlets these past few days.

Her main claim is that she identifies as black, even though she genetically is not. CNN. NYTimes. Today Show (Images from Google Images)

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In the “Today” interview one Tuesday and one that followed on a sister network, MSNBC, Ms. Dolezal, remarkably composed despite harsh criticism aimed at her, stuck to her insistence that racial heredity does not equal identity, and she would not answer questions about whether she had changed her self-identification to merely gain advantage.”NYTimes

Rachel Farrokh also been spotlighted in the news, mostly in California’s media. But she is a well-known story in the world of eating disorders.

Here is the latest update on the Rachel Farrokh story.

Daily Mail

I wrote about it here.

And if you want to read in in-depth look into the holes in Rachel Farrokh’s story, click here.

What shines so brightly to me are the following 8 similarities that I see as important to remember when reading or watching these two women fight their battles.

Why?

Because we look with shock and awe, we make assumptions and judgements…but aren’t we all more similar to these women than different? 

1. Middle. With both of these women, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. There are numerous holes in each story. Why does Rachel Dolezal call herself black when her parents are clearly white? Why is Rachel Farrokh asking and receiving money yet, still has not entered a treatment facility? Both women are lying by omission in their own ways and the truth about each of their stories lies somewhere in the middle. While the extent that their stories are playing out in national news is a bit histrionic, in my opinion, none of us can deny that we have created our own truths. Our own realities sometimes by believing what we want to believe.

2. Identity. Dolezal has found her identity in transforming herself into a black woman, by believing this identity of herself as not white and stepping into that identity. It is what helps her feel safe. Farrokh has done this too, this molding and shaping to become what she believes is the ultimate safety, and for her it is being thin. Both women have gone to extremes to live inside what they deem as safe places.  Rachel Farrokh’s illness might eventually kill her, both women are searching for their identities trying to figure out where they fit in this world and we all do that in some way don’t we?

3. Trauma. There is no doubt in my mind that both of these women ended up in these places because of trauma, and they have constructed their realities as a way to cope, to survive, and to exist. We may not agree with how they are going about it, but in their own minds it is working for them. Both women are confabulating their lives. If you don’t know what this means, below is a part of Wikipedia’s definition.

Confabulation (verb: confabulate) is a memory disturbance, defined as the production of fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world, without the conscious intention to deceive.Confabulation is distinguished from lying as there is no intent to deceive and the person is unaware the information is false. Although individuals can present blatantly false information, confabulation can also seem to be coherent, internally consistent, and relatively normal. Individuals who confabulate present incorrect memories ranging from “subtle alterations to bizarre fabrications”, and are generally very confident about their recollections, despite contradictory evidence.” 

4. Veils. Both women are using their illnesses as platforms for activism. Rachel Dolezal works as an advocate and teacher for the African American Community and Rachel Farrokh wants to help women who are struggling with eating disorders. Unfortunately, Dolezal is only producing much more anger and rage by those who don’t understand and Rachel Farrokh is triggering thousands of people struggling with eating disorders to say, “Well I am not as sick as her, so I must not be a problem.” Or, a twisted goal is now set as trying to get as thin as her. I know it doesn’t make sense to the average person, but I have recently heard patients say these things and have read it on thinspiration sites. And the reality is, many suffer silently as insurance companies don’t deem them ill enough. Stories like Farrokh’s make many shy away from getting help. (Here is a recent article on this issue.)

5. Mental Illness. Both women clearly have some form of mental illness and this is the part that makes me so sad. We are like visitors of a zoo looking in on their cages. Both have invited the media in and are choosing to do so, but at some point both women need help.

6. Therapist. Rachel Farrokh is allegedly receiving help, but I wonder about Rachel Dolezal and hope that she is getting help.

7. Mirror. Both women look in the mirror and see something completely different than we see. Rachel Dolezal looks and sees a black woman and Rachel Farrokh sees a fat woman. We don’t see what they see. We can’t understand it, but that is why it is so complex and why both women really need help.

8. Grace. While the media, especially social media, are coming at these women with hateful and harmful remarks, I encourage a kinder response to view these women through the eyes of grace and compassion. To understand that they are more similar than they are different from you and I.

They are trying to find themselves, trying to find peace from trauma, and trying to find their own lives worth living.

Aren’t we all doing that in some shape or form?

Let’s offer them both our grace and prayers.

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Xo

Lee

How People Magazine Is Starving For Good Content

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

Sitting on an airplane last week I was excited to dive into my recent copy of People magazine.

A brainless feat, a pure escape.

Until I opened the page to a story about Dance Mom Abby Lee and her dramatic weight loss that came from vomiting. (Photo from Google Images.)

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“I had to get a prescription refilled – lo and behold, there’s something different about that prescription in Australia,” says Miller. “I would take this medicine and within an hour, I was vomiting like I was in fourth grade and had the flu or like I had food poisoning. It was awful. After I would throw up, I couldn’t even look at food for the rest of the day.So that is how I lost the weight,” she continued. “There’s no diet, there’s no exercise, there’s no this, there’s no that.”  -People magazine

Oh, I see. We are praising this now? Someone vomiting and losing weight is newsworthy?

Her mom had cancer, Abby had diabetes and vomiting was her form of weight loss?

I am not surprised. I can’t tell you how many times people have heard me speak and/or read my book and said things like this:

“Oh, I wish I had an eating disorder!”

“Oh, it must be all those Mom’s out there dieting, that must be why people struggle!” Or another common one, “So your hospital (where I work) must only treat teenage girls.”

Or how about patients I work with, their family members who consistently tell them, if you would Just EAT! Just stop purging!

People magazine only reflects the lack of education of eating disorders and mental illness that is so pervasive in our society.

I am not shocked by this completely inappropriate article about Dance Moms Abby Lee. While it is great that she looks so healthy, the way she got there and the fact that a popular magazine would publish such inappropriate content is typical.

It is typical of a society and often the church that wants to pretend that eating disorders don’t happen. 

A society that promotes the thin ideal as the only way.

Or that obesity is because of people’s lack of discipline or lack of the ability to buy food at Whole Foods.

Come on! This is the information age, how can People magazine not know and how can society still not know that ….

“Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses that impact millions of people every year in the United States.

Eating disorders are real, complex, and devastating conditions that can have serious consequences for health, productivity, and relationships. They are not a fad, phase or lifestyle choice. Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s emotional and physical health. People struggling with an eating disorder need to seek professional help. The earlier a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, the greater the likelihood of physicaland emotional recovery. ‘

In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.” – National Eating Disorders Association.

I shook my head, tossed my magazine in the trash, and then said a word of gratitude to People magazine.

Why?

Because I often feel hopeful the lack of understanding is changing and we can sit back and relax.

Nope. Still there.

Still a blind-eye turned to a disease that is killing people, stealing the lives of young girls and boys, and ruining marriages.

Thank you People magazine.

You remind me that we have a long way to go until people will actually understand this disease and understand that glamorizing sickness and vomiting as a form of weight loss is not ok.

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I will carry on with my own mission to fight eating disorders and educating others to understand them.

Thank you for reminding me why I need to continue. You clearly don’t get it.

xo

Lee

The Antidote To Stress

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

I have a friend, who when she signs in at our elementary school for a visitor pass, instead of writing the date on the pass or on the sign-in sheet just writes…Today.

Today.

Not the date or the time. Today.

She says it is because all she can think about is today, that it is too complicated to put the date, the time or the moment.

I see it differently, I see it as a beautiful reminder of living in the moment. This moment we have right now…is simply today.

Today is all we have in front of us.

We spend so much time looking in that darn rear view mirror or forecasting the future of what we have to do tomorrow or next week or next year. Because summer just started and now we need to get ready for August. And as parents we prepare for summer in January and we prepare for the fall in June. And all of this makes my head spin. And then there is the deeper stuff of depression and fears and anxiety and it wraps us in knots of past failures and future expectations.

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So why not just do today?

That’s all.

Living in the present moment whether it be a chaotic mess of children and dishes and wet towels on your dining room table (my house), it is just today. And right now today is all you have in front of you. The next right step is all you need. Not yesterday not tomorrow.

Just today.

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So go forth, settle into all you need to do in this moment, today.

xo

Lee

 

When You Feel Like You Don’t Fit In

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

Walking with a new friend at a writing conference recently, I mentioned something about how I play on a Women’s soccer team.

“Oh,” she said with her eyebrows lifted in question. “That is interesting, Not what I expected of you.”

Yeah yeah, I wanted to say. Heard that before.

I have never quite felt like I fit in.

As a young child my family jokingly referred to me as the “other child” or “the accident”. A funny statement that left me with an identity crisis early on. That told me something was wrong with me because I wasn’t like the others. I found myself constantly scrutinizing and asking myself…is this me? Is this where I belong? Is this who I am supposed to be?

Moving to four different schools in four years offered me an opportunity to try out new identities. There was the preppy me, the rocker me, the rebellious me and then the perfect me. Trying to mold and shape and become something the world might like, someone the world might accept.

Part of this exploration is quite normal as we try to figure out who were are and where we fit, but as I continued on this never ending quest I began to seek after God’s acceptance too. Was I good enough for God? Did I fit with who he wanted me to be? Was I a good enough Christian? It was like chasing my tail trying to be what the world; my family, my friends, or even what I thought God wanted me to be.

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In college, it was exacerbated by these weird worlds I threw myself in. I was a theatre major and a sorority girl. I liked parties and I loved Jesus. I wouldn’t wear my Greek letters to the theatre building, was careful not to dive into deep discussions about Shakespeare or the methods of Ibsen’s plays while in the sorority house. I didn’t mention Jesus at frat parties and didn’t mention frat parties in my bible studies.

And all of this left me empty.

Seeking after the world’s approval of me, seeking after what I thought others wanted and expected of me. Trying to work so hard not to be the “other” child, but one that is easy to be around and easy to be with.

It was exhausting…this inability to be true to myself.

I don’t do that anymore. It is so draining. Instead I throw off these labels that hinder me and instead allow the crazy, awkward and sometimes overly sensitive me to emerge. And maybe you don’t like me, that is ok too. I don’t fit in. I don’t fit into the categories and labels that the world places on me or others. And I am ok with that.

Fitting in robs God of the uniqueness he has so artistically worked to create in the individual that is me.

Trying to be someone else robs God of shining your you-ness through!

So I have let go of this need to fit in. Let go of this striving to be what each version of me the world might want. It is so freeing.

Freeing to just say, Hey, GUESS WHAT? THIS IS ME! I love Jesus, I love wine, I love dancing like a crazy woman, I love literature and theology and words and people. I love dressing up in crazy costumes and I sometimes say the stupidest things at the most awkward and weird times. I am human. I am unique. I don’t need to fit in.

And you don’t either!

This has been the most and empowering letting go that I have ever done. It allows me to not work to be something I am not, but instead to explore just exactly how fun and adventurous and creative this world is and how God wants to move me through it.

I encourage you to do this as well, to let go of this idea of who you are supposed to be, who the world expects you to be, and allow God to show you who HE believes you to be!

It is way more fun this way! GO BE YOU! 

fitting in

 

xo

Lee

What Women Really Need To Hear

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

“Everyone breastfeeds, it is the natural thing to do.”

“It’s what God made you for.”

“It is connection for you and the baby it is so good for him.

On and on the messages of what I had to do would be spoken to me.

Yet, night after night I sat on the couch longing for sleep as he chomped on my skin. I would cringe and hold my breath aching for it to be over. This beautiful son of mine now a shark anxious for his meal. I would sit and hope and pray that it would subside, that it would get better.

It never did.

This was in 2000 and there was no smartphone to Google breastfeeding tips. It was just me, the infomercials on TV, and my hungry boy trying to eat.

I felt so alone.

We went to the pediatrician and I sat with my head hung low, tears streaming down my face as he told me to not give up. “The baby needs this.” He said. “This is natural and right.” My husband stood all proud in the corner shaking his head in full agreement.

I wanted to scream and punch them in the face. I wanted to hit them and yell, “Do you know what it is like to feel like your nipples are being bitten off?”

But I didn’t. Everyone around me was telling me I had to do this.

I felt so alone and so isolated.

A couple days later in the middle of the night I snapped.

NO MORE!  I drove to Wal Mart in the middle of the night, bought bottles and formula, came home and sterilized them and fed my child.

“I quit!” I wanted to scream in the darkness of the night, “I quit.”

For the next few days I could barely lift my arms, take a shower, or change out of the two sports bras I was wearing. My breasts were engorged like watermelons. No one told me you don’t quit breastfeeding cold turkey.

I felt so alone.

***
My book, Table in the Darkness, has been out now for about a year and a half.

I wrote the book to encourage and help others, so people would see and learn that yes…recovery is possible. But, what has emerged from it is something entirely different.

Something I never expected.

What women want, no matter if they are struggling with an eating disorder, depression, addiction, and/or the day- to-day living…what women need, more than anything, is to hear this one simple phrase.

Me too.

When I speak, write or someone reads my book, this is the message that is so loud and clear. Me too

We ALL want to feel like we aren’t alone.

We women, we NEED EACH OTHER!

Over and over I hear, “I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I struggled too. I feel alone. Me too. Me too!”

me too 2
That night while I was aching for some answers for my hungry baby, what I needed more than anything was to hear, “Me too.” I didn’t need another person telling me what I should do, I just needed a me too. I struggled with breastfeeding too!  Me too, I felt like I failed!

Now more than ever it is so easy to see the areas where you might feel like you are failing. Facebook and other social media can easily make you feel that way.

Why not instead, create a place where we say things like;

I am struggling in my marriage.

I wish I could be more social.

I hate my hair.

I want to write a book.

I want to dream.

I want to have children.

I yell at my kids.

And the resounding community of women yell back and wrap their arms around you and say, “YES! ME TOO!”

Me too friend, we are in this together. You don’t have to feel alone! 

This is the message. This is why I continue to write.

We need to stop clamoring for the positions of power and rightness, but to gather together in a world of me too.

Won’t you join me? Start encouraging one another with #metoo

me too 1

xo

Lee

What The Media Missed In The Rachel Farrokh Pleading Anorexic Story

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

While sitting in treatment planning at the eating disorder hospital where I work, I pulled up Yahoo. Images of the frail and bony Rachael Farrokh popped up on my screen.

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*Image from Google Images

I turned the screen to show some of the doctors I work with. (Here are just two of the articles, but please note …the images are very triggering. I will not post them here.)

CNN Article

Yahoo Article

All of them, just shook their heads.

While all of us can most likely agree that it is fantastic she is reaching out for help, those of us who work in the field and have struggled with the disease know there is more to this story than is being told.

The media jumps on these sensationalized stories of shock and awe. Look at how low a weight she is, look at her bones, and how could she get like that? Ohhh ahhh shock and awe. 

Right?

1. The images are highly triggering to those struggling. 

What they don’t realize is by promoting this overly thin image of this woman is that those struggling who aren’t uber thin take it as a message that they don’t need help. “I am not that sick!”  They say. “I don’t look like that!”

Of course this doesn’t make sense in rational thought, but in the world of eating disorders it is a common statement I hear every day. Patients seeing images such as this and thinking, “Oh see, I don’t look like that. I don’t need help.”

While anorexia and severe anorexia can eventually look like Rachael, it only feeds this misconception you can tell who has an eating disorder by simply looking at them. But this is not always the case. With anorexia often you can tell, but there are many other eating disorders that people need treatment for and often times you cannot tell if someone has an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are not solely about weight. They are about how body weight and image affect a person’s self-worth. They are about distorted body images and obsessive thoughts about how to become thinner or avoid weight gain. People of normal weight with eating disorders may actually suffer more, because they don’t receive recognition of their illness from others.” -ANAD Dismantling the Common Myths of Eating Disorders

images

2. She reports treatment centers won’t admit her?

The other piece I believe the media was mis-informed about is this idea that treatment centers won’t take her because of her low weight. We have never NOT admitted someone because their weight was too low or too high. Now, if they have medical complications we do put them on a monitored unit, sometimes even ICU before coming in for inpatient, but to think this woman has been struggling for ten years and has never received help and/or can’t now…it seems very very fishy to me.

3. Her husband quit his job? 

And why did her husband quit his job to take care of her? This woman needs to be in the care of professionals. If she was at home using cocaine every day her husband wouldn’t quit his job to be home and watch her do drugs.

To think her eating disorder got to this level without help, seems a bit like denial and co-dependency to me.

4. Why the need for money? 

Is she raising money because she doesn’t have insurance? Or does she have insurance? If so,then why would she need the money? Why aren’t we told this? She would be deemed medically unstable and insurance companies cover that kind of treatment.

5. Why not legal guardianship?

Why hasn’t someone stepped in as a legal guardian? Where is her family? At such a low weight her brain is not functioning properly and so someone else should be in charge of the logistics regarding her care. Where is that information?

6. Where is the truth?

I think the truth of this story is somewhere in the middle. I am guessing she has been in treatment and hasn’t been willing to follow recommendations, or has left too early, or has refused to be admitted. And she reports she was administered 40lbs of fluid in one day??? I don’t buy it.

There is way more to this story than the media is telling us. The truth is, the media feeds off of of these sensationalized stories. Because it is shocking to see her all skin and bones. To me this story feels a lot like the commercials you see on TV where the dogs are in kennels and their sad eyes are looking up at you. You can’t help but be moved and motivated to take action.

I find it frustrating that the media is preying on our emotions to give money, without the full story.

Don’t get me wrong… I am happy this woman is going to receive treatment. I hope she can find the beautiful life on the other side of recovery. I have been where she is, not at that low of a weight, but at rock bottom, I am not in any way criticizing her. I am criticizing the media. For not offering the full story, all the REAL details about what is going on with this woman, because I know we aren’t receiving the full story.

Her road to recovery is going to be long, but it is possible she can receive wonderful care. Eating disorders are not a choice, but recovery is and I am excited that she is willing to make that choice.

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There are places out there that absolutely can handle this and would be more than happy to do so. I hope only that she is willing to stay on the road to recovery, and that the media would refrain from jumping so soon on these stories without all of the facts.

xo

Lee