Are You Missing The REAL Story?

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

The Theory of Everything is a compelling movie with fantastic acting. The story though, based on a true story, was all tied up in a nice little bow. One story reduced to a Hollywood plot line; two people, they fall in love, he is diagnosed with a life threatening illness, they struggle, and they overcome. Tied up and sweet.

After I watched it, I went on-line and researched the REAL story. I found a different story that detailed his complex and demanding personality, their explosive fights, how they really met, the difficulties with the in-laws, and the intrusive nurse who he had an affair with. Some of this was subtly hinted in the film, but most of it was removed from the movie. Hollywood knows that audiences want the plotline to make sense.

But, when we reduce stories and people to the ideas of how we WANT them to be, we miss the full messy, complicated, and often unlikeable truth.

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We do that in life. All of us.

Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” 
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

We can’t be authentic if we have these labels covering us.

We see someone and we assume we know the story. Or we look at Facebook and create a story from what is shown to us.

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Or we create a story that fits our paradigm. I did this for many years when writing my book, told only part of the story. Because what did it mean to put on paper all the stuff I didn’t like? It meant I was telling the truth, and the truth was scary. The truth made me and others look bad, or gave others an opportunity to label me. But, I knew I had to tell the true story. The real story. Not one that fit all pretty on the shelves of a Christian bookstore, but the real ugly, messy, unflattering and hopeful story.

Often times we do this out of fear, because what if we were like those we are criticizing, and what if there is something I see in that person that I might also see in myself? Yikes!

So we categorize and put people in nice tidy boxes. We all do it.

But when it is done to us and we know it is done to us, we often end up in the murky pool of shame.

I am not who I want to be in shame. And neither are you. But when I am in shame, when I am in the place of never good enough, a place where my stomach turns and the thoughts in my head berate me, when I am in that place I can be perceived with unwanted identities.

I reduce myself to these unwanted identities and sometimes you do it for me.

And then we miss the story. You and I both. Brene Brown explains it like this; If you reduce me to ____you will miss the fact that I am_____.

Here are some examples of how we do it to others:

     They are thin, they must be successful.

     They are fat, they must be lazy.

     They are rich, they must be happy.

     They are beautiful, their life must be wonderful.

Here is how I do it to myself:

     I made that same mistake again, I must be a failure.

     I yelled at my kids again, I am such a bad parent.

     I write such stupid things, I am not really an author.

When we do that to ourselves and others we are no longer curious, we are no longer exploring and open to life.

We miss the story. The entirety of it.

When I do it to myself, I land in the pit of shame.

Stupid Shame. Shame, in my experience, reduces me to unwanted identities. Then I miss the fact that God has something in store for me, something around the next corner, because my eyes are clouded in grey and my mind peppered with negative labels.

When we reduce ourselves and others to a label, or a diagnosis, or even a judgment we miss the story.

We miss the adventure.

I would prefer the movie would have told more of the real story. But what I really would prefer… that the rest of us walking in our lives would authentically tell our real story, either to ourselves or in a safe relationship with others. It is a risk for sure, but it is how we connect, how we grow, change and live.

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” 
― Brené Brown

I am working on this. It isn’t easy, I find I am most critical of myself and most forgiving of others.

I am working on it. Won’t you try too?

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Xo

Lee

Great books to help with this:

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are,  by Brene Brown

The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You, by John Ortberg

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”, by Brene Brown

A Million MIles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story, by Donald Miller

 

 

 

To My Sixteen-Year-Old Body…#SpeakBeautiful #NEDAwareness

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

My Minnesota white skin was hot from the gorgeous Arizona sun and I closed my eyes trying to absorb every molecule of vitamin D.

Happy. I was so happy to be warm to be with friends and to be relaxing by the pool. The three of us, we have known each other since we were twelve. Through puberty; break-ups, college, marriages, divorces, births, deaths, and aging. We are like sisters the three of us. Bickering and rolling our eyes at each other, laughing until our sides ache and crying over each other’s pain. We are real and honest with each other.

We sat at the pool happy to be relaxing in the sun, until a group of teenagers strutted past us in their miniature bikinis.

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They were not strutting around all proud, they were just walking as if every day they walk around in barely nothing covering their skin. It wasn’t the bikinis we noticed. It was their bodies. All three of them, with their undamaged skin and perky everything.

We stared at them. Ok, were gawking.

I can’t believe they didn’t throw something at us while we gazed at them with our mouths dropping on the floor.

Why?

Because their bodies, so young and so round and curvy were exactly right. Not perfect. Just right.

And most likely, they had no idea. No idea in their youth and innocence they were just right. Because we had been there, and we had no idea.

We began remembering all of our summers together in the hot Kansas sun, how much we hated our bodies then. Never right.

And all three of us thought we were fat then. Not right. Needed fixing. Never good enough, always trying to change the skin we were in. And one of us, me, took the body hatred to abusing my body. To harming it and almost lost my life to an eating disorder.

We continued to stare at these girls and talk about what it was like to be a teenager and to feel all awkward and uncomfortable in your changing body, but as we watched these girls we were dying to tell them what we know now.

You are just right. Just as you are. And you are beautiful. Just as you are.

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I almost marched right up to them to tell them to do it differently than I did.

Girls. Don’t you see how adorable you are? And my guess is you think you are fat. You think you don’t measure up. You think that you need to change and be like the other girl or the fashion model or the girl your crush likes. But, hear us in saying this, you will be chasing something that will never be found. The perfect body. The perfect shape. The perfect you. And then you will be 42 like us, and your body will be stretched from babies and surgeries and sun. Your muffin top will fall over your suit and you will need extra wire to hold up your saggy boobs. And even then, after all these years you will want it to be different. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You could love your body just as it is right now. You could enjoy it in its youth. You could celebrate the curves and the perkiness. Please, won’t you?

Because look at these statistics! This is so heartbreaking!

Body Image STats

Then my girlfriend, after tiring of watching these little fawns in all their beauty, turned to us and said, “Ok, each one of us is going to say something we love about our own bodies.” We stared at her. What? Really?

“Yes!”

“Not what we loved about each other’s bodies, but what we love about our own.” She said.

Trying to do now, what we wish we would have done then, in our sixteen-year-old skin.

What we wish we would have celebrated then, learning finally to celebrate now. That all six of us were beautiful. Not just the young girls, but us in our aging and sagging, we are beautiful too.

And so are you.

It does none of us any good to constantly be picking out our flaws and our bodies that don’t measure up.

Instead, let us celebrate the bodies we have been given.

Let us fuel them so they are strong and healthy and then let us use them to go out and love and care for one another.

Dove is promoting a campaign called #SPEAKBEAUTIFUL

I love it!

I am working on speaking beautiful to myself and others. I wasted so many years speaking harmful words to myself and I know many of you do as well. Let’s stop it.

Let’s spread this message of loving our own bodies and loving others as well.

Won’t you go out in the world today and #SPEAKBEAUTIFUL?

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I will.

XO

Lee

To My Teenage Son,

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

I will never forget the day I watched your little legs climb those stairs, onto that bus that seemed to swallow you up, into the world.

Me standing there in the driveway coffee in hand, smile covering my ache, hands waving frantically.

I didn’t want you to get on that bus.

I didn’t want your tiny little hand to ever leave my grip.

In fact, I would have gone on the bus with you, would have held your hand the entire way through kindergarten and back home, into the safety of my arms. Protecting you from the pain, heartache, and difficulties of this world.

But then…I would also be keeping you from the joy, the growth, and the maturity that is necessary in life.

Now you are fourteen, and you no longer want to hold my hand or even sit next to me on the couch. It is ok, I know this is normal growing up, I know you are trying to find your way.

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You left for school today, your long tall body bounding up the bus stairs, and I yelled out, “I love you!”

You didn’t turn around, you ignored me.

I heard a whisper as I stood at the door longingly, another voice, “See that. I feel that way too Lee.”

I have always been unable to grasp the understanding that God gave his one and only son. As the mother of three boys I can’t even go there, it hurts too much.

Today, my heart breaking again as it does every time you turn your head or roll your eyes at me, I wonder if God feels the same?

He would also sit on the couch for hours, waiting and hoping that I would just talk to him, as I do you. For you to tell me about your day, to talk to me about your worries, and to just confide in me, I would give anything for that. And as I mourned the little boy now growing, I heard God whisper again, how he feels exactly the same way. About me.

That he would love to just be able to sit and talk with me.

That he waits and waits for me to sit and tell him about my worries, my fears, or just to hold my hand.

Instead I rush around, I don’t listen when he yells out, “I love you!”  because I am in a hurry. Yesterday I was reading a book that had “Jesus” in the title and I hid the cover, just like you hide or walk away from me in embarassment.

And God loves me anyway.

I love you anyway.

And in this realization I get the unexplainable love that God has for me and that I have for you.

I love you not because of the way you act or because of your grades or because of how you look.

I love you because you are mine.

I love you because you are worthy just by being you. You don’t have to prove and strive or work for my love. It is there deep in every fiber of my being. I think about you all day long, I worry and pray for you, and I would drop everything for you when you need me.

God feels the same about me. I don’t have to earn his love. He loves because I am his.

You in your teenage angst are teaching me about God’s love.

Again.

I am reminded of his love, only through my pain in missing you. He tells me, I get it Lee. I gave my son so you could get it. I am with you. I am for you.

I am for you my sweet boy, I am so for you.

So I stop, and I listen to him talk to me. And I talk back, and let him hold my hand.

Someday, when you are done with these raging hormones and done trying to be cool, you will hold my hand too. I know you will.

I will wait patiently for you.

I won’t force you, I will sit. I will wait for you. Just as God does for me. And for you.

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I love you my son.

Xo

Mom

 

The Non-Casserole Disease

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

No one brings your family a casserole when you are diagnosed with mental illness or addiction.

You don’t say, “Hey honey, I heard Susie’s husband went to rehab, we should bring them dinner!” (Or in Minnesota it is called a hot dish).

You don’t say that, and often you don’t say anything. Or you whisper to a friend, “Did you hear about Susie’s husband? Did you hear about that family’s daughter, she has anorexia?”  Maybe you don’t.

But many do.

You also don’t hear the pastor at church during prayer time say, “Pray for Bob. He was just diagnosed with bipolar disorder.”

Bob won’t tell the pastor. Bob won’t tell his work, and many times he might not even tell his family.

One in four Americans suffers from some kind of mental illness in any given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Many look to their church for spiritual guidance in times of distress. But they’re unlikely to find much help on Sunday mornings.” – Lifeway Research 

Many churches won’t address the issue because they don’t feel they have the right tools to help, continuing to keep it hidden, modeling for us to keep it concealed.

Our research found people who suffer from mental illness often turn to pastors for help,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research.

But pastors need more guidance and preparation for dealing with mental health crises. They often don’t have a plan to help individuals or families affected by mental illness, and miss opportunities to be the church.”

Shame and stigma keep us from sharing these things.

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A stigma our society continues to perpetuate sometimes. Read here for an interesting piece on Robin Williams, who actually danced around the issue of mental illness in his own life.

So why would you bring a hot dish or send a card?

Maybe you are afraid, afraid that if you get too close to it, you might catch it? As if it is catchable.

Others believe those struggling should be able to pull themselves up by the boot straps.

Just eat. Just stop drinking. Just pray and it will all be ok. I can do it, so shouldn’t you?

No. It isn’t that simple.

It isn’t that easy and to simplify it, to deny it, is only perpetuating this issue.

When I was diagnosed with anorexia and depression in my twenties, I am pretty sure my parents didn’t call friends and say, “We got some difficult news.”

They didn’t receive flowers or cards or meals.

In fact, I am not sure they shared it with anyone. Because the lack of education back then (and sometimes still today) left people pointing fingers, as if it was something they did. Something that they should have helped, a daughter who wouldn’t eat? Something must be wrong with them, people might have said.

One of our local newscasters broke his silence in 2012 about his own mental illness and struggles. When he was diagnosed he didn’t tell anyone for fear of losing his job. For five years he kept it a secret, until he finally shared his own secret shame, freeing others to do the same.

What tremendous courage it took for him to share his secret with the world.

I thought as I was on that stage two weeks ago, I’m not going to do this anymore, I’m not going to be ashamed. Two million people have this in the country, and millions of others deal with depression and other forms of mental illness. I’m not alone.”

Barlow, 50, revealed to the crowd he had bipolar disorder — more specifically bipolar I, which is associated with severe mood swings that can range from manic highs to depressive lows. While he found out about his condition five years ago and shared the diagnosis only with his immediate family, it’s something many of his family members and friends didn’t know about until recently” - Ken Barlow KSTP-TV meteorologist.

I get it, maybe you think it is different. Maybe you don’t see it as a disease and you can’t comprehend how I can call mental illness a disease.

But it is.

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (18.6%)—43.7 million—experiences mental illness in a given year.Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experience a severe a mental disorder in a given year.” National Alliance for Mental Illness 

Every day I see people whose minds are tortured and lives are ravaged by an eating disorder, an addiction, or depression, but they hide and wade through shame. Can they tell their pastor? Can they tell their friend? Their neighbor?

I did the same thing.

When I was in treatment I demanded my parents not tell anyone who called where I was. What was wrong with me, what happened to me? What a failure I was? The shame would berate me.

Obviously, now over eighteen years later I know differently.

I admit, I was terrified when my book was published, just as I was when I was in treatment. Terrified of the judgment, the lack of understanding, the sideway glances of…is she crazy.

But by not talking about it, by hiding the truth of it, I am only allowing it to be a secret.

It isn’t.

Let’s stop doing that, ok?

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I am not ashamed that my brain broke, just as I wouldn’t be ashamed if I broke my arm.

Do you know someone who is struggling? Reach out, encourage them, listen to them, they need you!

And maybe even bring them a casserole, or a hot dish.

xo

Lee

P.S. If you live in Minnesota I hope you will consider attending the NEDA walk where my husband and I will be speaking.! 

When You Feel Small Inside

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

I drove into my driveway after a discouraging day, and I saw the walls, the enormous walls staring down on me. On every side. And I began to cry. The walls being built around me are too big, too invading, too suffocating.

I live in a neighborhood where homes are being torn down and rebuilt at every turn. They call them “McMansions”. We live in a cottage compared to the size of these homes. Now they are on every side of us, a new one being built next door to enclose us in. When we sit on our back deck, everyone can look down from their large massive bedrooms to hear even our whispers. Encroaching homes overtaking our open space.

When I drove into my driveway noticing walls hemming me in I realized, it isn’t the homes that are bothering me, it is the representation of exactly how I felt on this day.

I felt small.

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Do you ever feel that way?  Not small in size or weight, small in the sense of inside.

What does it feel like? It feels like a curling in. A rolling in of the shoulders a tucking of the head with a crossing of the arms for a false sense of protection.

This world, sometimes can make me feel so small. I don’t know if everyone else experiences this shrinking, this shame induced feeling of smallness, but I do sometimes. It hurts. It aches and the fencing in of the encroaching largeness of people with power, status and pride who throw around words so carelessly, sticking right to the heart and shrinking me.

When I sat down to write this today I remembered, oh yes, this small feeling is an old feeling, like an old shirt that I refuse to discard.

An old lashing that reverberated throughout my life.

A feeling that caused me many times to act big. To puff up and to try harder.

If I just tried harder and stopped making mistakes I would stop feeling so small.

It didn’t work. I know it didn’t work. So when I drove into my driveway, my heart aching with soreness from the bruise of shame, I wasn’t sure what to do.

“What do I do now?” I asked God through tears, “When I feel this way? When the other ways didn’t work.? When every turn, every image, every conversation on this day reinforces this unworthy feeling.” I spun, not knowing how to make it go away.

That is the thing, making it go away was not the answer.

Running from it was not the answer.

I sat in it, in all its dirty grimy shame and let it wash over me.

I curled under my covers and whispered the pain to God. Told him everything. Let him wrap me in his arms, not solving, but allowing me to be and to have my hurt.

The next morning I awoke early and went straight to my Bible. I turned to this verse in Psalms…

Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and you wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3

Nice, I thought.

Then I opened my journal to a page from two years ago where the exact verse was written in my journal. Yes, yes.

The balm to my wound. Not a fixing of it, but in the pouring out of it from the Grace Giver.

There it was, and there it went.

When we let feelings and emotions have their time, their space, they will move on. “Run away little friend!” I said to it when I woke up today as it started to poke at me gain.

Run away little pain slayer.

I don’t need to be big. I don’t need to be small. I will just be me in the messy place of life where I get hurt and confused and feel stuck. Where I say and do things that I don’t like and where others do the same.

I will be here resting in the arms of the Perfect One.

I don’t have to fix and strive and change, I can live in it, walk through it, and walk out of it.

It is a different posture than before. It is just being. Riding the wave and not letting it drown me.

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I don’t feel small today. I don’t feel big. I just feel like me. Not perfect. Not disastrously flawed, but just stumbling along trying to make it through.

That is all.

Xo

Lee

5 Keys to Recovery. Key #5 – Choose Life

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

My kids love the game of Life. I never play with them because the game feels like it drags on for an eternity while my oldest son takes all of our paper money.

But there is another game of life that you can win at. Choosing Life.

Today’s final recovery key is this; Choose Life.

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Eating disorders are not choices. Many people in our society as well as in the church seem to think it is.

It isn’t. It is a disease that hijacks the mind and the body.

But, recovery is a choice.

Sometimes you need others to make that choice for you, when you can’t. That is what treatment centers are for, to help you find the motivation and the desire to make a choice for life.

Early in recovery I began to play my own game of life.

Every day I would get up and put choices into one of two categories. Life vs. Ed (or death, because Ed eventually leads to death).

Little miniature choices that would lead me down one road or the other.

Here is how the game of life works:

  • Get out of bed. – 1 point towards life
  • Eat breakfast – 1 point towards life
  • Feel depressed and hide my feelings – 1 point towards Ed
  • Call a friend and ask for help – 1 point towards life

What ends up happening? Each day you increase your “life” choices and your relationship with the eating disorder begins to die. It is one step at a time, one moment at time; towards life.

An eating disorder does not happen overnight, it snowballs over time. But, recovery accelerate over time too if you continue to do what your treatment team recommends.

Reach out for help and choose life.

One step at a time, one day at a time.

Some days will be harder than others, it is not a straight line. Recovery is curvy and wiggly, just like life. But, the more choices towards life, less choices towards Ed, move you onto the path to recovery.

Today, make a choice, even if it is one thing, which leads you to recovery.

You can do it. I know you can!

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I hope you enjoyed my five recovery keys. Here are the earlier ones from this week if you missed them.

Recovery Key #1

Recovery Key #2

Recovery Key #3

Recovery Key #4

Xo

Lee

5 Keys to Recovery. Key #4 – Protect Your Recovery

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

I have spent my whole life trying to be tan. But I never get tan.

My skin is used to tanning with iodine and baby oil. Not recommended these days, but we thought it was the perfect way to tan back in the day, and I always ended up fried and red as a tomato.

I am the one on the left…with the burn lines (hard to really see in this photo). My sister is the taller & tanner one next to me.

lee and kristin

After the burn, I would apply Solarcaine to ease the pain of my crisp skin.

Sunshine and warm weather brings a fair skinned blondie like myself many memories of these painful days of sunburn. As I got older I began to get sun poisoning on the areas that had been burnt too much. Sun poisoning feels like a million little bugs biting your skin. It is an awful feeling. And yet, I would go out in the sun and think, “Aww it won’t happen this time?” I was always proven WRONG! And paid for it after!

Even though I always burn, it still has taken me years to finally accept that I will never be the bronzed tan girl I wish to be. I was not created with that type of skin. No matter how much I try or wish or lather Coppertone on my skin to “promote color,” I will not turn brown. I just turn fire engine red.

Why am I talking about sunblock?

Because recovery from an eating disorder or any addiction is similar to my sunblock struggles. You see, many times I hear patients say, “Well they can diet…why can’t I? Well she works out like that…. why can’t I? Well …they skip meals and do fine…why can’t I?” or “She can have just one glass of wine, why can’t I?”

Sound familiar?

I tell you why. Because they don’t have an eating disorder or they aren’t an alcoholic.

You have to learn to wear your sunblock. And until you realize that your issues are not like the other girl or guy you compare yourself to, you will continue to get sunburned!

You have a choice to protect your recovery. Just like I have the choice to protect my skin.

How do you do this?

Well for everyone it is different, because each eating disorder has his or her own struggles and triggers. I can share with you what has worked for me and then you can come up with your own RECOVERY PROTECTION PLAN.

  • I protect my recovery by refusing to believe I am immune from ever struggling again, but that I have the power (with God’s help) to do whatever I can to make sure that does not happen. I do this by knowing what triggers me. You see alcoholics do this! Some resolve to never drinking anything alcoholic because it might send them back down that road. That is their sunblock. For others a drink here or there works. Some commit to going to AA the rest of their life as protection. Do what works for you!
  • Each has to search their soul and learn what types of sunblock they need to live a life of recovery.
  • I am well aware of what sends me spinning and work to stay away from those things and/or people. I work to fill my mind with things that are life-giving. Things and people that feed my soul. And I stay away from things that fill my mind with ideas and/or make me feel less than.
  • I continue to make sure never to skip meals. Ever. Sure, some people can skip meals and not end up with an eating disorder, and skipping one meal won’t send me back. BUT, why risk it? By never skipping meals I am protecting myself from the downward spiral of disordered eating.
  • I once had a habit of reading labels…I now have a habit of NOT reading them. My eyes divert away just as quickly as they used to divert to the list of numbers (something that always caused an emotional reaction from me). Now NOT looking is habit.
  • I am careful to surround myself with people who are life-giving (vs. Life-Sucking) and rarely if ever talk about food, body, and or dieting.
  • I frequently work on my own self-care. I know that if I don’t take care of me I am not able to help anyone else.

These are some of the ways that I wear my sunblock and protect my recovery.

You have a choice on your path to recovery.

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You can continue to wish you had the darker skin and even put baby oil on it trying to will it tan, or you can radically accept your struggles, what triggers you, and learn to incorporate your sunblock wearing techniques into your life! Stop comparing your recovery to others…find what works for you..and in that you will stay away from getting burnt!

Protect your recovery!

xo

Lee

Recovery Key #1

Recovery Key #2

Recovery Key #3

5 Keys to Recovery. Key #3 – Empty Your Pockets

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

Imagine this scenario, a couple is married and they turn and announce themselves to the audience as husband and wife. They are a union, together as one. The woman standing at the altar, holds up her hand to stop the clapping, and she says, “Oh well I am committing to this. Yes I am committing, but just so you know, I have another option for just in case. A second option, another guy who if you can’t fulfill my needs. He will.”

As a guest at the wedding, you would be dumbfounded and shocked by her proclamation.

Everyone knows when you enter into a marriage, it is a covenant; a commitment. You are vowing to be with this one person, not with two people. You don’t keep an old boyfriend in your back pocket for just in case.

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Then why, when entering recovery do so many keep the eating disorder or addiction in their back pocket for just in case?
Because then you don’t have to commit 100%. You don’t have to really give of your whole self.

You have a backup plan.

Something to rescue you, an exit door.

I did this many times with my eating disorder. Of course, I wouldn’t admit it. I wouldn’t tell my family, friends or those who believed in the work I was doing, that I had an out; someone waiting in the wings.

And it destroyed my ability to fully commit to doing what I needed to do. Sure I could eat the food, I could share my feelings, and I could try to do what was expected of me. But in my mind I romanced around with ED…I will eat this, but not this. I will share this, but not this. I will sometimes take my meds, but not forever.

Before life even had a chance to show me that recovery was possible, I was already flirting with the other man. Ed. He was my exit plan, my annulment.

I can promise you, if you keep an eating disorder in your back pocket, for just in case. You can’t full commit to recovery.

You have to break up with ED.

End the relationship. Cease all communication with him.

When the thoughts come back in your head, you tell him to go away. To leave you alone. Of course you don’t know what it will look like without him, just like you don’t know what life will actually be like when you marry someone. But you commit to it. You trust the adventure. The same is true with recovery. Trust those that have gone before you and proclaim, life without Ed is worth it! 

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What worked for me, as tempting and romanticizing the eating disorder tried to make coming back look, I put a stake in the ground and said, “NO. Not an option.”

I had to choose another option. When you make Ed, NOT AN OPTION, you are forced to use your coping skills, your community, and your support system. And you are kicking him out of your back pocket. Don’t keep him there. He doesn’t belong.

Xo

Lee

Recovery key #1

Recovery key #2

5 Keys to Recovery. Key #2 – Speak Your Shame

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

January in Minnesota is bitter, cold and dark. Not your everyday cold, but a bone-chilling, nose-hair-freezing cold that shivers your every cell. That is what last winter in Minnesota felt like.

I was asked to speak at an event on one of the coldest nights of the year, not speak actually, but read an excerpt from my book. The theme was something along the lines of “darkness”. I stood on the stage and read the most depressing pages of my book. No hopeful piece to inspire, no feel good message, just a dark reading from a morose time in my life.

That is what I was asked to do.

What I wasn’t expecting was the feelings that flooded me after. I stood at my book table alone. Not a single person spoke to me or even glanced my way.

I felt like a fool, I had no idea why, I just did.

The negative tapes began to berate me with old messages of, you are such an idot. Who do you think you are? Nobody gives a crap what you think. They all think you are crazy. I stood there for a few minutes and then quickly packed up my box of books, having sold none, zipped up my enormous Michelin man winter coat and rushed out of the building as fast as I could. With my box of books in hand, I schlepped back to the car cursing myself the entire way. You idiot. So stupid. Why would you think anyone cared what you thought?

Normally these tapes don’t run off like a racehorse, because they are old tapes. Tapes that live from the past. Shame tapes that relish in eating me up when I am feeling overly sensitive and insecure. This night, they beat me up profusely.

I drove home crying, wanting to hide.

Shame makes you do that. Makes you hide. And then it will just continue to beat on you.

Unless, you speak it.

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Recovery tip #2 is: Speak Your Shame.

(Click here to read Recovery Tip #1.)

Many think guilt and shame are the same. They aren’t.

Guilt is when you have done something wrong.

Shame says, I am wrong.

Shame is the underlying belief that one is somehow defective or unacceptable.”Brene Brown

From an early age I grappled with this intense feeling of being “not good enough”. Never measuring up. Always being defective.

This core belief led me right into the arms of the eating disorder.

It has taken me years to destroy the tapes and the messages that berated and consumed me; shame has only dissipated by speaking it out.

If we don’t talk about our shame, if we don’t speak it, it only feeds the eating disorder, self-loathing or addiction.

When you are closed off by shame, there is no way anyone else can get in. That means your hard encased and self-imposed mangle of guilt and shame simply won’t permit you to let anyone get close to you. Not even a friend.”Brene Brown

So what did I do as I began to wither in my shame that evening?

I called a friend. Right away.

I called a dear friend and told her about my experience. Shared with her how my shoulders folded in, my head hung low, and how miserable I felt.

The best ways to overcome shame is to talk about it. To get it out.

After that phone call, after my friend brought me perspective and clarity, it had nowhere to live. Not in my mind. Not in my cells. Not in my relationship with myself or with her. We threw it out there, the two of us, the yucky stuff, we looked at it; we tore it apart and tossed it away.

Garbage that shame. Pure garbage.

It only destroys and beats you up. Shame is a meany.

It isn’t easy, this speaking your shame, but it is crucial. In the first days of recovery from my eating disorder I learned how to do this. I did it with my boyfriend, my therapist, and my close friends. I spoke my shame in prayer and in relationships. I didn’t let it live in my body. And I continue to speak it.

The only way we can release shame stored in our cells, shame that makes us sad, and worse, sick, is to speak it.

I tell on shame. The shame I carry around can lock into my cells and keep me in the abusive pattern. Telling on ourselves has the effect of releasing the shame and allowing that pattern to disappear.

Tell on shame. Be released.

Speak your shame!

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XO

Lee Blum

5 Keys to Recovery. Key #1 – Raw Vulnerability

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

Last week I had great fun speaking to the Finding Balance groups in a podcast-like forum. I don’t believe it will be available to the public, so this week I want to share with you 5 Keys to Recovery that I have experienced in my own life.

Here is key #1.

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“I don’t cry in public!” I said to my friend before the funeral began. She laughed, knowing this was true.

I would hold myself tight, I would stand up straight, and I would not allow the unsettling emotions bubbling inside of me too emerge. No, that was not how I was supposed to behave. Not at all.

That was the old me.

The me who sat in a pew many years ago counting calories so I didn’t have to feel the extraordinary betrayal, the immense awkwardness, and the deep pain. That was the me who almost died from not allowing my emotions to flow naturally. (You can read more in my book, Table In the Darkness – A Healing Journey Through an Eating Disorder.)

A piece of me wanted the stoic old me to sit in that church above pain, immune to anguish and sorrow.

I know better now.

I know hiding emotions and not allowing myself to be who I am in the moment destroys me while also doesn’t allow God to shine through.

The tears, the sorrow for a friend who lost her father, for her children who lost their grandfather, the sorrow for life so brief and pain so palpable flowed through me and I let it. I let it rush out with the snot and the ugly cry.

In public.

With friends.

Because vulnerability is ok.

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Vulnerability is not weakness, it is being human, and it is living. And I prefer living to hiding as I spent so many years of my life hiding.

Raw vulnerability.

What is it?

Is it sharing your heart with everyone, is it being 100% real all the time?  No. What is it really and what does it mean?

I know for me, raw vulnerability was one (of the many) things I had to learn to do in order to not need my eating disorder for protection.

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Rawness evokes a tender and fragile image, like a scar without a bandage, bleeding and oozing. Raw vulnerability is just that, an open wound.

A very key lesson in this type of vulnerability is learning to have discernment in who to open those wounds too.

This was crucial for me and is something that differentiates patients I work with from those who will move into recovery and those who won’t.

An ability to dig into the places where our deepest wounds lie, to ask someone to enter that place with us, holding our hand and them being able to say, Ouch. Yes, I can see how horrible and hurtful that must be for you.

Not someone to fix the wound, but someone to explore the pain with us.

For me, it started first with my therapist. It didn’t happen upon our first session, it happened over time. As we built the foundation and the safety in her office to be able to trust that she was someone I could take the mask off with.

Therapeutic relationships, built over time, can be incredibly healing.

They are practice rooms for life. If I could share with her, maybe I could share with others. So slowly I began to allow myself to come alive again, the me that was underneath the trying and performing and posturing, I could allow her to emerge.

The more I stripped the layers off, embraced this raw vulnerability, the more I was able to feel a congruency within the person inside and the person outside. This is not something that happens overnight, and it is also something that takes practice. You must be prepared to understand that not everyone likes vulnerability, and not every relationship will embrace this expression of life. But, in the confines of a safe relationship and another person who is capable of holding true to who they are and allowing you to be who you are, it can happen.

I thought vulnerability was weakness, thought it was something I was supposed to hide so no one else could see it. I have found, and I hope you find too, that vulnerability is not synonymous with weakness.

When we are fully open to all kinds of experiences including the painful ones, we can live as fully as possible. By being vulnerable you are taking life seriously and going for what you want without reservation.”- Psychologist Robert Firestone.

It isn’t easy to allow yourself to be vulnerable, which is why I think it starts FIRST in a safe space like a therapist’s office. And from there, little by little you walk into vulnerability into your everyday life.

I have found such freedom in this piece of recovery. I hope you will find it too.

XO

Lee