Marie contacted me shortly after I posted last week’s blog on The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections.
It seems our discussion took her back many years to the day she “freed myself from myself” and finally admitted to the world what she would only rarely allow herself to briefly contemplate and then only in her darkest, most private moments.
She was an out-of-control bulimic. A twenty-two year old aspiring model, Marie’s life was a daily blur of excessive eating followed by forceful purging. Her looks and appearance were her only focus and, like a truly committed narcissist, she couldn’t pass a mirror or store-window without pausing to admire, or more likely criticise, herself.
Her entire life was consumed by her fixation on her appearance and the regular purging’s were to ensure that not even a fraction of an ounce of additional weight could attach itself to her body.
And she was never satisfied. She was never quite thin enough or pretty enough and while, to the rest of the world she was a happy, vivacious rising star, her private moments were filled with frustration, despair and a gnawing realization that she was miserable.
But that was her secret, never to be shared or publicly acknowledged as she continued to face the world each day with a fixed smile and a well rehearsed script describing her happiness with her own life.
Her ego could not bear the thought of her truth becoming known to the world and the more bulimic she became, she harder she fought to conceal her misery.
And then one day her world came crashing down.
In the midst of purging she noticed blood pouring out of her mouth. Panicked, she made a frantic call to her family doctor and a few days later was in her office explaining what had happened.
It seems her doctor knew a great deal more about these matters than Marie realized and she soon found herself struggling to keep her story together without revealing the truth.
The wise doctor finally looked at her and asked a question Marie would never forget. “How long are you going to keep ruining your life by refusing to admit what you know to be true? If you won’t admit it, you will never get past it.”
And in that moment Marie realized a truth she had spent years hiding from.
And she burst into tears.
And it all came tumbling out.
The need for recognition.
And as her truth poured out Marie felt something she had never felt before.
A sense of catharsis. A feeling of being liberated, released from self-imposed torture.
And on that day her life changed forever.
She became a committed devotee to The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections.
With the help of her doctor, a skilled counsellor and the support of loving friends and family her bulimia soon become a footnote in her personal history and, no longer obsessed with her weight and appearance, she began building a life that today includes a devoted husband of 23 years, two wonderful children, a career she loves and a life she cherishes.
None of which would have been possible had she not adopted The Habit of Acknowledging Your Imperfections.
Marie’s story is an important message for us all. The fear of our deepest, darkest secrets being exposed is enough to keep many of us living lives of despair driven by a radical misunderstanding of a fundamental truth: we are never stronger than in the moment when we acknowledge our weaknesses and ask for help.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.