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The Interdisciplinary Work of Lyss England

Posts tagged self love

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Content: mention of self harm, suicidal ideation, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, rape, disordered eating, self-harm, consensual sex, naked bodies, posting nudes online

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There are two things you need to know about me right off the bat if we’re going to talk about this:

1. I used to be really into self harming and I also have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The combination of these things manifested for me as an eating disorder when I was a teenager and coping with trauma. I developed dysmorphia, which means I didn’t see myself the way I was. The way I saw myself was distorted.

2. I was raped when I was seventeen.

Okay, heavy, I know. But it’s all good, I’m still here. And, no word of a lie, taking and generously sharing nude photographs was one of the key contributions of my wellness plan during, arguably, the most significant time in my recovery.

I was in university, the most crushing waves of grief around my mom’s death had run their course, I had my own apartment, and I had embarked upon the most exciting a sexually adventurous relationship of my life. I was learning that sex could be powerful and sweet and absolutely filthy all at once and it was incredibly healing. This intimate new relationship also meant that I was accountable to a person who cared deeply about me and who I connected with on a level I’d barely even ever dreamed was possible before it happened. It meant I had to stop cutting and start eating, even if it was almost unbearably uncomfortable.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by obsessions, often in the form of “intrusive thoughts” that infiltrate your brain repeatedly until you’re ready to do anything to get rid of them. My intrusive thoughts focus on either contamination or suicide. I’m either obsessed with the things in food I become convinced are killing me or I’m repeating over and over in my head “I wanna die I wanna die I wanna die…”. Starving myself became one of my compulsions. I’d go through rituals around counting calories or simply restricting compulsively. When that stopped being a feasible option since it became so difficult to hide, I decided I needed to find a healthier way of feeling good and in control of my body.

The good news is that, as I mentioned, this was also a sexually explosive time in my life. I was living an hour and a half away from my new partner and, as many young couples do, we used technology to stay connected (okay, and to get off). We’d sext and send nudes and I realized how much I got off on it. I loved the intimacy, the (seemingly, anyway) undivided attention, and providing something that gave pleasure to someone who gave me so much pleasure. I got to engage with my own body on my terms in a way that felt good to me- a huge deal for any sexual assault survivor and for someone who had a history of disordered eating. I was finally feeling good in my body.

I started a blog of nude photos online. I loved the engagement, just being honest and confident in my body. Repeatedly posting photos where I had chosen the pose, the body part(s), the time of day I posted- everything. I got to choose how I responded to any comments (if at all). I got to choose my aesthetic- trashy, authentic punk girl. I came up with a name (based on a song my partner had written about my blowjob skills) and it was a blast. There’s something about repetition that really works for me. Repetition and intentionality. Writing things out (like “things that feel good“, saying things out loud a few times, and posting nudes.

I had control, I had a reaction, and I was learning what it felt like to love and appreciate the body I was in and the ways in which it contributed to me feeling good.

I read about a woman who was a professional (or semi-professional?) vocalist. When she lost her hearing, she learned to memorize the way the sounds felt in her body. That’s kind of how I  started to feel about my body when I was posting nudes regularly as a person with dysmorphia. Each time I went through the process, it felt good. So I began to associate my body with good. Being in my body felt good, and that is something I’m grateful I learned.

I don’t post nudes publicly anymore, though I sometimes send them to my partner or my girlfriends. But I still hold on to that feeling. It’s like that work during that time in my process flipped a switch for me. I can honestly say that taking nudes contributed positively to my mental health.

Listen to the Podcast HERE!

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Leisse Wilcox is a mindset coach and writer from a tiny beachfront town east of Toronto. A mom of three little girls, her passion is working with women to help them dig deep, get clear and confident with who they really are, and help them find, express, and use their voice for good, in a lifestyle-friendly way. Using her uniquely grounded and peacefully honest perspective, she has spoken, been published, and consulted internationally on subjects ranging from self-love, parenting, healing old wounds and creating new behaviour patterns, and social media brand strategy and authenticity.

When not engaged with clients or kids, Leisse can be found stargazing, dreaming about an A-frame cabin in the woods, or anywhere the tacos are.”

We talk all about Leisse’s work. One thing we talk about a lot is, as Leisse puts it, “the paradox of positivity”.

Featuring:

“Positivity Does Not Mean You Get to Tune Out Your Shit” By Leisse Wilcox
“How to Escape and Prevent Toxic Communities” By Lyss England

Featured Tunes:

Lovin’ You Baby by Charles Bradley & The Menahan Street Band
11:11 By Arkells
Good Lover by Donovan Woods
Make It Happen by John Splithoff

After I’ve opened myself
A thousand times
-More than that
Uncountable times
Exposed the insides
That I wear so outwardly
You would think that
Maybe
I would find some way
To feel held
By the fractured ice,
By salt stains, bright lights
But as it turns out,
It is me
My plain language
My “could be pretty” face
My still-too-big body
Where I sit with my
Self-loathing
Where I turn it into
Care and compassion and the
Tight embrace
I have searched through
Winter for
For eleven years.

Dear you,

This isn’t the first time I’ve written to you. But here I am, addressing my anger. I”m angry that you can’t seem to comprehend the effect you have on the people around you. I’m angry that you make decisions that hurt me over and over and over. I’m angry to have found out how many truths you withheld from me when here I was thinking we were best friends. I told you everything. I made myself vulnerable to you in such a real way, and when I did that, you said it was too much for you. And then I removed any responsibility from you to care for me and you go and try and bail in a big way. The biggest way.

I guess there it is. I’m angry that you tried to leave, even after I thought I had managed my expectations in a way that was more reasonable (if unbalanced). I didn’t do a good enough job of managing my expectations. It turns out you are not capable of being held accountable for any of your actions after all. Because you’re unwell. I don’t know if that’s inherently true, but I do know that it is your truth. And that I need to accept it as my own truth.

I guess the reason I’m still angry if because you made me feel less alone. I knew that you could relate to all the weird shit I experience that most people don’t. I thought you were committed to managing it. Living with it. Not letting it be who you are. But I guess it is. At least now.

The good news is that this anger gives me the ability to do-over what I was too young to do the first time someone I loved this much bailed. To manage my grief so that I feel it and address it and accept it without letting it scar me the way it did when she left. Or when I perceived her as leaving.

I know now that she never really left, her soul just isn’t in her body in this world. I know that she’s alive in the curve where my leg meets my torso and in the smooth black stones that line the bottom of Lake Ontario.

I feel so grateful to be alive. This is different. I can’t change your choices. All I can do is accept them. Accept you as you choose to be.

Love, tenderness, acceptance, devastation,
Lyss