Archive for January, 2012

First, a healthy relationship with Self

January 12th, 2012

Carré Otis

When was the last time you honestly asked yourself, “How do I feel about me?” “How do I see myself?” Simple and obvious? Maybe not so much.

How we feel about ourselves and bodies affects much more than I think we realize. Our self image, confidence and feelings of self worth ricochet out through the universe — and certainly the universe of our daily lives and interactions. Our feelings impact other people, shaping their feelings about us as well as about themselves.

Do you feel happy? Confident? Beautiful? Centered in your place and mission in your workplace? At home? In relationship? With your children? With self and others?

Self-love is the battery that powers every other kind of love.

I believe many of us suffer the effects of living on an autopilot of low self esteem and negativity. We’re shut down, dismissing the very need to be in healthy dialogue with our inner selves.. The relationship with self must be nurtured first before we can expect to experience fulfilling and reciprocated relationships in other areas of our lives. Self-love is the battery that powers every other kind of love.

By inquiring inwardly about the exact nature of the relationship we have with our self we can identify where that nurturing might need to take place. Let me explain what that looks like.

Carré Otis

Me at the height of my anorexia -Photo from Beauty, Disrupted

A decade ago, when I was actively working on recovering from 20 years of anorexia, I began to unravel and understand the exact dialogue I was unconsciously having with myself. I used harsh words of judgement and criticism to cover up the fear and loneliness I was experiencing. I was angry, but I was persevering in my healing process.

One day, after a long session with my therapist, I was at home attempting to prepare a meal. Food preparation was part of my therapy and it invoked fear and dread. I was still convinced food equalled fat and that my body would betray me. As I numbly cut vegetables and watched the clock on my brown rice, I became acutely aware of the discussion that was going on within. “Bad. Fat. Ugly.” The words grew louder. Like a cruel mantra these words encircled me. I was amazed and saddened. Was this really the way I spoke to myself? I picked up the phone to report this discovery to my therapist. I felt like finally the crust of ignorance had been cracked and I finally knew exactly what that unconscious dialogue was.

For the first time, crucially, I experienced true compassion for myself. I felt heartbroken for the woman standing alone in the kitchen. Saddened that anyone, let alone my own self would call her such terrible names. Intellectually, I knew I wasn’t bad or fat or ugly, but those words had played automatically in my head for so long that I believed them almost at my core.

Over the next few months I worked diligently to break this automatic response. My mantra shifted, slowly, to one of love and affirmation. I counteracted the negative every time I caught it and learned to closely monitor my triggers, understanding that any time I felt frightened or alone I tended to go on an abusive inner rant.

Meditating on this carefully and patiently helped to arm me with some basic defenses. Deep breathing and journaling did their healing work. Slowly, and it was slowly, my relationship with myself became one of love, respect and compassion.

It took years of solo work and transformation to see how this inner relationship with self affected every single thing around me, from job opportunities to relationships with friends and lovers.
By taking responsibility for how I felt about myself I was able to transform my relationship with the outside world.

There are some questions that we must ask ourselves. And as hard as the search for the true answers will be, the transformation we experience and the gifts that come from the resulting balance are worth the work. But we can’t leave a single stone unturned.

A Sensual and Safe 2012

January 3rd, 2012

With the close of 2011 and the birth of 2012, I can’t help but breath a sigh of relief that I am here. Finally here. It has been a year of challenges and blessings. And I am so thankful that the anticipation of my new memoir is, for the most part, now behind me!

Since Beauty, Disrupted was published in October, I have traveled to New York and paid my dues on the talk show circuit. Despite the obvious and consistently anticipated questions regarding my ‘previous lifetime’ I have been thrilled with the greater discussions my book has elicited.

Anne and I on the Today Show

Anne and I on the Today Show

I will never forget being backstage in the ‘green room’ of the Today Show. I had about an hour before I was to go on live with Anne Curry, so my PR team used that time to schedule a phone interview with a women’s magazine. I had sat across from journalist after journalist and  been asked again and again about my first marriage. The questions were all the same, and I was beginning to wonder if anyone had bothered to read any other sections in my book! I would try to meet each question as if they were the first brilliant person to ask me but towards the end of my tour I was becoming a bit exasperated. Finally, in that green room phone call, a lovely British gal dropped the bomb;

“So Carré, I know what everyone is asking. But what I want to ask you is about something else in your book.” She giggled.

“Please do”, I replied, eager to hear what had her so excited.

“Can we please talk about the orgasm?” she roared.

Finally! I thought to myself. At last, someone wants to dive in to the good stuff! I laughed out loud.

“Thank you! Finally someone wants to talk about the ORGASM! Oh my goodness, lets please do!”

That was the first of many future conversations I’ve been able to have around sexuality since the book was published.  In Beauty, Disrupted, I note that I never had an orgasm with my first husband or with any other lover.  It was not until I met Matthew, and did some intense and important inner work, that I at last got to the place where I could experience that level of intimacy with another human being.  It was a tremendous breakthrough.

Hearing other women’s reactions to my story showed me how much hunger there is to talk about “the orgasm.”  This now seems to be the wonderful centerpiece of almost every interview and conversation I have with women in response to my book. It’s as if the invitation has been accepted and there is no turning back. From women in my Pilates class who have been married 30 years and have always faked an orgasm to girls in their teens and 20’s who have never experienced orgasm (even by themselves), left and right I seem to be engaged in one of the most exciting, insightful and honoring dialogues of my life!

Here’s a shameless plug: if I have lost any of you here, please go and buy yourself a copy of my memoir! Part of my journey I share is about recovering sexual intimacy. I decided to be bold and to write about this because almost every woman I know has experienced some aspect of sexual dysfunction. (Can we even call it that?) Many of us have, unfortunately, endured sexual abuse in some form or another. And on my path of healing, although I have recovered from so much, that last door of sexual recovery was perhaps the most terrifying one through which I had to walk.

As a result of these conversations, I am focusing my energies on a new book on this subject.  I am excited about taking this dialogue about sex — and the Big O — a step  further.  It’s time to tell the stories that aren’t getting told.  It’s time to write about how we stop being performers and start learning how to accept pleasure.  We all deserve to be in loving and intimate relationships — first and foremost with ourselves, and then with a partner if we so choose.

Here is to a prosperous and safe 2012, full of love and clarity and healing for all!