Hilde Elbers

Mijn verhaal/ My story

Artist – Addict – human beingselfportrait ending

Hello I am Hilde and for most of my life I have been an Artist (I still am actually) I made my dreams come true when I became a professional dancer! I danced for amazing companies and toured Nationally and Internationally. I was filled gratitude.

But simultaneously a devastating inner critic ruled me. Always convincing me I was not good enough, not worthy of love, had to be better, train harder, be a nicer human being. This voice was the soundtrack of my life. No matter how good things were on the outside, on the inside I felt miserable, lonely and unwanted. I furiously believed that I was a faulty human being who did not had the right to exist. I constantly had to prove to myself and the world that I could take up a tiny bit of space. I did not believe that being me just as I was, was going to cut the cake!

I kept on searching for ways to tame my inner critic and turned into may different directions and spiritual endeavors. I tried with all my might to feel wholesome and complete but I did not manage.

I felt lonely isolated and fearful.

I felt like that since I was about 1,5 years old.

I was a sensitive child, and grew up in an emotionally deprived environment. I tried hard to belong and find connection. At the end of a long and fruitless search I turned to food to give me the nurture I was so desperate for. Offcourse this was not real nurture: Instead of giving real sustenance it made me run further and further from the bottomless black holes I felt living inside me. And no matter how much food I ate to fill the holes it was never enough. Instead it left them wide open and souring whilst creating more havoc and despair in the process.

It was hard for me to live life and accept its natural highs and lows. Its positive and negative experiences.The fact that everything constantly changes and all is impermanent baffled me. The very nature of suffering to hard to bare. I did not get it: how did other people seemed to live life so easily? What was wrong with me?

At the age of 15 bulimia started to rule my world. It sneaked up on me promising a way out of my anxiety and pains. When i overate i felt safe for a moment. Dulled by extreme amounts of food for a tiny while I did not have to endure my challenges. Offcourse this came with a price tag. I hated myself even more, isolated myself. And got addicted. Kinda like a slick looking moneylender offering me a bargain whilst hiding the small print. And thus before I knew it I was in depth. He had me under his spell. And I had to pay more and more to satisfy this cruel moneylender.

I knew in the back of my mind that I was not behaving in a healthy way. I wanted to quit my destructive behavior but the moneylender did not let me. Knowing that what I did was not healthy and not being able to change it ate me alive. My inner critic feasted on that and became even stronger.

Dance and the arts were my outlet. My temporary safe haven. Where I could forget for a IMG_3065moment. On stage I found the unity and warmth I was craving for. Becoming one with something bigger then myself that gave me joy and fulfillment. Creativity was the crunch that kept me in the game! At least as long as my nasty critic would shut his mouth! (Maybe I should have fed him cookies)

When I reached the age of 24 I committed myself into an eating disorder clinic. For the first time in my life I felt really understood. Surrounded by people whit similar kind of problematics I felt safe and at home. But it was not enough! The therapy mainly focussed on the mental aspects. It allowed me to stop the purging part of my disease but I never embodied my pains and fears. I never felt my emotions physically. And so the overeating eating persisted. Subconsciously I was still convinced a cookie would have the power to love me! And a snickers would embrace me when I felt lonely. Greasy fries would protect me! slaying my demons with mayonnaise and ketchup.

As long as your body does not feel and embody you can reason all you want with yourself. Lasting and deep change won’t happen. It is only when the body mind connection gets strengthened and starts to dialogue that one can defeat the monstrous grip of addiction. (ore change any other kind of behavior that does not serve once well being)

As a Dancer I used my body to its maximum and it functioned like a well oiled machine. But I lacked real connection to my body. I could not feel when I was hungry ore cold. I dismissed the signs it gave me. When I was tired I ate cookies. (although sleeping would have been more beneficial) When I was sad ore happy I ate cookies. (instead of crying and laughing)

I always believed that dancing was a way to express feelings and emotions that are difficult to IMG_3003put into words ore identify. And that dance was a tool for healing. However amazing the outlet of dance was I kept on overeating. (darn those chocolate chip cookies)

Until my path crossed the path of TAMALPA in 2014. A revolutionary movement based expressive arts therapy method.Here I could use dance as a means of healing and expression of my inner life.It was a safe place to channel all of my emotions letting the art hold my difficulties.Using Dance, drawing, poetry vocalizing and improvisational performance it enlivened the dialogue between my body and my imagination. My life experiences and my art making.

It gave me  powerful tools and a real connection to my inner world and my emotions.I could dance my anger, let my shame write a monologue and Draw my confusion. And so the arts did for me what cognitive behavioral therapy alone could not do. It bypassed the rational brain. It let my creative self speak and enabled my unconscious to help me out. My body could speak its story’s. And I found the nurture love and sustainment I was looking for in the thing I used to despise the most: My body

Tamalpa send me on a journey to myself.I don’t need to compulsively eat cookies anymore.I found a wholesome and fulfilling way of living.I can withstand my inner critic and I’ve send the moneylender on a long term holiday.

It’s not an easy journey and the hungry ghost of my past trauma’s and my old way of thinking still surface from time to time.But now I can look at them and host them. Serve them a cup of tea and a piece of pie if they like. But I don’t need to act upon their poisonous whisperings.

Graduated from Tamalpa  my live’s mission is to bring this movement based expressive arts work to others who are struggling and into my art making. I hope many people will find their way to live more wholesome and fulfilling lives.

And re -dis- cover who they are and what they want to be.  And I would be honored to be of service to you and help you on your journey.

Mail me to book a appointment: Elbershilde@gmail.com