So I’m getting nervous. About what you think of me. Wondering if you’re feeling sorry for me. Think I’m a Debbie Downer. I feel like I’ve been giving you rather melancholy stories. All deep, and emotional. So I want to say, I swear to God, I’m a lot of fun at parties! (Not that I go to that many parties…But when I do – super fun!) I do, in fact, know how to tell light, funny stories. I’m quick, and I love to laugh. I am not all gloom and doom all the time. (Plus, I’m a fantastic dancer!)
The truth is, having the first 28 years of my life be difficult, and painful, and having eating disorders was perhaps the best thing to ever happen to me. If I had simply been mildly maladjusted, I may have been able to live with that. I may have had a “fine” life. (Of course, who knows?) What I can tell you, is that I was a miserable wretch with some serious food issues, and some serious behavior issues, and they were tied together. So to deal with one part, I had to deal with the other. And that offered me two beautiful gifts. The first is to know the glory of honesty, self-respect, and peace because I know the ugliness of dishonesty, shame, and desperation. To see that without the distinction of one set of experiences, I would not have either such a clear understanding of, or so much gratitude for the other. (I mean that going both ways.)
The second is the opportunity to live a life of deep, and ever-expanding integrity. Which is, by far, the most awe and peace inspiring experience I have ever had.
The truth is, I live with a relatively steady stream of low-level anxiety. I worry pretty much constantly. Sometimes, I’ll be getting a massage and I’ll be worrying about whether I silenced my phone. And what I will do if the phone rings in the middle of my massage. And if I should stop her now and make sure my phone is off. And sometimes I pray for it to ring so I know and I can turn it off. I worry about nonsense in the middle of the thing I do to relax!
But the worries I have now, are nothing like the worries I had when my eating was out of control. Now I worry about vagaries in the uncertain future. Nonsense, like my phone ringing at the massage place. Failure, like will I be able to get the 3-year-old I take care of to go to sleep. And things I have no control over, like the MTA, or what you think of this blog. But none of these kinds of worries haunt me.
I used to worry about real things. Serious things. Things that eat at your heart. Lies I told. Ways I cheated. Things I stole. Broken promises. Lies told to hide broken promises. Things I said I would do and didn’t. Things I said I wouldn’t do and did. There was no relationship between what I said and what I did or how I felt. I did all of these things with the aim of making my life easier. And instead I made my life unbearable.
I am not saying that I live a life of perfect integrity now. I don’t even believe that is possible. Life is messy. I have many many messes I have yet to clean up. I have a bajillion glaring breaches in my integrity that I have not dealt with. I make new ones all the time. (It helps that, for the most part, I clean as I go now.) But I no longer believe I have the right to use dishonesty to make my life “easier”. My word means something to me. I honor it. I try to follow three rules. Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Be where you say you’re going to be when you say you’re going to be there. And tell the truth. This alone has eliminated an entire world of stress and upset for me. This has given me such a beautiful, easy, fun life!
No, seriously. I love my life! I look forward to waking up every day. I am regularly brimming with gratitude. All because I am not worried and haunted and filled with dread about all of the ways I dishonored myself and the people in my life. I love my life because I can look God in the eye.
There is a phrase I use that friends sometimes tease me about. A tag line, if you will. “I’m grateful.” I say it when someone holds a door for me. When someone gives me a compliment. When someone lets me pass them on a crowded sidewalk. When the barista hands me my americano. When the grocery store check-out person hands me my change. And I mean it! Truly and sincerely. I’m grateful.
I am grateful every day. I am a generally cheerful person. A bad start doesn’t mean a rotten day. A difficult situation doesn’t mean I can’t laugh about it. Or at least laugh about something. I have learned that when I don’t eat a bad feeling, it will pass. If I don’t eat a difficult situation, the answer will come. If I don’t eat to get through something, I will actually get through it. And what is on the other side is dignity. And self-respect. Which bring peace. What is on the other side is a really beautiful life!
So if you’ve been feeling sorry for me, don’t! Don’t feel sorry for me because I can’t eat chocolate anymore. Not because I was an unhappy kid. Not because I have a sensitive heart. I’m a joyful woman who is learning how to navigate life with peace, grace and gratitude. I am a woman who loves life! And I promise, I do not miss chocolate. Not even a little. Life is rich and sweet enough for me.