Commitment, surrender, and God’s totally effed up sense of humor
There were two things that I had to figure out before I could make a lasting change for my life around food: commitment and surrender.
Commitment was where I had to agree, between me and God, that circumstances and situations had no bearing on whether or not I would stay within my food boundaries. I had to recognize that there would always always be some reason to cross them. That even the most paltry excuse could be rationalized. That even the most valid reason would still lead me straight back to bulimia, 300 lbs, misery, and insanity.
And I have kept my food boundaries through some crazy things. 2 years ago my grandmother, who was the love of my life, got sick. She passed away about 4 months later. About a week after that, my favorite aunt, who was also my godmother, and way too young to die, was diagnosed with cancer, and again, was gone within about 4 months. That was a hard year for me. From April to November I did a lot of crying. But I stayed within my food boundaries. While they were in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice care. During regular updates from my parents about their rapid deteriorations. At their funerals. Throughout the traveling back and forth to my hometown. It didn’t matter that I was sad. It didn’t matter that life sucked. The only thing that mattered when it came to my food was that I had boundaries and a commitment to stay within them.
Would you have blamed me if I had eaten a chocolate cake? Probably not, right? But I had made an agreement with God. That circumstances and situations have nothing to do with my food. That my feelings have nothing to do with my food. That my life has nothing to do with my food.
The other part was surrender. Surrender was when I stopped asking why. Why me? Why do I have to give up sugar to be happy? Why do I have to have boundaries? Why can’t I just eat like a normal person? I stopped complaining. It’s not fair. It’s hard. It’s too much. It’s too rigid. Nobody else has to do this. People are going to think I’m weird. I stopped looking for it to be easy. I stopped wishing for it to be convenient. I accepted that I had been given a solution, and stopped trying to renegotiate the terms. I surrendered to it exactly the way it was. And surrender brought me peace. Is there something better or easier or more convenient out there? The truth is I don’t know. And I don’t care. I have no desire to give up my solution for even a moment in order to find out. That’s what I mean by surrender.
So let’s get to God, and His totally effed up sense of humor.
If you don’t know, I quit smoking 11 days ago. I made a commitment to myself and God. And I surrendered to the fact that smoking is just not something I do anymore. I think having a point of reference with food probably made it easier to do it with cigarettes. But commitments get tested. That’s actually the definition of a commitment if you think about it. If it didn’t take something, some strength or honor, to make and keep it, it would be called something else.
Ok, backtrack two weeks. I was still smoking at the time. One night, I was physically threatened, by a man I was becoming friends with. He told me he had no reservations about punching me in the face. (Over this blog, actually. Which I still don’t understand…) Needless to say, I walked away. It was obvious that we weren’t going to be friends, and I didn’t think too much about it after that.
A few days later, on my 35th birthday, I quit smoking, as was the plan. The smoking itself wasn’t so hard to give up. I didn’t miss it. I had already changed my thinking about it. I had committed and surrendered. But the feelings were pretty awful. Just regular life feelings. But they were hard to deal with. It became clear to me that I had been smoking those feelings. And now I didn’t have cigarettes to numb them anymore.
And then a week after I quit, I got a text message from the guy who threatened me. He wanted to know if we could reconcile. I was gracious. But I told him no. And I went to bed.
I woke up to a series of progressively more upsetting texts from him. Amorous texts. Too forward. Too intimate to come from someone I had never touched or kissed or even been on a date with. Or whose last words to me had been violent. The texts scared me. So much that I went to the police station after work. (After dinner actually. Because food first. Always.) I filed a harassment report.
But I could practically hear God. “It’s only been a week. So I’m wondering. How committed are you, Kate? How about if I make you scared for your safety? Those are some pretty intense feelings, huh? You still not gonna smoke?”
Yes, God. I’m still not gonna smoke. But you do realize that you are totally twisted, right?
“Oh, yeah. I know. But I’m proud of you, Kate. I honor your commitment and surrender. You’re doing good work.”
Part of me wants to tell God to go to hell, of course. But there is another part of me that is grateful. Because this experience has actually been an opportunity. Because by honoring my commitment not to smoke in the face of real fear, I get a look at how powerful I am. I get a boost to my self-esteem. And I get to recognize that I can make the choice that no circumstance, situation, and maybe more importantly, no person, gets a say in how I live my life.
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