Losing battles, my heart and a blunt instrument, and a first attempt at a new humility
When I stopped eating sugar six and a half years ago, I admitted that I have no power over it. That if sugar and I ever end up in a battle again, sugar will win. I will lose. It’s that simple. And that’s ok. I don’t battle with sugar anymore. There is no need. It is the reigning victor.
In other words, do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy? Do I want to prove that I have willpower and nothing can beat me, or do I want to live in peace? I choose happiness and peace. I choose to acknowledge my weakness and my humanity. Not just acknowledge them. Honor them. Give them their proper place and their due. Have some humility.
Because I understand that I am going to have to submit in some way. I cannot have it “my way”. My way does not actually exist. I cannot eat a little bit and stop. Which is not actually “my way” either. “My way” would be to eat and eat and eat and not be fat. Or obsessed to the point that I am careless of others. My way would be to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, with no consequences. Anybody know the secret to that? (Even if you said yes, I wouldn’t believe you.) So I can submit to the acceptance of my weakness and forfeit sugar as an option. Or I can try to control sugar. And control myself around sugar. But I have a lifetime of experience that assures me that I will just end up having to submit to sugar in the end. And be its slave. So I give sugar its rightful throne. And stay the hell out of its kingdom.
But the longer I have my food under control, the more I learn that I have no power over other things too. So many things. More and more things than I ever imagined. And it turns out that I have no control over my heart. I cannot control my feelings.
Let me make some distinctions. I am not talking about my thinking. I absolutely get to choose what I think. And what kinds of thoughts I think. I can stop thoughts. I can redirect my focus. This is important. It is an excellent skill to have. I cultivate it. If I have a thought about how great chocolate cake is, I stop thinking that thought. I cannot afford to romance thoughts about foods I don’t eat anymore. Foods that will kill me. Foods that will torture me first, and then kill me. If I am feeling like life is unfair, and I am throwing myself a pity party, I can list the things I have to be grateful for. I do have power over my thoughts.
The other distinction I want to make is about shutting my heart down. I can do that too. It is a skill of sorts. It was very useful in my early life. It saved me as a child. I had a pain that was too big for a little girl to deal with. Fear that was too dark and scary. But this is not what I’m talking about either. Because shutting my heart down is not like using an exact tool for performing detailed work. It is a blunt instrument. It is all or nothing. My heart is either on, or it’s off. If it’s off, there is numb. If it’s on, there is whatever there is. And that’s what I’m talking about. When it’s on, I have no power over what comes out of it.
I have this agreement with God that I will not “take my toys and go home”. I originally made this promise about men. That I will not run away as soon as I think I might get hurt. That I will not stop caring to avoid pain. That I will follow every relationship to its natural conclusion. That I will be available for whatever a relationship has to offer. And if it’s pain and getting hurt, that I’ll stick around to get hurt. (Oh yeah. Huge fan of this agreement with God…) But what is starting to dawn on me is that I choose shutting down with all sorts of situations. I have spent my entire life trying to control my feelings. So I don’t feel disappointed. Or hurt. Or frustrated. Or angry.
And I have been thinking of this shutting down as a kind of power. That I have power over my feelings. But I do not. If my heart is open, I’m feeling whatever I’m feeling. If I let my heart be open.
So I’ve just come to the conclusion that on is better than off. All the time. That there is no such thing as a bad feeling. Even if the feeling is jealousy or greed or anger. Even if it’s something that I’ve been told to think of as shameful or wrong.
This is new for me. And I’m going to tell you I’m scared. Because I don’t really know what it will mean to stop fighting my feelings. I don’t know what that looks like when practiced and applied. And because I want so much to be a good person. And I’m so afraid of my dark side. And that it is just another log on the fire of my unlovableness. But if I am going to be honest, I have to admit that I am powerless over my heart. And the more I resist it, the more exhausted I am.