Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “February, 2015”

Praying to a Magic 8 Ball or sitting in a chair

I was talking to some friends recently and one of them gave a beautiful analogy about faith.

There is a chair. Do you have faith in the chair? Words about having faith in the chair are meaningless. You can say you have faith in the chair, but you show your faith in the chair by sitting in it. You may truly believe the chair will hold you, but unless you sit in it, your faith is meaningless.

I was raised Catholic. I believed in God as a little kid. When I got older, I stopped. Then I believed. Then I stopped. Then I believed. Around and around.

The reason I was able to go around and around was that I never “sat in the chair.” Faith was something decorative like a painting, or maybe more of a kitschy novelty like a Magic 8 Ball, but never something practical, like a chair. I would live as if God had no part in my day to day life. I would do whatever I could to make things go the way I wanted them to. And then when things were going badly, or I wanted something I wasn’t going to get, I “prayed” for a miracle. It was always about what I wanted. And in the most short-sighted, specific way imaginable. Not that I wanted peace, or love, or security, but that I wanted that apartment that I didn’t get, or that boyfriend who didn’t like me back, or those shoes they didn’t have in my size. And I wanted the old, white-haired, white dude in heaven to make that happen.

As a Catholic child I absolutely conceptualized God as the love-child of Charlton Heston and Merlin sitting on a big Throne in the clouds. But now, I do not have an anthropomorphized vision of God. Now my belief can be considered a belief in the general benevolence of life. I believe that when I meet the circumstances in my life with integrity and honor, I always end up better, and with better circumstances than I had. And I have come to trust that the pains and the dips and the falls are not setbacks. They are simply me not getting what I want. And I have come to trust that if I am not getting what I want, it is because it is better not to.

Lately, there has been a lot of me not getting what I want. Quite a bit of sadness and frustration. Lots of disappointments. And I do get disappointed when I want things and my life doesn’t work out that way. I could exhaust myself trying to get what I think I want. But instead this is where I exercise my faith. This is where I sit in the chair.

When I was eating sugar, I used food to numb difficult emotions. When I stopped eating compulsively, I learned how to bear uncomfortable feelings. I had to. There was no other option. And it turns out to be an incredibly useful skill. It has made me calmer, happier and stronger. And it let me have faith, because I suddenly had a means of showing it. I could be still and let things be the way they were. I could sit in the chair.


Sorry, not sorry

What are you willing to do to win?

Are you willing to lie? How big of a lie? A little lie? How big can a lie be before it’s not a little lie anymore. What are you willing to do to cover up that little lie you told to win? Are you willing to cheat? Are you willing to pass the blame? Are you willing to steal?

Over the years, I have figured out that winning is not my goal. For me, every day I am sober from sugar, my goal is to be simultaneously more humble and less of a doormat.

When I was eating compulsively, I spent almost all of my life apologizing for existing, but refusing to apologize for my bad behavior. I would justify it, blame other people, and just plain old lie about it, but I never just said, “I was wrong, I’m sorry.”

Now, I am committed to the opposite. I apologize for my bad behavior. And I refuse to apologize for existing. And that extends to being myself and taking care of myself. It’s the difference between being a self-righteous chump and a modest powerhouse.

To my self-righteous chump self, winning was a necessity that I was willing to do anything to achieve. To the modest powerhouse, life is not a zero-sum game.

It turns out that a lot of people have opinions about me. They have opinions about my lifestyle, my choices, and my personality. They have opinions about things that are absolutely and 100% none of their business.

That’s OK. They can have their opinions. What they cannot have are my apologies. Too bad, so sad. Sorry, not sorry.

And there is another thing that they cannot have. They cannot have a say in my heart, soul, or spirit. They cannot make me hard. I will not allow it.

I’m a sensitive person in some ways. I have very big feelings. Books and movies make me cry. Even TV shows and comic books make me cry. (Good ones, of course…)

But malice and cruelty make me cry too. Especially, but not exclusively, when they are directed at me.

My being susceptible to being hurt upsets a lot of people in my life. People who want what’s best for me want me to be harder to touch. Growing up, people used to tell me not to be so sensitive. My boyfriend tells me that when I get upset “they” win.

But I don’t think that’s true. I think “they” win when I grow a crusty layer of ice around my heart, so that I am immune to malice and cruelty.

I don’t want to be immune to malevolence. I want to be hurt by hurtful things, so that I never stop being moved by moving things, or inspired by inspiring things. I never want to forget my humanity.

I spent the first 28 years of my life trying to numb my gigantic feelings with sugar. I built fortresses around myself trying to be hard. Fortresses of fat and indifference and meanness. I ate my feelings into a 300 lb body. And it never did work, either. I was still sensitive. I just lived in a tiny world. A tiny world of self-involvement and ego.

This is better. Crying is not the end of the world. Nobody is winning when I cry. Because crying is not part of a game. It is part of being alive and aware and available for life. Which I do for myself. So, sorry, not sorry!

I love my boring life.

The past few days have been perfectly delicious. Cooking, cleaning, writing, reading, crocheting, watching TV with my boyfriend. Peace and quiet. Nothing exciting.

This life I live now is exactly the thing I was terrified of before I got sober from sugar. I knew that I needed to give up sugar. My eating disorders were making my life unbearable. But I thought all of my happiness was over. How could I ever enjoy life again without chocolate cake? Without drinks at the bar?

I was so afraid of being bored to death. I was afraid of not feeling alive. The irony is that I was so trapped in my fear and insecurity, or sometimes the fantasy life in my head, that I was not actually living.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a lot of fun when I was younger. I was definitely a party girl. And I have great friends. But fun is not happiness. Fun is not serenity. Fun is not joy. It’s just fun. And it has its place. But it is external.

Chasing fun is no longer a necessity in my life, because I have a kind of peace and contentment that comes from inside me.

A lot of the fun I was having was so I could escape thinking about the things in my life that I was ashamed of. I was so easily overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. I had so much anxiety that I didn’t know how to take a small step because I was intimidated by looking at the whole journey. So there I was letting my life pass me by, not doing things that needed to be done, telling lies to cover that up. Constantly worried about the state of my life and what was going to happen to me.

Very exciting. If you’re into that kind of thing…

For me, being sober from sugar is not just about not eating sugar. It’s about dealing with all of the things in my life that I was using sugar to avoid. Because without sugar, I was forced to deal with them. They say if you want to know what you are eating over, stop eating. All that stuff comes right up and pokes you in the forehead.

I am not done dealing with myself. The point for me is to never be done dealing with myself. And the changes I have made so far were not quick. Or clean. Or smooth.

But I got myself to a place where I don’t have to escape the life I have. I am not ashamed of myself. And I don’t have to enjoy everything. Some things in my life are not sunshine and roses, it’s true. But every day, at any given moment, I love my life. The mundane is a sweet reminder that I can be with my reality exactly the way it is and be perfectly happy.

Jeez, snow, it’s like you don’t even care…

I hate winter. And I particularly hate snow. This week we got 22 1/2 inches of snow. That’s just shy of two feet, in case you’re not up on your measurement equivalents.

The worst part of it for me, besides the general blech-ness of snow, is that it is not convenient to walk to the grocery store when there is so much. Half the sidewalks aren’t clear. And sometimes, even if the sidewalk is clear, the street plows have piled the snow right up on the side of the road blocking up the outlet. In other words you can walk on the sidewalk, but you can’t cross the street. OK, you can. But you have to climb the mountain of snow, and then when you have the green light, you have to jump into the street, run across, and quickly climb the snow mound on the other side, and jump down to the sidewalk. If it’s clear.

Thankfully, I keep my house stocked up with non-perishable food.

I was actually thinking the other day, I’m running out of food! But that was not true. If something had happened and I couldn’t get to the grocery store, I would still have had enough food for several days. If I go out and buy a few more cans of fruit, I would have enough food in my house for about a month. Right now.

It would not be my favorite foods, but I could eat within my boundaries. And that, after all, is what counts for me.

There is something deeply satisfying about knowing that I take that good care of myself. It gives a sense of safety to the general uncertainty of life.

And also, my boyfriend graciously, and generously drives me to the store whenever I ask. I am not deprived of having the best foods in all weather!

Still, I’d rather it be spring now, so I can walk to the grocery store whenever I darn well please. At least without having to worry about slipping on ice, or falling from a mound of packed snow 3 feet above the street.

Any time you’re ready, spring!

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