Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “September, 2015”

Not Down With OPI (Other People’s Integrity)

I have a problem. Lately I have been jealous of other people’s integrity, or rather, lack there of.

The other day, I, and another coworker were asked to stay late at work. Multiple people called off and there was stuff that needed to get done. I agreed to stay, albeit grudgingly, and frankly, with a bad attitude.

It was a bad day. It was no fun. I was frustrated and angry for most of it. And then the other person who agreed to stay late decided to leave.

This made me feel like a sucker. A chump. I was the a**hole who kept her word.

It wasn’t until I was calm and away from work that I got my head back on straight. My integrity is a gift. Having a relationship with my word is not an experience I endure, it is a blessing. It is a choice that makes my life amazing.

Look, the truth is, I should not have agreed to stay at work that day. I was people-pleasing. And I suffered because of it. Not to mention that I did not do my best work. But I had made a promise, I kept it, and even though it was unpleasant, I lived through it.

My word is not just about promises. When I got sober from sugar, I started making commitments about food and food boundaries. I renew those commitments every day. But more than being committed to what goes into my mouth, I am also committed to what comes out of my mouth. When I stopped eating compulsively, and I got a clear head, I stopped saying things lightly. I stopped speaking thoughtlessly.

In some ways, the kind of liar I was when I was in the food was sometimes malicious, but mostly careless. I just wasn’t connected to what I said. They were only words, I thought. So when I got food sober, I really started to take myself seriously. They were not “only words,” they were “My Word.”

It seemed to me at the time that my coworker was living an easier life because she was able to break her promise. But I already know what kind of life I lead when I feel entitled to break promises. And I would do well to remember that I was an unhappy person then. Not for a moment, but always. I didn’t like myself. Not for that day, but every day.

So a few hours of cranky resentment ended, and in the end, my word still means something.


In Defense of Giving A S*** (Please note, I use the “s” word freely in this post)

A friend of mine recently posted pictures from her trip to Burning Man this year. In one, she has a button that says “Give A Shit.”

I used to have a skill that I cultivated. It was the ability to not flinch. It was part of my “cool” persona. I was very good at it. When people did things to try to get a start out of me, I would barely react.

Not just friends playing pranks. Even when I was mugged and punched in the face when I was about 24 years old, I can still remember the look in the eyes of the guy who punched me. It clearly freaked him out that I didn’t scream or cry, or even cower. In fact, I remember looking at him with a disgusted look. I made him flinch. (Of course, I would later realize that I was a bloody mess because he punched my teeth right through my lip. I suppose that would be scary if you punched a seemingly weak girl in the face and all she did was look angry at you…)

From the time I was a very small child, I was very good at building fortresses. My fat body was a kind of fortress against intimacy. So was smoking. So was that unflinching bitch attitude. And being high on sugar.

Sugar may, in fact, have been the most useful tool I had against giving a shit. Because it made everything foggy. And surreal. And it made life-moments incidental. My real life lay in food and eating and getting high. Everything else was simply something to be endured until I could get my next fix.

But then I got my eating under control and I quit sugar all together. And then slowly, (very, very slowly…one at a time, after years of being sober from food) I dismantled my fortresses.

Because you can’t have love without pain. Because you don’t get to pick and choose what you let in. A fortress doesn’t keep the bad things out. It keeps EVERYTHING out. All of it. Not just the sadness of rejection and the pain of being wounded, but also the love and the joy and the trust and the intimacy.

I made a choice when I decided that I wanted to let myself fall in love and be loved. I made the choice to give a shit. I knew that it meant getting hurt. I was a grown woman in my 30’s. I didn’t have fairytale delusions about how love made everything easy. I was quite clear that the life I had chosen until then, behind my very secure, safe walls, was the easy way. Not giving a shit is, by far, the easier way. Love is not safe. Intimacy is not easy. It is complicated and messy.

Admitting you are wrong is scary. Making amends is scary. Restoring a broken relationship is scary. Being vulnerable is just plain terrifying.

I could make all of it go away by just not giving a shit. Still can.

But that would make the love go away too. And the joy that comes from loving. And the warmth that comes from being loved. Because ultimately, love is giving a shit.

I choose love, so I choose to give a shit. And I wish the same for you.

Winter is coming. But first, apples and hot coffee.

I love summer. Seriously. I love heat. You will never hear me complain about humidity. If I am home alone, I regularly turn off the air conditioner in the summer.

I also hate being cold. I don’t experience cold as discomfort. It is all-out pain to me. And I can get cold in temperatures in the 70s. 75 is my comfort cut off. If it’s cooler than 75 and the sun is not directly on me, I need a sweater.

I will note that this is a side effect of losing so much weight. Or maybe it has more to do with not eating sugar. When I was fat, I was hot all the time. Even in the middle of Chicago winters. I sometimes wonder if cold registers as so painful to me because it was foreign to me for so much of my life. But it has progressed. Every year I don’t eat sugar, grains or starch, the colder I get, and the higher my comfort temperature gets. 5 or so years ago, I was perfectly comfortable when it was in the high 60s.

So there is this part of me that is a little anxious about the end of summer. The leaves here are changing and it got cold last night. I am afraid of winter. And this is Chicago, so we are talking about at least 5 (and up to 8) months of pain.

But then…apples. Giant Honeycrisp apples. And Kabocha squash. And then a friend gave me a recipe for cheesecake. Real, honest-to-goodness cheesecake. Like the kind my Gram used to make for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I just have to substitute artificial sweetener for sugar.

Nature was no fool when it comes to autumn. The air smells so good. And the feeling of warm, soft clothes in the cool air is so comfortable. Hot coffee. Spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. (You might recognize them as “Pumpkin Spice.”) Not to mention things to do with friends and family. Apple picking, and pumpkin patches. Hay rides and bonfires.

What I need to remember at times like this, when I am afraid of the coming cold, is that this too, shall pass. Like all seasons. And all moments. Every winter will eventually give way to a new spring. And another summer.

Everything comes down to a day at a time. Everything is about being present in the moment. Because even in the midst of the bad, there is always plenty of good.

I first learned that with food. When I was first getting sober from sugar, I was also living in pain. My withdrawal symptoms, and the fog I lived in, lasted for a year and a half. I got through that a day at a time. Reading books and manga, taking walks, making friends.

Life will go on. Even in the freezing cold. And there will be happiness in the freezing cold. There will be fun and love and joy. And lots of crocheting. Scalding hot showers I don’t want to get out of. Ginger tea, and cranberry apple tea, and chai tea.

And, most importantly, there will be foods that I love! Apples and squash, sugar-free cheesecakes and pumpkin pies. (Because just because my eating is under control, it doesn’t mean I am neutral around food.)

A nugget of peace in my peacelessness 

Ah. Moods. They seem so real.When I got sober from sugar, I was told to be grateful. I was told be be grateful for whatever there was to be grateful for. Even if it was just that I was not eating compulsively that day. Even if it was just that I was not dead.

Gratitude may, in fact, be the opposite of addiction. The disease of addiction’s symptoms are about being self-centered, egotistical, and entitled. I got dealt a bad hand. She’s got more than I do. The world is against me. My life sucks. I deserve better. Why does he have what I want? I should have that. That should be mine.

As a food addict in the throes of my disease, I was regularly in a bad mood. And it felt real. I felt that I was being treated unfairly. I was afraid of the future. I was misunderstood. I was abused and neglected. And my body agreed. It produced all the right chemicals and hormones to defend that point of view.

I have been thinking about this because I have been in a particularly good mood, after a few days of being more easily irritated. And I don’t know why. No reason. 

Or perhaps more accurately, the “reasons” are irrelevant. I could have a good reason to be in a bad mood on any day, and still be in a good mood. Someone can be a jerk at work and I could still be perfectly happy.

Another thing I learned when I got my food under control was that while I might not be able to completely reverse a bad mood in a moment, I have the ability to change my mind about it, step away from it, and take its power away. 

Just like I do not romance thoughts about sugar and carbs, I do not romance my bad moods. I do not justify them with how real they are. Perhaps I really am being treated unfairly. Perhaps I truly am being misunderstood. That is no justification for perpetuating bad moods. I do not play them over and over in my head so that they get me all worked up. I can look at them. I can let them be. I can find a kind of peace with my peacelessness.

It’s one of the ways that I gauge my own choices, relationships, and experiences. If I can’t find that nugget of peace in my peacelessness, then I need to make a change. Quickly. 

Moods used to run my life when I was eating compulsively. I am grateful that now I run my life. I may have to accommodate a mood now and then, but ultimately, moods serve me, and not the other way around.

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