The Blessings of Benchmarks and Bare Minimums
I have been particularly fortunate over the past several months. I have been working less, but I have been working consistently. And while my husband and I are not making as much money as we were last year, we have never suffered financially through this difficult time.
I have enjoyed the lightened work load, frankly. I am not a workaholic. I like more free time, not less. I like to do nothing. I like to do nothing for whole days. I used to feel like this made me lazy. And I am sure that is how it occurred to people when I was in the food and getting nothing done.
But in having my eating under control, I have learned how to manage work and rest. I have learned how to be incredibly productive, and also make time to be a vegetable on the couch. I know how to feel accomplished by accomplishing things, and to accept that I not only like, but need, a ridiculous amount of down time.
When I got my sugar addiction under wraps, my experience of time changed much like my experience of food. When I was eating compulsively, I was obsessed with food, but I was miserable all of the time. Either I was eating something I wanted, but felt guilty for eating it, or I was eating something I felt I should be eating, but hating it the whole time. I was either lamenting chocolate cake while it was in my mouth, thinking I was a bad girl, or suffering through lettuce or celery, hating the experience of being a good girl. Either way, I had set myself up to be miserable around food.
But then I put boundaries around my eating, and suddenly I was eating guilt-free. And that was a revelation. That was the greatest part of getting my eating under control; following rules eliminated guilt by giving me bare minimums and benchmarks. As long as I hit my marks, I could eat with impunity.
Time is much the same for me now. Before I was trapped in my own narrative about not being good enough. I thought I was lazy. I thought I was incapable. I thought I was ill-equipped to do anything worthwhile. And in many ways, my addiction made that true. I was always second guessing myself. I was easily overwhelmed. I was constantly afraid of failing, and failed because that fear meant I was unwilling, or unable to try. But since I got my addiction on a leash, I can see the bare minimums and the benchmarks. As long as I hit them, do the work that needs to get done, send the email, make the call, follow up, get to the next right action, I don’t have to worry about a day spent watching mindless TV, or listening to a book, or crafting. I don’t have to feel guilty about a day in my pajamas.
I was never super woman. But somehow I always felt like I should have been. Now I don’t worry about how to be “great,” I worry about how to honor my word and keep my integrity intact. And I often end up being great anyway. And sometimes I’m just meh. And every time, whether I’m just so good, or just so-so, it’s enough.
I am in the beginning stages of a very big job right now. I am doing the slow dance of bureaucracy, getting big things done, one small step at a time. But it is stressful. And it is exciting. And while today I have to go grocery shopping, and prep lunches for the week, and be emotionally and practically ready to jump through hoops and wait in lines and navigate a maze of red tape, yesterday I did a whole bunch of nothing. And it made today possible, and bearable, and I don’t feel bad about it at all. And to not feel bad about myself is perhaps the second best thing about getting my eating under control. Because guilt-free eating is still, and will probably always be the first best thing ever.