Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “gratitude”

The bare minimum, my bad attitude, and the realization that even flossing can’t save me entirely.

I am in a perfect storm of misery lately. I have an infection in one of my gums, and that means: 1) I feel sick from the infection. 2) It hurts to eat, which I must do 3 times a day, and which I usually love more than almost anything (husband not included), but which is currently being ruined by my pain. 3) I had to go through the tedium of finding out my insurance ID number, and finding a dentist in both my network and my area to treat me in the next few days rather than weeks. And 4) I had to make a dentist appointment while I deeply dislike and fear doctors and dentists in general.

I spent my first wedding anniversary moping around, dealing with the red tape of dentists’ offices and insurance companies, swishing my mouth with peroxide or salt water, and crying in frustration.

Here are some things I want to point out. I have not eaten sugar, grains, or starch for over 11 years. On most days, I brush after every meal, and always brush at least twice a day. I floss daily, often more than once. So this sort of pisses me off. I feel like I so don’t deserve this.

Here are some other things I would like to point out. I used to eat a diet almost entirely made of sugar, grains, and starch. I was not always a rigorous brusher, and never flossed until about 10 years ago. I only recently got insurance so I have not kept up with regular maintenance like cleaning and checkups for years. I don’t like to think about these things when I am slamming up against “the unfairness” of life.

Life has pain. If one is lucky enough to live any length of time, one will experience it. That I live a generally pain-free existence means I am lucky, not that I have done something to deserve it. Not even flossing.

People I know who also keep boundaries around their food would call this “A No Matter What.” Part of our lingo is to say that we don’t eat no matter what. (What we mean is that we don’t eat compulsively under any circumstances, because, of course, we do eat 3 meals a day within our boundaries.) So we use the term “no matter what” as a noun when we are describing those circumstances that could potentially throw us back into acting out our sugar addiction.

All of those things I mentioned at the beginning are “no matter whats” for me. I don’t want to eat. I want to skip meals because it hurts to eat them. I want to eat “comfort food” because I don’t feel well. I want to numb out rather than have to do the footwork to make an appointment with an appropriate dentist, because that kind of big-girl-panties stuff is always overwhelming and scary to me. And I really don’t want to go to the appointment I made in the first place because I am afraid. I am afraid of the pain and the cost and just generally having to come face to face with the truth about the state of my health.

That last one, having to face the truth about my body, is probably one of my all-time biggest struggles. I don’t like to look at uncomfortable realities, kind of ever, but especially about my body or my health. I mean, I weighed 300 pounds at one point. I was doing a lot of eye-covering and la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you-ing. I do make a point to live a relatively healthy lifestyle now. But I like going along in the predictable, and making changes and growing because I want to, not because I have been forced to. And that is not the way life goes.

I know that I am not alone. Plenty of people don’t choose to look at the reality of their health. There are people I know personally who have gone to the doctor to discover that at some point in the recent past, they had had a heart attack, and they “had not noticed.”

My guess is that they noticed, but when it passed and they weren’t dead, they figured no harm no foul. I understand. Not knowing can be much more comfortable than knowing.

So much of getting my eating under control was about facing reality. I used food, sugar especially, to avoid reality, often to the detriment of my welfare. If I was worried, I ate. If I was really worried, I ate until I passed out. Not a lot gets done when you are passed out in a food coma. Certainly not anything productive like paying bills, or working on a project, or finding a dentist. Not the kind of things that assuage worry by taking care of the problem, anyway.

The truth is that I am annoyed and cranky. I don’t feel well. I would love to tell you that I am keeping my spirits up and being grateful for all of the things I have, like insurance, and mostly good health, and a husband that I am crazy about, and a really happy life. But I’m not keeping my spirits up. I’m pissed. And I am doing the bare minimum to get through the days. There is no going above and beyond for me while I am feeling crappy. And I am cool with that.

Maybe someday I will be able to smile through pain and frustration. That’s certainly a worthwhile goal. But I am not there today, and I don’t want to make it seem like I am. Just like I believe in facing the reality of my health, I believe in facing, and showing, the reality of my experience. I don’t write this blog so that the people who read it (you) will think I’m special, or super-human, or admirable. I write this because it is an opportunity to tell my truth. Even the less attractive aspects.

So I am doing what needs to be done with a bad attitude. Because I need to take care of myself, but I don’t have to do it gracefully.




Today I am grateful that I do not eat compulsively in the most simple way. Just that I don’t spend all of my time eating or thinking about eating. I am going through a painful growth spurt (internal), and I don’t want to write about it yet. Because it sucks. And it’s hard to process right now. And I’m sad, and a little embarrassed. And that’s ok. 

It’s okay because I don’t eat. 

Did you get that? That is crazy. I don’t eat. I am unhappy and stressed out and yet, I do not shove sugar into my face. 

To this day, it blows my mind that I don’t stress eat. That I don’t drown my sorrows in chocolate cake. That I don’t obsess, hunt, and sneak. I am flabbergasted that I escaped that prison. 

I have plenty of things to be grateful for, and plenty of grief and gripes. But when I think about the fact that I have not had to eat over anything, that I have peace around my food, I am overcome with relief.

I could not stop eating. Now, I can. 

So simple. Today, if it’s the best thing I’ve got, it’s enough.

Blessings of the curse

So I’m getting nervous. About what you think of me. Wondering if you’re feeling sorry for me. Think I’m a Debbie Downer. I feel like I’ve been giving you rather melancholy stories. All deep, and emotional. So I want to say, I swear to God, I’m a lot of fun at parties! (Not that I go to that many parties…But when I do – super fun!) I do, in fact, know how to tell light, funny stories. I’m quick, and I love to laugh. I am not all gloom and doom all the time. (Plus, I’m a fantastic dancer!)

The truth is, having the first 28 years of my life be difficult, and painful, and having eating disorders was perhaps the best thing to ever happen to me. If I had simply been mildly maladjusted, I may have been able to live with that. I may have had a “fine” life. (Of course, who knows?) What I can tell you, is that I was a miserable wretch with some serious food issues, and some serious behavior issues, and they were tied together. So to deal with one part, I had to deal with the other. And that offered me two beautiful gifts. The first is to know the glory of honesty, self-respect, and peace because I know the ugliness of dishonesty, shame, and desperation. To see that without the distinction of one set of experiences, I would not have either such a clear understanding of, or so much gratitude for the other. (I mean that going both ways.)

The second is the opportunity to live a life of deep, and ever-expanding integrity. Which is, by far, the most awe and peace inspiring experience I have ever had.

The truth is, I live with a relatively steady stream of low-level anxiety. I worry pretty much constantly. Sometimes, I’ll be getting a massage and I’ll be worrying about whether I silenced my phone. And what I will do if the phone rings in the middle of my massage. And if I should stop her now and make sure my phone is off. And sometimes I pray for it to ring so I know and I can turn it off. I worry about nonsense in the middle of the thing I do to relax!

But the worries I have now, are nothing like the worries I had when my eating was out of control. Now I worry about vagaries in the uncertain future. Nonsense, like my phone ringing at the massage place. Failure, like will I be able to get the 3-year-old I take care of to go to sleep.  And things I have no control over, like the MTA, or what you think of this blog. But none of these kinds of worries haunt me.

I used to worry about real things. Serious things. Things that eat at your heart. Lies I told. Ways I cheated. Things I stole. Broken promises. Lies told to hide broken promises. Things I said I would do and didn’t. Things I said I wouldn’t do and did. There was no relationship between what I said and what I did or how I felt. I did all of these things with the aim of making my life easier. And instead I made my life unbearable.

I am not saying that I live a life of perfect integrity now. I don’t even believe that is possible. Life is messy. I have many many messes I have yet to clean up. I have a bajillion glaring breaches in my integrity that I have not dealt with. I make new ones all the time. (It helps that, for the most part, I clean as I go now.) But I no longer believe I have the right to use dishonesty to make my life “easier”. My word means something to me. I honor it. I try to follow three rules. Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Be where you say you’re going to be when you say you’re going to be there. And tell the truth. This alone has eliminated an entire world of stress and upset for me. This has given me such a beautiful, easy, fun life!

No, seriously. I love my life! I look forward to waking up every day. I am regularly brimming with gratitude. All because I am not worried and haunted and filled with dread about all of the ways I dishonored myself and the people in my life. I love my life because I can look God in the eye.

There is a phrase I use that friends sometimes tease me about. A tag line, if you will. “I’m grateful.” I say it when someone holds a door for me. When someone gives me a compliment. When someone lets me pass them on a crowded sidewalk. When the barista hands me my americano. When the grocery store check-out person hands me my change. And I mean it! Truly and sincerely. I’m grateful.

I am grateful every day. I am a generally cheerful person. A bad start doesn’t mean a rotten day. A difficult situation doesn’t mean I can’t laugh about it. Or at least laugh about something. I have learned that when I don’t eat a bad feeling, it will pass. If I don’t eat a difficult situation, the answer will come. If I don’t eat to get through something, I will actually get through it. And what is on the other side is dignity. And self-respect. Which bring peace. What is on the other side is a really beautiful life!

So if you’ve been feeling sorry for me, don’t! Don’t feel sorry for me because I can’t eat chocolate anymore. Not because I was an unhappy kid. Not because I have a sensitive heart. I’m a joyful woman who is learning how to navigate life with peace, grace and gratitude. I am a woman who loves life! And I promise, I do not miss chocolate. Not even a little. Life is rich and sweet enough for me.

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