Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “integrity”

It turns out I’m positively treacherous. Who knew?

At work this past week, someone in a higher position than myself has been giving me a hard time. I say a hard time, but it is abuse. Low-grade abuse, but abuse none the less.

This was hard for me at first, because I was 1) trying to be professional, and 2) trying not to be affected by it. So I took it. With a smile. And at the end of the day, I went to my car and cried before I drove home. And I thought about how much more I could take before I would have to quit.

And then I talked to my best friend who is wise, and also has her eating under control. And she said, “Stop smiling. Stop pretending it’s all OK. You wouldn’t smile like that at an abusive boyfriend.” She said, “Bullies are terrified. If you push back, even just a little, they will get scared, and change their tune.”

Now I will be honest. I had a hard time believing this. Because this person has all the power. They have been in their job for many years, and are high up in the company. I am just an office worker. And relatively new at that. Also, I didn’t even apply for this job. I was asked to take it, so from where I stand, I could just as easily be asked to leave.

I will say that I am good at my job. Really really good. But on paper, I’m nothing. I don’t have a degree. I don’t have any accounting experience. All I have is the fact that I am smart, I have integrity, and I’m a good worker. I’m not saying that those things are not valuable. I am saying that their value depends on the person doing the evaluating. And for the most part, my experience is that bosses evaluate based on what you look like “on paper.”

So here I am with no power, but I’m tired of crying in my car before I drive home. So I take my friend’s advice and I start pushing back. I openly sneer when I am berated for not knowing something I was never taught in the first place. I sigh exasperatedly when I am second guessed without being allowed to explain. I walk away when this person implies that I am not explaining something to a coworker properly. I let them do it themselves.

And you know what? Every time, this person really does change their demeanor. Not long-term. But in the moment, I can see them become afraid of me. And soften their stance. And try to explain away their bad behavior. This person is terrified of being called out by me.

So it turns out I have all the power. But here’s the secret. I only have all the power because I am sure of myself. More sure of myself than this person with so much clout in the company. My power is all in my confidence. In that relationship, even though that person has all of the hard power, I am the scary one.

But I’m only sure of myself because I have integrity. And I only have integrity because I have my eating under control.

Could this person get me fired? Absolutely! Here’s the other reason I have all the power: I have no attachment to keeping this job. I like the job. It’s rewarding. The money is terrific. I really hope I don’t get fired. But I refuse to live in fear of losing this job. What happens happens. And that makes me positively treacherous to an insecure person. Even an insecure person with all the power.


What makes for a pretty damn sweet life

I am back in the airport again right now, heading to South Carolina to meet up with my husband who has been there for about a week for work. I could have waited another week at our Chicago home for him to return on his own. It would have saved me yet another day of cooking and packing. It would have saved me a ton of airline points. But I have my priorities straight, and being with my husband is one of my top priorities.We will be heading back to Texas (again) next week when we get back from South Carolina, and I will be working when we get there. And my husband asked me, when will you run? I have been asking myself the same questions. And he didn’t ask, but I have also been wondering, when will I write?

One thing that I learned when I got my eating under control, is that we all have priorities, and they come down to action, not thoughts or beliefs. I could say that my food is my priority, but if I say eff it when it gets hard, or inconvenient, or I just don’t feel like it, then in practice, it’s not. 

My food is my first priority, always. But spending time with my husband, and my workout, and my writing are all pretty high up on the list. 

So I told him I don’t know when I will run. When I get there I will find out if there is a gym in our apartment complex, or if there is a good place to run outside, or if I have to join a gym. And I will see what my work hours are. So I can also fit in time to write 5 days a week. I will figure it out. Because I have my priorities straight. And that means *doing* something about them. 

When I was eating compulsively, I had things I wanted to be my priority, but in terms of what I *did*, shoving food in my face was number 1. And numbers 2 and 3, too.

I am grateful for the clarity that I have from having my eating under control, because when I keep my priorities where they should be, I actually get the life I want, not the life that circumstances dictate for me. And that makes for a pretty damn sweet life.

Not sorry, even though it sucked.

My husband and I are home for a visit this weekend. We opted for a 5:30 am flight out of San Antonio, two hours away from our apartment in Corpus Christi. So we drove the two hours the night before and got a hotel room for the night. Before we left, I made a bunch of compact, complete meals, because they are easy to pack for travel. I don’t usually expect to eat them. At least not all of them. I pack them in case of emergency.Well, our flight got cancelled, and we couldn’t get another flight out that day. So we kept our room in San Antonio for another night, flew out the next morning, and I ate the emergency meals.

And ugh! It was kind of awful. Those meals are each a third of my nutrients for the day, packed into a little cake. And by the end of dinner, I was feeling pretty sick.

But it never occurred to me not to eat them. It never occurred to me that it would be better not to finish dinner. I have never once in the past 11+ years been sorry to keep my food commitments. Not once. I have never “missed” a food I didn’t get to eat, or been disappointed that I kept my word to myself. Even when I was choking down a too-heavy brick of proteins, vegetables, vegetable substitutes, and fat. I love to eat, but at moments like that, eating becomes like working out. I don’t like doing it while I’m doing it, but I’m always grateful that I did it when I’m done. 

My food boundaries are usually awesome. I eat such delicious food, prepared in my favorite ways. But the boundaries are the important part, not the awesome. In a pinch, I will eat the plainest, grossest, least appetizing things on the planet if it means my eating boundaries are taken care of. And I will eat it when I am not hungry at all to keep those commitments to myself. 

When I was eating compulsively, I regularly woke up without a shred of dignity because of the things that I didn’t want to eat, and couldn’t stop myself from eating. 

Now I wake up with my dignity intact. Because I am willing to eat exactly what I am committed to eating, whether I want to or not.

Perseverance, exhaustion, and bedroom slippers

I used to spend a lot of time trying to decipher what things meant. Why I felt a certain way, why circumstances were what they were. I thought that everything was significant. And I needed to understand it all If I was going to crack the code of life. What I have come to understand since I got my eating under control is that it is not my job to crack the code, if there even is one. 

In the past few weeks, I have been writing for five hours a day as part of my daily routine. And it has pointed something out to me about myself: perseverance exhausts me. 

On certain days of the week, I might end up staring at a blank document on my laptop for what seems like an eternity, typing a few sentences, and then just discarding the whole thing. I might do this over and over again for much of the day. On days like this, nothing productive is going to get done after that. Because after hours of fulfilling a commitment for the sake of my integrity, I’m just plain spent. I’m going to do something escapist for the rest of the day, like read a novel or some manga, or watch TV.

But other days, the writing seems to pour out of me. I get my hours in, I make some notes about what more I have to say when I pick back up, and I feel particularly accomplished. On those days I still have the energy to do whatever else. Maybe I do some laundry or run an errand or work on knitting my sweater. The other day, I managed to clean the whole house, including mopping and vacuuming, after an easy writing session.

But here is the lesson, as I see it. The me before I had my eating under control would have expected to always be able to write easily and then clean the whole house. If it was possible once, it should always be possible. But those kind of expectations lead to burnout. Just like eating within my boundaries, or jogging 2 miles a day, or almost anything I do in my life, the goal is consistency, not perfection. The goal is to be able to do these good things for myself for the rest of my life. One day at a time, yes, but hopefully forever. Which is why I make sure that my food is delicious as often as possible, even if it’s not particularly low in calories, and why I focus on running my committed number of miles, rather than working to get faster or run longer or some other method of upping my running game.

When I first put boundaries around my eating, people who had boundaries around their eating told me that if the only thing I could do in a day was eat my meals and not eat anything else, that was enough. They told me that everyone needs a “bedroom slipper day” once in a while. They told me that I should be gentle with myself.

Which was something new to me, frankly. When I couldn’t stop eating, everything in our society and culture told me that I was lazy. The media and the people around me, knowingly or unwittingly, told me that I was not working hard enough or doing well enough, because if I had been, I wouldn’t have been fat. I was cruel to myself. I was hateful to myself. I expected perfection from myself, and when I failed to be perfect I quit. Just one more log on the not-good-enough fire.

But finding out that I could give myself a commitment, and that it would be a benchmark of daily accomplishment, was a revelation. Suddenly there was a minimum that I could do that was attainable, and it would be, by definition, “enough.” This made everything so much less scary. And so much less significant. 

I believe in perseverance. I believe in it because I believe in commitment. Because of my willingness to persevere, I have learned a lot about myself, how powerful I am, and what I can accomplish. But for the sake of peace and sanity, I also have to admit that it takes something out of me. And that I need to replenish before I can move on. 

I have had to learn that replenishing myself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, is just as important as the perseverance itself. I have had to realize that just because I have the same number of hours in a day as Beyoncé, doesn’t mean I can accomplish what she can. And I’m A-OK with that, my friends.

I’ll Take Fundamentally Human

Ugh. So I did not get the job. As you can imagine, I was super psyched to write all about it. (Why yes. You do detect a note of sarcasm…)

Yes, I cried. Yes, I am embarrassed. But I am not unhappy. I am disappointed and I am sad, but I have zero regrets. And that is huge. How many people can say that? About anything?

The first thing I will say is that the whole experience was great. I know it didn’t end the way I hoped it would, but that didn’t make it bad. In fact, while it was happening, I kept thinking, “this is what life really is. Life is getting excited and getting an opportunity and working your ass off for it.” But life is not about always getting what you worked your ass off for. And I am not angry. I am not angry at life. I am not angry at my friend who asked me to apply for the job. And I am not angry at myself. I was amazing. I did great work that I am proud of. And I gave it everything that was in me.

That 100% effort is something special. It leaves zero room for doubt. There is not a single “what if” lingering in my head or heart. Which is the opposite of what I was always afraid of. I am historically a half-hearted attempter. I have spent most of my life doing the bare minimum. Because that way, I never had to find out if it was true that I wasn’t good enough. If I did my very best and it wasn’t good enough, I always thought that would be incontrovertible proof that I was broken. I didn’t want to know for sure because I was so sure. But it turns out to be the exact opposite. By giving myself completely, even though I did not get the job, I am positive that I am good enough. Living so as not to have regrets also lead to no fear.

When my friend who asked me to apply for the job told me I didn’t get it, she said that my work was excellent. I didn’t get the job because the company figured out a way to get the work done with people who were already on the payroll at the company. In other words, it was not that I didn’t get the job, so much as they eliminated the job. And then she said something to me as a friend. She said that I should follow this dream, and be paid to be a writer. That lots of people needed what I could do. That having the talent was the hard part. She asked why I wasn’t already writing for a living.

The answer to that is very old. And for the first time in about 4 or 5 years, I have brushed up against it. And it hurts.

When I started writing this blog, I wanted to change the way I related to love. I spent my early life thinking that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. Not physically, or mentally. Not that I could not do the work. Not that I could not be taught and learn. Not that there was anything I couldn’t do. It is so much more primal than that. So much more terrifying. I have had the belief that there was something so wrong with me that I would never be able to succeed. Like a spiritual curse. Like bad fate. Like I was born incomplete.

When I was reunited with my boyfriend and we fell in love, this “fundamentally broken-ness” became obsolete when it came to love. And that was a miracle. I had spent my whole life wishing to find and fall in love, so when it happened, I got a life beyond my wildest dreams. For real. It still is a life beyond my wildest dreams. And I think if I died today, all of the life and all of the love would be enough.

But then somebody offered me a dream job. And I started to ask myself if there was something else I wanted. And I do. I want to make my living as a writer. I want to live like a grownup with a grownup job. I want to make grownup money. I want to know that there is nothing “fundamentally” anything about me. Except maybe human. I’ll take fundamentally human.

So my guess is that this next phase of my life, where I try to shake loose all of the rubble that keeps me buried in “fundamentally broken,” is going to be emotional, and sometimes trying. But I have dug myself free of all sorts of graves before now. And I will dig myself out of this one.


Commitment and cleanliness

It is my experience that life will test you. Especially when you make a commitment. When you really want to recreate some aspect of your life. 
If you are committed to drinking 8 glasses of water a day, suddenly, all of the bathrooms in your office are out of order except one. On a different floor. For a week. And you have to decide if you want to keep that commitment.

Recently, I decided that I wanted to leave my current job like a grownup. I want to go on good terms. I put in my two weeks notice just yesterday morning, in fact. (Yay!)

But when I got my schedule for the week I don’t have a day off for six straight days. And I have two assignments for my new dream job as a writer due on Tuesday morning, 8 am. 

I knew immediately that it was a test from life, but it took me a minute to figure out what the test was. It was not, in fact, to test if I was committed to my new job. It was to test if I was committed to leaving my old job like a responsible adult. 

And I assure you, when I saw that I wasn’t going to get a day off, it crossed my mind to say screw this, I have a super sexy writing job now. I’m not going to my crappy food service job.

But there is another story I want to share with you. Many years ago, before I was reunited with my boyfriend, I was going on a lot of dates. And that often meant packing a dinner and eating it in the city at a Starbucks before I met the guy.

Now, I have a person who helps me when something happens with my food. One evening right before a date, I was eating my strictly portioned dinner and I dropped a speck. Seriously a speck. I called my friend and I told her. She said that I didn’t need to call for a speck, but I said I was about to go on a date, and I wanted to be as “clean” as I could be. I wanted my integrity to be solid. I was looking for love. I was looking for an awesome relationship. I did not want a speck of food to get in my way.

The truth is, the date was horrible. I ended up telling him that I was not having a good time because he was not being nice to me. Then he tried to make out with me. (Apparently that’s how he showed how nice he was? Ew. Whatever…)

I left that date. I didn’t stay longer out of politeness. I didn’t let him drive me home. I saw that I wasn’t getting treated the way I deserved, and I ended it right there.

I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t called in that I dropped a speck of my food. Maybe the same thing. But maybe, if I thought my integrity had a crack in it, I would have stayed and let myself be treated poorly.

So here I am, fulfilling my commitment to write my own blog. And I will fulfill my commitment to get my writing assignments for my new job in on time. And I will also fulfill my commitment to stick it out at my other job for the next two weeks. So I can leave knowing I did the right thing. Not for them, but for me. Because I want to start this new job as clean as I can be. I don’t want cracks in my integrity while I am fulfilling my dreams.

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.

Blah blah freakin’ blah

I have been feeling pretty blah lately. Maybe it’s winter. Maybe it’s that I haven’t been getting enough sun. Maybe it’s the holidays, which are not my favorite.

I know that my life is sweet. I think about how happy I am every day. But I am not really actively happy in the last few weeks. I guess it’s relative.

There is a certain luxury to being blah. I don’t have any real worries. I don’t have any crises. I don’t have any real drama. If you ask me what’s wrong, the answer is nothing. I’m just blah.

I spent many long years in desperate unhappiness. Because I was an addict continually engaging in addict behavior.

See if you feel blah, and you ask yourself why, and you have a million possible answers- like that lie you told, the fear of being caught in that lie you told, the promise you broke, that thing you were supposed to do but didn’t, that thing you weren’t supposed to do but did, that thing you stole and way you cheated, the fear of being caught cheating and stealing- that blah feeling can occur as real and eternal. Like it will never get better because there is a reason for it. Many good reasons.

And the other thing about addict behavior is that when you are active in it, it occurs as the only way to live. When I was acting out my addiction, I didn’t believe I had any other choice. I really believed that life forced me into making the choices I made. Like I couldn’t tell the truth. If life/luck/fate had made me succeed/be right/do a good job, I would have been able to tell the truth/make an honorable choice/have integrity. But instead, things didn’t always go my way, so I thought I had to turn things to my advantage with deceit and trickery. I thought I was just doing what needed to be done to save face. I thought that looking right was the most important thing. I thought integrity was the result of having a charmed life.

If you don’t know by now, I will fill you in on a little secret. Having a charmed life is the result of integrity.

And the first step in integrity for this food-addicted, eating-disordered, body-dysmorphic girl is to keep my integrity with my food.

So I’m blah. But I keep my boundaries around my eating. And I keep on keeping on. And eventually I will be inspired and invigorated. And that’s not today. But it’s still a damn sight better than being haunted tormented and ashamed. So I’ll take it. And be grateful.

Money is money. And time is money. But my attention is worth more than gold.

Twice now in the past three days I have had to speak up for myself. I have had to say no and stop.

It’s always an experience to see where I resist this. My “Good Girl” is a bit of a die-hard, it turns out.

Although it is not all about being a “Good Girl.” There is a line many of us walk. That line between self-care and egotism. I sometimes have a hard time distinguishing that line. I know that living my life generously is a gift back to myself. But taking care of, and responsibility for my own needs is also a gift to myself.

My mother and I were talking not too long ago about money. She said that my whole life, even when I was a child, if I “lent” somebody money, chances were I would never get it back. Because I never made it a priority. In some ways that was generosity, and in some ways it was a lack of self-care.

The truth is that while I like money, I don’t love it. It does not motivate me or thrill me. Losing it does not scare me. But over the past several years, as my self-care has become ever more important, I have done very little “lending.” And more often than not, if I am going to give you money, I am going to gift it. I don’t want there to be expectations. This also makes it easier for me to say no. If I pretend that I might get it back, I might feel like I “should” say yes. If I know that once it leaves my hand, it is gone, I can better gauge if I am willing to part with it. It’s a kind of Jedi-mind-trick. But it works. And brings me peace.

But what I had to do this week was not about money. It was about time, sort of. But really, it was about something else. It was about access to my attention. It was about allowing people in. And this is a line I have a very hard time walking.

My first reaction is to keep everybody out. I spent my life building fortresses and hiding within them. When I was actively in my addiction, I lived in a fortress of fat. That I fortified with isolation. I would hide away and eat. I would sit alone for long stretches and binge. I would eat all day until I passed out in a sugar induced coma. And I would wakeup fatter and more “protected” than I had been when I came to from the previous night’s passing out.

But I also have a history of doing things I don’t want to do because I “should.” (There’s that word again. I hate that word…) Things that I thought I would want to do if I were a good person with a pure heart and an honorable soul. I have a history of being a “Good Girl” and resenting the hell out of the people I was being “good” for.

The first boundary I set this week was a long time coming.

I am part of a group. A group I like and love and enjoy. We meet once a week on a video conference call. And it is important to me.

Several months ago, I was asked to help a couple of people to get set up on their computers. Make sure they had the proper accounts and software. And I did that. Even though I don’t like computers. Or interacting with strangers for that matter. And then it became expected. And for months, the expectation was that I would help everybody and their brother set up their computers. And even the few times I said no, I didn’t stick to it and ended up doing it in the end.

Part of this was my “Good Girl” who could not bear to say that my time and attention were too important to help somebody else. And my ego that told me that I had let it go on so long that it must officially be my job and that I would shame and dishonor myself by saying anything about it after all this time. And part of it was my arrogance that insisted that if I didn’t do it, it was not going to get done. And that that somehow made it my responsibility.

And I got more and more resentful. And as time went by and my resentment grew, the level of responsibility that I grudgingly and hatefully took on grew. Until this week I got a message from a complete stranger, saying that somebody had told her that there was some sort of meeting on the internet for our group and that she should get in touch with me.

First I boiled with rage!

And then I said no. I said that they should refer back to the person who referred them to me for help.

And then I wrote a message to the group and I said no again. To everybody. I said that I was not available to help people get on the group any more. That if people wanted people to join us, they were going to have to take some responsibility for it. And I am so grateful to have said it. I am so relieved.

Resentment feels awful. It feels dirty and itchy. Plus it’s exhausting. You would think that I would recognize right off the bat that it is not something I want in my life. That if a behavior of mine is cultivating it, that I should stop that behavior. Immediately.

But it can be so hard. It can be so easy to second guess myself. And this is coming from somebody who works at exactly this every day. I’m not some schlump walking through life blind. My only ambition in life, besides being an amazing girlfriend and partner, is to grow spiritually. To be an amazing friend to myself. And I can still harbor a resentment for months and months.

And then two days later the next one happened.

It was late at night (for me. I happen to be incredibly lame.) I got a PM on Facebook from an acquaintance. She wanted to ask me about something and told me that for that purpose, I needed to accept her friend request.

Now you should know that I have a hard time with Facebook and friend requests. I already have many people on my friends list that I have hidden from my news feed. If you share a lot of pictures of cakes and brownies and various foods I do not eat, chances are I have hidden your posts. If you share a lot of weight-loss/diet articles with pictures of skinny women in yoga pants, chances are I have hidden your posts. If you share a lot of violent stories and pictures, chances are I have hidden your posts. Or just generally, if what you share upsets me or makes me uncomfortable, chances are I have hidden your posts.

But there is also another aspect to being Facebook friends with somebody. It gives them license to comment on your life. When you say yes to a friend request, you are saying, I care if you “like” what I post. I am willing to hear what you have to say about what I have to say.

And guess what? If we are not friends or family, I don’t give a shit what you think.

Now the reason this was particularly poignant for me was that this is not the first time that this person has sent me a friend request. The first time, I told her no very clearly. I even gave her a brief explanation. Which I did not owe her. I do not owe people explanations for the choices I make. (And no, I did not say that I did not give a shit what she thought. I was clear but diplomatic. In case you were wondering.) And shortly after that, she sent me a Facebook message that said she did not know how to get in touch with me since I wouldn’t accept her friend request. Of course I responded, without noting at the time that she was, in fact, being in touch with me.

A few months ago I got yet another friend request from her. By then I had realized that if you just leave the friend request there, you don’t have to reject the same person repeatedly. So her request has been sitting there since then.

And last night it happened yet again. Her PM said that there was something that she needed to go over with me, but she didn’t know how to get in touch with me if we weren’t Facebook friends.

Now I was angry.

And I took a few deep breaths, and I wrote her immediately. Sure, sometimes I believe that communication should be slept on and considered. When I need to disentangle what part of it is my BS and what part of it I need to address with the other person. But there was no doubt in my mind what I needed to say. It was obvious. It was simple. It was “Respect me.” “Respect my no.” “Stop it.”

When I was eating compulsively, I ate difficult conversations. And sugar made me high enough to make the uncomfortable feelings go away. And not feeling the uncomfortable feelings allowed me to convince myself that a conversation didn’t need to be had. Or a statement didn’t need to be made. Or a boundary didn’t need to be set.

But the farther I get from the food, the harder it is to sit in the discomfort. And I will say this. I have been keeping my commitments to water and meditation this week. And it has occurred to me that it is perhaps no coincidence that I have had a little breakthrough in saying what needs to be said. Perhaps it was hard to sit still and be with myself when I was itchy and gross with resentment. And perhaps forcing myself to sit still has made not saying what I needed to say unbearable.

I don’t know. It might be a coincidence. But then again, it might not…

Another little (actually, kind of big) way my life just got better

When I first got my eating under control 8 ½ years ago, other people that I knew who had done it before me said, “Put boundaries around your food and your life will get better.”

And like magic it has been true. A little at a time, I have changed drastically from the 28-year-old girl who couldn’t stop eating, couldn’t pay her bills, couldn’t be honest, to the 37-year-old woman who loves herself, lives in a comfortable body, and has a profound relationship with her own integrity. (Not to mention a life beyond her wildest dreams!)

I know that I have mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Particularly because I just qualified for insurance for the first time since I stopped being eligible for my mother’s insurance.

Frankly, it doesn’t seem like the biggest of deals to me because I have had very few health problems in the past 15 to 20 years. Certainly nothing that was going to break me financially. Which, in retrospect, is a big deal. Because I was incredibly poor for almost all of my adult life.

That is not a complaint. I made certain choices. And I am not sorry to have made them. I don’t even mean that in the “what’s done is done, you can’t change the past” kind of way. (Though of course that’s true…) There are many things I “would have done differently” if that were a possible reality. But the choices I made about money and work and “career” are not among them.

The truth is that money has never been that important to me. I knew that I needed it to get by in life. But I was not particularly greedy for things. Not that I never spent money on luxuries. But I never needed the biggest, best, most expensive. (Unless we are talking about apples and cantaloupes. Then I spared no expense.) I worked enough to pay the bills (once I put boundaries around my eating and got some integrity around money.) But money was never how I judged my success. And “success” the way our culture defines it was actually not something I cared about either. I made choices about money based on how I wanted to spend my time.

But those choices were stressful in their own way. Not that I was unhappy. I was not. But there was little room for error in the way I lived. I could not have gotten really sick. I could not have gotten appendicitis or broken a bone, and still have been OK financially. I could not have had a fire in my apartment. I could not have withstood any number of ordinary life occurrences. I happen to have been very lucky. But I was not stupid, blind, or naïve. Nor did I think I was invincible. So there was an underlying fear and anxiety in my lifestyle.

And I never thought it would be resolved. I fully expected to go through my life with money troubles. With financial stress and anxiety. I expected it to be the direct result of the choices I made many years ago. I expected it to follow me as long as money ceased to be important to me. And this anxiety was so much a part of my daily life, that I didn’t even notice it on a day-to-day basis. It was a low-level hum in the back of my mind unless something happened. Like I got a particularly large bill, or some unexpected expense.

But now that is gone. It’s just plain not there anymore. I no longer worry about money. And now I have insurance. So there is another thing that doesn’t have to worry me.

And I know that this shift is the result of putting boundaries around my eating.

You could argue that it isn’t. That it has to do with the job I took. And the relationship I am in. And you would not be entirely wrong.

But both the job and the relationship, and so many smaller choices that affect my job and my relationship, are the result of putting boundaries around my eating.

8 ½ years is really not that long to have become essentially an entirely different person. The changes have felt so slow while I have been going through them. But really, when I look back at myself, even just one year ago, I am hardly recognizable.

Just like I was promised, when I keep boundaries around my food, one day at a time, baby step by baby step, my life gets better.

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