onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “it’s all just experiences”

Life is experiences, and some of them are crappy.

This week I got, not one, but two (two!!!) cold sores. I think that if, by chance, there is an afterlife, and if, by chance, I end up in hell, my punishment must be eternal cold sores. I cannot think of another thing that torments me as much or makes me act as crazy. (Except perhaps my body dysmorphia…) From the compulsive hand washing, to my fear of going out in the sun and heat in case that exacerbates it, to my total lack of desire to eat my delicious food because my face and mouth hurt, to the general obsessive focusing on it, I really feel like I am going a little insane.

I bring this up for two reasons. 1) Because it is all I have been able to think about this week. They have totally hijacked my brain. And 2) because I think it’s important to talk about the bad stuff when there’s bad stuff. I know I have mentioned it before, but there is something particularly troubling for me about the way we portray ourselves on the internet, especially in regards to social media.

Most of us want to appear to have it all together, whether or not we’re floundering. Social media is a great way to “show” that, because we are in control of the information that gets out. And we’ve become masters of “framing.” I don’t have to talk about my cold sores. But if I did, how I tell you could make all the difference in how you see me. If I whine about them, I look like I don’t have my shit together. But instead, I could say that I have two cold sores and am keeping out of the sun, but I am grateful for the extra time I have gotten to spend writing.

But that’s a lie. I won’t say that I am sorry to have spent extra time writing every day, but I am still miserable. I miss the sun. I miss kissing my husband. I miss not thinking constantly about if my hand has been anywhere near my mouth and what I need to disinfect.

The truth is that I live a very happy life. I am generally peaceful, content, joyful, grateful, and gratified. Giving up sugar and learning how to make and keep commitments to myself has given me the kind of satisfying existence that I did not think was possible 12 years ago. And I like writing this blog in a way that expresses my joy and gratitude. I want to show my positive attitude. Because I usually have a positive attitude. I want to inspire positivity in those who are struggling. I want the person who is still suffering from food addiction to know that there is hope.

But it would be misleading to make it seem like my good attitude is infinite and unending. It’s not. And right now I am kind of miserable. And a little cranky. And feeling sorry for myself.

Being miserable is not the end of the world. This too shall pass, like everything else, good and bad. But having my food under control does not save me from all pain, or from the parts of life that just plain suck. And what’s more, these cold sores are a circumstance, not even a personal failure or a mistake. Having my eating under control doesn’t save me from those either.

If there is a bright side to this whiny post, it’s that getting my eating under control taught me not to take my life so seriously, not to take my pain so personally, or my joy and success either. Perhaps my favorite teaching about how to deal with life is this: It’s all just experiences.

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It’s all just experiences

As I have mentioned, I live with a steady stream of low-level anxiety. It buzzes in my background like a radio station on the edge of a signal. (Does that even mean anything to anybody younger than 20? Anyway…) You know that thing where they say before you get upset you should ask yourself “Will this matter in 5 years?” Well, for me, even a minor struggle can be played out to me being homeless on the street in 5 years. I know it’s irrational. Knowing that it’s irrational doesn’t make the worry any less real. Since I gave up sugar, this kind of irrational anxiety is easier to keep in check, but it takes work on my part.

I have a similar anxiety about being stuck. About some difficult situation or another never, ever changing. I know this is irrational too. Same rules apply.

Since I have been working, I have not been writing fiction. I was doing a lot of writing before I had this job, but now I’m tired. If not all the time, close to it. And it makes me worry that I won’t write again.

There is a part of me that says I should start a new regimen of waking up at 4 every morning to start my day writing for 2 hours before anything else. But the tired part of me tells the writer part of me to shut the hell up, thank you.

What I have to remember is that everything changes. This part of my life where I am tired from my job and I don’t have time to write will change. Somehow. I am not saying that I will definitely start writing again any time soon. What I am saying is that when I look back on the past 10 years, I have lead so many different lives. I have encountered countless situations that I feared would never change, and they changed. Not to mention countless I wished would never change. They changed as well.

When I was younger, I used to believe I was supposed to make my mark on the world. I thought I was supposed to create a legacy that was big and bright and undeniable. I thought that was where meaning lay. I thought that was why I had been given such a big presence and prominent personality.

In getting sober from sugar, I came to realize that I am making a mark on the world. And it is bright, and undeniable. Right now it’s not big. It may never get any bigger than it is now. I am positively great with that. It doesn’t make it any less important.

Big personality celebrities and self-help gurus will tell you that you need to go after your dreams. That the only one stopping you is you. And I believe that. They say “don’t regret the things you never did.” But I’d like to take it a step further. Even if I don’t do them, I don’t have to regret the things I never did. I don’t have to have regrets of any kind. Life is not a race. It’s not a test. I don’t need to do anything to justify myself. I don’t need to “earn my spot.” I already have a spot. I already have a purpose. To exist as myself.

A friend of mine once shared an epiphany with me. She said “It’s all just experiences.”

I love that. I was freed by it. That is the meaning of life for me. To experience it. In the body I was given, and the circumstances I was born into, and the choices that I make every day. The meaning of life to be Kate. And that includes everything I missed out on because I was too afraid, and everything I ruined by being an addict, and everything I marred by being a liar and a manipulator. It includes all of it, because it’s all just experiences.

I want to write fiction because I love it. Because I’m good at it. Because I have characters and ideas in my head that entrance me, and I would love to share them with others. And because I make myself laugh and cry and think. And because I love to slip into another world and another life. Because I want more experiences than just the ones I am given. I want to feel all the feelings. I want to know all the corners of what it means to be human.

But if I never finish writing the stories in my head, there would still be nothing to regret. They provided me with hours of my own personal amusement. They were all experiences in their own right.

I don’t know why being sober from food made me content, but it did. Slowly but surely I stopped needing to prove myself in ways other than existing day to day. I keep my boundaries around food and I do my best. And suddenly that’s enough. And that takes a lot of pressure off of the anxiety-ridden girl who thinks that homeless on the street in five years is a perfectly reasonable possibility for the future. A day at a time, life seems pretty rosy. I’m madly in love. I have a job. I have a home. And I don’t have to do anything monumental to have any of it. I don’t need to prove myself in any way to occupy the space I’m in. It’s my space. In my lifetime, it has always been mine. It will be mine until I die.

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