Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “life on life’s terms”

Alas, reality doesn’t care what I think

I’m an addict in the middle of playing the waiting game. If you are an addict, you know that this is not the most comfortable place to be. In fact, the jaws of Hell might be more comfortable. The jury is still out.

My husband has gotten word that his next job is lined up, and we know where (at least we are as sure as we can be – it’s construction after all), but we don’t yet have any information on when we will move. At first we expected it to be in the next 3 weeks, but it may turn out to be closer to 5 weeks. And it is the nature of his business that any job is subject to change. Investors pull out, companies go bankrupt, the market shifts. We do expect him to end up on this particular job, and we do expect to be moving soon, but the details are not set.

So I am packing and cleaning, getting everything as compact as possible so that at a moment’s notice we can load up a moving truck and get back on the road.

This is not how I live my daily life. I am a preparer. I like lists. I like schedules and quality information. I like to have a plan and a contingency plan. Or two.

When I was younger and eating compulsively, I was a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal. It was easy. I wasn’t ever expecting to be responsible for my actions anyway, so it didn’t matter if I knew how things would turn out. They would turn out fine because someone would swoop in and save me. I am not saying I was this way maliciously. I wasn’t meaning to use or abuse anyone. It was just that I could only handle so much of life. I was bad at living. I was easily overwhelmed. I shut down at the first sign of difficulty or pain. I had zero coping strategies that did not include getting high on sugar and just not thinking about, or dealing with, the problem.

When I first got my eating under control, I had to start dealing with all of my feelings. And if I couldn’t get high and forget my problems, it became clear that the only real way to deal with my problems was to solve the ones I had. And as for the problems I didn’t have yet, it seemed best to head them off at the pass. To streamline my life, my actions, and my relationships so that as much as possible was predictable, convenient, and clean.

And I have to admit that that way of living was particularly helpful when I was just starting to be responsible for myself. But there is something that I learned (very, very slowly) while I was keeping my strict food boundaries: the moments that move me, the experiences that make the biggest impact, the really juicy life-nuggets, happen in the unforeseen, unwieldy mess.

For most of my life, I never wanted to commit to anything because I didn’t want to have to readjust when things inevitably changed. But now I believe that self-respect and pride lie in making the commitment, even knowing that circumstances will eventually change. There is peace for me in fully committing to something, until it is time to readjust, and then changing, and fully committing anew.

So here I am, knowing that a big change is coming, but not knowing when, and not having the option of specific planning. The only thing I can do is get everything as close to ready as is possible, and then trust that it will all work out exactly as it is supposed to. (And I will admit that I keep my fingers crossed that the way it is “supposed to work out” is in line with how “I would like it to work out”.)

Maybe that’s the other part of it. Recognizing that how life is “supposed to” work out might not look like how “I want” it to. Let’s say, for example, that the apartment that I want to rent gets snatched up in the time between my talking to the nice lady at the apartment complex and the time I get a concrete moving date. I can be angry, but there is no use for it. I can be sad, but it won’t help.

What I need to do if something like this happens, of course, is acknowledge it, accept it, and take action to find a new apartment. And to trust that how it worked out is, indeed, how it was supposed to. My experience of reality has nothing to do with reality. Feeling that reality is “frustrating” or “not fair” does not change the facts of the situation. So I need to adjust to life as it is, not as I want it to be. And when I pick myself up, brush myself off, put on the big girl panties and do something about the way it is, I have a reference for the magnitude of my resilience. I have a sense of my own power. I have life.

The longer I have my eating under control, the better I get at life. And the better I get at life, the more I realize that it is all about the place where planning and flexibility meet. It’s about both preparation and non-attachment.

The opportunity to live on the road with my husband has been a blessing and a joy. I would not give it up for convenience or predictability. After all, life has a way of happening, unpredictably, whether you want it to or not. Living like a recluse wouldn’t guarantee me predictability, it would only make me ill equipped to deal with the curve balls I would eventually get thrown.

I have loved living all over the country, meeting new people, enjoying the different cultures and experiences. And moving comes with that. Packing and waiting and going with the flow are all part of that package deal. So I am sitting in the discomfort of waiting to find out what happens next. And when it’s time to do the next thing, I will meet life head-on. And I will meet life on its own terms, with uncertainties, and delays and all, because there is really no other way to meet life.

The joy of not being a jerk

Yesterday was, as the 12-steppers say, life on life’s terms. I went to the grocery store, got about $100 worth of groceries, checked out, and tried to pay with my debit card. It didn’t go through. I tried it again. Nope. Then the checkout clerk said the bank was declining my purchase.So I asked the clerk to take care of the people behind me while I called the bank.

It turns out someone used my card information to make some purchases. The first went through. The second, for over $300 went through. And the bank shut the card down when they attempted to make purchases for $500 and $700.

The gentleman at the bank unfroze my card long enough for me to buy my groceries, and asked me to call back when I was done to have the card cancelled. 

So I did. I bought my groceries. I packed them into the trunk. I got back in the car and immediately called the bank and cancelled my card, and confirmed that the fraudulent charges were not mine. 

The lady I got that time cancelled my card, took my Kentucky address so the new one could be mailed to me here, as well as the paperwork to dispute the fraudulent charges.

Do you know what I kept thinking the whole time? I kept thinking how much I like myself, and it’s all because of having my eating under control.

What I am saying is I was gracious and grateful and kind to every person along the way. I was friendly with the clerk at the store when he told me the bank declined my card. I was friendly with the man from the bank who told me about the fraud and reactivated my card so I could pay for my food. I was friendly with the lady at the bank who helped me cancel the card and who issued me a new one. I was able to make jokes with them all. 

I was more than just nice. I was grateful. I was grateful that the bank was looking out for me and shut my card down when purchases looked suspicious. I was grateful they could unfreeze my card so I could buy my groceries. 

This is the stuff that happens to everyone. This is the stuff that is not personal. This is life. But when I was a compulsive eater, when life happened to me, I was a complete jerk. 

I was already angry at life all the time anyway. I had a lot of anger and rage. And I used any opportunity to unleash my rage. Even, or maybe especially, at people who had nothing to do with it, and were trying to help.

My first reaction to this kind of thing is fear. Fear of what did wrong. Fear of losing. Fear of having things taken away. Fear of scarcity. 

In order to keep my eating under control, I had to learn to do certain things differently. I had to learn to cultivate gratitude. I had to learn to behave in a way so that I would not be ashamed of myself. I had to do the next right thing, one step at a time. This all comes from having my eating under control. 

When people see or hear that I have lost 150ish lbs, they think that is the accomplishment. They assume that is the ultimate reward. And while I do enjoy this body, and how it looks and how it moves and how easy it is to get around in, the parts of my life that are the most profoundly impacted by having my food addictions and eating disorders taken care of are the parts of my personality that have improved over the last 10 years. 

For me, the real gifts are all of the ways I like and love myself. For me, the real gifts are being calm and peaceful in the face of fear. The real gift is that I can look back on yesterday and not have to justify why I was a jerk. Because I wasn’t a jerk. I was a nice lady, grateful for other nice gentlemen and ladies, who helped me get a lot of unpleasant stuff taken care of. 

I might go through hell, but I don’t need to live there

So I wrote a blog yesterday that I was going to post today, but yesterday was so insane that I decided it was better to write a whole new blog. So here goes.

Yesterday my boyfriend and I were set to travel to Florida. We got to the airport in plenty of time for our flight to Tampa, where we were going to connect to a flight to Ft. Lauderdale where we would arrive around 3. Then we would drive two hours down to the Keys. We’d hit the grocery store first to stock up the kitchenette we were renting, then head to a bar we like walking distance from the hotel so we could relax with beer for him and diet coke for me.

But then our flight to Tampa was so delayed that we were not going to make our connecting flight. So the airline did their best and managed to get us redirected. We would get into Ft. Lauderdale at 9:45 at night. By way of Kansas City. And then Nashville. No joke.

Now this is annoying. And while things were not settled, and we didn’t know how or if we would get to Florida, it was very stressful. And for about half an hour, I was really upset. But I kept reminding myself to breathe. I had all the food I needed, because I travel prepared. And my boyfriend called the hotel and told them we would miss check in. They said they would hide our key and we could check in in the morning. Plus, I was with my boyfriend, so it was all fine. We laughed about it a lot. Even as it was going on. We were both able to take it in stride and make the best of it.

So we finally get to Ft. Lauderdale after 8 hours of numb butt cheeks. We rent a really nice car for a good deal. We drive the 2 hours. I buy an apple at a rest stop and I have some protein packed in my bag so I have breakfast for the morning so we don’t have to run to the grocery store first thing in the morning. All is well. We’re exhausted. But the day is done.

Or so we think.

We get in about midnight, find our hidden room key, and go to the room. I open the door and the first thing I see is a mountain of garbage. Pizza boxes. Water bottles. A banana peel. There is a pile of towels on the floor. I turn on the lights (afraid there will be people in there) and the beds are all unmade. And it smells.

We are both clear that we are not going to sleep in the beds. (Duh!!!!) So we take what seem like unused pillows and go sleep on two chez lounges on the screened in balcony attached to our room. No joke.

So there are two things I want to say about this.

1) I didn’t have to eat over this. I didn’t have to drown my feelings with chocolate cake. I didn’t “deserve” something sweet at the end of a hard day. I don’t eat outside of my boundaries no matter what.

Sugar wouldn’t have made anything better. And in the long run, it would have made everything so much worse.

2) I had to learn to live a certain way when I got my eating under control. I had to learn to let life happen the way it happened. I had to learn to let go of anger and resentment. I had to drop self-pity.

It’s true that I was just plain miserable from midnight until I fell asleep on the lounge chair. And I was anxious for the hour that I was awake before the office opened and we got a new, lovely, clean room. And a refund for the night. (Obviously.)

But the trip is not ruined. We were able to be calm and loving and happy through the whole day. And I am perfectly happy right now. I’m laying by the pool watching iguanas eat bugs around me. My boyfriend and I have had a lovely day so far. We have even enjoyed telling our family and friends. We are already laughing about it.

I got that freedom from getting control of my food addiction. When I was eating compulsively, just the trouble with the flight would have been enough to positively ruin the whole time away. The. Whole. Trip! It’s not fair! Life isn’t fair! I hate everyone!!!!

But today it doesn’t matter if life is fair. All is well. Because I can let it be done. I can be happy in the now.

So that’s my story. But now I’m warm. I need to post this and get in the pool.

I hope you have a beautiful day. I am going to.

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