Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “Serenity Prayer”

What you see when you put down oblivion

Since this blog is an eating disorder blog, I generally keep my writing personal, and if I am going to touch on a topical issue, it’s usually one related to eating disorders. And while that is still sort of true today, I’m going to venture a little further out.

I want to talk about how the past few days have left me feeling crazy. I want to talk about rage. I want to talk about the serenity prayer. I want to talk about justice, and I want to talk about peace.

I quit sugar, grains, and starch, and put boundaries around my eating ten and a half years ago. When I did that, I put a kind of change into motion. My entire transformation was not immediate. I had a lot of stuff to clean up with myself and others. I was then twenty-eight, and had lived a life of fear, dishonesty, manipulation, and self-loathing for as long as I could remember. I was pretty far down the Anakin-Skywalker-becomes-Darth-Vader road. You know, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering….But within surprisingly few years of getting a handle on my eating, less than five, I had become someone I liked, loved and respected. I had changed the way I lived my life to point where I had found serenity.

So lets talk about The Serenity Prayer. I know that I have included it in past posts, but I am going to include it again, because it’s worth knowing:


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.


When I first learned this prayer, the people who taught it to me explained some things to me. They wanted me to understand the “wisdom” part. They wanted to clear up what I could change and what I could not. The things I couldn’t change included people, places, and things. I have no control over anyone else, or their thoughts, words, or actions. I have no control over past events. And I have no control over world leaders, natural disasters, or grotesque acts of violence. The things I could change were always me. I can change my beliefs, my thoughts, and my actions.

There is something else about the “courage” aspect of this prayer that I want to note. It’s about solutions. If I have a problem, there is a solution, and it is inside me.

But here’s my problem today. I am filled with rage. I am filled with rage at humans murdering other humans. But more, and more, and most, I am filled with rage at those of us defending the murders, defending the violent acts that ended the lives of others of us. I am filled with rage that fear of change, fear of losing privilege, fear of “otherness” has lead us to act, not simply believe, but ACT in a way that declares that some humans are worth more than other humans. I am filled with rage over people, places and things that I cannot control.

And it’s impotent rage. Because for as much as I want a solution, I am not a human being killing my fellow human beings. And I am torn between wanting serenity, and fearing that my serenity will simply be a lack of action that overlooks injustice.

When every Miss America ever said that she wished, more than anything, for “World Peace,” she made it sound like a thing. Like a book, or an apple, or a hobbyhorse. Something she could unwrap under the tree on Christmas morning. Or perhaps like a magic spell that would render us docile, a planet of seven billion Snow Whites and Ned Flanders (Flanderses? – whatever….)

But what world peace would really look like is seven billion people choosing love instead of hate. Daily. Hourly. Moment to moment. It would look like seven billion people answering violence with forgiveness. It would look like seven billion people liking and loving themselves enough that they didn’t have to lash out in anger and hate, and then blame the ones they lashed out at.

In my experience, when you wrong someone, in order to live with what you have done, you have to do one of two things. You can make an amends to them, or you can justify your cruelty by making them the bad guy. In your own mind, and often, in the minds of others. Making amends is hard. Amends take the courage. Making amends is the “courage to change the things I can.” Making someone else the bad guy is easy. It’s terrible, and toxic, and leads to the kind of shame that ruins loves and lives and families, and even whole societies, but you never have to have that hard conversation. You never have to humble yourself. You never have to admit when you are wrong. And maybe most of all, you never have to experience the pain and shame and horror of what you have done. You just have to live with the incompleteness of it for the rest of your life.

I don’t know what I can do. I don’t know how to change the things I can. I have been thinking about it and thinking about it for days. I’m exhausting myself. And I have to do something with this rage, MY rage. Because it is toxic.

But whatever I do, I cannot cover my eyes and pretend that I don’t see. When I put down the sugar, I put down the oblivion. It turns out, there’s no sugar-coating when there’s no sugar. When I put down my addiction, I agreed to look with both eyes open, and acknowledge the reality of things. So I’m acknowledging reality, and the sad truth that sometimes, it f*cking sucks.


If you need the wood, I’ll be off the cross in a minute.

One of the ways I keep my eating under control is by focusing on my part of a situation. With food it’s about keeping my eyes on my own plate. I don’t worry about what anyone else is eating. With life, it’s about minding my own business. And keeping peace in my own heart and mind. Other people’s behavior and relationships are also none of my concern. I keep my eyes on my own life.
But another way I help myself keep my eating under control is by being authentic, and speaking up for myself. I do not let myself be abused. I do not please others at my own expense.

There are some people at work, both customers and fellow employees, who are really not nice people. (No seriously. Not like normal people having a bad day. Like people who actively try to make others unhappy. Like total jerks.) And it’s hard for me to find a balance between taking care of myself, and being peaceful, regardless of the situation.

The other part of this is finding the best way to keep the Good Girl in me on a short leash. She let people abuse her for a long time. Her worth was in how far she could diminish herself for the happiness and use of others. 

Look, the Good Girl, when she is right-sized, and in her proper place, is part of the reason I am so good at my customer service job. When I am not being a martyr, I genuinely like giving people a great experience. I aim to leave people at least satisfied, and hopefully even happier, as a result of their time spent with me.

But just like I wrote in last week’s installment, the Good Girl can have me agree to do things that end up leaving me feeling resentful and frustrated. I can wind up feeling taken advantage of, often forgetting that I allowed myself to be put in the situation in the first place.

I am not going to eat compulsively over these feelings of resentment. But that is a luxury that I cultivate. Resentment is exactly the danger to an addict like me. It is just the thing to convince me that I totally deserve that chocolate cake, damn it!

Last week, I was doing what needed to be done for the store/my department, and neglecting to care for my own self. I forgot that integrity means keeping my word, but it doesn’t have to mean volunteering at the expense of my own peace. I was doing what was requested of me, simply because I was asked. I agreed knowing I didn’t want to. And that was dangerous. I was putting myself and my eating disorders in a dangerous situation.

I know that I need to keep my food boundaries at the center of my life. Keeping my sugar addiction and my eating disorders at bay is the most important thing I do in my life. Part of that is never letting any resentment, judgment, or torment grab a hold of me. It means I have to shake them off quickly. I have to be grateful for what I have. I have to remember that all things pass eventually. And if I am unhappy, I am the one who must change.

In parting, I will leave you with the Serenity Prayer. (If you don’t already know it, I promise it’s a good one. By the way, it’s not just a prayer. It’s a way of life.)
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.


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