onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “serenity”

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.

Not special. Still happy.

I am posting early this week because I have lots to do this weekend.

I am on a plane to New York again. I am going to an annual gathering for people with the same food boundaries as myself.I am already thinking about the farmer’s market and the giant apples. Maybe even Norther Spies, which I have not been able to get since I left. 

It has been nine years and ten months since I quit sugar and stopped eating compulsively. 3581 days.

Life seems to go so slowly while I am living it. But in retrospect, things change in an instant. The new normal doesn’t take very long.

Three years ago, I was single and living in New York. I had just quit smoking. I had just gained 30 pounds because of it. I was a nanny and a receptionist. I had not yet started crocheting again. 

Today I am happily, madly in love. I live in the suburbs of Chicago. I am learning to drive, and I just accepted a freelance writing gig, along with my part time job at a grocery store. Plus I spend my spare time crocheting gifts.

And the intervening years were also diverse. Living and making friends, first in Texas, then in Mississippi. Working for a construction company. Learning to crochet clothes. Teaching myself to knit (although I’m still not great at it.)

Perhaps my memory is faulty, but I don’t remember my life being so filled with drastic improvement before I got my eating under control. I don’t recall it shifting so quickly. And, though it comes with dips and drags and false starts, I don’t remember my life getting always happier, calmer, more steady. More serene. 

But even if my memory is faulty, the truth is that my experience of myself before I got my eating under control was of stagnation, anxiety, and dread.

One of the things that happens every year at this gathering for people who don’t eat compulsively is that I meet people who are struggling with food and sugar addiction. I like being an example of what is possible. Because I was a hopeless case too. There is nothing special about me. I don’t have extraordinary willpower – or really much of any willpower. I’m not naturally thin. I am a sick and twisted compulsive eating sugar addict who weighed 300 pounds at 19 years old. And I still managed to find a solution to this problem. And that gave me the clarity to find solutions to my other problems. It allowed me to create a life that keeps getting better.

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