Trusting the River/the Path

I heard in the distance/deep within a whisper.
Calling to me, reminding me.
My path saved me.
When I could not see it/I felt it.
The path knew more than I knew, but it stayed present, because it was fixed.
I crawled on my knees in the dirt and I looked dirty.
I felt dirty. I felt weighted down, by the boulders and the bricks.
I wore them on my back, not just mine, but everyone else’s.
I would gladly take your boulders and your weight and put in on my back.
It was too hard for me to see you carry it.
But then, I took it, and you replaced it with a different brick, and I became heavier.
I sank into the mud. My mud and your mud swirled together and neither of us could breathe.
I still heard the whisper and i put my hand up out of the mud with all of my strength.
I grasped the path and I flopped myself onto it. No strength yet to do anything on it.
All I could do was lay on it/lay in it and let it guide me.
Like a river flowing I hung on to a raft any raft a long as it was mine.
It was hard because I had so many bricks and boulders with me.
I looked down in the river to see that there were other boulders and bricks lining the river bed.
These bricks seemed to be glistening, to be transformed somehow by the water.
What if I could let go of some of these bricks I thought?
My rocks, your rocks, what is the water needed them too?
Slowly, I began to let go of them. I placed them/or let them plop into the water.
I knew not how they would land, or if they would just be swept away.
But I let go of my need to know and control where they would go.
Knowing the river/my path would know what to do.
As time went on, the boulders and the river worked together to form an amazing waterfall.
Things were picking up speed now, and I felt lighter. I felt like things were falling into place.
Other people came to see their rocks in the water. To see the power of resiliency.
Suddenly, we all felt lighter. We didn’t know how much time had passed, just that at this moment we felt free.

Reflection on the discussion of the “ego.”

Lately, much discussion has centered around letting go of the “ego” etc. I have been pondering this lately and asking what does this really mean and is it good? I know in my life when I am making a decision I sometimes ask myself am I making this decision from a heart-centered place or an ego place? What do I mean by this? For example, would going to school for another degree fulfill me in any way? Am I trying to get another degree so that I feel good about myself or so that society can view my title and think I am more accomplished? This would be that type of question. The answer is I love school, I love learning, but yes having a certain title sometimes feels good and yes society loves titles. Do I NEED to go to school to learn? Do I NEED a title to have knowledge? No, not at this time and not about what I want to learn about. If I was going to learn surgery, sure maybe I would need a specialized skill.

So, the answer to this is not as easy as it may appear and in addition, it is based on mixed sentiment.

I think instead of the ego, I would like to call it belief systems. Belief systems can either stand in our way at certain times, or help us. I think it is a mistake to say the ego is bad or judge it in this way.

Why do I think this? I think this is because usually it is trying to protect us. An example is, I have fear surrounding certain things in my life. These fears have limited me in different ways. However, to say they are false beliefs also isn’t exactly true either. They were or are true for me at some point in my life, and served that purpose to keep me safe. Did they keep me safe? Maybe, Maybe not. Do I still need to hold on to them to reach new areas of achievement in my life? No. No I really do not need them.

Thanking these beliefs for being there is an interesting experience. I recently read an article and one of the things it mentioned was to thank the negative emotion for being there, for trying to protect you. So, I did this. What I felt inside was interesting. Instead of the usual sense of resistance towards emotions where I get mad and say, “uggghhhh I wish I did not have that fear.” I thought, “o, it was a defense mechanism.” The resistance went down a little bit. Is my fear totally gone? No, but my understanding of it is completely transformed. In a sense, it is like during relaxation exercise where I am imagining being by the ocean and the day’s list of “to-dos” comes into my mind, I accept that it is there, say hello, and allow it to pass. The more I focus on being annoyed or try to not think about the to-do list, the more I think about it.

Acceptance-This word/this theme comes again and again. What is it about acceptance that is so powerful? It is not giving in and saying, “I don’t care.” Instead, no it is taking a step back noticing and integrating that thought. It is like the river that finds a new way to flow around the rock.

So, I wonder, what is the point of fighting with “the ego”. What is the point of fighting our negative beliefs and emotions? What if we turn and face them and look at them. What if we thank them for trying to protect us? Will they transform us?

Just some thoughts…

Feedback is always appreciated 🙂

Mermaids are awesome: finally finding some freedom from food obsession.

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I found this sign on a bathroom door. I liked it for obvious reasons. It does not have much to do with this post except that it is a mermaid. However, I will say the mermaid in the picture looks a little sneaky. I feel like a rebel right now in some ways, so I guess I can make that leap. Why do I feel like a rebel you ask? Well, thanks for asking. I will tell you. About 5 months ago I took part in a treatment program for my Eating Disorder. How did I come to learn I had an eating disorder? Well, through much reading and soul searching. However, I will tell you, my journey to the program actual started as a way to conquer my recent “inability” to stick to any weight loss program. I was gaining weight despite repeated and constant attempts to lose weight. I came to recognize that I was obsessed with food, my body image and weight loss. Was this a new thing in my life? No, it started at the young age of 12 when I began my first diet. I lost weight, sure, but I gained something else. I had unknowingly added a new obsession into my world. One, that I continue to fight to this day. You might ask, do I think ALL dieting is bad? Not really, I have actually seen a few people that want to lose some weight here and there and do not have an unhealthy obsession with it or their body’s. They seem to just do it without feeling like their whole world is riding on the results of it. Do I think overall understanding the body’s hunger cues, understanding intuitive eating, and understanding the emotional component to why we eat is probably a better strategy overall? Yes, I do. 

So, five months ago, I have to admit that I literally had nothing to lose when I entered my program. I was in deep with my obsessions and I knew it. I felt trapped. They told me, “this is not a weight loss program.” Ok, I thought, time to get real. Time hit my real problem head on.  I just wanted to find joy and happiness again. I could not obsess any longer about food, dieting, my body etc. It was literally eating away at me. PUN INTENDED. I also knew dieting was out, since I literally couldn’t do it anymore. THANK YOU BODY! Thank you body for being smarter than me. So, my goals changed. Once I realized that I had to give up my goal of weight loss in order to achieve a different more important goal, everything changed. Believe me when I tell you that, giving up a goal that I had carried with me for almost 20 years was not the easiest thing I did. I can also tell you that I still work every day to remind myself why my healthier goal of ending food obsession is the more important goal. Some days are harder than others. Some people might read this and think, “but isn’t weight loss an important goal? Isn’t losing weight important for health.” I have many many thoughts on what I have written above, but for the purposes of this blog, what I can tell you is that, I was sure if I did not give up the goal of weight loss, I would continue to binge eat and gain weight. I know, it is crazy, but absolutely true. 

So, when did I realize I had made progress on this goal? Well, the other day, I was driving and I was talking to my friend. We were actually talking about over eating. I realized that my response to the conversation was completely different than it had ever been before. I have to tell you, I still binge eat from time to time. I am still recovering. HOWEVER, I do not obsess about food like before. I still have some obsession, sure, but it is much much less. As a result, my binges are significantly less and less intense. I eat until I am full most of the time. Also, I realized I do not have the same level of shame and guilt attached to eating as I did before. I do not always pick apart every morsel of food I put in my mouth. I do not need a perfect meal. Sometimes, food is just food. I am elated as I type this. I never thought I would get to this point. I am soooo happy to share this on this blog. If I can get to this place, so can anyone! 

My goal is to continue along this path. I notice that I mostly eat according to my hunger cues now. I also notice that I am full a lot sooner than I used to notice. In summary, I am more in tune with my body and my body is thanking me. 

I have read many books on mindful eating and the end of dieting. I have to say they have helped me tremendously and certainly added to my success! I am so grateful to the brave and insightful writers. However, sometimes these books make eating mindfully and intuitively seem somewhat easy. They have at times left me feeling encouraged, but then sad, when my attempts did not make the cut so to speak. Perhaps, it was because before my program, I was still measuring success by the numbers on the scale, or my pants size. Perhaps, it is because I had to dig through piles of pain to get where I am. Thus, no it hasn’t been easy.  I now measure success by the fact that I believe freedom from food obsession to be a possibility. The books usually also seem to still hold the goal for the reader to lose weight. I don’t blame the writers for this, this is most people’s goal when reading them. For me, however, I have found, only in my own personal experience, tackling my eating disorder meant truly giving up that as the end all be all goal. Do I hope my body will find a comfortable healthy weight that is a great size for my own personal body? Yes, I do. Perhaps that is now. Who knows really. I fight everyday to disallow the old voices of society or my teenage self to tell me I must look a certain way to fill some ideal. However, I merely hold this as a place card so to speak. In the here and now, I work on small goals. These small goals create small victories and the small victories build and come together into big victories. 

I want to add a confession, that dieting at all right now, or trying to purposely lose weight currently feels like a land I do not even want to go to or think about. When people bring up dieting or losing weight together etc., I usually say no thanks, I’ve got my own thing going on. What I mean is, “I’m rocking the plan I have now and my goals might be different than most of society’s, but achieving even a small amount of freedom feels amazing.” The saying, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” used to really resonate with me. Well, you know where that saying got me? It got me in a perpetual down spin of negativity and self-loathing. A new saying is, “nothing can compare to self-love, or having my own mind and self back feels really damn good.” Or, “maybe you can’t see what your definition of what my “achievements” should be, but they have nothing to do with you anyways!!” HAHA I like that last one!! It is a little spicy!!! 

In addition, to freedom from food obsession, I have also found some freedom from my obsession with the scale. YES!!! Am I scared sometimes when I get on it? YES I AM. I am scared sometimes emotions will trigger me to stop trusting in myself or go back to my old ways. But, I keep trudging along, because right now, there really is no going back. There really only is looking ahead. 

My journey is still on-going. I remind myself daily that is ok to let go of that controlling voice and that it is ok to trust in yourself and your body. 

Goodnight and Glad to be back!

On Forgiveness…

To forgive, forgiveness….What thought’s come to mind when you think about forgiveness? For most of my life people have told me that I am too hard on myself, and perhaps they are right. What I have come to understand is that in some ways this has been a defense mechanism. If I am hard on myself, no one else will have to be. If I am hard on myself I am somehow controlling my environment so maybe things seem a little less out of control or “unknown.” During my program for binge eating disorder, I did a lot of work around forgiving myself for things. I wracked my brain, “why was it so hard for me to extend myself the self-compassionate gesture and say, “I forgive you self for not being perfect, for being human?” Why can I forgive almost anyone around me, but not myself? Again, perhaps the defense mechanism comes into play, but I also started to think about our society. We live in a very critical society. Even looking at the tabloids or the news, one comment someone says is taken out of context and bam they are soon the center of storm of hateful comments. People seem to want punishment. People seem to want to make people pay. I often wonder where the compassion is in these stories. Where is the human emotion of empathy? Sure, some things people do are horrendous and people shouldn’t just walk around without any consequences. But, that’s not what I am talking about here. When we judge people so harshly, especially without knowing the facts or a person’s true heart, it does something to us as human beings. I think it hardens us in a way.

So, enough blaming society…why else is self-forgiveness so freaking hard? Well, I can really only speak for myself. First of all, I had to take a look at myself and say, did I really do anything wrong? Sometimes I was blaming myself for things I had nothing to do with in reality, or I was feeling like I had to fly around with a cape on saving everyone. Sometimes, I did have to admit ok, yes maybe I could have done this differently etc. For example, I remember learning from someone, that comments I had made hurt their feelings and made them actually very upset. Learning this and admitting that I had caused someone sadness tore through me. I thought, “how could I have done something like this?” I beat myself up for that for a very long time. That is despite apologizing and learning new ways of communicating. Harboring those feelings towards myself in the long run really would not have helped my friend any, because most likely she had already moved on. Ahhh admitting life, and me, are not always perfect was hard for me. It meant admitting I was vulnerable and that people are vulnerable. This meant admitting that the world is not always a place of fairy tales and roses and days gone by. It meant admitting sometimes, things go wrong. Of course, I know all of this rationally. The imperfection of the world and myself are things that not only am I aware of, but are also realities that can be a bit scary, because again it means being vulnerable. I think my subconscious thought pattern went something like this:  if I allow myself to be imperfect, it means being seen, being seen means being vulnerable, and being vulnerable means the possibility of getting hurt, getting hurt means experiencing painful emotions…and you get the picture.

 

Grief: When I began to take an honest look at myself and really accept the emotions I was experiencing, a strange wave of something passed over me. What was this feeling? I began to ponder it, and then I figured it out. I was sitting with my emotions and allowing myself to offer me some forgiveness, when I felt some sadness. It was not just any sadness, but I began to recognize that I was actually grieving something. I had stopped using food to numb my emotions and things were coming up. I was grieving the fairy tale world where everything was “perfect”. I was grieving my childhood ideals that life is always sunshine and daisies, that everyone is always happy, and that nothing bad ever happens. Again, I knew all of this rationally, but I guess maybe I just didn’t want to accept it. I guess, I was actually growing up a bit. Soon enough, this feeling of grief passed,  and I was able to find a new feeling in its place: a sense of accomplishment, growth and resiliency. I knew I could face myself and accept my imperfections, and more importantly, I could grow and learn from them. As I write about this now, it is easier to look back on this and paint it as events happening sequentially. But, it wasn’t and still isn’t like that. Some days, I am more willing to accept imperfection than others. Some days, I am more willing to offer myself self-compassion. Some days, I still get mad at myself and set unrealistic expectations. These skills are still very new for me and I can honestly say this journey is a continually adapting process. But, I would not have it any other way. Allowing space for self-exploration and kindness has significantly changed my life. Although it has been painful at times, it has also been beautiful and rewarding. Maybe perfect isn’t wrapped up in pretty little bows or presents under the tree on christmas morning. Maybe perfect is about staring life in the face and saying, “I see you and I see me and we are in this thing together.” Perfect is all of the little beautiful imperfections dancing in harmony creating our authentically constructed reality. Perfect isn’t about avoiding “the difficult” or pretending the mud doesn’t exist. My perfect now is facing the difficult and taking the mud and building a mud fort and staking my claim in this world. There is nothing really that exciting about perfect anyways. 

Yes, it is 3 am. Yes, I had double espresso at 6pm. This is something I never do, and will abstain from in the future as a rule, I require a lot of sleep. Thanks for reading. 

Thank you to this duck for reminding me of an important life lesson.

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Yesterday I had an appointment, but I was so engrossed in my work, the time got away from me and I looked at my watch and knew that I would be late. As a natural tendency, I tend more towards meandering through life allowing for the space to get lost in moments. However, deadlines, appointments and the click of the clock are realities. Thus, I must give in to following their rules(sometimes). I quickly dressed and gathered my things telling everyone around me, “I’m late!!!” as if speaking the words make the situation better. All it really did was excite those around me so that we were all now joined in an effort to get me out the door. I grabbed the keys and rushed down to my car in the parking garage. I must have come through the door quickly, because the person on the other side of it said ,”o!” and seemed surprised to see me. I apologized and said good morning and slowed my pace a bit, realizing that an extra step in my step wouldn’t actually solve the time crunch either. The situation was what it was. I was about 5 minutes late. Despite my natural tendency for leisure, I actually do not like being late. I feel as if I am keeping someone and being disrespectful to them. In addition, if I am paying for a session, I realize by me being late, I am not getting all I could be getting out of it. Also, there are some situations where being late can take on a whole different light. For example, walking in late to a meeting or a class and having to squeeze by a ton of people saying, “excuse me, excuse me, sorry, excuse me.” Talk about not blending into the back.

But on yesterday morning I took a deep breath and accepted the fact that no matter how fast I drove, walked, didn’t look at the clock, I would inevitably be late. As I was thinking about just this, a duck decided to cross my path and walk from one side of the road to the other. It was a single lane road, and there was no way to go around the duck. I had to come to a complete stop and wait as the duck casually strolled across. I can’t believe he or she had the nerve to inconvenience me, can you?

So what was the lesson taught unknowingly by Ms. or Mr. Duck? Well, I came up with a few.

-No matter how much you rush or plan or want things to go a certain way, sometimes life places things in your way that you must confront and deal with.

-Acceptance- Sometimes you can not change a situation and you must accept it the way it is. You do not have to like it or think it is great, but sometimes accepting it makes all the difference.

It’s not about the duck. Meaning, sometimes I have gotten upset about barriers in my way and blamed the barrier. This has been a very narrow way to look at a situation. What lead up to the duck crossing, was me spending too much time doing work. Had I been 10 minutes early, the duck crossing would have been just a neutral part of another day. The duck really did not care if I was late or not, it merely wanted to get to the other side.

-Nature is all around to teach us things. We are a part of this miraculous creation called nature that we live in. Trees, plants and all of life have been around for billions of years and over that time they have picked up some pretty good lessons. When I begin to open my eyes and look around and explore, I am more and more amazed by these lessons. When you look at how plants and animals adapt, it shows that resiliency is a part of what it means to be alive.

So I tip my hat(metaphorically) to the duck and I am off for a walk outside to breathe in the fresh air. I hope that anyone that may read this have a wonderful day. Don’t forget to look outside and around you, you might be delightfully surprised by what you learn.