Weighty Matters

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Compulsion Grip

I wish I could come here today and say that I’ve missed blogging for a few days because I’ve been super busy, but that would be a lie. I’ve been avoiding blogging for several reasons, none of which are good. I’m weary in my spirit, in turmoil with my emotions, and locked in the grip of compulsive eating. Unfortunately, when I eat compulsively, I don’t choose celery or lettuce. Instead, I’ve been diving into chocolate, but if chocolate isn’t available, I find other stuff to eat. And eat. And eat some more of. Although the compulsion occurs with small servings, it’s all relative and even small bites can add up to damage when they occur over time.

A couple of days before I left for my recent trip, I went through a bad, emotional time, centered around one of my community involvements. My service with this particular organization had been weighing heavily on me for sometime. I increasingly felt more stress and anxiety and I’d lost my passion and energy for it. No fault of the organization. It’s great and fills an important need. This was all on me. However, I firmly believe that when this happens, it’s time to step away not only for my own good but, ultimately, for that of the organization. Things kind of came to a head the night before my trip and I woke up knowing that I needed to make the break, so I did. While surprised, most of my colleagues wrote understanding, supportive emails. Unfortunately, one friend was/is very upset and angry with me. She expressed hurt over my lack of trust that I didn’t come to her first and discuss it with her. Emotions ran high with both of us and, in short, it got very messy. Unfortunately, I believe our friendship is a casualty in my decision to do something that was meant to be a health choice for me.

That’s the background. I’m working my way through the emotions, but here’s the thing about a compulsive eating disease. Once I engage in the behavior and fall into relapse, it’s really difficult to put on the brakes. I’ve talked about that before and don’t want to engage in whining, but it’s my statement of fact today. I imagine it’s not all that different than an alcoholic who falls off of the wagon. Once in the grip of compulsion, the compulsion rules.

Even if mentally I tell myself to not start or, if started, to stop . . . even if I have the best intention, when my disease takes hold, the physical act of eating overrides everything else. I have to say that it really, truly sucks.

So right now, in addition to feeling all of the residual emotional upset from the situation I was in, I have piled on the dismay, disgust, depression and dis-ease of being in the compulsion. Oh, and there’s also the physical discomfort of eating undesirable food in less-than-healthy amounts. One small chocolate as a treat isn’t bad. Eating a series of them, even stretched out over hours, results in queasiness.

I would like nothing more than to curl up in my bed, under the covers, and cry for an hour or two.

Instead, I’m here in front of the computer screen, sharing my status regardless of how pitiful it makes me appear. I’m fighting the “stinking thinking” that tells me I’ve blown it. I’ve blown everything. I’m never going to be able to stop eating and will gain all of my weight back, cripple myself and die early.

Yes, my “stinking thinking” can be incredibly dramatic. So, I blog and remind myself that relapse does not have to be forever. I’ve gone through some messed-up days, veered far from my appropriate food plan, and not attended to my regular exercise routine, BUT and, yes, that deserves to be a big BUT, a few messed-up days do not mean my entire effort is blown. I am not doomed.

I may not be able to change how my friend feels about my choices. I can, however, break out of the grip of compulsion and stop the relapse behavior. I can build acceptance and find serenity. I can treat myself with compassion, practice good self-care, undo whatever weight gain damage I’ve done, and move on.

I just caught myself thinking, “Oh Jesus, Mary. You’re writing about this again?? These people don’t want to read about this same problem, same old struggle another time.” Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. The point is that this is my journey and the blog is a tool to help me along the way. The eating disorder, the damned compulsive disease, is always part of me. There are always going to be times when I struggle to stay on track, and there will be times when I fall off. Not blogging about it, not forcing myself to confront and think about my issues and actions, doesn’t help. In fact, not blogging helps me creep into the denial stage. It does me no good to ignore what I’m doing. In fact, ignoring is the worst thing that I can do.

So I’m not. I’m not going to cower under the covers and cry either.

Onward and upward.

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The Shortest Distance

We all know the truism that the shortest distance between two points is the length of a straight line between them. I find this to be logical, practical and also a calming approach to more than just traveling distances. In fact, I’m embracing it in my attitude toward a stress-inducing situation at work. I was asked to coordinate a project that involves collecting information and articles from a whole bunch of other people, proofing/editing them, and getting to a designer for layout in a very short amount of time.

The clock is ticking on our deadline. While I have some of the material, I’m still waiting for a number of articles from various other people who are scattered around the country. These people don’t work for me. They don’t work for the organization that’s producing the report. They volunteer for committees for that organization. It’s not like I can crack a whip on them to get the material written, finished and submitted. So, there is a lot about this project over which I have no control and no power.

Enter the Serenity Prayer — Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Every time I start to get tense, fretful and stressed over what material is still outstanding, I’m trying to step back, breathe and stay calm.

Some of the material comes to me in rough form, or in forms that I can’t use verbatim because the items are too long. Now, I could send it back to the writers and say, “That’s great, but could you cut it down, please?” However, mindful of that deadline, I decided to enact step two from the Serenity Prayer and incorporate the shortest distance-straight line approach. I find the courage (and the will) to change what I can, and take the shortest path to accomplishing what I need. In other words, I extrapolate information, shape it into the length we can use, and send it back to the writer with a nice, “This is great information. We needed it a little shorter. Is this okay?” message. I’m respectful of their original material and, let’s be honest, I’m saving them extra work to boot.

Judging from the response, this approach is working. I feel that I’ve struck a good balance. The extra work for me is offset by the reduced time needed to end up with a useable piece. This means less stress overall. It’s a win.

As I write this, it occurs to me that the Serenity Prayer is pretty linear and matter-of-fact. Accept what you can’t change; change what you can; be wise enough to discern the difference. This all serves to clear out the mind clutter. I don’t have time to worry. I just need to get the project done to the best of my ability. I also don’t have either the time nor the inclination to doubt that ability. Self-confidence is not the issue although that could get undermined by stress if I allow it to happen. I’m not. I’m just staying on the straight, A to B path from project inception to project completion. No detours.

Since I’m doing such a good job of not letting stress block the road, I’m also having good food days. This means that my recovery is also on that straight direct path.

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