Weighty Matters

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Pain Turns to Medicine

Fair warning, friends.  I will probably cite from Anne LaMott’s amazing book Small Victories often in coming days.  Her insights are sparkle like gems, resonate like soul-filling music in the best concert hall, and open my eyes and my mind to new viewpoints.  The book reveals what she calls “small moments of grace”.  For me, it’s uncovering small moments of understanding.  If these understandings lead to grace, so much the better.

Earlier this evening, I read a passage that, forgive the cliche, spoke to me.  I won’t retype the whole thing, but my small moment began when she shared a quote from Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet.  The quote reads, “Through love all pain will turn to medicine”.  LaMott says that the pain and failures she experienced slowly restored her to the person she was born to be.

She talks about experiencing the eating cycle of binging then dieting, binging then dieting, binging then dieting and never felt full without being stuffed.  Gradually, through school and life experiences, she began to,” … learn the secrets of life: that you could become the woman you’d dared to dream of being but to do so you were going to have to fall in love with your own crazy, ruined self.”

Later she shares that she had to accept that life was not going to be filling if she tried to become somebody else’s idea of who she should be. and when she got to that point she no longer needed to stuff herself “to the gills”.

Nothing was going to fill her except love and what I interpret from her description as self-acceptance, self-nurturing, self-care.

This is all such powerful stuff for me.  Now I’m not going to sit here and say that I hate myself.  That isn’t true.  However, I don’t always treat myself with the love that I deserve, the love that I would show to others.

Going back to Rumi, I feel like his quote means that the negative of pain cannot withstand the positive power of self-love.  When we let in the love, we transform the other emotions into something nurturing and healing.  The pain becomes medicine which treats the negative conditions so that they heal.  The emptiness is filled and we no longer need to plug the hollowness with food.

Day Four is winding to a close.  I’ve had another good day food-wise.  It wasn’t always easy today as I dealt with some circumstances that were unpleasant and upsetting.  However, I prevailed and didn’t seek to reduce the effects by stuffing in food.

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Making Amends

There are steps in the 12 Step programs that talk about taking inventory of ourselves and our actions, admitting them to another person, and then making a list of people we’ve harmed and making amends where possible.

It’s a daunting and humbling process to study one’s self and one’s actions so objectively, take that personal inventory, and then suck it up and make amends. I think a lot of us would just prefer a do-over and skate by on the promise to do better in the future.

It doesn’t work that way — not when we’ve harmed others and definitely not when we’ve harmed ourselves. I am far better at apologizing to someone else than I am at making amends to myself. I’ve hurt myself a lot over the years — emotionally, mentally and physically.

I’ve thought badly of myself and really treated myself in awful ways. Seriously, if I treated others the same way it would be justifiable for someone to declare me a hateful, mean person. If someone else tried to treat someone I loved in the same way, I’d bitch slap that someone across the room.

So why was it acceptable to be rotten to myself? How did I learn to be mean, or at the very least, completely unsupportive to me? I wish that I had the answer.

I’m working on being a whole lot better to myself these days. I can’t undo the past, but I can apologize to myself, forgive myself, and resolve to not repeat the crappy, hurtful behavior in the future. I think that making amends to myself, truly being loving and forgiving, is essential to my recovery.

One way of repairing the physical abuse is to continue to be diligent with my exercise. I’m making my body stronger and healthier. The mental amends? I can work on them by cancelling negative, derogatory or judgmental thoughts if they pop up. Emotional amends? Loving myself, nurturing my needs, being as good and kind to myself as I enjoy being to others, goes a long way.

How do you feel about the ways — good and bad — that you treat yourself? Can you give yourself a hug today?