Monday, September 10, 2012

Give Peace a Chance

This week I want to talk about giving this recovery stuff a chance. I know it seems so hard to believe that letting go is the way to find the path through. I know I didn't believe it myself, at first, and I suspect that doing it yourself is the only way to make yourself believe it. So, while these things I talk about may not have the kind of influence I meant when I began here, I can hope that it will help someone like me make a choice to try, at least.

When I started recovery, I read the books that you're supposed to read, I had tearful conversations with both my therapist and my nutritionist, and all of these sources assured me that someday I would be able to handle a meal without being tormented. Frankly, I thought that they were all full of crap, but I was out of energy, out of options, and just plain too tired to argue with anyone. I wrote in the journals for my feelings and my food, I talked - and talked, and talked, and talked. I read some more. I ate. I ate a lot, and I felt guilty and ashamed, and I wrote about it and I talked about it some more.

Time passed, I got heavier - yes, I'm going to admit that, I don't mind now, and those sources of mine, well, they did tell me that would happen. When that started to happen I wanted to quit. I didn't want to be fatter and despite all of the positive self-affirmations and loving myself work that I was doing... well, I might have learned to accept the body I have but I didn't especially LIKE it. In fact, I still kind of hated the idea that I wouldn't ever be that thin version of myself that I had always wanted.

Letting go of that idea was hard. I grieved for it for a while.

And I wrote about that too, of course. But it was getting to be a habit, all this thinking about feelings and writing about feelings and talking, talking, talking about feelings. And one day, at some point, I found myself thinking about those feelings BEFORE I ate the food. You know, instead of after. Not "Why did I just eat a half a bag of chips?" but "Why do I want to eat this bag of chips?"

That surprised me, and so I wrote about it in my food journal. I decided that I didn't actually want to eat a bag of chips. I just wanted to feel something different, even if it was just sick fullness - I don't know what, exactly, I wanted to feel or not feel any longer, because when you don't let yourself feel emotions it becomes hard to recognize them. (I'm getting better at that, I think.)

And I decided that if any feeling was better, that I could make a positive choice about what I wanted to feel next instead of letting the chips decide for me. So that first time I headed for the TV and queued up an episode of The Muppet Show. That's about the time I started working in all those other hobbies, like puzzles, and music, and reading. Did I need to feel something? Pick a mood and find an activity. I've already confessed to drawing in coloring books, so now I guess I'll 'fess up to dancing like a dork to disco and searching for naughty fan fiction on the internet.

It takes time, I'm not going to kid you about that. That Muppet Show episode was a long time ago, and here I still am, thinking and writing about things. But lately.... oh lately things have gotten interesting. Yes, I can deflect a binge (most of the time). Yes, I can stop when I'm full (most of the time). Yes, I can pass on dessert when I don't feel like it, and yes, sometimes I actually don't feel like it. But now it's almost like I'm discovering myself all over again, almost every day. What I need, what I like and even don't like. Lately I find myself having ordered this wonderful thing that I always used to love and crave, because now I'm allowed to have it any old time... and I don't really like it so much. I'm beginning to notice when things are too greasy, too heavy, too sweet. Just a couple of days ago I was about to call the local pizza place for a calzone, I love those so much! But then I thought better of it - they're so heavy and make me feel icky and sleepy. And I also found out that I love artichokes! Once upon a time I wouldn't have tried an artichoke if you paid me. It's like a whole new world.

So basically, no matter how many blog posts I do, no matter what I say, I doubt I can convince anyone that intuitive eating works. You pretty much have to experience it for yourself. All I can do is keep sharing what's happening to me and hope that it helps. I was in that place 15 or so months ago, where I'd tried everything, every diet, every gimmick, when I had nothing left... I gave it a chance, tried a little love instead of hate. I could have blown another year trying the same old thing, the thing that had not worked in 30 years, but - even though it was out of sheer exhaustion - I decided to give something new a chance. I think it's working; I like who I am again, I like my world again, and I'm still alive. I think that's better than another failed diet, for me...

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