Tuesday, February 1, 2011

As If

I'm nervous to even talk about this for fear that somehow talking about it will make me think about it, and thinking about it will jinx me, and jinxing me will end the successful streak I've had the last 6 months. But I'll say it anyway:

I'm doing really well.

I know. Terrifying, right? I hardly know what to do with all these good days and positive emotions. The joy in the my life is nearly suffocating it's so wonderful. I've said it before, I'm not sure what to do with happiness. Because I've been caught in cycles before where happiness only meant that doom was soon to follow. In the past, joy has made me uncomfortable.

Joy is erratic.
Difficult to tame.

But fear?
I get fear.
I know my way around it pretty well.
It's mappable and familiar.
It's the joyful stuff that gets me.

This morning, as I laid in bed fully enjoying the snow day, I reached for the book that I believe has had a lot to do with these stable 6 months: Women Food and God by Geneen Roth. I know, I know. This book again, right? I'm telling ya. It's changed my life.

Roth says that the biggest obstacle to any kind of transformation is the voice that tells you its impossible. And we've all got one. She calls it The Voice. Sigmund Freud calls it the superego. The inner critic. The voice of evil.

We've all got The Voice by the time we are four years-old. It has it's benefits and functions as a moral compass, but as life goes on it can become a culmination of every authoritative voice we've ever heard (primarily our parents). The Voice has one main message: Your impulses cannot be trusted. Listen only to me. Depend on me. Otherwise you'll die a failure. You idiot.

"And therein lies the pickle," writes Roth, "The Voice feels and sounds so much like you that you believe it is you."

My personal manifestation of The Voice collaborated nearly five years ago to form an eating disorder. But we've all got our stuff. You think about yours. The Voice in each of us has a unique way of blending objective truth with moral judgment which leaves us feeling defeated and weak.

Roth writes that "Freedom is hearing The Voice ramble and posture and lecture and not believing a word of it . . . When you release yourself--even one time--from The Voice, you suddenly realize how long you've been mistaking its death grip for life."

When I think about what has most altered my journey over the last 6 months, its a truth I learned from this book. I realized that I had given up on myself and my ability to heal. At some small level I had figured that an eating disorder would forever be part of my life. I didn't trust myself. I felt out-of-control because I believed that something else was controlling me. But on a significant day last August, I realized that no one had control of me except for me.

"Diets are based on the unspoken fear that you are a madwoman, a food terrorist, a lunatic. Eventually you will destroy all that you love and so you need to be stopped . . . We treat ourselves and the rest of the world as if deprivation, punishment, and shame lead to change . . . with a little more self-disgust we'll prevail."

It's not true. Here was another heavy hitter for me:
"When you believe in yourself more than you believe in food, you will stop using food as if it were your only chance at not falling apart . . . And yes, it really is that simple." You pick your weapon. Maybe you believe in porn more than you believe in yourself. Is it alcohol? Is it anger? Is it control? Is it anxiety? Whatever you are more familiar with than yourself, it's going to dominate.

After recognizing this in myself, I began doing what Roth calls "living as if" . . .
I am living as if I believe I am worth it.
I am living as if I look in the mirror and love what I see there.
I am living as if I am completely comfortable with happiness.
I am living as if the peace I long for is actually here.

Because the more I see life as it could be, the more it becomes so.


Anthony said...

I appreciate this. Thank you for your openness.