Saturday, March 23, 2013

Choosing Better Tapes

The tapes playing in my head this week:

"Why am I so unloveable?"

"Who do I think I am?"

"I am taking up too much space."

On some level, these tapes have been playing on repeat my entire life. And we've all got 'em. Messages we've heard so long that we hardly doubt their truth, but only begin to doubt their untruth. After all, how could this not be true? How could 25 years of data lie? "There was that thing that he said and that situation that happened...and that proves my point"...(and so on and so forth).

I remember as a kid being told to "hush." A lot. Regularly getting in trouble for saying too much or speaking too loudly. For talking about the wrong things. For asking too many questions. For vying for too much attention. For being too much.

And I still feel much that way today. Fear that I am physically taking up too much space. Fear that I am emotionally asking too much. Fear that I am being too honest. Being too much to handle, which makes me come up short. Needing to be better.

Being too much and not enough all in the same sentence.

At my worst, I'm hiding in my clothes. Concerning myself with being smaller. Feeling the need to trim down my opinions, my honesty and appetite for life because it's just too much.

At my best, I'm taking pride in my physical body. Investing in learning and growth. Feeling the desire to build up my knowledge, my vulnerability, and my appetite for life because it just feels right.

I had a friend during eating disorder recovery. One of us would call the other post-binge, post-purge, or post-both and say: "This is what I'm feeling. I hate it. I want to self-harm. But I am promised that if I felt this way, I would call you first." It wasn't the receiver's job to talk the other person out of it. It wasn't the receiver's responsibility to rush over and stop them from proceeding. But the deal was, I'll at least call you first.

And when I called, she would often say, "Do the next right thing."

Yes, what has happened hurts.
And I'm sorry for that.
Yes, we can't go back and change the past.
But what can you do now?
What's the next right thing?

For me today--with these tapes playing in my head--the next right thing would be to eat a salad. Not because I have to. But because I'm hungry and fiber is good for me and having four more servings of buttery biscuits isn't exactly balance.

The next right thing is to stop walking in circles. Sit down. Cease your anxious knee-bouncing. Read that book.

The next right thing is to surround myself with good friends.

The next right thing is to drink more water.

This won't solve the problem. It won't make everything go away. It won't undo the past week of self-hatred, but it's the next right thing and that counts for something. If not everything.

Life happens not only in grand climaxes and inciting incidents, but also in day-to-day choices to do the next right thing.

To choose better tapes, like:

"I am loveable."

"I am worthy."

"I can take up all the space I need."