I messed up!

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

I messed up! I’ve let myself down! Last night, I binged. I had not binged for days. I binged. And I lied to myself. I told myself that it didn’t matter. I had been good, right? I was actually hungry. It’s alright to eat. It’s ok, just one bite. Just this time. I binged and I lied to myself. I messed up.

I went to bed bloated. I couldn’t sleep. When I binged, I snore and sometimes very loud. I couldn’t sleep. I was worried I would wake-up my husband, that he would know that I binged. When he left the bed at 2:30 am, I finally went to sleep but I slept poorly. The worry about snoring was replaced with the worry about getting leg or feet cramps. This happens if I ingest too much salt. So I slept poorly. I eventually got up at 9 am. I don’t feel good when I get up late, no matter what time I went to sleep.

Shame. Disappointment in myself. Self-loathing. Feeling sluggish. Tired. Shame.

BUT WHAT IF … messing up was an opportunity to practice self-compassion?

It’s easy to talk about self-compassion and be self-compassionate when I’m doing well. However it seems that when I’m messing up, not doing so well, I’m there with the beating stick! Beating the crap out of myself. Every hit of the stick hammering shame, self-loathing, disappointment, etc. deeper into my being. Every hit of the stick letting me know that it is true. It doesn’t matter. I don’t matter.

WHAT IF messing up was an opportunity to practice self-compassion?

This is the path I chose this morning, the path of self-compassion. I stood at the beginning of the path and unclenched my hand and let my beating stick dropped to the ground. I took a step and another and as I did, I was flooded with sadness. Sadness for what I was doing to myself. It does matter. I do matter. I deserve a healthy body. I deserve a good sleep. I deserve fulfilling relationships. But foremost, I deserve my own love and compassion.

I’m human. I’m not perfect. I have a long history with food addiction. But when I beat myself for the poor food choices, the binges, and all the other things I judged myself for, I’m perpetuation the cycle of shame and self-abuse. This is not the path to freedom. To the contrary, it is the path to enslavement. This is not what I want for myself. I deserve so much more. I’m worth so much more. The path of self-compassion is the only path that will lead me there, one step at a time.

I’m incredibly grateful right now for having taken those first few steps.

Recovery One Breath at a Time

I have just finished listening to “Recovery One Breath at a Time” by Kevin Griffin. This is a program I have purchased from Sounds True. I really enjoyed listening and studying this program. I’ve taken many notes. Kevin Griffin has a very gentle approach, which I like very much. I thought I would share some of the information that has struck a chord with me. Even though this program is geared towards recovery from addiction, I find that the information shared by Kevin Griffin Could be of value to anyone. And as someone wrote lately, aren’t we mostly all addicts to some extent?

Kevin shares a lot about mindfulness as a way to recovery. I really like his take on the practice of mindfulness: “The mindfulness practice is about discovering what life really is rather than what we think it is.” He furthers goes to say that “Mindfulness shows us that our existence is actually made up of just a few things: seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling and thinking. If we don’t engage these six sense experiences, we are missing out on life.” For most of my life, I lived in my head mostly unconscious. I now understand the value of engaging my senses in my life experiences, day in and day out. This also apply to my thinking. Although I spent a lot of time in my head, most of the time, I was not truly conscious of my thought processes. This is something I’m definitely working on at the moment.

Kevin goes on to say that “Fundamentally, all we are looking for is happiness.” and he then stresses the importance of being clear about what we want and to take full responsibility for achieving whatever it is we do want. So first of all, what is happiness? In Kevin’s words: “Happiness is about feeling fully connected, fully alive.” This is happiness! With this in mind, we must ask ourselves what is it that makes us happy. What will bring more happiness into our life? This is a very important first step. I’ve been a people pleaser most of my life and as such, I’m not entirely sure what truly makes me happy. Oh, I know how to make others happy! This is where I get lost. So one of my challenges, at this time, is to find out what makes me happy and commit to this for myself. Because in the end, true happiness comes from within and I’m the only one that can nurture this happiness.

Kevin talks about the importance of meditation and that meditation is a practice in mindfulness. That is an important tool in changing our relationship to our thoughts and in turn, this allows us to let go and trust in the process. He recommends starting with 20 minutes a day, or to have shorter meditation sessions throughout the day. Simply breathing in and out, being conscious of our breaths, is all that is needed. Thoughts will distract us but we just need to bring ourselves back to our breathing without judgements. Over time, this practice will become more effortless. It does take practice. I’ve been doing about 15 minutes every morning for about 10 days now. My thoughts are all over the place. I keep bringing my attention back to my breath, mentally saying ‘in’ as I breathe in and ‘out’ as I breathe out. The thoughts return and again I bring myself back to my breathing. It is far from effortless for me right now. In the past, a couple of meditation sessions would found me quitting. However I have realized that I need to keep this practice going.  I will get better and better over time. This is what practice does.

Kevin also says that “We are not bad people trying to get good. We are people who got stuck in negative patterns that need to be changed. Recovery and addiction are both about action and intention.” We are not bad people! We are not bad people! I’m not a bad person! This is so important to remember. We are not bad people. We never were! This shifts things for me. It shifts me from victimhood to empowerment. Through this shift in thinking, I can stop victimizing myself. If I’m a good person, why would I treat myself so poorly? Why would I allow negative patterns to lead my life? I’m a good person and I’m deserving of goodness. We all are.

One last thing I would like to share. Kevin talks about the importance of working with difficult emotions. One emotion he gives example of is worry. If we are charged up to worry about something, even though we stopped thinking about what worries us or we might have figured things out, this worrying energy takes longer to dissipate in the body. So it is important to work through the emotion in our body so as to release that energy completely. If we don’t do this, that energy will cause us to worry about something else and on and on it goes leaving us in a constant state of worry. The same applies to anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, etc. The way to work through the emotion in our body is to bring our attention to our solar plexus area, our guts, and feel what is going on there.  Not think about it but feel it. To really feel it and breath through it. This will release the energy which will allows us to truly move on from that emotion at that particular time. I’ve put this into practice last week and that really helped me in releasing some anxiety I had about something. It allowed my mind to clear and solutions that I had not thought of popped into my mind. It was quite powerful!

This program has so many gold nuggets throughout. I’ve only shared a few of these here. I most definitely recommend “Recovery One Breath at a Time” by Kevin Griffin from Sounds True to anyone. I’m not being remunerated in any way for writing this. I just enjoy sharing good stuff with you all.

 

Food and Groundedness

Today I want to talk about… food. You know? the stuff that nourishes our body? Yes, that stuff! So much time in a day is spend on food, thinking about what to make, preparing what we have decided to make, eating what we made, then cleaning up the mess that was done while we made it.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to eat? Yes maybe.

Not really. Not for me. Putting time and effort into preparing foods that nurture my body is very grounding. Of course, it can be something I do because I have to do it, rush through doing it so that I can be done quicker and then move on to better thing. Interestingly, when the food addict part of me has control, nothing is about being grounded or about nurturing my body. It is all about what is readily available, high processed, fat and salty foods and sometime sweet foods and I don’t want to be cooking it! But recently, the healthy eater part of me has taken charge and that is a totally different story.  The healthy eater part of me loves making deliciously nutritious foods filled with goodness. I really love it when my healthy eater is in charge.

As I mentioned earlier, putting effort into preparing foods that nurture my body is very grounding to me. To nurture my body with nutritiously healthy foods requires mindfulness. It is much easier nowadays to go for the not so healthy stuff. The grocery store is full of unhealthy options. The lure of these is strong as it can save me time, time I would rather be doing something else. However, I find that my health is worth the time and effort investment. It is a matter being mindful and setting priorities. When I’m in my healthy mindset, that time and effort is so worth it. I feel good about myself. I feel good about doing something from scratch as opposed to purchasing all ready processed food. Not only it nurtures my body but it nurtures my mind and heart as well. What can be better than that?

I’m cautious though. I tend to be an all-or-nothing kind of person and that has gotten me in trouble many times. I intent to heal the split in me whereas my healthy eater and my compulsive eater can finally reach a peaceful understanding and join forces. Right now, it feels like I’m on the right path and that feels good, very good! It is a good path to be on. May I remain on this path.

X Marks the Spot

I dread this but I feel this is something I need to do. In order to make it where I want to be, I first have to know exactly where I am now. So for today, I decided to write about where I am now in my life. Warts and all. This is full disclosure and it is scary. They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Doesn’t it! At my retirement party, pictures were taken. I haven’t seen most of them yet. But there was a group picture taken on my phone. When I first looked at it, I was shocked and very embarrassed. My first reaction was to delete it. I didn’t because a lot of my favourite people are there surrounding me and that is special. Very special. It is still hard for me to look at it. However that is the truth of where I am. So I take a deep breath and I accept this truth. And now I share this truth here with you.

This is me! August 17, 2017, at 357 lbs. If I could only convey all the pain that is wrapped up in this statement. I have a deeply ingrained issue with a food addiction and it goes way back to when I was a child. Up to my late 20s, I didn’t know what it was. I thought I had no willpower. Then I came across one of the books by Geneen Roth, possibly “Feeding the Hungry Heart,  and it was liberating to finally have a better understanding of what was going on with me. That my issue was emotionally based as opposed to my being a total failure at losing weight. At that point, I was probably around 240 lbs. This was right before I got pregnant with my son. I remember that number because that is the weight I was when I found out I was pregnant and the weight I was right after I gave birth. I was 30 years old. Life went on and more weight piled on. Twice since that time, I lost a great amount of weight. The first time,  I lost 80 lbs. The second time, I lost 70 lbs and that was about 4-5 years ago. I put it all back. As simple and as devastating as that! 

So here I am now. Not only extremely obese but with health issues brought on by carrying way too much weight for way too long! About 4 years ago, I had my gallbladder removed. I still feel pain at times. I probably have stones in my bile duct. Not good. That’s not the worst part though. The worst part is that I’ve had osteoarthritis in my right knee since 2008 and my left is even more damaged now with the addition of a torn meniscus. I have issues with my hips as well, although it has not been diagnosed as osteoarthritis yet. All this means that I can’t get around much. Doing the 7 minutes walk to the grocery store is as much as I can do now. I have pain most of the time. It’s been a beautiful Summer but I haven’t been able to enjoy it fully because of my limited ability to get around. Although I much enjoy my home, there are times that I feel trapped. That is where I am physically.

This journey, this struggle, has made a mess of my self-confidence, my self-love and my self-trust and some days I downright hate myself. But those are the choices that I made. Mindfulness calls me to acknowledge where I am now without judgement. So I take a deep breath and I do acknowledge where I am right now, in this moment. The struggles, the fears, the self-mistrust and the hopes. All of it. No judgements, just what is. X marks the spot!

And I look at my picture and I see a beautiful smile and that smile also tells a story. A story of courage, strength, kindness, generosity and beauty. A story of resilience and of never giving up. An amazing story.