A lifetime of Self Soothing turned to Love
Cherished Monday morning routine: First cup of coffee, and sit. Before 8 months ago, it would be losing myself down the rabbit hole of Facebook, mindlessly trying to get the cobwebs out for the new week. Now, I still sift through Facebook; although now it's my 'alter-ego' account - who has found a bunch of different 'support' groups. Some I like, some I can't identify with, but in one way or another, they all ground me. Now I sit and reflect on the weekend, and think about the week ahead. It isn't focused on drinking, but rather starting the day filling up my spirit with reminders of how great I am for making this commitment to myself.
I have spent the last few years trying to find the 'meaning of life'. What's our purpose, why are we such thinking, creative, evolving beings? It's such a short period of time we are here (much shorter for some than others....), what's it all about? Before I quit drinking I knew I had to get to church, because I was sure getting closer to God would help me not fear death (also, made I would magically wake up one day and God would not want me to drink). I listened to great thinkers like Tolle and Chopra in order to get deeper into the real 'what's this all about'? (and hoped that these thinkers would transfer form me into magically making me not want to drink) That was all 'day-time' stuff. Then the evening would come and the numbing would begin.
I know many people who meditate. I am trying, but I have so many external excuses that keep me away for the work. I understand the feeling of energy within us. Is that God? Is that our soul? Possibly. When I am ABLE to get there (god, it is so hard to do...) I feel an overwhelming sense of peace and calm. And I think, this is IT. The answers are all here, in this moment. But it's so hard to get there. However , I also discovered that when I walk, purposefully in nature, it feels like meditation. Especially the time of day during sunrise and sunset. Where do those colors come from? It's breathtaking, and thought provoking.
It sounds ridiculous to say this out loud, but when I smoked I used to say, 'what's the point of life if I can't smoke'. I know, I know. I used to literally think that vacations wouldn't be near as fun if I couldn't enjoy smoking with my happy hour cocktail. When I would restrict my eating I would think 'what's the point if I can't enjoy dessert, or potatoes, or.....'? I would get angry with all the people who have never struggled with their weight. I look at skinny people running and think, why do you even bother? Because it seemed like a means to an end, not their form of meditation.
Would you believe I have even regarded religious, 'straight' people as boring and missing out? MISSING OUT ON WHAT? Their sense of knowing simply how to 'be'? Just be. Be grateful, be loving, be present. To be.
That's the deal isn't it? But for me, 'just being' means sitting with myself: My discomfort, my thoughts, my memories, my hopes, my long-lost dreams, regrets, self-loathing, my need for nurturing, soothing. And thus, it would begin: Thumb-sucking until I was shamed out of it at aged 8. Nail biting ensued; then, of course food. Always consumed alone, in my room, after being left alone with my thoughts. I would even sneak food (extra cookies, chocolate) if I was the first one up in the morning. Anticipating the unsettling behavior of my mom in those early days. Then I became a teen and recognized that smoking would tick so many boxes: Trying to fit in, curb my appetite, destroy my parents: I was cool, plus I lost weight. Boom. It quickly evolved into my new nurturing tool, my reward, my period at the end of my sentence. What would the purpose of life be if I quit that? But I did. (After witnessing my 6 year old ‘sneak’ a drag..... another proud mom moment sigh....) And I remember with great detail, the day my nurturing tool turned from cigarettes to wine. At least then I waited until my husband got home from work to 'reward' myself with a glass of wine. It was perfect - low fat and nicotine free.
That was my story for the last dozens of years. It soothed me, yes, anesthetized me, yes. It usually kept me from overeating - I arranged all of my fitness and eating around the fact that I was saving my calories for wine. Except when my fitness lagged, and I would then also fill my face right before going to bed. Enter all the self-loathing, times 1000.
And then ‘the shift’ arrived. All of the soul searching, the quest for 'the purpose', the time to really take care of the issue at hand arrived. It was time to stop 'soothing' and start really living. Living for myself, living for my family. Giving of my complete self. Living for THIS day.
I quit drinking and started digging deep. I told myself that the only job I had for the next while was to not drink. Don't worry about weight, about low-carb, about a serious exercise regime. Just be. Be in your thoughts, get right with your relationship with alcohol.
I have weighed myself regularly as my body dysphoria is such that I need the scale to keep myself in check. The last 8 months I dropped a total of 7 pounds. But now, it's happening again. I have put on a couple of pounds. And the tapes have been dusted off and here I go again........ (you are fat, you have no self-control, you let yourself go again, you failed, you are losing sight of your goal...) huh???
So as soon as I 'heard' those voices this morning - I tried something new. I told myself, "that's fine, you knew this would happen when you had that ice cream at Costco yesterday, in addition to grabbing lunch on the road when you were driving around hungry a few times last week. It took time to put on, and it will simply take time to come off. It's ok. Don't panic, don't PANIC". Also, I have not been walking like I was before. So. I know what to do, and I just need to do it. And I will. No negative self talk for me. Not. Anymore. It's literally simple consequences - both ways. If I eat a bit less, and move more, the consequence is a fitter, leaner me. If I am less mobile, and drive through Wendy's and have soup AND a sandwich at Tim's all in the same week- the consequence is a couple of extra pounds. No self-loathing, no self-flagellation, just the facts m'am.
I do need to circle back to the point of this rambling email - I have learned a new saying: 'play the tape to the end' - the purpose of life is to love. I think it really is quite simple. The feelings I get physically, mentally and spiritually when I am DOING the things I love, BEING with the people I love and filling my head with thoughts of self-love (and forgiveness :) ). That's what's happened since I gave up alcohol. It's given me more space for love. And some may say that God is love. Perhaps. I now think there is a link between that feeling of butterflies in my belly when I am in a state of bliss and God.
Hope you are all starting your week in a good head space.