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Fixing fixed!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Last night I made plans to meet Y. (a woman I met in OA) and L. (an art teacher I met at B. and A.'s party) at the Museum of Fine Arts for drawing. I biked over in the howling wind over icy paths and felt calm and assured, thanks to my higher power! I arrived and started drawing. The model didn't show up, so regular folks were taking turns modeling in their lumpy sweaters, so I chose to draw a statue instead of crowding around the model. L. arrived and was visibly freaking out. (B. had told me that L. reminded him of me!) She also had called me from the entrance freaking out about how to get a ticket, though I assured her that it was free on Wednesdays. She didn't want to draw because the situation wasn't what she had envisioned in her mind. She preferred to walk around and, if something caught her fancy, she would draw. I could intuit her fear, because I used to be so fearful myself. I asked her if she had performance anxiety, and she said she just didn't want to do something she didn't want to do. I was a little disappointed because I had just gotten into my drawing and was getting that awesome quietude inside, and Y. had just shown up and was into it, too. Plus, it had been so long since I'd made it to drawing. Anyway, I told L. that my resolution was to be flexible and be willing to try new things, so I ended up going off with her to the temporary exhibit (which was fantastic), but we never did end up drawing. It was all good, but it made a deep impression on me.

I remembered how often I murmured to myself, "Higher Power, be with me," at my first drawing session at the MFA, to keep the panic from rising in my fearful heart! And it made me realize how far I've come!

This led to a big breakthrough in my 12-step work. I was pondering how when I achieved a perfect body, I got very depressed after the initial thrill because I thought it would fix everything. It was like how I thought getting into Harvard would fix everything, or how I thought a lot of applause and praise at a performance would fix me. It never did. Then I thought of how addicts call their drug of choice a "fix". Wow! I realized that that is the genesis of addiction-- coming from the mindset that you are broken, and that something outside of you will FIX it. It struck me like a thunderbolt. I had never made that connection regarding the word "fix". My addiction is not only to sweets but to the latest dietary restriction-- whatever will "fix" me.

I realized how my body, moods and life events are like the weather, always changing and out of my control, but I know that, like an airplane, if I fly at a high enough altitude, I can rise above the weather. That's how I feel after yoga-- like I am above the weather, no matter how much sugar I have had or how fat I feel. It is bliss. When I achieved my physical peak, it was only temporary, and I was so distraught whenever it fluctuated. But my physical body will never stop changing-- it's like the weather. Now I know not to mistake the weather for the sky. Likewise, I can't get all excited about achieving sugar-abstinence, thinking that it will fix me, because I am not essentially broken. It might improve my health, but that again is changeable weather, and it won't "fix" me.

I feel a tectonic shift in my thinking, and it is blowing me away!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PAULINLIM 5/17/2013 5:06PM

    Dear JoeF2F: Thank you for your kind and perceptive comments. I recently went to see Karen Smyers talk at Tri Night-- she is an Ironman World Champion and has a totally ripped physique and has been competing professionally for many years. She made an excellent point that after you've been active for many years, any improvements you see are really tiny, so whenever she got injured, she welcomed the experience of getting to see vast improvements ("Look! I can walk across the room again!").

That's analogous to the Maintenance phase of weight loss-- there are no big, exciting improvements, and it gets tedious, and if you are a euphoria junkie like me, it's downright depressing. I have had to do so much soul-searching to find peace. It's still a daily practice, and I'm finding meditation to be a beacon of hope. I can get things back into perspective.

I went to physical therapy yesterday and it was crowded in the room. I saw a 30-something-year-old lady tremblingly trying to use her walker to move across the room, and other people who were trying to balance on one leg. It gave me HUGE perspective-- my complaint is that I can't run miles and miles! It reminded me of that saying, "The man complained that he had no shoes until he saw the man who had no feet."

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JOELEVENACIOUS 5/15/2013 12:21AM

    I think you have some great self awareness. Initially I envied your fitness, but quickly understood the price. You have been through a lot. It sounds like you still struggle with the impossible mental template you aspire to but can't reach or enjoy. I am at a very different place in my life, and enjoy the accomplishments I have had and can see that so little of what we struggle to accomplish really makes a difference in the grand picture. I hope you can find moderation and peace with letting go enough to change that template be more possible and satisfying. I wish you well.

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PAULINLIM 1/4/2013 9:36PM

    Thanks for your insightful comment, Monty! I have done a couple of trail marathons, and while I don't specifically remember being depressed afterward, I hated resting after big races because I need my endorphin fix! It was too bipolar. After years of saying I was "retired" from big races, I finally signed up for a half-marathon this May, and a 10-miler this March (to make sure I'm on target for the half). My husband has done the Ironman 3 times, and I can tell you, he goes through some terribly dark times after the mission is over. Witnessing that has made me shy away from that kind of all-consuming mission.

I am glad that you are reminding me to be ready for post-race let-down. I remember that I had it after our wedding, too! I don't experience it after shorter events, because there's not such a big build-up.

I hope you are doing well and that your training is going well! My left leg is scaring me (unstable ankle leading to knee pain, eek.). I will look you up when I go to FL next (my parents and sis live in Clearwater). Peace!

Comment edited on: 1/4/2013 9:40:09 PM

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MIRAGE727 1/3/2013 7:44PM

    "Post Marathon Depression" is similar. I've never done a marathon but I've been reading a lot about it. I'm focused on Halfs. You ask yourself what to do next, where do you go, is that all there is, Why is everything around you the same. I've felt that in a past part of my life. Without going into it, I experienced the largest adrenalin rush each time I finished a "mission." Afterwards, I would hit the wall and crash hard. I repeated this six separate times. I finally completed the series and had to find my way to reality and life priorities. There's nothing wrong with celebrating the small victories as long as we come out in a positive wave and embrace life's journey. Stay strong!

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What am I feeling right now? OA questions

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

1. What things brought you to OA?

I had given up all animal products, oil and refined flour and sugar in the weeks preceding my first meeting (since the early 1990s, that is). I felt wonderfully calm but found that I had a hard time explaining to everyone around me that, "I can't eat that. I can't eat that. I can't eat that." It made going to dinner parties or away for the weekend an anxiety-filled nightmare. I figured people in OA would understand. As time went on, though, I realized that my obsessive strictness was in reaction to a stressful visit to my family home, and that I was hurting underneath and trying to control the chaos inside. I didn't want to be like the other super-strict people I met in OA. I wanted to be like the unstrict people I met there-- the ones who hadn't been "perfect", who hadn't gone for 19 years without eating a cookie, who hadn't left their daughters' weddings because the dinner was going to be served at 7 instead of 5:45. When they say, "Find someone who has what you want, and ask them to sponsor you," I realized that I didn't necessarily prefer someone at "goal weight". The less-than-perfect members struck me as way more serene! The deciding factor was their relationship with a Higher Power.

The two women I've met in my lifetime that had the ideal body (that I wanted) were not impressive aside from their beautiful and athletic bodies. In fact, they were rather unpleasant. One was joylessly regimented, and one was frequently moody and bitchy. Both had disrupted menses. Neither was serene. Both had won lots of races, though, and for that reason I put them up on a pedestal.

Lately I can't stop thinking about getting skinnier and ripped. Because of my recent birthday celebrating, I have a little more around my midsection than I am comfortable with, and I realize how body fat makes my skin crawl, makes me want to jump out of my skin. I just read "Ultramarathon Man" by Dean Karnazes, who runs 200 miles at a time; the book was a wonderful read, full of adventure, and it got me thinking about signing up for a long race and getting serious about training again. I wonder how much of this is a symptom that there is something wrong underneath, and how much of it is a natural, healthy impulse to enjoy the miracle of my body, to pare away the excess fat and see my anatomy again, and a way to welcome adventure into my life. It can easily tip from a celebration of health into self-flagellation.


Yoga and meditation are my super-weapons

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lately if I am not certain whether I am sincerely hungry, I do a little yoga or running, since those are activities that quickly put me in touch with my body because they feel good to do on an empty stomach-- very little else feels good. I have 20-minute yoga podcasts, and yoga puts me in touch with my Higher Power very quickly. If I am still hungry after these activities, then I eat without any remorse or guilt. I usually eat a piece of fruit with a little almond or peanut butter.

Yoga and meditation are my super-weapons. I have decided that the feeling of satiety is heaven, and that the feeling of a black-hole void inside is hell.

I recently heard an addict talking about how getting quiet inside was like trying to approach a deer in the woods; you have to be still as possible, and watchful and patient, and then you get the magical experience of being close to this incredible being. That is how I feel about Higher Power; it happens when you are still and silent and watchful for the magical, peaceful moment of communion. Unfortunately, it seems to be just as fleeting!


Big, scary, fresh changes

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I have been overcoming my fears and changing up my life quite a bit. Yesterday I went for a job interview at Trader Joe's and got offered the job right on the spot. I was so elated/nervous/scared that I went immediately to an OA meeting on the way home to help me deal with my feelings instead of bingeing. It was centering. I broke down a little bit when I shared because of all the contradictory emotions I was feeling. I am scared that I will be too busy to take this on, that it will take away time from my painting. But I recognize that I am always afraid of changes, and that this is an opportunity to bring new, fresh experiences to my life, and that in the past, fear of change had taken me to a very dark place.

This morning I sang my first solo at my new church gig, and I got off to a really shaky start because of nerves; the latter half of the solo went well, but my usual reaction is to have a hurricane of negative, self-berating thoughts afterwards. I went into it asking my higher power to be with me, and asking forgiveness for any mistakes and imperfections. At Coffee Hour, I wanted to raid the table, but I ended up in a conversation with a woman and concentrated on connecting instead of isolating. It kept me from stuffing my face.

On my bike ride home I passed so many binge-able places, but I managed to make it home without falling out of contact with my higher power. I knew my urge to eat was because I was afraid of the torrent of emotions. Last year, I quit all my singing jobs because I couldn't take the flood of self-hating thoughts that followed each performance. I would get almost suicidally distressed, even if the performance went well. Today, I feel like I am learning to ride out the storm. I know that I am loved and forgiven whether I have imperfections or not. Even if I got fired from the new jobs, it would be a blessing as well. Everything turns out fine in the end, because everything turns out the way HP makes it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MIRAGE727 9/23/2012 2:55PM

    Way to score that job at Trader Joe's! Lots of healthy food there! Take it one day at a time and massage your schedule! You'll do great!
As for your solo, considering you sing in praise and celebration, nerves come in various forms. None of us is perfect and our "Source" would consider the fact that you celebrate the power & the glory. I was reminded by the words coming out of my mouth to another that we walk our walk. It's our journey. It's not about style points. It's the fact that we give praise in our song of prayer! I had a similar incident about 15 years ago. I let my anxieties go and focused on why I was playing my song! It's the spirit of the song that matters! You did it!
Stay strong and embrace the true spirit of the journey!

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Last Friday I sobbed unrestrainedly in a motel room after wanting to binge all afternoon, and I discovered that I felt so wonderfully relaxed and uncompulsive afterward, that I decided to cry a little bit every day instead of suppressing any negative emotion and eating over it. So I have been doing this "crying therapy" each day, and it is working wonders! I once attended a "Laughter Yoga" seminar, and the results were very much the same-- I felt incredibly relaxed and "wrung out" afterwards. I had to warn my husband, who was quite alarmed at my tears, tee hee.

It reminds me of how toddlers wail and throw a tantrum one minute, and the next minute, they are completely over it and laughing in delight over something else. When I first started crying last Friday, it lasted about an hour and I was afraid I would never stop. I had been trying to avoid the unpleasant emotions for so long, I felt they would overwhelm me. I discovered I had been avoiding mourning my parents' moving house (the end of a chapter in my life), my father's Alzheimer's disease, fear of my own mortality, etc. I went through every possible sorrowful scenario and eventually ran out of topics to cry over. I even tried to manufacture some stuff to be sad about! But eventually I lost interest in being sad and self-pitying, and I have discovered that my mind moves onto the next thing and I automatically brighten up.

Since my compulsive eating is fueled by my fear of negative feelings, this approach seems to have helped a lot. The monster I was afraid of facing has not consumed me. I even cried in traffic yesterday, when someone honked at me! After a few tears behind my sunglasses, I thought, "Meh, it's not that big of a deal," and I was able to shrug it off.

Waaaaaah!!!! Tee hee hee hee hee!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MIRAGE727 9/14/2012 3:51PM

    Google Therapeutic Crying and see what you come up with. Yep, I agree. Sometimes we need a good cry as well as a deep laugh! I must admit I've actually self induced fear in a few of your topics! I got over it. We need to focus in the here and now. What we do today can make it better tomorrow! I'm still learning! Thanks for sharing, Pauline. Stay strong!

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