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
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."
1227 days ago
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.
1230 days ago
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!
1360 days ago
Comment edited on: 1/4/2013 9:40:09 PM
"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!
1361 days ago
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