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Dreaming with a Broken Heart...

Monday, October 21, 2013

John Mayer might be a douche in real life, but boy does he know how to pen some incredible lyrics. If you've lived enough days in this world, then there are two concrete experiences that all of us can say we have shared: we've all felt immense joy and pure happiness at some points, and we've all felt gut-wrenching heartbreak at others. One of the worst heartbreaks I've ever felt was the loss of one of my closest friends when he was 20. All his life, he dreamed of being a missionary to Palestinian extremists (an unusual life dream, but you had to know him, lol). He prepped through all of his teenage years, learning the language, learning the culture, learning the politics of the volatile religious dynamics that govern that part of the world. He was one of the most life-filled, kind-hearted, and dedicated guys I've ever been blessed to know. Three months into his time in Gaza, he'd managed to successfully gain consistent face time with some of the most dangerous leaders of Hamas. He would write often of his experiences, and not once did it surprise me of what he was accomplishing - you just had to know him. A month later, I got a call on my way into work from a mutual friend... James had died in a head-on collision the day before. I was a shell of myself for weeks after that call. To this day, when he crosses my mind, I remind myself to look up, and live my life like it matters, in honor and respect for the life that he would have lived. It's a heartbreak that still affects me to this day. Loss leaves you feeling pretty empty, and when you love with the deepest parts of who you are, it almost feels like you can't breathe when they're not there anymore. If you've lived long enough, and have let yourself love deeply enough, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

I've been pondering how this affects our weight loss journey lately. Some people attempt to bridge the sea of sadness with drugs, some with alcohol, some with self-destructive measures, and others with food. Many simply go through the stages of grief, and come out the other side at some point. If you've never read 'A Grief Observed' by C.S. Lewis, and are going through the pains of loss at the moment - even if the person is simply not with you anymore, but still alive - definitely worth a read. Anyways, in relation to who we are here at Spark, and the journey that we've all been on throughout our lives really, the food and diet part becomes a very real concern when heartbreak strikes. How we choose to cope can be counter-intuitive to what our hearts really need. Food and lack of exercise will only bring further darkness, layering an opaque and suffocating blanket over our melancholy. At first we might eat to feel better, but in the end we just feel worse. So we keep eating, thinking it will somehow start to feel better eventually. All it seems to do is shift our sadness from the original situation, to over how we're actually living our lives. Admittedly, this is not a post with many answers, to be honest, this more an exploration of some of my own feelings of heartbreak.

I've found that it's your habits that really seem to take control when sadness strikes -the parts of you that, when you go on cruise control, turn out to have been the most basic motions that you were going through prior to things taking a sharp turn. I think if you've had enough moments of brokeness in your life, you simply have learned that there is in fact strength in those legs of yours to stand back up again - slowly yet surely. In my own life, the habits I've formed from the past four-plus months of living healthy, have become so deeply rooted that in times of sadness, I simply walk the line without thinking. The motions have become so consistent, that my body simply keeps going in the same mode it's become rooted in. I think that's kind of special to realize. My desire to get in shape was born in a culminated moment of deep sorrow, and from that sprung an immense joy in doing something about it. This joy became rooted, and has grown so deeply into who I am that even in times of sadness, it's simply a matter of normality that I keep saying no to the things I've practiced saying no to, and yes to the exercise that has become habitual. I know this isn't the case for everyone, and that it's likely if I was to get gut-punched at my lowest point that those habits might erode awfully quickly, but it seems like the deeper that I've let my healthy habits root themselves, the more resilient I am to maintain them.

If you've never watched "Long Way 'Round", then you should. It's a ten part documentary following Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman as they trek the circumference of the world on their motorcycles. There are moments where the roads are long, straight, and beautifully paved - where life seems practically perfect, utopian. Then there are moments where the roads have ended, and there is nothing but deeply rutted and muddy terrain, where life slows - weeping and pain replace joy and happiness. A real metaphor for life... but these guys dug deep, pushed hard, cried, sweated furiously, and eventually made it through to level and easy terrain once more. I've always been a firm believer that it's the hard times that teach us to appreciate the good times... to breathe them in, to savor them, to swirl them about in our mouths and try to define all the joys that come with them. I think it's important to do the same in your sorrows. You won't enjoy the taste, but it will help you to appreciate the incredible contrast of the happier moments, and appreciate them that much more.

Strange post, I admit, and I didn't know where it would lead, or if it would be edifying to anyone at all, lol, but it was spilling out and I thought maybe it might speak to someone out there. I'll be posting a much more joyful entry this week on my recent breaking below the 200 lb mark. I'm five pounds away from no longer being considered overweight! :-D Anyways, it's Monday, throw those curtains wide and breathe deeply. Talk to y'all later. :-D
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    "I've always been a firm believer that it's the hard times that teach us to appreciate the good times... to breathe them in, to savor them, to swirl them about in our mouths and try to define all the joys that come with them. I think it's important to do the same in your sorrows. You won't enjoy the taste, but it will help you to appreciate the incredible contrast of the happier moments, and appreciate them that much more."

    That's it.

    Very well said, my friend.

    I am so sorry for your loss. For the WORLD'S loss...
    1223 days ago
  • KAT321123
    This entry reminded me of yoga (which shouldn't surprise you since I babble about yoga so much!). We learn to breathe and observe through the hard times and stay focused on the present. And you're right, doing that makes the good times so much better.

    I believe we have the power to re-establish new patterns so that we can better access them when things get hard because, as you know, things WILL get hard. But if we slow ourselves down, breathe, and keep on keeping on, we'll be where we need and want to be.

    I'm sad to read about your friend and have no doubt that he pops into your mind often, but I'm glad you've found inspiration from his death and the way he lived his life. He sounds like an amazing person.
    1245 days ago
  • BRADMILL2922
    Sorry about your friend. I can relate to a lot of what you are saying because my best friend was shot and killed a few years back. I have many of the same thoughts and feelings you have when I think about him. I think about all the good times and bad that we shared. That is definitely a big reason why I want to live life like it matters because it can be taken in an instant!

    BTW, I am definitely a big fan of John Mayer's music!
    1251 days ago
    Like the saying goes, "wherever you go, there you are."

    Turning to food when times get tough never, ever makes things better. Sure, it might feel good in the moment, but how many of us ever feel good about a binge as soon as it's over? Learning to cope with tough times without resorting to damaging behavior is such an important key in this whole process. Losing/managing our weight won't solve all of our problems, won't ease our grief and won't change our past or who we inherently are. But using food as a source of comfort can most definitely make the bad stuff seem worse. We are all worth working on those issues and CAN beat them.

    Thanks for an inspiring blog and for sharing some of the pain you've experienced in the past with us. I'm sure that your friend is looking down on you and that he's very proud of what he sees.
    1252 days ago
    I think fitness and nutrition is a great result of loss or heartbreak. It is where mine also came form. I had gained 30 pounds roughly during a down time of my life and then when a huge heartbreak made my world feel shattered I focused on one thing I could control and focus on that would be healthy which was fitness. Some other things didn't feel like they were getting better but the results I was getting from that one focus was enough to get me through sometimes. Now I'm over the heartbreak in a lot of ways but I still have held onto this new way of life and have kept my results and inspired others.
    1252 days ago
    Wow. Great post! Just what I needed today. Thank you. Also refreshing to find someone who enjoys C.S.Lewis. I have not read the one of grief yet, but have it on order now. SPARKE DIEM, Greg!
    1252 days ago
    Thank you for sharing~it's true, sometimes when you feel alone like the only person going through sadness or a tough moment in time.......out there in the big wide world, someone is feeling exactly like you. Life experience can give life lessons whether you want to learn or not.

    For me "losing a friend" who hasn't died but lost contact, haunts my thoughts every now and then. Having someone you shared feelings with, talked to, cared about.....and then lose that. It's not easy dealing with the sadness or grief of losing a relationship.

    I'm a comfort I turn to food to fill my sad thoughts, when what I need to do is focus on something else or give my energy to "me" and not worrying about someone else (or how someone else is hurting me). It's the human condition to look outside ourselves with the hopes someone can relate.
    1252 days ago
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