The struggle and the work

For a few weeks now I’ve been kicking around the idea of writing a post about what I’m struggling with.

This will surprise no one, but it’s food. I’m struggling with food.

sigh.

That’s not really the truth though, is it?

Behind food there is always something.

Behind every struggle there is always something that you’re (me) not facing.

For me, it’s a lot of things. I never quite know where my discontent comes from but recently I’ve been doing the work of unpacking a lot of my guilty thoughts.

As in, it’s a nice day out and I’m inside lying on my bed listening to This American Life and playing Candy Crush instead of being “one with nature” so I feel guilty.

As in, none of my clothes fit and I’m eating m&ms instead of broccoli so I feel guilty.

As a side note, as someone who binges, I’ve gotten the advice a lot: why not just binge on carrot sticks? It’s kind of like saying to a depressed person, why not just think happy thoughts? Ok maybe not exactly the same, but still, I wouldn’t be a binge eater if I was craving string beans.

Anyway.

The struggle, my struggle, is how do I stay with myself in the moment that I want to binge…how do I stay with myself long enough to move to the next moment. To not fear that moment that at the first twinge of discomfort I turn to food.

And then, after I do the thing that I don’t want to do, to not feel guilty about it and keep the cycle alive.

So I’m working on unpacking my guilt, which is a self-helpy way of saying that when I feel guilty about something I try to immediately question it.

An example: I was looking through social media (don’t all bad stories start there nowadays??) and I saw people out enjoying nature and I immediately felt guilty over the fact that I had NOT spent all weekend enjoying nature. But since I’ve been working on this for a while now, I was able to feel suspicious of that guilt and I was able to remind my self that feeling that was silly. I am in control, I can do whatever I want, if I wanted to spend all weekend lying in the grass somewhere I could, and just like that, the guilt dissipated, as did some of my self loathing, because obviously guilt + self loathing are bffs. duh.

I’ve struggled with guilt my whole life, and I’ve struggled with self worth my whole life, and I’ve struggled with food my whole life.

Here’s what I think about all of this: the last few days I’ve been feeling good. Gratitude has come easy, and I’ve felt blessed in all of my friendships. As a result of that, I’ve felt more in control.

Now, I won’t pretend that this is the norm for me lately, because honestly my life has been more struggle than ease, but there’s a few things that I keep coming back to that have brought me to how I’m feeling right now.

One:

Burdens are the foundations of ease. (Rumi)

and two:

Do the work. (Maria Bamford)

To me they mean essentially the same thing, that the longer I spend in my head with thoughts of fear and failure, the most paralyzed I get in taking action. Make the hard choices when they are in front of you, embrace the discomfort, and don’t worry about the outcome.

So easy right? Ha. Haaaaa.

But, there’s so much beauty that comes from facing your discomfort.

I think I get caught up in my head a lot with my struggle, the food struggle, because it can feel so trivial.

Trivial in that it’s FOOD. It’s not a “real” problem, or even worse, it’s a #firstworldproblem (barf) so I almost don’t give myself permission to face how out of control and anxious I feel about bingeing.

Yet doing the work of self care means supporting myself and showing up for myself no matter the struggle.

Jodester, I give you permission to stop struggling.

To stop pretending that you’re okay when you’re not.

Struggling is not virtuous. You don’t have the be the tortured fat person that every media outlet everywhere portrays. You don’t have to live in a world of self hate because of the size of your thighs and belly.

You can love yourself WITHOUT guilt. You can celebrate your body as it is. You can jump and run and be outside.

You can take up space in the world, as much as you want.

I give you permission to make the hard decisions when they are made with love and an open heart.

I give you permission to say “no” to anything for any reason at all. Even if that reason is listening to This American Life and playing Candy Crush.

I give you permission to be CONSCIOUS of your food choices because I believe that food + well being are intrinsically tied. Eat the food that makes you feel good, and stay with yourself when the pain wants to be soothed with sugar.

As a fat person, it’s really easy to turn the judgment on yourself and say, well, I deserve to feel bad because I’m fat so this is the price I pay, but that mental clutter is bound to build up one day and explode.

I’ve strayed so far from the wonderful body empowerment that I used to feel (another thing I have guilt about. oy). But there’s no secret to self acceptance. There’s no magic that will give it to you in the future. Accept yourself in the present and and end the struggle of self hatred. Face the discomfort that is self care.

You don’t have to hate yourself. End of story. You are enough, right now. No matter what you’ve done, no matter how you’ve been treated, you deserve your love.

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