Or, clarification about what *I* think it means to struggle, and why I didn’t want to any more…
Or, how I want to be in the world, revisited…
A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation online with some friends about kids struggling with those inevitable issues that kids struggle with. And I wrote:
“We so want for them to not feel any pain or anguish. We don’t want them to fail, feel stupid, be fat, unhealthy. And yet, and yet…we felt those things…and we lived. We struggled. We thrived. We had moments of victory! We cried, ranted, raved, and laughed. And what a gift it is!! We didn’t “get it” all at once and have perfect lives. And neither will our kids. And so who are we to take that away from them?”
Yes, Miss I-Don’t-Want-This-To-Be-A-Struggle herself wrote that and I believe it with all my heart. So far, my 47 years here on Earth have not been all happyhappyjoyjoy. And for that I am grateful. I like the learning, the frustration, the damnitalltohell anger, and the days when I just want to cry and cry and cry. And I’ll tell you WHY I like them: I like them because I know they’re part of life, that they’re temporary, that embracing them gives me wisdom, and that I can’t have happyhappyjoyjoy without them. I can’t have those soaring, I-love-the-whole-world days unless I have the days are complete and utter struggle.
Emotional struggle helps me have “ah-ha” moments, as lame as that might sound. And I believe that, as hard as it is sometimes to probe those tender places – to “go there” – it’s harder not to. Because not going there usually results in self-destructive behavior, at least for me.
But that doesn’t mean I want to welcome and invite struggle into my life…on purpose. I don’t want to assume that “life is hard”…or that living a healthy life is hard. As I have said a million or more times before: if we view this as a battle, that’s exactly what we’ll get. Oh, and I love what Jack Sh*t had to say about it:
This isn’t a combat detail. It’s a rescue mission.
It’s counterproductive, if not downright destructive, and there will be collateral damage. Besides, there will always be uninvited struggle and hardship.
So what do I mean specifically? I spent many, many years numbing my feelings with food. For a long time I didn’t realize that that’s what I was doing. I knew I was fat and not happy about it. I knew that I wanted to lose weight, or so I thought. And every time I tried to lose weight it didn’t work.
And then I started getting more aware. And I lost a lot of weight. And then I regained some of it.
I’ve written millions of words on this very blog about the awareness that has come my way.
And the more aware I became, the more frustrated I got, because my overwhelming hunger always seemed to get in the way of losing that regained weight. It was a constant struggle to control myself. And when I just couldn’t control myself, then tapes would start playing: “I’m pathetic, I can’t control myself, I’m lazy, I’m stupid, there’s something wrong with me.” And when I say “me” I mean my spiritual/emotional/personal me, not my physical body.
(I will say right here that I now believe there were some things wrong with my physical body, and getting those things fixed has made a world of difference).
It was a struggle to deny myself food when I felt hungry, whether it was real hunger or not. It was a struggle if I had reached my calorie limit for the day and was still hungry. It was a struggle if I was “good” and didn’t eat, and it was a struggle if I was “bad” and ate beyond the limit. THAT is the struggle I didn’t want in my life.
And so I played games with myself to talk myself out of having those extra calories. I would try and distract myself…and yet, that pit of hunger would gnaw at me. Or I would lie to myself. Or justify. Or make an excuse. Or giggle and laugh to take attention off the real issue.
So yes, I have struggled and I am grateful for my struggle and all the learning that has come from it. But I am also grateful that this isn’t a struggle any more. I am grateful that when I said, all those months ago, that I don’t want this to be a struggle, that it wasn’t in vain. That I don’t have to white-knuckle it any more.
And because I have found it for myself, I want others to have it too. But I also know that we all walk our own paths…and so who am I to take that away from someone else?
I’ll close with another quote from Women Food & God:
“Women can’t imagine a world in which they stop dieting or trying to fix the size of their thighs. … They have whole friendships built on commiserating about the 20 pounds they have to lose and the jeans that are too tight and the latest greatest diets. They fit in by hating themselves.”
And so it’s scary to think about giving up something that is so engrained. It’s why that phrase “I felt as if I were sinning by announcing to the world/myself that I could trust myself” has been ringing so loudly in my ears. I want to just come out and say it, but it feels like a betrayal of the sisterhood.