Extrapolating from yesterday’s post about not trying to fit into other people’s labels . . .
Sometimes my brain needs to percolate for a while about things before I really know what I think. It’s strange, and often inconvenient, but I have a tendency to take everything at face value, and only later does it occur to me to think, “Waaaaaaait a minute . . . ” So based on various things I’ve been reading lately, I’ve been thinking about gratitude, compulsion, addiction, how I present myself to others vs. how I feel about myself, loving myself vs. not loving myself, etc. LOTS of stuff, people. All percolating into one mess that’s only now becoming coherent.
So I’m sorry in advance for the meandering. And the length. Because this post is LONG, people.
Over in the sidebar there is a link to a post called “The Fantasy of being Thin.” Go read it if you haven’t. It’s an interesting thing to think about: that I have this idea (which I do) that when I am thin, I will not only be thin, but I will be inherently DIFFERENT. Except I won’t be. I’ll still be me, just thinner. I won’t be someone who hikes Runyon Canyon every night and surfs on Saturdays and is a must-invite-type of guest to every party. I won’t be more confident or less self-conscious. I won’t be someone who suddenly can’t get enough salad and is disgusted by alfredo sauce (seriously, is that even POSSIBLE?). Lounging on the couch watching Alias reruns and chowing down on macaroni and cheese will still seem like a GREAT way to spend a Saturday, especially a cold and rainy one. Exercising will not be something I eagerly look forward to every morning. I won’t leap out of bed at 5am “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” as my grandma would have said; I’ll still want to hit snooze and snuggle down into the comforter for an extra hour and skip the exercise “just today, just this once.” I won’t magically have more hours in the day to do all the things I want to do, and I won’t go out every night with friends and laugh and party into the wee hours (and then get up feeling great the next morning).
I just won’t. Because THAT’S NOT WHO I AM. But it’s funny, because there is a part of me that really BELIEVES that it will work that way; that if I lose weight, I won’t just get a body makeover – I’ll get a whole-SELF makeover. And THAT leads me to the next question: why do I want a whole-self makeover? What am I trying to leave behind? What part of me isn’t good enough?
I read another post over at Shapely Prose about how many women live in the future “when [they’ll] be thinner.” We are somehow disconnected from our bodies, thinking that “there is a thin person in me trying to get out.” We dissociate from our bodies, thinking, “This isn’t really who I am.” But if it’s not really us, then who is it? Who are WE? I mean, I might be different tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. I might be thinner or fatter, I’ll definitely be older. I’ll be different. But does that negate the fact that right now, this IS who I am? Just because it’s not my idea of the “best” me doesn’t mean it’s not me RIGHT NOW. Just because I have a different idea of the “real” me, that doesn’t make THIS me, right here and now, any less “real.”
And then that loops back to living in the moment and being grateful for the here and now IN the here and now. I commented over at MizFit’s blog today about how whatever you put your attention on is what you get. It’s the “advanced” version of the Law of Attraction. If you parrot gratefulness without ever FEELING grateful, and at the same time worry obssessively over what you are afraid will REALLY happen, then what you’re worried about is what you’ll get. Not because the Law of Attraction doesn’t work, but because it DOES. You got what you were emotionally invested in: you got what you worried about.
By the same token, if I’m trying to lose weight because I’m afraid of staying at the weight I’m at – if I’m trying to lose weight because I’m desperate to be a DIFFERENT version of myself – if I’m trying to lose not just the weight, but in some unexplainable, ineffable way I’m also trying to lose the parts of myself that I DON’T LIKE, then guess what I get? More of what I’m afraid of. Diets don’t work. I really believe that, but I think they don’t work because when most people diet, we’re running from something. And anyone who’s ever encountered a strange dog in the street knows that when you run from something, it chases you.
And then THAT leads me to the bingeing and (sometimes) the drinking. I drank too much this weekend and ate too many chips. And I remember a couple of times actually thinking, “Ok, if you’re doing this, you’re burying something or you’re upset about something. What is it? Right now, here in this moment, what is it?” And I got . . . nothing. I didn’t feel upset or anxious about anything. The wine and the chips were just . . . there. So I ate/drank them. It was more a compulsive behavior than an addictive one, and it was WEIRD. But now, based on the above, I’m wondering if my time in therapy working out the hows and the whys of the drinking and the bingeing really worked. Maybe what’s going on now isn’t so much related to emotional turmoil.
Maybe what’s going on now is that I’m getting what I’m emotionally invested in: I’m afraid of being fat. I’m afraid of being someone with an Eating Disorder, ESPECIALLY Binge Eating Disorder because it makes me feel like an uncontrollable pig, and it’s not “glamorous” in the outside world. (For the record, NO eating disorder is glamorous, but some are perceived that way by outsiders.) Some days I hate my body. I have more dislike of myself than like of myself, if that makes sense. THAT’S WHERE MY ATTENTION IS. And maybe, just maybe, the food-related behaviors are my psyche’s way of giving me EXACTLY what I’m invested in/afraid of: weight gain, an eating disorder, and to a lesser extent, ill health at some point in the future. All the things that make my gut seize up in raw, unadulterated PANIC. Panic is a very powerful emotion, and we get what we’re emotionally invested in. Maybe I’m getting EXACTLY what I’m afraid of, because that’s how I know how to function. It is, in its own way, even with all the self-loathing, SAFE. It’s familiar. I know how to navigate these waters. They are, in a sense, my home.
But eventually, we all have to leave home in order to find our way in the world.
(And you thought I’d never get to the point of the post title, didn’t you? ;))
Part 2, tomorrow.