When I was in my early twenties, I used to LOVE going for drives in the country. It was my time to cruise the hills, take in the green countryside, listen to music as loud as I wanted, and let my hand feel the rush of wind passing by as though it were a sail guiding me through the winding roads. Going for a drive was a way to have some time just for me and think. It was cleansing and in some ways, fulfilling.
Somewhere, sometime thereafter, I lost that thrill of driving. I had too many responsibilities or too much to navigate inside my life to step outside it and connect with something bigger than me. That's how life goes. We get caught up in finding the perfect person to spend time with, then in finding careers and jobs and having kids and trying to be the best parent, employee, spouse, woman (or man). It's what we know; how we do. Nearly everyone I have met is this way, tangled in the 'have-to's' and torturing themselves over the 'can'ts' or 'should-have's'. We purposely allow the struggle into our life because we know nothing else.
I have spent so much time dreaming of being a certain weight or looking a certain way because I was certain that if I could reach that goal, that everything in my life would be easier. But even when I was thinner, able to shop in the "normal" clothing section (vs the big lady's section), moving easier and looking better, it didn't fulfill me. I was still always wanting MORE; to lose more fat, put on more muscle, buy more clothes, more attention from others...it was relentless. Being thinner didn't bring me any closer to happiness, I have to admit it. I was proud of myself for accomplishing a goal, but to be honest, a lot of times I didn't really even know what was driving me, so it didn't feel real. And when things fell apart, they fell apart hard. And I was a mess, mentally. Each time I didn't do what I did when I was in the trance and losing weight, I beat myself up over it, telling myself it was wrong to derive pleasure from food, and it is 'wrong' to be overweight. I will be a burden to others; I will get so fat and unhealthy that others will have to care for me. When I am in that mode, of struggling to FORCE myself to do, or not do, specific things, I know it will only be temporary. We are not wired to be able to be continually deprived of things we enjoy. Pleasure should be a part of living. It is part of our make up to seek it out, it is our innate right to have it.
But for so long I was caught up in the idea that everything that makes me fat is evil, and everything that helps me lose weight is all that matters. Once things and ideas and acts were categorized as "good" or "bad" depending on what effect they would have on my physique, it made it really easy to associate "good" or "bad" to my own self, based on which things I ate, did, or thought. What a circus we willingly participate in!
In Buddhism, one of the main teachings is that when we attach emotion to something that is ever-changing, we struggle and suffer. When we let go of our emotional attachments to these things, we are freed. I have been revisiting these things, and having heavy conversations with my husband about these concepts and how pleasure is allowed and it is freeing, and it is a way to acknowledge that you are, in yourself, divine and worthy of its presence in your life. I deserve a piece of chocolate if it will bring me pleasure. It is it's own end, not evil or good, but chocolate, and eating it doesn't make me evil or good or weak.
For a few weeks after reading some of Geneen Roth's work, I was feeling like I wasn't really getting the eating-exactly-what-you-want concept. I was eating all kinds of stuff, and still feeling too ashamed to eat it in front of my husband. I felt like he would lose respect and withdraw from me if I ate that way in front of him. But he's actually going through a very spiritual journey of deep acceptance of others and we are agreeing on so much about the way life should be. I feel like I am blossoming into a new chapter of my life. And I am as heavy as when I began trying to lose weight 3 years ago. And I am much happier; even than when I lost the weight. I am realizing that my joy, my contentment has so little to do with the weight, and so much to do with self-nurturing and freeing myself from the constraints of my own self judgments.
Today I ate a cream-filled doughnut with thick chocolate frosting on my way to the grocery store, and I drove with my windows open, blasting music and letting my hand feel like my guiding sail through the warm wind on the highway. I felt the wonder of summer, complete in it simplicity, and somehow every little thing inside me connected with the outside and I felt a contentment unmatched.
In that moment, I really didn't care what the scale said or what size shirt I am wearing. I was free from the shackles of obsessing over the fact that I just ate a doughnut and now I won't be able to fit into my size 14 jeans for a long time. The stuff that truly makes us content, deep down where no one can touch it, is the things that bring you joy, and allowing yourself to have that. The doughnut didn't bring me joy, it filled me and was sweet, but it was the wind and the sun and the fact that I'm not surrounded by snow, and listening to a song that I love, and not having pain or struggle as I walked through the grocery store, and coming home to a house full of love and acceptance. And mostly, knowing that I deserve every morsel of it.
I'm not saying I have this all figured out yet, but things are coming together slowly. The "fix" is internal, not external. I can't be happy if I listen to all the noise all around me, I have to go internal, find what makes me feel alive, and seek out that frequency externally. It is happening. It is going to take some time, but finally at the age of almost-42, I am figuring out that I deserve to be happy, and that blaming all my lack of happiness on my weight is a farce I learned long ago, that has kept me trapped and struggling nearly my entire life. I am open to exploring a deeper kind of peace, one that has nothing to do with how I look and everything to do with how I feel. I think this may be my turning point.