Posted by: innerpilgrimage | June 13, 2010

A Sol-Driven Day: Moving from External Validation to an Internal Compass

      Because I believe that I am given messages from the Universe through many different means, the randomness of tarot helps me focus on points of spiritual meditation.

      Yesterday, I was given something to ponder: What values aren’t relevant in my life any more? I’ve been thinking about it last night and today, and got the follow up to consider what I have learned (and am sharing joyfully with others)?
      Though it’s hard work, I have realized that it’s time for me to shift from an external validation system to an internal validation system. I ask people outside of me how they think I’m doing, not accepting my own opinion. Part of the reason, I think, is because others are gentler on me than I am. After all, they don’t live inside my compulsive head, right?
      But I have made a lot of headway into the realm of understanding that I can’t get a unanimous vote from the world. I am merely a player on this stage, as the bard so poetically put it in The Merchant of Venice. No one but me has to live my life. Therefore, I have a responsibility to myself to change how I perceive myself, from the inside out, and release the values that I have clung to for so long. These are the defects I have held on to that I used to defend myself. And while sitting and thinking about them last night, I came up with several I need to consider and definitely ought to release.
      The biggest value I need to release is that being thin or eating compulsively equal happiness. Well, actually, finding value through the arbitrariness of physical measurements. The problem with medicine, I have found, is that it is an art masquerading as a science. We are given a myriad of risk factors and we are given solutions. But I am realizing they are relative. If I reach a certain mathematical proportion of weight or shape to my size, it doesn’t guarantee I am healthy. It just means I made an arbitrary, physical goal. And since medical opinion on what health is measured as, it’s not really sensible to chase a moving target like that. It’s not to say it has no benefits, but if I am chasing a weight-driven goal to please the average population, I’m doing myself a disservice by not working on my physical health through using the body I have recently unearthed from its food-laden tomb.
      I know what my body can do. I also know what my body should be doing. I think the compulsive part of me has a list of exercises that are chores, things that I find unpleasant work to get me to an endpoint. But the whole purpose was to start living. And if I was living more at 265 lbs. than where I am right now (Oh, the scale’s siren song is loud, but I am not stepping on that for nothing today, since I want my abstinence), then I missed the whole point of me even walking into the door of OA.
      I needed (and need) a change. I needed to change my relationship with food more than change how I eat. In essence, I needed to fulfill my mental and spiritual self. The problem, for me, with chasing the physical is that I really like tangibles. I like seeing a direct reaction to an action. To change my mental state means that I leave where I was to end up somewhere else. It’s not as easy to see those changes, because I would end up in a place where I can’t really understand how I could live like I did once I arrive there. Sure, I can look back over what I’ve written. I can also just “know” that I used to think like that but I changed my perceptions. The difficulty is that I can’t compare the two mental states like I can the two physical states. I can look at a photograph of me a year ago and of me today and say, “Hey, there is a substantial change there”. It is tangible, whether or not I believe it.
      In my own head, I perceive myself so oddly. I thought I was overweight when I was morbidly obese, and I think I’m obese now that I’m simply overweight. My perceptions changed as I lost weight. Six months ago, the body I currently have was an ideal body to me. Why? Because I was so far from it, in my mind. This was the impossible dream. I mean, I considered success to reach a body size that was a dress size or two larger. I was fine with living in plus-size wear for the rest of my life.
      Well, now I am here, and it’s not good enough. I see my body and think “Well, I should really be trying for a size 8, since I can really afford to lose the weight, here.” This obsession with physical goals is a value that does not serve me at all.
      I am going to say something terrifying to myself, but something that needs to be said, as an ice-water-in-the-face revelation:

I reached my goal.

      I have arrived at the healthy body I need to do what I want in the world. While I could stand to work on the muscle tone (ah! See, compulsion’s still here!), I can do that by living the life I said I wanted to. Here I am. I have arrived.
      Now it’s time to stop fretting and start living. Sure, I may be outside of my BMI, but that wasn’t what I said I wanted. I wanted to be healthy enough to be active. Here I am, healthy enough to be active. I can run, I can move, I can get into an elusive “Size 14”, a dream size for me when I was size 26 and larger. I never thought I could get here, so I made this my unattainable goal. Well, guess what . . . with the 12 Step program and my Higher Power, I arrived.
      And as I look at reaching the goal, the compulsion is tearing it apart. “I owe it to OA to lose more, to be an example of hope in the program,” I tell myself, “and I can’t do it at this weight.”
      Burr, what? Seriously? I mean, that completely goes against the whole point of OA, to me. So what if I had physical success, if my spiritual life and mental perceptions are still unfulfilled. My body arrived before my brain and spirit have. Good for it. Now it’s got to wait for the others.
      I did it. I am a living example that, through abstinence, a person can successfully lose a significant amount of weight. But . . . see, what the compulsion tries to obscure is that the example of hope in the program doesn’t come from what I look like. In fact, I’ve found that people who have never met me before, who have never seen me morbidly obese, get hope from what I say in complete and utter (and sometimes brutal) honesty.
      Holy cats. People are getting hope from what’s inside me, not from what I look like . . .
      I mean, maybe two people who’ve read this journal have seen pictures of me, then and now. And the newcomer who got hope because what I said at meeting last week about the challenges I faced when I walked in the door the first time resonated with her. She could relate completely with what I was saying. It made her realize OA was right for her . . . and she had never seen me morbidly obese!
      Wow.
      Being thin does nothing for my Tradition Five and Step Twelve work. Being thin makes no difference whatsoever. Being human does.
      Progress, not perfection just got a whole new meaning right now for me. I am a human being, a beautiful and wonderful soul traversing through this world right now–just live every other beautiful and wonderful soul traversing through this world right now. As a human being, I am fallible. There is nothing that I can do that is “perfect” because perfection is an unattainable ideal. I cannot speak or spell or think or act perfectly at every given time. I cannot walk perfectly; I cannot love perfectly.
      But I can do it honestly. I can do it compassionately. I can do it with the strength of the Universe all around me, as I once drew my cloak of food around me to keep the Universe out. I didn’t want to be part of something that didn’t allow me to be perfect. But, in moments of compassionate clarity, I reveled in being perfectly imperfect. My humanity is what makes me valuable. If I were perfect, how could I not be as cold as marble to people? I would have to be a statue because . . . even perfection is different to different people. As a goal, it is unattainable and pointless to chase. I was going to use an analogy of trying to grab the moon and put it in my pocket, but that would imply I know what perfection looks like.
      I do not. It would be like trying to make myself an omniscient, omnipotent deity. I cannot fathom what that would even look like, feel like, be like–just like I cannot fathom perfection. Unlike my Higher Power (or God, in the example I just put forward), there is no strength in reaching for that. So, if I release it . . . if I can learn to become perfection abstinent like I learned to become food abstinent . . . I can be just me.
      Okay. So, it looks like I have a new plan: a sanity plan (like a food plan, but for my mental recovery). Every day, I’ll consume a balanced diet of healthy thinking. I’ll stay away from fretting between unplanned joys and stay away from my trigger defects. And my goal for myself as I walk through the door of my meeting tomorrow, hopefully 24 hours of perfection-abstinent, is to become a mentally healthy person–one who uses the compass inside me to become what my HP wants for me: A compassionately honest human being who travels through life in the gift I was given–a body which allows me to live as my HP wanted for me.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food addict and restrictive eater on my own. I have a Higher Power, the strength of the Universe holding me up, as I progress to a spiritually and mentally healthy life, one which balances all three aspects of recovery. I accept that I have arrived at the physical goal. Now is the time to appreciate the present.

Just for today.

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Responses

  1. Meditation allows us to clear the brain static so we can pick up messages from the Universe. It amazes me how life is like a puzzle, with many little pieces fitting together to create this thing we call Life. I would like to say that I meditate daily, or better yet, I live in a meditative state, but I do not. Meditation is as essential to a healthy being, as the air I breathe and the water I drink. I know this, but I do not meditate, it’s okay though, I am what I am, and that is perfect.

    I also have used the tarot as a tool to help guide me and direct my life journey. I have layed Celtic Cross spreads that have taken my breath away. They are like divine artwork sometimes, masterpieces.

    Reading about your perceptions of your physical self and how they did not align with reality, I wonder about conquering misperceptions and how that may be a key to recovery. You are looking at this as woman that is going from big to small. I am looking at this as a woman who is going from small to big. I had always been a size 8 or smaller, so when I went up to a size 10, I felt huge. Now I am a size tight 14 and I fantasize about being a perfect size 10. I think I need to work from the inside out. I need to focus on my spiritual health and and my physical and mental health will follow.

    I thought perhaps you might like this:

  2. I was able to take a look at the video, Bright Eyes’ “Bowl of Oranges”, and you’re right–I did like it.

    Having lived most of my life overweight or obese, it’s hard to imagine going at it from the other direction. My mother did that; she spent her twenties very thin, and she gained a lot of weight in her late thirties. She struggled with it for a very long time, eventually dropping 10 sizes just before she turned 50.

    I grew up overweight, and I’ve spent less than 10% of my life actually within 10 lbs. of a healthy weight. So, I can see how it would be disconcerting.

    And yes, I like Celtic Cross spreads, because they give a good idea of how events can unfold. My recent ones have been One Card spreads because I wanted to have a single point of focus on which to meditate.


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