Wednesday, May 04, 2011

So... What's Different This Time?

There's the question. What is different this time around?  I have started and given up, or fallen flat on my rather round face innumerable times over my 51 year lifespan. Started on a fitness goal, or race training, or diet. 

I did accomplish some goals as well. Ran the Tulsa Run (15 kilometers / 9.3 miles) , the Pepsi Challenge ( 10 kilometers/ 6.2 miles). Backpacked over 20 miles. Graduated University with my Degree, did some post grad work in selected subjects. Got married, still married going on 20 years, bought a ranch, paid off the mortgages. Yes we are living mortgage free! YaY!  Did some traveling. Got to know my Dad after being isolated from him as a child. Had the pleasure of a great relationship with him. Ran my own business. Took some time out due to physical issues. Looking at ramping up again.

So there have been some accomplishments. Actually quite a few.  The thing is, how to word this. I never thought of myself as successful. I was always punishing myself for falling short of some imagined guideline. It is amazing how a mindset like that can strip the joy out of life.

I would have to say that is the difference.  I actually have been quite successful, if you compare my accomplishments to my bucket list. Amazing how a simple change in perspective can completely alter your life.

I no longer feel like a fake. Like I am going to be found out for the failure or fake that I felt I was.  I am who I am. Amazingly enough, I actually like myself. Yes, that is amazing to me; because I did not feel worthy of being liked or loved for many years.  I was always stumped by the love your neighbor as you love yourself turn of phrase; because I didn't feel love for myself. 

I loved my horses, I loved my dogs, humans I had problems with.  I always felt like I had been judged, and found to be lacking in worth. The dogs and horses were honest and didn't play vicious games. There was no trying to sort out what their intent was.

With my childhood family there was no sorting out intent. Not for me anyway. I learned at a very early age that I had caused pain, that I was less than, that I was there to do "chores" and that my completion of said chores was lacking no matter what I did.

Ever since I was a small child I have always been rather direct with a highly logical mind. As a result the passive aggressive, round about methods of my family members were somewhat frustrating to me to say the least.  Their behaviors never made any sense to me, but they certainly imprinted. I got the message loud and clear, I did not deserve to be happy, I deserved to be punished.  (Side note: my father was not a part of this situation. He was excluded from my life until I was an adult- I found out after we got to know each other that both of us were direct logical people)

I am not saying my family was deliberately cruel. Well, yeah, sometimes some of them were. However, I remember decorated Christmas trees, long summer days on my horse, and first days of school. 

I listen to my mom now and I hear the same thought patterns coming out in her speech.  She has never broken the pattern, perhaps she does not want to. I don't know. What I do know is that the only person that can change those ingrained patterns is the individual. It's all over the place. People who have nothing to say unless they are making fun of, or denigrating another person. Miserable people feeding on the misery of others.  As well as those laid waste by the venom of others continually repeating the litany in their subconscious.  It's a sad destructive cycle.

I learned early on that if I loved something, or wanted something, didn't matter what it was, that it was leverage against me.  That it would be taken away at a whim, because I didn't deserve it.  The more I wanted something, the quicker it would be taken away. If I lost interest or just gave up, then here it is, let me give you this. Aren't I great because I gave you this. Don't you want it, Oh you do, let me take it away.

I moved 800 miles away when I finished high school.  Little did I know that I was taking it all with me. It's amazing how we carry with us the torture we are trying to leave behind.  

It took years and a lot of work to discover what was behind my self destructive behavior. I saw myself as obese when I wasn't. I punished myself by binging and binging, and gained weight uncontrollably.  I gained until I was over 300 pounds and just kept gaining.

Then through the pain and anguish, a discovery was made. I was continuing the punishments from childhood. Rather than a horse halter or tree switch, I was beating myself with food. Actually it was dual purpose. The binging was self punishment- as well as subduing my emotions.  I was eating my emotions. 

When I made the connection, the "discovery", of what was behind my binging; it was as if a light switch flipped on.  Illuminating the root cause behind years of struggle and pain. It's amazing, I am actually free.  Just makes me giggle with glee. That's not to say that I don't have down times, I do. But now they are not compounded by compulsive binging. I am actually feeling my emotions in the moment rather than subduing them with food (or whatever else I could ingest). 

There are days I would just as soon not feel my emotions. When the grief hits over my Father's death, or Min Min's passing. However I am feeling those emotions, I am also feeling joy at remembering conversations with my dad, and snuggles with my Min Min.  I miss them both, and would have liked some more time with them. However that was not to be. So I am dealing with it.

Note the "dealing with it" as in allowing myself to feel the emotion and letting myself work through the grief. I am also feeling joy as I hear a meadowlark sing, or see the full moon crest the horizon.

I am living my life in each moment. Appreciating the crisp morning air, and a hot cup of strong coffee. I finally see life as a gift rather than as a curse.  I now understand love your neighbor as you love yourself. 

I am free to be. I see what was behind the weight gain, and now I am free to do what I need to do to take care of my body.  I am free to lose fat. I am free to get physically fit. I am free to enjoy the process of becoming healthy. I am free to be. Free to live. Its an amazing feeling.

I look around and I see so many people living in bondage. Misery painted across their faces.  Some show it by their obesity, some by anexoria, others by a variety of compulsive behaviors. 

I wonder how to help them be free as well. I know they have to do the work, to make the discoveries themselves. My hope is that perhaps, just perhaps, my story can help others on their journey to freedom.

Life is a journey, enjoy the trip.
Mary E. Robbins