Here’s how it happened:
I am running and starting to see some changes in my body.
I am losing some weight and I am starting to look and feel better.
I am starting to think that perhaps I need to lose just a little bit more, quicker, so that I can run better.
I am so very grateful for having been able to race and to have great things going on in my life.
I am thinking that laxatives, other pills and perhaps some planned starvation would be great for me to drop weight suddenly.
I am thinki- WHAT? Wait, back up there, cowboy.
You want to what?
Step away from that horse, pardner. Let’s just see what happened there.
1) Grateful to be happy, healthy and free.
2) Want to take pills and take behaviours that will change my body drastically and bolster my ego.
Hmmmmmm…that ain’t right, is it? Call NASA and get Hubble to take a closer look at this. Might as well, because it sounds like some alien that came from outer space. Straight from the Nebula of Atrocious, Galaxy of Idea. A crass shooting star of a notion cutting across an otherwise tranquil night painted with the soft glow and hum of the distant universe.
A strange and dodgy whim. Like getting the name of that new hottie you just met a week ago tattooed on your chest. The one with no job and a piercing through their forehead. The one you know is the one. For now. Until another crossed wire stabs your brain and decides that bungee jumping off the local AT&T tower is yet another grand platter of an idea. And yet, knowing intellectually what the dangers of playing with eating and health would expose, knowing the physical consequences, understanding that I could compromise so much of my body…the thought danced about, partnering with the not-so-pretty twinsies Justification and Rationalization. Even knowing that it was much more than just wanting to fit into a size whatever (us guys don’t mess with numbers, just letters like XL, L, M…you know, which are really Roman…numerals. Numbers. Oh never mind).
I brought this up the other day to John, an old timer friend of mine (who I have written about before, here and here) who just gets it. Yeah, you know, those annoying folks who just seem to have an answer for everything. Yoda-like musings with a gentle voice and smug grin. I guess 25+ years of truth seeking and spiritual progress will do that to a guy. Go figure. I told him about my impulse, which wasn’t so much an impulse anymore, and had grabbed traction, like an eagle wrapped around a tasty Coho salmon. He just smiled (why do they always smile when they are about the lay the jam down?) and asked me what it was about.
“Well,” I started, taking a chug of my weak vanilla flavoured coffee.
“Yes?” he moved closer to the table.
“I think it’s just another way of the illness [alcoholism] trying to manifest. I think it’s that same feeling that I need to change and control something. I think it’s all coming from the same place that all those other -ism’s come from.”
“And what place is that?”
“Um…” I started, trailing off.
Well, he had me there.
I chewed over the question. I felt like a newcomer talking to John. I thought I had so many answers, and yet, when presented with what I considered an easy question, I failed to complete the mission. I had to admit in feeling odd in not having an insight into my own behaviours, considering I spend a lot of time doing so. And yet, I knew that being with John was just another way of tapping into something I wasn’t aware of. The Creator working through others. But I was still unsure of where he was going with it.
“I’m not sure, John,” I finally responded.
He held his pose and took a pause. Then that smile again.
“It’s that place of not thinking you’re worth it.”
Lowers goes the boom.
And he nailed it. It didn’t hit me right away, but instinctively, I knew he was right. I wouldn’t have pegged it so quickly. I was looking for a more convoluted answer, looking for something a little bit more Brain than Pinky. I was doing mental whirling dervishes while he sat like Caine in Kung Fu and blew my mind with simple words. That’s why I enjoy being with John. We have great conversations and he will often drop a Spiritual Suplex on me, leaving me breathless against the mat.
This idea of me not feeling worthy was a surprise. I had been feeling great as of late (or had it been merely a delusion?) and hadn’t felt any sort of sorrow or depletion in my sense of self-worth or value. I hadn’t entertained any sort of self-sabotage (blinded by the light?) or felt any need to self-medicate in any way. Hell, even my sugar thing has abated into some sort of “normalcy” (that’s a post for another day). Lots of fantastic things have happened as of late, so I have been riding a healthy buzz lately…so surely there hadn’t been any need to do the waltz with the fear of success (you sure?) So where and how did this idea that I am not worth anything crop up, and guise itself in the form of grossly adjusting my body tout suite? Hmmmmm….
Fast forward a few days later. I was at work, and found myself getting into some uncomfortable gastro-intestinal distress. Out of nowhere. Enough that I was barely able to move or even tie my shoe laces. It was if I were allergic to gluten and then decided to gorge myself at the closest French bakery. Not fun. So as I rode my bike to the pharmacy, this idea of a laxative came back to me. I rationalized and justified that yes, this was a proper way to use them. I wouldn’t be abusing anything, right? I mean, who doesn’t need help now and then in the gut rot department? I even picked up a box of them to read the instructions. When I saw the words “works overnight” I thought – hey! No fair! I have to wait all night for these things to work? And then the second horrifying thought popped up – I was looking for immediate satisfaction. If I couldn’t drop those pounds in an hour or so, then why bother at all? I wanted something, anything, to work right away. Just like chugging back those first shots of booze. Why would I drink booze if the effects wouldn’t hit me until the next day? I doubt anyone would drink, period. So that old instant gratification thing jumped on me right out of the blue.
In the end, spiritual justice held sway. I said a little prayer to The Maker and banished these thoughts. Saw them for the charlatans that they were. Impostors to the Real Truth. And that is, I am fine as I am. I am fine. Capisce? I grabbed some chewable gassy thingies (cherry flavoured!) and went on my merry way. The thought deflated considerably. The feeling of trying to contort and twist and give life a noogie no longer interested me. Surrendered once again.
You see, trying to sabotage myself was another way of my old ways and self trying to impose themselves on me. Sorry little dudes, I have too much going on to tear down over a stray thought or even a persistent thought. The take away on this summer repeat episode of my so-called-life is that these things will come up. Simple as that. My job, or at least my view of it, is to ride it out. Point it out, like a thug at a police lineup and then deal with it. And move on. Voila. These things will happen, yo. That’s it. I can’t control it, but I can control my reaction to them. Thoughts will pop up and they will try to break into the cabin and commandeer the plane on a trippy ride, but they’re just thoughts.
So I am fine where I’m at. I really am. As are you. My weight will go where my weight will go. As it’s always gone. I have had many people notice my thinning out, as they do when I am thickening out. But that’s fine too. The irony of those thoughts I had was that the more I “disappeared” (lost weight in leaps and bounds) the more I would “appear” (in appeal, discussion, ego-related endeavors) to others. Crazy thinking, yes? Old, crazy thinking. The kind of thinking that kept me clutching those bottles like they were life’s blood itself.
Knowing and understanding where these thoughts originate and take us is part of the journey. Recognizing them for what they are – and aren’t – comes with time and with counsel. It comes with being open to answers. It comes with being in touch with both pain and experience. It comes with the radiance of staying true to ourselves and distancing ourselves from our False Selves. And this has been another part of my journey. Important and yet not important. Valuable.
In the end, regardless of my ego’s bidding, and where Old Paul wants to take me, I know that being enough is where it’s at. It’s not a number on a scale, or a number on a lotto ticket, or a number on a bar tab, or a number of a dealer. Those numbers certainly have our number…eventually. But it’s about being comfortable in my own skin. It’s knowing that no matter what, I am where I am needed to be. What my own weeny goals are are nothing compared to the goals The Creator has in store for me. Lofty shit, I admit. Hard to keep a straight typing face when I write that even, considering I am the one who has to look at himself in the mirror and see that pudgy belly, but it’s true. Even if I don’t believe it some of the time. But I do it because doing it the other way – my way – kept me drunk and sick. And I don’t have to be drunk to still be sick. No matter how big or small I am. It’s what’s inside that counts.
Now, before anyone starts to worry and wonder if I am now flirting with an eating disorder, please understand that I am not going down that road. I have too robust an appetite (and strange tendency to want to keep it all in after it’s down my pie hole) to even get into casual starvation. (Frankly, I am too busy finding a meal between breakfast and brunch). I certainly know that many, including alcoholics and addicts, struggle with eating issues of all kinds, and so I don’t mention this stuff lightly. I apologize if this hit close to home for some readers, in that department. There are certainly ways to find help and support for any eating disorders, or even if you think you may have an ED.