Wednesday, October 19, 2016

next destiny

tonight i got a text from my husband; it told me that i'm now divorced.  four years after our split, we are finally divorced.

i didn't know how to reply to the text.  i wanted to say something elegant; i wanted to process everything i was feeling; i wanted us to heal our wounds. 

i replied "oh my god."


i did a two day teacher training with elena this weekend.  upon arriving, elena had us draw cards from a deck.  each card had a quote.  mine was:

Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

i like the quote; i like thinking that what we practice becomes us. i also like that we can create our destiny; and, that if we read deeper, we can change our destiny.

which is what i've been focusing on for the past 5 weeks. 37 days of no calorie counting, no drinking, no mood altering anything.   each day has gotten easier.  and now i feel better than normal about food and exercise. better than normal because i know what it is like to feel so undeniably obsessed with it. saturday i drank a juice without examining the calorie label.  sunday i'm pretty sure i had four full meals.  monday i ate some yogurt from a larger tub without measuring out a 1/2 cup serving so i'd know the calorie count.  these things all seem like actual miracles to me.

sunday night, at the end of the yoga training, i approached elena in a panic about my 40 days being almost up.  elena looked me in the eyes, grabbed my mala beads that were around my neck, pulled my face nose to nose with hers, and told me that she had an easy solution: she assigned me 40 more days.  i instantly felt relieved and thus knew that she was right in her assignment.

and i started to think about what it really was that i was in recovery from.  yes, the eating disorder; yes, i'm not using other substances right now... but was there a single addiction here? 

i think it's that i was addicted to numbing feelings and avoiding feeling hard emotions. and i do need another 40 days to continue to find my way without returning to any of the number of avoidant crutches i've used.


it's that addiction which i will now openly credit with accelerating the dissolution of my past relationships. 

processing the text tonight was surprisingly hard, despite the fact that the divorce was not at all sudden. friends questioned "is it because it's the end of a chapter?" "is it because you weren't expecting it?" "is it because of the way he told you?"  i kept saying that i didn't know.  lydia facetimed me from sydney, immediately upon receiving my text, and encouraged me to cry it out and try to determine what i was feeling.  when i still couldn't understand it, she prescribed meditation.

i meditated.  i sat.  i followed my breath.  i was present.  all the attempted processing, the breathing, even the meditation didn't identify what felt so hard about that text.  but, i did what i've almost never done: i sat with the hard feelings. instead of allowing myself to shrink inside a constricted breath, i was able to expand my breathing.

i would tell my best friend, who just soberly processed the death of her grandmother so beautifully: i'm proud of you.  I'M SO PROUD OF YOU.

so i breathe a deep breath, an expanded breath, into that pride i try to direct back toward myself. 

and i swear i can feel my next destiny inside that breath.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Halfway to Barbados

I was in the Miami airport, halfway to Barbados, and one of my favorite songs came through my iPhone headphones: “Moments,” by Tove Lo.  Partial lyrics: “I can get a little drunk/I get into all the don’ts/but on good days, I’m charming as fuck.”  Every time I hear those lyrics, I smile.  And I identify.  

Until I was halfway to Barbados. I was smiling, mouthing along to the lyrics, walking toward my gate, and, upon hearing those lyrics, I thought, “oh, that’s kinda sad.”

And I stopped in my tracks.  I actually stopped walking because I felt so confused. 

I have had a narrative in my head that I’m strong, even though I’m broken; that I’m surviving, even though I’m broken; that I’m functioning, even though I’m broken.

And when I paused to consider what was wrong, halfway through “Moments,” I realized it was a miracle moment: what was wrong was that I didn’t feel broken anymore. 

I smiled.  I smiled so big that I must have looked a little crazy to, well, everyone else in the airport. And I thought to myself, “I’m whole. I’m whole now.”

Feeling whole felt so fulfilling, and so different than anything I could remember, that it felt startling.  It feels scary for me to write: scary because I’m nervous that the feeling of wholeness might be transient.  My literal mind says, “but of course I was always whole; I just forgot.” And so I begin typing, assuring myself it’s safe to commit to digital ink.

The shift could be linked to the 40 days, friends’ life changes, the spontaneous impending vacation, the yoga workshops with Elena over the past two days, the reading and journaling I have been doing with Gabby’s new book The Universe Has Your Back, …or most likely a little bit of all of the above.

One of the lessons Gabby references from A Course in Miracles is that we “create visions of the world we want to see,” meaning that the stories we tell ourselves are powerful. The backstory to who we are, even if it is never written down or spoken aloud, resounds through our minds. 

The truth is, I liked thinking of myself as broken.  I liked the fragility and girlishness about it. I played into it. I felt like it gave me character.

But it was an excuse. The more I challenged the notion that I was broken, even though I wasn’t always doing it consciously, the harder it became to believe.  Until the Miami Miracle Moment, when it became impossible to believe.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


it's the evening of day 20 of my 40 day challenge.  40 days of no substances and no calorie counting.  20 days in: i've learned a few things.

a la movies   
no substances: i'm fun, and can party just as ridiculously sans alcohol.  i've been out with friends drinking late on weekend evenings, dancing til the wee hours, totally sober.  well, okay, maybe the diet cokes hyped me up a bit. so maybe 99% sober. 

some people haven't been inviting me to things as much, fearful that i wouldn't go or that i wouldn't have fun without being able to drink. but i don't blame them; i would probably suspect the same of most of my friends. luckily i also have a bestie who is doing the challenge with me.  and we look very cute sober at a movie on a saturday night.

first dates, cocktail parties where i don't know anyone, and business dinners are all a little terrifying without any alcohol. however, i've met a few brave dates open to the challenge, and made friends at parties and dinners despite the sobriety.

personally, i've been feeling more confident and happy: realizing i'm fun on my own and that i can make it through these events sober has translated into less fear overall.   the confidence has even bled into other areas of my life.  i've stood up for myself with colleagues that weren't listening to my expertise, and i've expressed my needs to friends and partners more readily. 

it's also made me much more sympathetic to people who have quit drinking.  i've always thought that recovering from bulimia was very hard because food is something that is necessary: you cannot exist in a world where people do not eat.  although i had sympathy for anyone in any type of recovery, i still felt like "but you don't HAVE to be around (insert drug or alcohol here) if you don't want to!"

but i don't know how true that is for alcohol, really.  it's quite pervasive in our social lives.  although i'm quite happy not drinking right now, i also know that it's not forever.  so to my sober peeps: i'm sorry if i minimized your struggle, even if only in my own mind.  also: i'm totes up for sober parties, even after my 40 days are up.

no counting: eating without counting every bite and calculating each calorie is way less stressful.  i never liked counting every chip at the mexican restaurant, or estimating how many tablespoons of ketchup i just squeezed on to my plate. i was doing it to ease the craziness in my brain, but it was actually only contributing to it.  (i know, i know, if you have never dealt with this issue, it sounds like a "DUH" statement.)

i'm more present when i'm eating with friends.  i listen to them talking instead of re-counting the number of calories i have consumed thus far at the meal.  i can reply to them and engage in conversation instead of calculating whether i have enough calories left in my day to have a bite of the dessert they ordered.

it has been hard, a million moments of each day.  i've created a few thought exercises to distract myself when i start to try to count something on my plate when eating alone or start to try to remember all the things i've eaten in a day. (they involve trying to remember very minute details in other areas of my life.) but, in general, it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  not basing my self-value on a number, and whether or not i feel like it is the right number, is freeing. 

i no longer wake up after a day where i decided i had 200 too many calories with a sense of dread: a feeling that i had to make up for being "bad" the day before by eating less or exercising extra, trying to find extra time for working out or brainstorming places to save calories.  or even panicking because i might have a social event in the evening that i knew would involve alcohol--and extra calories. which leads me to the following. 

and the combo of the two: alcohol has calories. i've definitely played the sorority girl game of eating less to drink more.  i've run extra to drink more.  i've chosen which drinks to enjoy based on their calorie count (no different than foods).

not drinking for the past few weeks has taught me how afraid of alcohol calories i really am: on mornings of social functions i used to feel anxiety.  lately i have not.  and, scarily enough, i've realized it's because i don't feel internal pressure to run an extra few miles to prep for the looming alcohol calories. i can workout the normal amount without the fear of "going over" the calorie count i've allotted for my day.

and i've also started to become terrified for the time when the 40 days is up.  not counting calories has been a really big step in my recovery.  what if i'm not able to refrain from calorie counting when i introduce alcohol back into the equation? what if i try to go overboard on running (again)? what if...


if it was one of my friends saying things like this to me, i'd give the advice i always do: wasting time worrying about this in advance of the actual situation is not helpful.  and so, i keep up the meditation and the yoga.  i practice.  and i trust that i can keep flying that line between the sea and the sun.