I can’t tell you how many times this happened to me.
What I can tell you is how many times, before this LCJ took a hold of me, I actually succeeded at doing something about the direction of my life.
I made many attempts at losing weight. Some of them I did okay. Atkins was probably the biggest weight loss I’d seen after almost 50 pounds came off of my body. Of course this was while clogging my arteries and finding a million ways to eat meat stuffed with meat and wrapped in more meat. Once I was sick of meat and the call of bread smothered in delicious butter was too much to handle, the weight came back with a vengeance.
It always did.
I had the mathematical equation wrong.
You see, I thought that if I got rid of the weight my life would be normal and all my problems would go away. My depression would melt away just like the pounds. My anxiety would dissipate with every meal turned away. My self loathing would turn to self loving with each lower number on the scale and for a while it would work. I would be elated to see 10 pounds gone, then 20 pounds and sometimes I would even make it to 30 pounds but then something would happen:
LIFE WENT BACK TO BEING THE SAME.
My depression would creep back into the pores of my body and following close behind would come the anxiety. Short bursts of the “Love” I felt for myself became long drawn out episodes of “how much do I really hate myself” on one channel and “You’re such a fucking failure” on the other. The numbers on the scale would tick back up and each time it would go a little higher than the last weight gain.
Weight loss =/= Happiness
By the time my 40th birthday rolled around I was a hot mess of absolute nothingness. When you looked into my eyes there was no life. I had no direction. My whole was broken. Look I have the picture to prove it…
This was taken a few weeks after my 40th birthday. This was hours before I embarked on what I would come to term as my Life Changing Journey. It was taken hours after I came to the following decision (for the umpteenth time):
This is not who I’m supposed to be.
Look at my eyes. There’s nothing there. No life. No love. My face is bloated. Whatever semblance of a smile that seems to be there is forced. It’s hard to believe that this is the shell of the body I used to live in…
Not living in: Occupying.
I was still in that “losing weight will take my problems away” mentality but that was short lived (just like every single time before). I lost a little weight and was riding the “this is it, this is for real” high portion of the diet wave. I was pushing away donuts and fast food bags like it was no one’s business. I was gagging on water despite my almost over powering withdrawals from diet soda. This. Time. It. Would. Be. Different!!!! Then my friend Depression came back and brought along his sidekick Anxiety. Anxiety also brought a few friends: Frustration, Anger and Oh Just Fuck Off.
Weight loss =/= Happiness
I got lucky though. Something about this time around was actually different. I recognized those old behaviors creeping up on me. I didn’t want this to be another short lived “success” story. I kept thinking about that mathematical equation. Every time I’ve gone into this I was convinced when the weight came off I would be happy. I would be whole. Each and every time I was wrong. So I made a small change to the equation…
Being Whole = Happiness.
There were so many parts to my soul missing and I thought that if I lost the weight all those missing parts would some how miraculously be filled. My emotional being would become whole. My mental being would become whole. My spiritual being would become whole…and at the end of the road all the weight loss would eventually bring those missing parts of my soul together and I would BE WHOLE. When I changed the equation I understood that the weight was a secondary symptom of my primary problem: I was not whole.
It’s been a long sixteen month journey.
My friend Depression tried to stick around for the party but left after I started to make my emotional being whole. Anxiety tried to hang out a little longer but when my mental being was coming together real nicely, they left and took their friend Anger. Oh Just Fuck Off? They were around the longest it seems. Never really wanting to leave even after it was apparent that the journey was different this time around. I had the physical, the mental, the emotional aspects down. It wasn’t perfect and it’s an ever evolving journey to make those parts of me whole. The last part? The spiritual part? It’s been the hardest but also the most rewarding. When I surrendered myself to the idea that being whole also meant coming to understand that I did indeed wanted (and so badly needed) the spiritual part of me to come alive, that’s when Oh Just Fuck Off left the building…
That is when I knew deep down in my soul
was am happy.
It hasn’t been easy. In fact it has been down right painful. Staying in the moment. Living through all the emotions as I fight to become who I was meant to be. As I fight to become whole. As I fight to let go of the old me and embrace the woman that stands here today. But as the pieces of this puzzle come together and empty spaces are filled with Understanding, Patience and above all Love the pain lessens. It becomes easier to stand firm even when I feel like I’m going to fall.
Stop looking at your “diet” equation. That weight loss equation that you think “This is what’s going to change the direction of my life” is not the equation that you need. What does your life equation looks like? What’s missing from your whole. Don’t be afraid to change what isn’t working for you anymore. Don’t be afraid of finding those missing pieces. Stop pounding your head against that wall, hoping that this time…this time will be different.
Know it will be different.