Friday, March 29, 2013

Balance and the "Gray Area"

This week I have had a lot of situations come up where the topic of finding or having balance in my life came up. First, was with one of the fellows from the program, then again with Dr. Marson in therapy, then one of the Literature study topics during a meeting, and again from a speaker at a meeting. I think my higher power is trying to tell me that I need to get a grip on this thing called BALANCE!!!

Love Means Balance

 True to my Cancerian nature, I tend to be somewhat of an extremest. I am either "All In" or "All Out" when it comes to practically everything in my life. There is very little room for the "Grey Area" of things. I'm either happy or sad, Love people or hate them, Extremely interested or Tuned Out. Call it the "Black and white" thinking, a dichotomy or a binary way of thinking... whichever suits you, but it is how my brain  works. The problem is, that NO BODY fits in to any of these boxes perfectly. It is better to think of them as a spectrum This is a very dangerous, and unrealistic way to live your life, and I DO NOT recommend it.

This type of thinking has had some major effects on the way I view myself and the manifestation of my eating disorder. I am either completely healthy or treating my body like garbage, I am either Fat or Skinny, Beautiful or Ugly, Completely satisfied or Completely dissatisfied, if I eat ONE (insert horrible trigger food here) then I have to eat ALL of them. My negative self images has me think of this in a horrible way:

"I certainly am NOT skinny, so I MUST be fat." 
"I most definitely am NOT Beautiful, so I MUST be ugly."
"There is NO WAY that I am a good person, so I MUST be a bad person"

These are the horrible negative self talk thoughts that run through my head almost all the time. Now, I completely understand that none of them are true, but my disease is really good at convincing me that they are. So, to try to fight these thoughts, I restrict food, over indulge in exercise and try to eat "perfectly". Yet, the catch to this one is.... NO ONE IS PERFECT. Sometimes I eat things that aren't 100% healthy, Sometimes I go over calories or under calories, sometimes I don't get my workout schedule in perfectly, sometimes I'm hungrier on one day than I am on another, and I beat the CRAP out of my self from straying from my "perfect plan". As you can imagine, this is a recipe for disaster!

When the topic of  Balance was brought up in my therapy session with Dr. Marson, I simply looked at her and said, "I don't know WHAT balance is. I don't know what it looks like, feels like or how to really conceptualize it. I know there IS  'grey area', but I do not spend much time there. I know that balance is something that I WANT, but I have no idea how to get it."

She reassured me that it was something we were going to work on, and that using the concept of food as  way to achieve it was something tangible and doable. I am trusting her with this... but I figured I needed to do some more thinking about it on my own.

The topic came up again in the next two OA meetings that I attended, but one of the speakers gave me a quote that really struck a cord with me and where I am currently at. She was speaking specifically about her food plan, one of the tools of OA, but I think it is pertinent to anything thing that is seen as All or nothing. She said:

"If it is too rigid it will break, if it is too loose it will fall apart."- Darcy, OA speaker

 It makes so much sense that it almost seems ridiculous! Whenever I try to strive too hard to be Perfect, or do all of the right things, I am going to set myself up to snap when something goes wrong (and inevitably... IT WILL), but if I just let my defenses down... I am setting myself up for chaos whether it be in the form of emotions, a binge or some sort of behavioral issue.

After having all of this exposure to the discussion of balance  I thought... "OK" this is something I need to start "meditating" on. I decided by trying to define balance.

Looking up the definition of Balance on  left several definitions, primarily about returning to a state of equilibrium. The one that I found the most useful/ poignant was

3.Mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior,judgment,etc.
Some of the synonyms that I really enjoyed were Harmony, Symmetry, and Align. 

But, just looking up definitions is not enough to fully appreciate the definition of a word... it's about the internal and personal definition that I can apply to it to make it make sense. I have been trying something new with my running, and that has been contemplating/meditating on a thought, passage or piece of literature during my run to give it more substance. I did this with the concept of balance and this is what I came up.

Well, I didn't come up with the picture, but the idea that balance is compromising between what I NEED and what I WANT, or in the words of the coach... "The IS and the what OUGHT to be." Everything in my head is the way I feel that life OUGHT to be. I OUGHT to be able to eat sensibly and stop eating when I am full, I OUGHT to be happy with my body, I OUGHT to be skinnier, I OUGHT to be able to eat food and not feel guilty, I OUGHT to be a lot of things. The reality is that I AM a compulsive over eater, I AM at a healthy weight for my body, I AM a normal human being who has to adjust to real life.

In order to find balance, harmony and alignment, I am going to have to start adjusting my view of what OUGHT to be and make it more realistic (or more IS). This is going to require that I start being a lot kinder to myself, and more understanding of when I can not do things the way I want. It means that I am going to have to start recognizing and calling out when I am starting to lean to far over to the extreme. Most importantly, and most frightening, is that I am going to have to learn to just SIT with the discomfort that I feel in the grey area in order to become more acclimated and use to it instead of fighting it by turning to food.

Another aspect of discovering balance is recognizing that this is not JUST a physical recovery that I am in, but it is a complex mixture of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual recovery... with each piece playing a very special part. I am going to start looking at these concepts in isolation and hopefully I can figure them all out one day. Also, I am going to keep myself open to suggestions from my therapist and see what she suggests I do to help myself.

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