I felt my stomach drop a little. I mean I always knew the work was mine to do, and I am truly blessed to have the financial resources through my work benefits to take this time to explore who I want to be. Still. There was that small part of me that thought maybe there was a Coles Notes version. Yadda, yadda, yadda---get to the punch line. Fifteen affirmations a day--toss a coin in a fountain---spin around three times---ta-dah you are now whole!
"We don't want to be uncomfortable. We want a quick and dirty 'how-to' list for happiness."
"...I'd love to skip over the hard stuff, but it just doesn't work. We don't change, we don't grow and we don't move forward without the work. If we really want to live a joyful, connected and meaningful life, we must talk about things that get in the way. ...shame, fear and vulnerability" Brené Brown.
When I was in the adult day treatment program we often spoke about how everything we were learning about---self-esteem, perfectionism, communication, depression---were all common sense things. It was like we KNEW them, but we had forgotten them....or more likely....decided we were not worth the time to consider that they had anything to do with us as we ran a million miles an hour through life....head down, eye on the prize. (What prize would that BE by the way?)
At no other time in history have we had immediate access to such a vast amount of information. With all this at our fingertips--we can learn about the benefits of eating well, exercise, how to preserve the environment ---we know what we are supposed to do---but we don't do it! Why?
Because it is hard. This is very hard, uncomfortable work.
I occasionally see a naturopath. Usually when I am feeling out of control of my health. I need her to steer me in a direction, any direction, just so I feel like I have some control over what is happening to me. I did six months of no wheat, caffeine, sugar, oats, pepper, citrus fruit, strawberries, dates, raisins, eggs etc. etc. after blood tests revealed a sensitivity to these foods. (I thought I was sensitive to dairy and limited my intake for years. But dairy didn't show up on the list at all! Probably because all the other crap had shut down my stomach the dairy wasn't digesting properly! I can love CHEESE again!)
It was hard.
No dinners out. (lemon and pepper were the hardest to get away from)
Bring your own food when you go to someone else's house (yeah.....so not cool....)
Avoid birthday cake, potlucks, donuts, coffee, tea, muffins, homemade goodies at work and try not to sound snobby ("No thank you. I am not eating *fill in the blank* right now.")
And people didn't get it.
"Oh come on. A little won't hurt you! " (Um yes it will during this cleansing part---just let me do this---k?) "You are on a diet? Why? You are skinny?" (not a diet diet ...sigh)
They belittled my plan.
"Oh all diets are fake. How much did the fancy blood tests cost ya---sucker!" "You don't look sick? Why cut out all the foods?"
It was like they wanted me to fail.
"Are you still doing that stupid no eating everything diet?" "Would you have a coffee for crying out loud! It is not going to kill you!" (gee guys--thanks for the support).
So as I try to compare how hard it is to go through recovering from a breakdown to trying to completely change my diet as a lifestyle change--I notice a few things.
- It is really hard to explain what you are going through to people. People who care about you though, will take the time to listen, ask questions and be sensitive to what you are trying to do.
- You have to practise what makes you healthy every day. I no longer have to live such a strict diet, but I am much more conscious of what I eat. Coffee is back in a big way--but other things that were on my no-no list I avoid easily and now enjoy my dairy! (I think I am not supposed to eat beets---so easy trade for ice cream!)
- There are probably people out there who are struggling too. Some will ask questions because they are comparing what you are going through to what they are going through and they want to know there is hope. Just remember to keep focused on me. Direct people to a professional for serious crisis issues.
- For others is the opposite. They will pretend what you are going through isn't real. Things they don't understand make them uncomfortable. Getting to the core scares the crap out of them so they pretend it just isn't a real thing to justify numbing their shame, fear and vulnerability with another donut, glass of wine, drug of choice.