My husband and I recently started seeing a marriage counselor. We don’t want just a marriage, we want a GREAT marriage. There were some warning signs of trouble that surfaced and we decided to face them while they were small.
In the last session my husband and I had with our counselor, I remembered how hard it used to be to identify what I want. I remember the first counselor I ever saw asking me “How are you?” and all I could do was tell him about my friend’s problems, my husband, my son, my parents, my cat, my job… While describing how impossible my family’s belief system was, he asked me “What kind of Jehovah Witness do you want to be?”. I had nothing to say. My mind, usually quick with responses, was utterly blank. This was a forgein concept. I hadn’t given myself permission to be anything just because it’s who I wanted to be. The people I was drawn to were artists, musicians, writers, philosophical thinkers… All things I had denied myself because they weren’t appreciated by those closest to me at the time. It blew my mind this fellow was suggesting I could do anything “my way”.
I felt messed up, defective, and wanted a set of steps, tasks, to check off a list to get an “A” in recovery. He suggested turning my life over to God. He said, if I did, I would be in for a wild ride. As he nodded and smiled at me, I saw peace. What I was doing wasn’t working, I was completely miserable to my core and I couldn’t even answer the simplest questions of “How are you?” and “What do you want?”. So, I opened my heart and I gave some new concepts a spin around the block.
Fast forward 7 years… I stopped overeating June 4, 2009. At that time, I’d had around 3 years practicing “letting go and letting God” seeking “progress not perfection” and attempting to just “be”. My cat had gone from being dangerously overweight to a healthy weight just by me measuring his food and not feeding him every time he meowed. My vet told me it was like a person going from 200lbs down to 150lbs (I was around 200lbs at the time). There was an upscale gym with lots of beautiful people working out on the skywalk level near work. I had often walked by and wished I could be “good enough” to be one of those people.
July 10, 2009, I walked in that fancy gym and asked for a tour. The manager gave me one and made an appointment to meet with my husband and me the following day. During our appointment, the manager asked me a set of questions about eating, exercise and family history. To my horror, he showed me that on my current path, I was biologically 10 YEARS older than my chronological age. A decade. Double digits. He showed me I could lose 30lbs and go from high risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes to low risk or… I could die approximately 10 years earlier, my choice.
I surrendered right then and there. I asked for help and I did what my trainer said to do. I went from one small meal to the next, one day at a time, sticking to the plan (With some initial resistance as my first trainer, now friend, can tell you!). As results came and I talked through roadblocks with the trainer, good habits got easier. I was honest with myself, shared my struggles, and worked to develop plans to succeed in situations I knew were going to be difficult. As I approached my goal weight, I refused to beat myself up about my choices. I learned I am more than my thoughts.
Fast forward to this week. The marriage counselor shared another client had said to him “if I’m not my thoughts, what I am I?” and he confessed he didn’t have a good answer. I knew the answer but I didn’t have words. I had only a picture in my mind which I drew right then and there in the office. It was powerful enough, I couldn’t keep from letting it out right away.
I see myself as a semi-transparent cylinder with forms reaching above and below. There are thoughts, temptations, desires, that flutter about but that isn’t really me. I am centered. I am whole. I am connected. Nothing nor anyone can ever take that from me because it is “me”. Thoughts are just thoughts, feelings are just feelings, my center can decide what to do about them.
Growing is not comfortable. I believe there’s always an answer, usually several to choose from, and have peace in my heart that what I need will present itself if I remain open to it. I’m not perfect. I’m practicing being okay knowing that.