Monday, September 14, 2009

Compassion is not a Chocolate Chip Cookie.

So here's a quick fitness update, because I haven't done one of those for a while. I have been woefully under-training or not training at all for the last... twelve weeks? In this time, I've been trying to fit in what I can, a walk around the circle, hulaing, hopping on the skier's edge machine. When I'm up in Whitefish, I've hiked up Big Mountain a couple of times (wow, that's a grunt), been playing in the skate park, (resulting in some training dampening injuries, but nothing too bad), paddling a canoe, swimming in the river, etc.

I've been eating pretty well, although there was a very stressful period about two weeks ago that lasted for about ten days where my eating disorder reared its horrible head and swallowed me whole. It was intense for about three days, and I did some good work trying to be compassionate to myself through it, rather than being angry at my will power. (Because eating disorders aren't about will power, they are about choice.)

Lets digress here for just a mo and think about this some more. The kind of choice I'm talking about here is not necessarily do I choose to put this piece of food in my mouth or not. Because when you are in the thick of it, you are in survival mode. You are clinging to choice with a very irrational mindset. For me, when I get lost like this, food is like a hug from the inside. And the hug is so fleeting, but it felt so good, that I put in another hug. Rationally, I know that I am ultimately hurting myself by putting so much food in me. And I know that this kind of hug leads to tears, not to satisfaction.

But this is where the choice comes in. Its not about policing the moment, with judgment, ridicule, or even will power. The choice, for me, comes in by seeing how I am caring for myself with my actions. This is back to the lesson that Aubrey taught me about compassion.

We had been discussing the three things that plague me the most that I need to fix. Balancing my checkbook. Maintaining my schedule so I am not late, don't overbook, and don't double book or forget appointments. Feeding myself well.

Her thought on these was that I needed more compassion. My response to her was, (a titch aggressively, I'm sure.) "How the f**k is me being nice to myself supposed to help me learn to balance my f*&ing checkbook?" I mean, Its math. Its a math problem. It's, as Ethan's first grade teacher would say, a "must do". There are "want to dos" and "must dos" and balancing your checkbook is a must do.

Aubrey asked me how much compassion I was having for myself in that moment right then, and I told her, NONE. Because I am sick of it. I'm tired of not managing my money well. And its not true that you don't have to manage it well when you have none. The fact that I have $12 to my name and about $6000 worth of bills makes me feel powerless, so I don't manage my money.

But in this instance, lets be real, this is the TIME to manage your money. Manage the small amount you have so it can grow. SO out of this very frustrated place, with Aubrey poking at me, I suddenly realized that the answer to all three problems is the same.

Having compassion for myself means making a choice in the moment that is a caring choice. What is the most compassionate thing I can do in this moment? Is it put my wallet in the bottom of my purse, or is it take a moment to write down what I just spent, not because its a must do and I'm a f*&kup, but because I want to be kind to myself, and take care of myself, and the beating I give myself when I don't do this is NOT a compassionate place.

Having compassion for myself means looking at the bagel I'm about to eat (hopefully the first one and not the fourth one) and realizing that the compassionate thing to do, the most caring gesture I can make to myself in this moment of crisis, is to put it down and walk away. That's the hug. Because the way my body feels after I torture it like that is not compassionate.

And so on. I love looking at choice in this way. Its not saying, "Well, feel different! Are you depressed? You should stop feeling that way! Choose to not be depressed." That's not what I'm saying. What I'm working towards here in my practice would be something like, "I'm depressed. How can I care for myself right now. Is it more compassionate for me to go to bed, or for me to go sit in the sun in the yard?" One of those choices, while hard to do, leads down the path to freedom.


Liat said...

Thank you! I've been working through something similar myself, and I feel grateful to hear your thoughts about the ways we choose to treat ourselves.

a said...

You bet, Liat. We all need to help each other out! Now if I can just stay in a place where I remember this all the time...