It all started with a piece of chocolate cake.
I have this lovely, wonderful friend. We’ll call her Darla. She and I meet pretty much every week for a meal. And because I’m pretty much always living on the edge financially, she graciously pays for our weekly meals together. We revisit the topic occasionally because I fear I am taking advantage of her generosity. The conversation ends with Darla lovingly reassuring me our friendship means more to her than the price of the weekly meal.
So, this past June we were at that quaint little restaurant in the South Valley, Copper Canyon Cafe. Just saying the name is fun. I saw this amazing picture of a slice of chocolate cake in the menu, and, well, it was that time in the month where this girl can especially crave chocolatey goodness.
I asked Darla if she minded if I got the chocolate cake. And what I meant when I asked if she minded, was did she mind me adding the somewhat extravagant cost of dessert in a restaurant. Her reply was that chocolate cake was only empty calories. I was taken back. Darla has not really ever been judgey with me on my diet or weight. A couple times she’s made a healthful comment, but nothing as straight forward as the “chocolate cake is only empty calories” comment. I was honestly offended. And ordered the cake. (Which sadly didn’t live up to the decadence the picture promised.)
The following week I made some “jokes” (passive-aggressive comments) about her claiming chocolate cake was merely empty calories. Darla is gentle and gracious and more on the serious side, and she didn’t quite seem to know what to make of my “jokes.” She responded that she was just wanting to be my accountability partner as she’s heard me talk about my desire to eat healthier and lose weight.
She was right. Now I was the one taken back. I had talked to her often about my plan to start changing my diet and get more aggressive on exercise. But I had planned that to occur after I moved into a less expensive apartment that I thought would allow me greater financial freedom to purchase more healthful foods like fruits, vegetables, etc. The move had not worked out, so, I wasn’t saving money. So, I wasn’t really accountable for that plan anymore, was I?
As I pondered these questions, I felt the Lord bring a rather graphic illustration to mind. In an earlier stage of life, I had fallen in love with a cocaine addict, and after watching him in his addiction for six months – and realizing I probably wouldn’t die with that first line of powder…. I joined him in that addiction.
And me joining him in his addiction actually came out of me hearing him speak of wanting to quit the drug. Of course there’s a bit more to that story, but the thing I learned in our years together was that occasionally he talked of wanting to quit the drug. What I came to realize was he never actually meant to quit. Just occasionally his conscience tugged on him, so he talked about quitting the drug till his guilt passed I suppose.
And I felt the Lord say to me, that what I did in talking about cleaning up my diet and getting more proactive on an exercise regime, was just the same thing as my ex did when he talked about quitting coke. My ex never really meant it, he never actually meant to go through with getting clean. And the Holy Spirit completely called me out that all I was doing with my talk of cleaning up my diet and increasing exercise was only a weak-hearted attempt at exorcising my guilt.
I lashed back at the Lord – That’s so harsh! How can you compare my diet and exercise to his cocaine addiction?!
But, haven’t I said for a year that I know food is my final major addiction? (Okay, I can’t talk about the Netflix thing quite yet.) I’ve known for a year, well, really two, that food is the last big hide out for addictive behavior in my life. Okay, yes, it is also coupled with Netflix, but, well, right now the Netflix is not such an issue that I need to proactively work on. Mostly it’s something for me to joke about.
Look, here’s the good news and if you don’t know me or my story, perhaps a bit scary news. I’m clean from cocaine for ten years. I’m clean from abusing prescription medications for eight years. I’m clean from cigarettes for four years. And there’s actually more than that – seven years this fall since the last time I checked myself into the psychiatric ward because I was having yet another melt down that left me incapable of dealing with my life.
I’ve come a long way. I’ve accomplished a lot. I no longer fantasize about killing myself. Seriously, that’s such a big improvement for me. I’m working a regular full time job and I’m not even allowing myself to go for FMLA right now, because honestly, I don’t trust myself to not take advantage of the ability to call off more. What I’m trying to say there is I’m doing better on attendance, because I do have various health and mood struggles.
And here it gets back to the real. I do struggle with mood. I do struggle with health. And because of those very struggles, I feel that I more than most NEED to eat clean, need to move and exercise and strengthen my body.
And I don’t necessarily want to do this. I mean, you know how it is, at moments and points, I WANT to….but I really love to sleep, and honestly, I don’t know that I ever get so much sleep that I WANT to get up. Okay, again, the point being, it’s always going to be a level of sacrifice for me to choose to get up 30-45 minutes earlier to intentionally exercise.
Then, on the food side. Well, every screaming, childish tendency in my flesh comes full-bore on when I begin to consistently work on what I put in my mouth. So, I think I should write about it. Writing is part of my healthy coping. It’s part of who I am and what I absolutely know God has called me to do.
So, I’m going to write about the different fits and the “logic” of illogical rationales I battle through on making these healthful changes.
I think I should tell you about it. Because I figure there’s others out there like me. Or like me in part. Maybe you can get inspired because you aren’t as messed up as I am. Maybe you can look at me and say, goodness gracious, no, I never struggled with such miserable, down and out addictions as you girl! And then you can say, well, gosh, if that girl could go after it, I certainly can!
Or maybe you are more like me, and you think, goodness, how could I ever tackle that giant? Or any of your giants. They can seem so big. The things that stop us. The things that hold us back. The giants we’d really just prefer to never acknowledge, and stay with our heads tucked neatly in the sands of denial.
It’s sorta funny, in a not ha ha way, but all these other addictions I had, nobody knew unless I told them really, and mainly I didn’t tell. Nobody knew I dreamed up elaborate suicide fantasies. And really even with the coke and the prescription medication abuse, not even my doctors or friends really knew. Well, with the prescription meds, I just wouldn’t let myself know it was a problem for so long. Even when I gave all my meds to my dad to dose me, because finally the smallest part of me could finally acknowledge I didn’t trust myself not to change the dosing, even then I still didn’t REALLY believe I had a problem with prescription drugs, not like other people had problems with them.
So, all these addictions that in many ways were hidden and I’ve faced down….but the weight has never been a secret. But there’s so much tied up in that. And that’s some of what I want to write about and explore. How my value is not based on my weight or shape. How I have to keep saying to myself, I am beautiful NOW and not WHEN I lose more weight or get toned. That the interior of my soul and the price God paid for it is what makes me valuable and beautiful.
But weight and shape aren’t the primary reasons for me to take on this journey. It’s simply the next step of Jen’s Jesus Journey, the next piece in my recovery walk, the next place for me to rise up.
But, that’s really quite enough for this blog, eh? Stay tuned happy readers for more details and insights and hopefully some giggles and some hope for all of us. 🙂