If writing is much about discipline as it is creativity, then it requires writing constantly despite the feeling or lack thereof. That’s an interesting balance for me because I have in the past pushed myself and ignored my feelings. I have pushed through pain in sports and hunger in my eating disorder.
I remember sunny afternoons, forcing myself to run through the neighborhoods in the valley behind my high school. My M.O. was to push myself on, despite the valid protests, because I must be skinny.
I used to think there was a “place of there,” and that whenever I got to where that place was, I would then be able to finally relax. Everything would be perfect, and all the noise would stop, and I would be happy. Even writing that now makes me want to chide myself, oh poor self, poor little naive self. But honestly, that is what I believed.
I believed in a magical world of ever after, and once I got there, then I’d be happy.
What I discovered was that success breed’s success, as they say. To my dismay I discovered that there wasn’t an end. When I got to that “skinny” place I’d held out in front of me as my carrot, there was no magical land of peace and rest. The noise in my head didn’t stop.
In fact, the pressure was even worse to maintain this new stick body because it was fragile and always on the verge of fleeting, of morphing back into the old me, weight clinging its fingers around my thighs, wrapping its palms around my hipbones I had grown to like it plain view. “Success” bred more: there was more pressure to maintain. There was more at stake because now, if I relaxed, there was all my “progress” to loose.
When I first started the diet that morphed into my eating disorder it had begun as a happy goal. I’d been motivated and excited, looking forward to getting in shape. It had been fun, that summer, accomplishing things before my eyes- Watching the little pooch under my swimsuit shrink flat as my skin gleamed a warm shade of almond, the tan lines crisscrossing along my back like a fractured road map. I felt happy under the warm sun at the pool I worked, felt free under the expansive blue sky, my hair streaking seven shades of blond.
But as summer came to a folding close, a new page flipped in its wake, and overnight my healthy way of eating was no longer fun. Sure, I had my almond tan and my teeth shone like polished pearls in my school ID card, but I had swam too far from shore and soon I would be drowning. Soon it would become a task that mastered me, that forced me to run around the valleys behind my school. It was something I had to do to keep sane. Suddenly, almost overnight, I had everything to lose.
Perhaps it’s a bit annalistic to think of the world in terms of gain or loss, but such became my world, and it took a number of years to get my head on straight again. But here’s the thing.
That one issue we have is never just that one issue. Whether we like it or not, it is bleeding into everything else we do in our lives. Issues arise from squewed thinking and if our thinking is at fault we better bet that those same thoughts and beliefs bleed into other aspects of our lives.
It would be like tipping over cans of white and red paint. There is nothing to keep the RED paint (our skewed thinking) from bleeding into the white paint (our healthy thoughts).
#1 We probably want to find the red paint thoughts/beliefs,
#2 identify them, and
#3 find out how and where they bleed.
Ok, let’s get back to the my skewed gain/loss thought. Sure, the more we “have” in life, the more we stand to lose. It’s clear to see that my injuries would be exponentially worse if I fell from a mountain than an anthill. But where is the challenge if I only do the things that are easy, if I fail to stretch myself beyond my sense of comfort, beyond what I’ve done in my past?
Change and growth only happen if we refuse to keep repeating our past. It reminds me of what a friend told me the other day. They said, “Wow. Think about us a year ago, two years ago. Back then we had no idea how to do the things we are doing now.”
Truth. Most of the things I am currently involved in I had absolutely no idea how to do 2 years ago. And you know what- I figured them out. I also met a number of amazing people who supported me, helped me, taught me, and worked with me. And I am definitely grateful.
I’m in the middle of climbing my mountain and yes, it’s tiring and yes, it feels sometimes like I crawl along like a snail. The there are other times where I stop mid-climb, secure my feet along a small mountain ledge, and lean back into my mountain. I examine my arms, the muscles taught from pulling my weight. My hands contain little round calluses like baby moons. The wind sweeps against my eyelashes. Below me, the village I came from spreads through the valley like pepper flakes. I smile at the view because I am high above, inching my way up, towards the blue sky.
But I know that none of this would be possible if I had not risked the climb, if I had not set off into the unknown with nothing more than my hope that it was possible.
I would like to always live my life with things to gain, but lots and lots to lose.
May we all move forward, up our own mountains, into the unknown beauty of our potential, remembering to take glimpses back and appreciate how far we have already come.