The bad experiences don’t help break bad habits, bad habits that are brought on by the blackness, bad habits that the blackness uses to turn beautiful imperfections into cancerous, soul-eating flaws. To clarify this latter poetic ramble, my thoughtfulness and desire to be active have been warped by my blackness into bad habits: obsessing over counting portions and calories, not being able to sit down without shame and getting into the habit of working through meals. My blackness distorts my thoughtfulness into over-thinking, hyper-vigilance and thoughts of self-harm to stop thinking so fucking much. These bad habits are reflections of these flaws, distorting the “me” version of me and taking me away from my trueness and nature, my ease, making it harder to breath. I am not the only one who struggles with this, finds it hard to reclaim imperfections from the blackness.
Regaining these from the blackness, breaking these bad habits by regaining our imperfections, there is a section in Tao of Pooh about it. About imperfections v. flaws: “Sooner or later, we are bound to discover some things about ourselves that we don’t like. But once we see they’re there, we can decide what we want to do with them. Do we want to get rid of them completely, change them into other things, or use them in beneficial ways? The last two approaches are often especially Useful, … they allow those transformed characteristics to be added to the list of things we have that help us out” (58-59). My thoughtfulness is an imperfection, in so much as it causes me to over-think sometimes. I accept this part of me and I love it. But the blackness dug deep inside to screw these imperfections into flaws, turning this over-thinking into something self-harming and abusive and reinforcing bad habits to make for damn sure that they stayed. Breaking these bad habits – therefore – is not just about reclaiming healthy, regaining your imperfections, but also about accepting these imperfections as beautiful parts of you.
But back to my point, while bad experiences may be the impetus or the motivation (that one-too-many, the fight, the doctor’s scare, the crying husband), breaking bad habits is about the good experiences. Good experiences keep you going along the path, that light up the darkness ahead. Saying, “I’m doing this,” is Day 0. It is the bad experience impetus, the second before the starter’s pistol, the (to abuse a metaphor from Lao Tzu, the Taoist philosopher) moment right before you look down at your feet, deciding to take the “one step” that will begin the “journey of a thousand miles.” Day 1 is getting past the bad experience and taking the first step in that thousand mile recovery journey: the first uncounted portion of food; the first snack indulged in (even if it is two apples, to quiet the obvious mental hunger); the first night drinking socially, not emotionally; the first “smoke break” that is not taken; the first time you come home to worrisome husband and calm his nerves. These are steps on the path.
So while my recovery stems from the guilt, the weight loss, the isolation, the mental and psychological anguish, these are not steps, they are bad experiences, they happen on Day 0. They are not going to break my bad habits, but motivations they are. Steps for me (aside from the obvious aforementioned ones) are being able to gloat about an awesome vegan lunch, looking in the mirror and realizing I don’t care or that I don’t want to run to the scale to “check” (still waiting for these), tasting food innocently given to me by a child or made by a loved one. These are the good experiences that keep me going along the path, these are steps on the path to reclaiming my imperfections from the blackness by breaking the bad habits is has bestowed upon me.
Breaking bad habits, one day at a time, reclaiming beautiful imperfections from the blackness, they do not start at the bad experience, the impetus, the Day 0. Breaking bad habits starts here – with action and care and try and courage.