Day 333

10AM:

In preparation for these often-mentioned, aforementioned next phase/lines, it’s time for reflection.

Before that though, since this reflection might lead to thoughts of MISTAKES, let’s go back…

If these are not mistakes for the sake of mistakes, stumbles and falters and collapses in themselves, we can gain strength and courage and respect and love from them.

Tao of Pooh on the true nature of wisdom: “In the final section of the Tao Te Ching, Lao-tse wrote, ‘The wise are not learned; the learned are not wise.’ … From the Taoist point of view, while the scholarly intellect may be useful for analyzing certain things, deeper and broader matters are beyond its limited reach” (24).  If we gain from our mistakes, in this way, they serve to make us wise.

Universal Post-It: “Remember, we all stumble; we have to fall before we fly.”

Keeping that in mind, it was not a mistake to try intuitive eating.  What I gained and learned from the experience:

  • I like drinking an enjoyable bottle of wine, even alone, but I’ve learned not to use it for nourishment and not to do it so often
  • I can trust what others cook for me
  • Soft counting isn’t bad and small differences don’t matter – my body takes care of it
  • Sitting down and reading does not really change appetite dramatically – body self-regulates through healing faster or slower, and therefore, rest allows the body to heal faster and burn more calories in the next workout
  • The fight the urge to eat systematically or by formula might be a created fight, but fighting the urge to “eat later” needs to happen (this is not a created fight, it is a necessary one)
    • Self-consciousness comes from the perception of portion counting, not through the act of it – and it is only after trying intuition that I have learned this
  • Suicidal and thoughts of self-harm increase when I’m stressed and hungry; portion counting becomes less of a source of fear and spinning and self-consciousness when I’m full and rested enough
  • We were thinking that numbing my hunger was responsible for numbing my sex drive, but the latter has not increased since trying intuitive eating – it doesn’t appear that I’m numbing everything else, and perhaps the true culprit is overstress

Now it’s time to reflect on what we’ve learned, what I’ve gained, what will allow us to make the next steps in recovery, in reclaiming healthy.

Day 266

6PM:

These might all seem like separate things, or even worse, redundancies. Two-hundred and sixty-five days of over and over, dropping one thing and going to the next, picking up one catch phrase when it better suits and putting down an old one, or again, even worse, being redundant and repetitive and (dare I say) edu-speak-ish.

Fuck off.  That is not the case.  These ideas do all fit, they fit around recovery.

Recovery is creating an environment – through lines (structures, respecting your true nature and not shoulds, working through blacklists and exposure therapy, safeguards, routines), support systems (literary and asking for help from the warm-blooded – familial and therapeutic) and tools (regular exercise, expressing gratitude and appreciation, writing a blog, happy lists) – that starves the blackness inside, taking away its power, taking back the things it stole as flaws (taking your thoughtfulness, contemplative nature and warping it into toxic hyper-vigilance and overt control, anxiety and over-thinking, an eating disorder or alcoholism to cope and depression, low sex drive and thoughts of self-harm as a result; taking your self-awareness and bastardizing it into self-doubt and fear, whereby you run and cheat and lose your you version of you) and reclaiming them as your own beautiful, amazing and loving imperfections, and in doing so, allowing yourself to find vivid in recovery one day at a time, reclaim healthy, manifest as the you version of you, your true nature, your Uncarved Block (healthy veganism, thoughtful gentleness, IANs, creative attentiveness and loving care).

Without the breaks and brackets (and questionably avoided run-on sentence):

Recovery is creating an environment that starves the blackness inside, taking away its power, taking back the things it stole as flaws and reclaiming them as your own beautiful, amazing and loving imperfections, and in doing so, allowing yourself to find vivid in recovery one day at a time, reclaim healthy, manifest as the you version of you, your true nature, your Uncarved Block.

See, it all fits – perfectly imperfectly.

Day 250

6PM (+ some late night readings):

So, let’s talk about where we are:

  • One week in to this next stage of recovery, of reclaiming healthy
  • Eating breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Having difficulty eating snacks or eating breakfast or lunch on time (not a “should,” but because I am ignoring hunger signals in favour of eating later)
  • Still worrying a little about portion sizes, but not as much as I thought I would and when I do think about it, it is not as disordered as I think it might be (i.e. having two components at each meal, like a salad and oatmeal or pasta and fruit bowl)
  • Cooking meals is a bit of a struggle, especially when I do ignore my hunger signals in favour of eating later (which was always the case when I let myself get too hungry/too weak), but doing major cooks-for-the-week when I wasn’t hungry and having my wife cook meals the first couple of days and Mom pitching in all helped
  • The voice of the blackness has shifted to:
    1. “You feel that you are getting fatter, you see that your stomach is less defined”
    2. “You shouldn’t eat that much, you shouldn’t eat that soon, you shouldn’t be hungry yet”
  • I have had glasses of wine in the last few nights, none of which was for calorie recovery, and as such, was relaxing and enjoyable (Saturday night, the second glass was for quieting the blackness, if only for a little bit – and guess what, it didn’t work)
  • I tried coffee yesterday and while it did kick my appetite for a little while, the impact later was that I was hungrier, like I had skipped ahead from Mile 2 to Mile 5 on the hunger trail without having to feel the Miles in between (but feeling just as hungry at Mile 5 as I would have otherwise)
  • Using the tools of recovery to keep from going crazy – exercise in moderation, leaning on my support system to talk, reading – but at times of weakness, the blackness still screams through

One of those tools provided some advice about the next steps on the path of recovery, to be used for the coming days and weeks and months of reclaiming healthy: The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (or at least, the parts that speak to this – there is more that I will refer to in the coming days, I am sure).

“According to Lao-tse [author of the oldest existing book of Tao-ism], the more man interfered with the natural balance produced and governed by the universal laws, the further away the harmony retreated into the distance.  The more forcing, the more trouble. … Everything had its own nature already within it, which could not be violated without causing difficulties.  When abstract and arbitrary rules were imposed from the outside, struggle was inevitable.  Only then did life become sour” (4).

“The essence of the principle of the Uncarved Block is that things [and people] in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed … ‘things in their natural state'” (10-11).

“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun” (20).

“When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around us … then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort.  Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes.  Mistakes are made – or imagined – by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.  Not like Pooh, the most effortless Bear we’ve ever seen.  ‘Just how do you do it Pooh?’  ‘Do what?’ asked Pooh.  ‘Become so Effortless.’  ‘I don’t do much of anything,’ he said.  ‘But all those things of yours get done.’  ‘They just sort of happen,’ he said.  ‘Wait a minute.  That reminds me of something from the Tao Te Ching … “Tao does not do, but nothing is not done.” … It means that Tao doesn’t force or interfere with things, but lets them work in their own way, to produce results naturally.  Then whatever needs to be done is done'” (69-70).

My interpretation: a quiet mind, a mind at peace goes with the flow of the river, of nature; for me, this means eating when I am hungry and not eating when I am not – listening to my nature – because when I interfere with this nature, that’s when interference happens to me.  If I ignore my hunger, it makes me feel distressed, amplifies those ghosts of self-harm and makes me more vulnerable to the blackness (as was the case on Friday, when emotions got a hold of me and I cried, often and a lot).  If I restrict during the day, it leads to desires to binge at night (or at least, as was the case Saturday and yesterday, leads to much-too-derailing confusion about not feeling physically hungry at 8PM; derailing because the what ifs start, stemming from the unpredictability and uncertainty, which is probably a less physical but just as loud and telling a sign of hunger – it is just less certain for my re-learning hunger/reclaiming healthy brain).  A little interference by me against my nature, a little interference in return from the universe.  No interference by me against my nature, my body will figure things out.  It will tell me if I am hungrier today, if I ate less yesterday.  It will tell me if I am less hungry today, if I ate more yesterday.  My nature will tell me if my physiology will require more food, if it is going through things that mean it needs more nourishment or if it doesn’t need as much that day. Trying to interfere with something natural – controlling the river – that’s the too many/bold lines that caused my colour to struggle against these lines over the past month.  Don’t get me wrong, because it is not time to throw everything out (the proverbial baby with the bath water).  The harsher lines (yes, interference) were needed before to counteract the even larger disruptions of the blackness and disordered behaviour, but it is only because these latter disruptions were interfering with my soul – now, they are not needed to the same degree.  This is not an immediate call to Zen or to find my inner Uncarved Block (the proverbial running before I can walk – or even roll over by myself, as the case may be), just a step on the path a few ahead of where we are.  For now, the harsher lines caused my vividness to suffer and the friction of that struggle threw the blackness into the front seat and me into the darkness. So going with the flow of the river, means no distress, no bingeing, no hurtful thoughts, just peace?  Accepting my nature with food, listening to my nature, will lead to realigning my nature with the other things (sex, love, sadness, rock and roll)?

For a Bear of Very Little Brain, you are a wise one Pooh Bear.  There is serenity in knowing that the thing that gave you comfort at age 3 still has the power to do so a quarter of a century later.

Day 243

10AM:

Three days into this and there is definitely doubt – especially because of the length at which we have been existing in this stage of recovery, the one that needed the portion control, the calorie counting, the external voice to keep me in line.  Doubt brought on by my wife putting herself in another careless, thoughtless situation last night with drinking and work and neglecting her home-life, her whole life, her life of intention.  Not doubt of her, but doubt brought on by the stress of staying up all night waiting anxiously for her to come home safe.  Doubt brought on by a soul less powerful today to fight off the blackness.  Doubt that has questioned and will now question every fucking food decision, constantly: Too much? Not enough? Waited too long? Should have waited longer?  Doubt that analyzes every time a piece of food enters my mouth.

That doubt says maybe I need a plan to follow for eating – maybe that’s just me, needing some sort of organization.  Maybe I can’t be eating “willy-nilly?”

But wouldn’t this still be restricting, be suppressing emotions, which we think is what killed the other emotions (sex, love, sadness, rock and roll)?  Wouldn’t this be perpetuating the dulling of my soul, as opposed to reclaiming its beauty?

That doubt says why not keep the portion counting and set breakfast, lunch, pre-dinner and post-dinner = fuel the brain enough throughout the day to fight the blackness that screams loudly when I am hungry (e.g. suicidal thoughts, self-harm, self-doubt, self-inflicted pain, guilt, and all the other dwarfs who missed out on Disney).

However, to the point made yesterday, those lines are old lines, too bold for the me version of me, too solid for these colours of my soul.  Quell the short-term anxiety for long-term harm?  That doesn’t sound like what brave, strong and smart bears do.

And what would you do about activity levels?  Regimented eating is one thing, but to truly “do this right,” you’d have to regiment movement, stress levels, activity duration and strenuousness, sleep times… (get the point).  Dealing with the movement anxieties of “not sitting down because it isn’t compensated for naturally” (as it would if I just ate, like the new stage of recovery suggests) prevents calmness of mind and soul, feeds the perfectionistic qualities, brings out the flawed nature of my obsessive imperfections.

That doubt says today – given how hard things are setting up to be with home stresses, crappy sleep, potential for restriction as a result of both (just because hunger has had a hard time speaking through these before, not an intentional restriction), Summer School midterms to turn around in less than 18 hours (assuming sleep isn’t a priority…) – maybe today I count, I take it out of the context of yesterday and the context of tomorrow and I pick up the calorie/portion counting for one day.  I can’t get out of control for one day…

If I can get through today, if we can get through today, on Day 3, not taking a sabbatical…  I have always been too stupid to fall down, to know when to give up, forever tilting at windmills because I’d rather find the giant among them.  But this is more than that, getting through today will give us strength.  It will embolden us and more importantly for me, it will embolden her.  Show her that when times are tough, she does love, and MOST importantly, she does care.  Stay the course.

That doubt says I have felt bloated over the last three days, and I don’t think it’s the blackness talking.

That is anxiety fucktard!  It probably always existed and you just ignored it because while the cause was unknown, the intake was known (used to tell the blackness that I couldn’t get fat, because the intake was regular, regimented, controlled).

I’m scared.  I need to record these because even though they aren’t real, they are real to me, right now.  I know that these are just fears and that these fears and anxieties are temporary (but I’m an overachiever — and I really want it to stop) and that I need to focus on the positives (like the fact that I haven’t had a desire to binge at any point during the day, except yesterday between lunch and early-dinner when I waited too long – but the voice stopped when I ate reasonably, turning off the demon that screams in times of restriction) and have faith.

I know these things because of my grandfather who emailed me within minutes of me asking for advice.  I know these things because of my beautiful wife, who (yesterday, before the carelessness) in a step on her recovery of the her version of her, reminded me that maybe (just maybe) these anxieties are because I’m not at my appropriate weight and that will fluctuate when I accept my hunger, my feelings, my emotions = evidence of care.  Even after last night, that is what I want to believe in – the unicorns, the penguins and her.  That is her reclaiming healthy, being my support system, holding my hand as we walk this path of recovery together.

And suddenly, I’m not as scared anymore, even though the path ahead seems dark.

Day 242

10AM:

Lessons of relearnings:

No juice to start, I fucking hate juice.  Seems stupid to waste all that pulp – it can’t be very nutritious if you’re throwing it out!  And I like my morning routine of a big glass of water, pot of tea and ensuing “nature’s course.”  I like it.

[goes to show and it is safe to extrapolate that what’s “healthy” – juicing, portion counting, portion control – may not be healthy for me]

If I don’t eat breakfast early enough, I will have to fight off (or suffer through?  shouldn’t be fighting it off) hunger until lunch (or have an ill-timed snack in between)

Feelings of bloat will continue to lead to feelings of gloat (from the blackness, that is – oh fuck, it was fierce today; mustn’t like it getting an eviction notice).  I don’t know if losing weight scares me, or that the anxieties around not knowing if growing or slowing.  That uncertainty is tough to deal with (but also are thoughts of self-harm and suicide, aren’t they – and those have been present too much, too often recently).

Cheerios stem from Habitating Family Friend, so that can’t be bad, since it’s about love…

I use the term relearning, because that’s what it is.  Reclaiming healthy is relearning.  But it is learning.  On we go…

Day 239

Plan of Attack:

Prioritize vegan and healthy, the true colours of my soul

Juice — Breakfast — Lunch — Dinner (Snacks as needed, which will be the tougher part out of all this, listening to my hunger cues to determine if I need to eat something between Lunch and Dinner, or after Dinner to “touch up” the day [which should be much more manageable than playing catch up at the end of the day with the massive meal])

At the three meals, hit four of the six vegan food groups (dividing fibrous vegetables into greens and non-greens) to ensure that I am combining the two colours of veganism and healthy – thank you Thrive Foods and Brendan Brazier for the graphic:

Vegan Food Pyramid Graphic

Also at the three meals, making sure that one of the four is from the healthy fats section (this may change given its placement on the above graphic – which is more for visual purposes than anything – but it is a hang-up of mind, a remaining blacklist item that I want to make sure I quash early and often)

If cooking these meals becomes too difficult, anxiety-inducing, etc., we will look at getting pre-prepped stuff (Whole Foods, your prices be damned!!!)

No coffee or booze, at least for the first couple of weeks – they are appetite killers for me, things I’ve used in the past to ignore my hunger cues and I want to get firmly entrenched in this new system before I reintegrate them

No weighing myself or my food (I can’t wait to destroy those fucking scales!)

Use the tools we have developed, those mechanisms to fight the blackness – use them willfully, intentionally and without hesitation to battle the urge to move too much, the urge to hurt myself, the urge to portion control or predict, the urge to make my imperfections into flaws, the urge to not be the version of me that we know is there and screaming to come out

My girl, my beautiful wife, will be crucial in keeping an eye on me, making sure the lines are appropriate, my safeguard, my love (and she will bring me home one meal a day – I can’t wait!!!!)

Let hunger cues be my guide, let resting cues be my guide and trust that my support system will help me along this next step in recovery (I will need to prepare them for this, so they are ready for this and may take a day or two).

This is reclaiming healthy, this is progress on the path of recovery, this is a continuation of my soul’s awakening and growth, a vividness that we seek.

Day 233

MUCH TOO LATE:

I found this a little while back and have been meaning to write about it: http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/18-quotes-on-food-and-health-that-will-make-you-think

Most of all, the following quotes:

6. “Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.”
― Norman Cousins, “Anatomy of an Illness”
I and my support system know myself, know how to help and how to heal when listened to, when the blackness is not listened to.  I spent a couple of sleepless hours searching through someone else’s blog, going through a year of their life searching for hope and finding only another step in their path, a stumble at the end (one that I know they will pick themselves up from, that they will learn from, that they will be inspired from and progress from).  I should be looking at me…
3. “And dieting, I discovered, was another form of disordered eating, just as anorexia and bulimia similarly disrupt the natural order of eating. “Ordered” eating is the practice of eating when you are hungry and ceasing to eat when your brain sends the signal that your stomach is full. … All people who live their lives on a diet are suffering. If you can accept your natural body weight and not force it to beneath your body’s natural, healthy weight, then you can live your life free of dieting, of restriction, of feeling guilty every time you eat a slice of your kid’s birthday cake.”
― Portia de Rossi, “Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain”
At this point, the eating system of portion control is a form of disordered eating.  At one point it wasn’t; it was a support system, a supportive system.  Now, though… it is causing me to want out.  The stressors of my life – the constant state of counting portions or calories and killing off the parts of me that want to talk to my appetite, my hunger for food and sex and love and passion, my heart – this is disordered.  The confines, the dimensions in which the system of portions resides are no longer doing their job.  They are giving the flaws in my personality (obsessiveness, hypervigilance, overthinking) room to bash my brains in, turning these beautiful imperfections into tragic flaws.  I could be poetic and say the blackness has learned how to battle me here, but I think it has to do more with me.  This is not who I am.
2. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
― Hippocrates
I’ve bemoaned the man in the past, but here, he has a point.  Medicine and food are interrelated in the same way that exercise or taking care of yourself are medicines.  Right now, medicine is not my food, food is connected to fear, to self-hate, to avoidance, to blackness.  It needs to stop.
In speaking to a very wise individual, I have begun to understand that I am better.  I am more whole than I was seven years ago when I left the hospital at 135 pounds.  I am more whole when the world spun out of control and I lost 25 pounds at my first teaching job.  I am more whole than last year when my wife cheated on me.  I am more whole than I was 233 days ago, before I started writing every day.  I am more whole and therefore, I am more colourful.  My current issues with the confines of the portion-controlled system have more to do with me, not the blackness learning to battle, learning to use my tools against me.  It is because there is more colour in me, more passion, more connection to my soul, more care, more acknowledgement of love.
As such, the lines around me might need to soften and the dimensions of life expand, to ensure that I stay balanced, to ensure that I am the me version of me that I know is there.  This is what happened when we instituted the cheat meals (the uncounted portions) and when we moved more to portion counting than calories counting and when we explored the blacklist.  Just as these softened this lines, we will do it again, because that degree of softening is no longer enough – no longer enough for the soul that I have revealed and embraced and now, cherish.  It is time to let that colour become vivid.  I might need to trust myself to know when to eat and when to stop, to trust myself to be in control as opposed to an external system of eating (which had its benefits in the path of recovery, but as I said, are no longer supports, they are confines), even though I feel like I’ve forgotten how to do so.  That is scary, that I’ve forgotten.  I might need to trust my support system to keep an eye on me while I do it, just in case I take the plunge and falter.  I might to ask a lot of myself, if not too much.  I might need to be braver than I am, stronger than I am and smarter than I am, letting Winnie the Pooh be my guide.
These are only thoughts, only colours.  Tomorrow comes the lines.  Tomorrow, the VIVID will fight back against the blackness.