When Emotional Eating Is Not An Option

6 years ago

I've been fortunate enough to have had very little stress in my life over the last three years. That's not to say there haven't been difficult times, but overall my daily life is mercifully low-maintenance. That is, until a few months ago.

I'm now dealing with a situation that brings a pretty intense level of ongoing stress and frustration into my life. Out of respect for those who are involved in the situation, I'm going to take a page from Jen's book and leave out names and details. It isn't fair for me to tell my side of the story when the opposing view doesn't have the same opportunity to explain his/her/their side of the story. You'll have to take my word for it when I tell you things just aren't as easygoing as I'd like for them to be right now.

And therein lies my problem. In my past life, I had a method for dealing with these kinds of things. It was called "cookie dough." In my new life, that ain't an option. It just isn't. So where does that leave me? Sitting in my car with my forehead against the steering wheel sobbing and the music turned up as loud as I can get it because when the music gets to a certain volume, it finally overpowers my imagination and gives my mind a break. My anxiety fades as the song lyrics crowd my own thoughts out of my mind and I start to feel numb. It's a relief. A moment when I just don't. have. to. think. But what I realized today is that I can't just sit in my car forever and rely on ear-splitting music to solve my problems. An ongoing attempt to self-medicate in this way will only lead to a) people in parking lots looking at me like a crazy, and b) deafness.

In my not-so-instantly-successful attempts to make this situation better, I've been praying because it's the only other thing I know to do. Not complicated prayers, just prayers like "Lord, what I'd really like to do right now is bury my face in a red velvet cake and make this all go away. Please help me. No, actually that's a lie Lord. I also want to bury my neck, shoulders and torso in the cake. Wait... maybe i meant queso.. That'd be good too. Or maybe you could give me a boyfriend. I'd also accept a boyfriend. I could run into his arms at the end of the day and cry my little eyeballs out and he could just hug away my sorrows and make it all OK again. Yeah, I'd take a boyfriend -if you just happen to have an extra just sitting around-, Lord."

Not surprisingly, a magical boyfriend hasn't appeared out of nowhere, and I haven't been able to actuallyconvince myself that cake and/or queso are the answers to my problems. But there was a Psalm that seemed to be in my face every time I turned around in the last week. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." It's a nice thought, but it wasn't really helping me out much.

And then last night, things changed. I got to babysit for a dear friend of mine who has two little boys. One of them is only 9 months, and he is the sunshine in my world. When that little chunk looks up at me and grins with all four of his tiny little teeth, my heart just melts like butter. Anyway, I was in the backyard playing with him in the grass, and he became totally obsessed with my ankles. He thought they were great. Just fantastic... every time he reached out to touch my ankles he would throw back his little head and laaaaaaaaugh and laugh and squeal as though ankles were the root of all comedic genius. As I watched him slap at my ankles with his fat little fingers, I finally had my "AH-HA!" moment.

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

Ok, I get it now, Lord. Thy word is not ten-thousand brilliant halogen lamps illuminating the perfectly paved road to success and happiness.

It's a lamp. For my feet. A light. For my path.

If I were to put a lamp near my feet, I wouldn't be able to see very far. Just enough to dodge anything dangerous that was immediately in front of me. Just enough to take the very next step, then the next, then the next. One little movement at a time, always without knowing what the future really holds. Paths, by definition, are generally narrow and littered with challenges. They aren't well-traveled, nor are they particularly predictable. A light on a path will help you determine whether you're still headed in the right direction, but it won't eliminate the possibility of difficulties.

I'm trying so hard to be in control of my situation, and there's no way I can do that. It's an exercise in futility.

Baby chunkster has it right, and I have it all wrong. Instead of focusing on all the hundreds of things that I can't change and being in a semi-constant state of misery, I need to just look down and remember to be excited that I have ankles; and that I have feet attached to my ankles; and that all I have to do is move forward with those feet one step at time. Getting hurt or angry when things don't go my way is a result of putting far too much emphasis on my own self-importance and on my need to understand what my future holds. But getting joy? That's a result of moving forward through the day one teensy step at time and being thankful for the light that helps me discern where to step next. One moment at a time.

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