On being human

Sitting in the airport, waiting for my flight and sticking my entire hand into my coffee cup to get the foam from my soy latte, I’m experiencing some pretty judgmental stares from my fellow travelers. Seriously, how do you get out your foam, people? For real. I’m not going to leave the perfectly good, delicious foamy remnant of my coffee drink that I drank much too quickly. This way, I can pretend that I savored it slowly–still enjoying it fifteen minutes later!

Anywhoooo, I have to say this one is a bit difficult. That openness, honesty thing? Difficult. Sometimes, I like to pretend that I’m not human, because to be human is to be imperfect. When I was in high school I did a really good job of pretending to be perfect: I made the best grades, took the hardest classes, had a part time job, modeled on the side, was a student athlete and the president of every club. On the outside, I was golden–envied by my peers and lauded by my teachers. I convinced everyone, and on good days could even trick myself.

But I’m not perfect. To pretend to be is disingenuous, to try to be is perilous. This blog is about health, yet I am not removed from my struggles to be healthy. In this way, in being real and open and honest, I hope others can be encouraged. It’s ok to drop the facade, and in fact impossible to heal and grow when we’re clinging desperately to a false image of ourselves. I still struggle with food, with body image, with compulsive eating. One bad choice can lead to another and another, spiraling me into darkness. On the other hand, one good choice can break me from my weakening chains and lead to several weeks of freedom.

To be human is to be imperfect. I am learning to be healed, to embrace healing. Sometimes it is scary, and it is always hard. The other night I ended my journal entry with “I am still struggling,” and then realized that to struggle is to fight. Because I struggle, I have not given up, and I will not. I’ve entitled this a pilgrimage, and that is exactly what it is: a journey with hardships, joys, struggles, and happiness along the way. It is discouraging to fail. It is hard to pick myself up, to wage war against the chemicals in my body and the lies of the deceiver. It isn’t a question of willpower, which I think many people don’t realize. It is bigger than willpower, the forces waging are not simple and easily controlled.

My pilgrimage continues.

How do you stop a bad choice from becoming a series of bad choices? What good choices lead to good days for you?

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2 thoughts on “On being human

  1. You stuck a chord there. I used to be a model student and obedient daughter. And learned very late in life that I need to make mistakes and know that its ok to be imperfect.

  2. Compulsive eating, binge eating, it sucks. Really—I feel so helpless when I do it. Powerless, shameful, guilty, disgusting, fat. And I never want to feel like that, ever. I want to be healthy—but in the moment, when my brain and body are screaming for me to fall into old habits and eat, eat, eat to release endorphins and soothe something within me . . . it’s hard, almost impossible, to say no.

    I can’t rely on self-control in the moment, because that control doesn’t come through. I have to rely on chemical changes in my brain so that those impulses don’t come. What else raises my endorphin levels without feelings of shame and helplessness? Exercise. Spending time with my friends. Laughing. Spending time with God. My brain chemistry needs to change—and I’ve been researching, and methods involve cutting out certain components. But that smells of restriction, and my body and brain are perceptive. Whenever my body thinks that I’m going to restrict it, my brain goes into survival mode and prompts a binge. My body still doesn’t trust me completely, though I treat it so well now with abundant good food, rest, and exercise. Some memories ingrained in the flesh and take longer to forget, I suppose.

    Blech. I started this blog for healing, but it’s so hard to be vulnerable and open in the moment. Looking to the past, it’s easy. It’s easy to say—I used to struggle with this, but not anymore. I’m healed now, that was in my past. Here’s what I did to be healed, and here’s how you can too. What about when I’m in the midst of a messy pilgrimage, and haven’t figured it out yet? What then? I feel ashamed to let others know that I’m struggling . . . I still prefer the façade of perfection, even though that façade is dangerous and deceptive because it makes other people think they’re supposed to be perfect too.

    I’ve come a long way, this I know. I trust in God’s goodness and love, and ability to heal me completely. When I look at my journey, I see such progress. And that is what I need to hold onto—not failures, or foibles, but successes.

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