[Editor's note: this is a re-post from January 2011. Part 2 of a series of year-end posts I write each year. When we migrated to the new site design, all the old posts were archived.]
For as flawed as I acknowledge myself to be, I've always thought myself to be a tough ol' bird.
Looking back, it appears I handle death pretty well: only a few tears at my brother's funeral and nary a droplet at Grandpa's. I had a few snorting moments at Mom's funeral, but you try handling back-to-back funerals. Add to that singing and delivering a eulogy at Mom's funeral, and I came across as pretty strong and well received. My "emotional moments" were very justified, if a bit unprofessional.
The show must go on right?
The show can, indeed, come to a screeching halt. You can at any time throw your hand in the air, admit defeat, feel the pain, and call it quits.
You have the ability to change horses mid-stream, decide you want something different, and just up and leave.
You can walk out on your own life, if you choose.
But there's a price you have to pay, one way or another.
Something happened the other day that reminded me that for the past 20 or so years I've only been living part of my life - part of my truth, as it were.
More on that in a minute.
Matthew West's song, The Motions, is the "theme song" I selected to be my anthem for the year:
This might hurt, it's not safe, but I know I've gotta make a change.
I don't care if I break. At least I'll be feeling something.
'Cause "just okay" is not enough. Help me fight through the nothingness of life.
I searched for a word - a single word - that would encapsulate the idea of "going all in", of living my life whole-heartedly, of burning my ships and living life the way God intended for me.
I don't wanna go through the motions.
I don't wanna go one more day without your all-consuming passion inside of me.
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking "what if I had given everything instead of going through the motions?"
The word? Enthusiasm.
I wanted so much to fully live my life again. To really feel and enjoy and experience everything in the moment. I just knew that I had picked a perfect song and a perfect word.
Careful what you wish for. Because as I listened to that song one day, I became unhinged.
My new friend, Leesa Barnes, talked about the moment her hinge broke and what it meant for her. For me, the unhinging couldn't have come at a worse time: my husband's birthday.
On that day, it occurred to me that I have not been fully living my life for a good 20 years now. I've been "shoulding" on myself in ways that I didn't think really mattered.
I walked out of my own life. I wish that the price was merely a pound of flesh. Try 100 pounds. And it ain't flesh, baby. It's pure blubber.
I've had an "emotional eating issue" since childhood. It didn't really become apparent, though, until middle school. I'd say I've been struggling with it, or "dealing" with it for some time, but that would be a lie.
In fact, I've really not done much except enable it. I've kind of stood by, numb to most of the world, as anything remotely edible passed my lips in an effort to quell something that wasn't happening like it was supposed to.
Mom yelled at me? Where's the crackers?
Dad said I was putting on weight? Make a sandwich.
Date says I'm too fat to be seen in public? Have a can of soup.
Husband is non-communicative? Half a pizza should do it.
I was reading Marianne Williamson's book as the unhinging began (yes, while listening to music. I even distract myself in my distractions!).
I recognized how other people had encouraged my enabling. How other people tried to be nice when someone needed to slap my face. Not call me "fatty two tons" mind you, but wake me up to the reality that I was only symbolically insulating myself from whatever it was that was "hurting" me. Marianne was finally that person. Thank you!
When oysters get irritated, they use their body's secretions to insulate themselves from the pain and create pearls.
When Lisa gets irritated, her body takes in more food than it can handle and creates blubber to insulate herself from the pain.
Which only causes more pain (can you see the vicious cycle herein?).
So I thought, in the sake of being "enthusiastic", I'd be more mindful and really feel whatever it was that needed to be felt. To be clear, while I do eat for pain, I also eat for pleasure, so I've been avoiding BOTH for some reason.
Or should I say I WAS...
Because on that day, I made the choice to stare down the food, and figure out what it was I was REALLY feeling BEFORE I took a bite.
And that has made all the difference.
No regrets. Not THIS time. I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind, let your love make me whole.
I think I'm finally feeling something.
'Cause "just okay" is not enough. Help me fight through the nothingness of this life.
It hurt. A LOT. And I had to leave. I needed to get as far away from what I thought was causing the pain (and my refrigerator) as fast as possible. I also needed to find a way to resolve the pain. Not stuff it down or pretend it didn't exist, but to feel it, and get over it. To grieve it and ultimately be a better person for it.
So I went to the movies.
And as I sat in the theater watching The Green Hornet (in IMAX 3-D so I couldn't avoid seeing AND feeling it), I something I hadn't felt in a good 20 years or so.
I felt IT.
A feeling of youthful invincibility. That certain air of "Can't touch this" that I used to get after watching heroes save the day when I was a kid. Like I was the hero, like I was imbued with their awesomeness just by watching the show. The last time I remember really feeling that feeling was when I was a kid, watching MacGyver on TV. I totally felt like I could fix anything after watching an episode of MacGyver (have you seen what I can do with duct tape and garbage bags?).
I realized how that part of me was subrogated for this funky, quasi-professional adult version of me that wasn't anywhere near as exciting, fun, or talented as the "MacGyver me". When that me started rearing her ugly head, the pounds started layering on. And yes, it started when I was still a kid - with all the "shoulds" that took me away from becoming my MacGyver me:
- what school I should go to?
- what I should major in?
- what kind of grades I should get?
- what kind of people I should hang around with?
It dawned on me how much I want that old life again - MY life. Not to be a teenager, but to have that youthful confidence about my own skills and abilities again. To stand strong in who I am and know that I'm serving God's purpose for my life - regardless of naysayers and detractors. To stand on THAT promise, instead of the "shoulds" and "maybes" of some so-called "professional" existence.
So while I don't plan to do any coffin jet skiing any time soon, I DO plan to spend more time living in my body. Living the life God has designed in his infinite wisdom, and being THAT person again.
Sometimes calling it quits is the right thing to do.
If you need to quit something, Do it! I needed to QUIT quitting and start living.
So I am embracing my inner MacGyver, and getting back to being a badass.
You've been warned.