A couple of people contacted me about my blog post yesterday regarding Chasing Numbness. I want to know more about how you stop numbing yourself. I’m struggling. Let me be very clear…..I struggle with the desire to numb. And, sometimes I still numb myself. Last week when I was feeling so down, I ate chocolate. I ate sugar. I got off my eating plan. But, I kept doing the next right thing, feeling my feelings when I could, and I came out of it……slowly but surely. Instead of the numbing behaviors lasting 6 months, they lasted 5 days. My eating binge on a scale of one to ten was a 4 instead of an 11. I didn’t lose myself in it…..I struggled. There’s a big difference.
The only way I can describe how I’ve improved is to say how I did it. It’s not something I do. It’s that I’ve become something different. My acupuncturist likes to tell me that I’m not the same person I was 7 years ago. Every cell in my body has regenerated itself, so, in reality NOTHING about me is the same. The body that could handle the stress of a crazy codependent relationship no longer exists. The cells in my body today are accustomed to serenity and peace. I AM a different person. The body I have today just can’t tolerate the abuse I used to give it years ago. And, I’m glad for it. When I can’t say no, my body will often say no to me.
When I first moved to Memphis, and I was in the midst of the worst of the chaos with my ex, I was at the height of my codependency. I saw a picture of myself. This was before Facebook, and before I even took digital pictures. I still had a camera where I sent them off to get printed. So, when I got this picture back, I was taken aback by the look in my eyes. Addicts have a deadened look in their eyes. The eyes are the windows to the soul, and when the soul is disconnected and dying on the vine, the eyes show it. I was horrified to see this deadened look in my own eyes. I wasn’t drinking. I was trying to work my recovery program on codependency, but I was dying inside. This single picture of myself, which I stored in my mind for motivation, is what started me moving forward at a more rapid pace. I knew I was in trouble.
I started doing some hard things. I started setting some boundaries. I started seeing an acupuncturist. I started to eat better and exercise with health in mind rather than trying to punish my body for overeating food. And, something began to happen. As I took care of myself….step by tiny step…..I started to get stronger. It was like a muscle that began to strengthen inside me. The stronger I got, the more I could do to take care of myself. The more I did to take care of myself, the stronger I got. The next packet of pictures that I got back, I ran to the car and immediately started shuffling through them. And, there it was. My bright, happy eyes were proof that what I was doing was working. And, eventually, I did the really hard things that I needed to do. Today, when I struggle with numbing, that’s what I do. I do ONE thing to take care of myself. Then, I do another….and another….I don’t beat myself up. I don’t try to stop doing what I’m doing. I add healthy behaviors to my day. I strengthen the good.
I’ve always loved the Wizard of Oz. As a kid, Mama didn’t want me to watch it because I would get scared and cry. It would come on television, and she says I would beg to watch it, promising that I wouldn’t cry this time. She’d relent, and I’d cry my eyes out. I don’t know what my childhood soul liked about that movie, but I know that it is full of meaning for me today. I thought this morning of how those ruby slippers remind me of the soul. Dorothy was able to put them on after they were released by wickedness and death. She had no idea of the power of those shoes. She was told that they were the ticket to freedom, and she chose to believe. At the beginning of her journey, the yellow brick road is small, and it initially curls in a tight spiral. She walks gingerly to adhere to the path and becomes more comfortable with following it until she begins the journey down the road. It’s not surprising that a brain is the first desire she picks up. I had to start using my brain to tell me where to go and what to do next. My brain led me to finding my heart. And, I could certainly never have courage to go on the journey of life without wisdom and love. There are dangers, snares, beauty and laughter along the way. The wizard gives trinkets to the characters to symbolize their hearts’ desires. The trinkets are just reminders that what they desired was within them all along. All they needed to do was to believe that they were worth it. And, when they did – they took action and trusted a power greater than themselves – they became whole. Those ruby slippers – we all have a pair….. they are all beautiful and unique….we just have to dust them off, put them on and take a long walk until they come to life. Trust your path. The people you meet and the wizard – the great and powerful – are so much greater than you can ever imagine. And you can see it in your eyes. Open them.