Have you ever seen a spider suspended in mid-air, as if it’s the next Great Houdini; except, this time, magic is for real because there really is nothing there? Then, you look a little closer. I gossamer line catches the light, and you realize the spider is hanging from a single strand of web. Sailing through the air, tethered to this fragile string, the spider goes where the breeze takes it, waiting for the perfect spot to land.
I feel like that spider right now.
This week, I approached my weekly weigh-in with a mulligatawny mix of hope, patience, and resentment. Would the needle go down or stay there, stuck, hanging like that spider? I’ve lost only 5 pounds in the last two months. That darn needle hasn’t budged much, and I’m all twisted up about that. Here’s some of the thoughts I’ve had in the last two months….
Stupid needle! Why am I doing this anyway? 100 pounds in 1 year? Yeah, right!
Be patient. This is what a plateau looks like. I bet if I just stay steady, keep doing what I know to do, then this weight will fall off.
But I want to lose weight nowwwwww (My little brat inside throws a tantrum and I contemplate visiting the McDonald’s drive-thru. Maybe a cheap kids’ toy would shut her up.)
Anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight can relate to my reactions. They’re the breezes of life, blowing us in one direction or another; just like the winds that blow the spider along on her spiderweb sail.
My question today: do I let my reactions blow me into uncharted territory and wait for the perfect place to land, or do I drop anchor and stop right here?
It’s true that I’ve already come so far. I’ve lost 56 pounds. I feel strong, lean, and beautiful, like the real me. Why not take a break and enjoy the new me?
I also believe that God/The Universe/Elvis (you pick) has more in store for me. Losing all this weight has lifted a heavy burden; I’ve tasted the promise of an abundant life, but there’s more. Abundance — by definition — is not just enough. It’s more than enough. There is still more for me, if I want it.
The truest truth, however, runs underneath all my reactions, like an underground aquifer that never quits flowing, even when I’m stuck in traffic, hungry as heck, and can’t even remember there’s a river only 20 feet beneath me. When I contemplate whether to stop here, or keep going with my weight loss journey, I hear a truth underneath all my reactions. The truest truth is that I can choose either direction. Both are right. There is no wrong reaction, no bad choice. All of these breezes blow me to the perfect place because they all lead me to who I really want to be: the real me.
This has been a hard lesson to learn. Most of my life, I’ve approached living like I’ve tried dieting; with a desperation to discover and do that One Right Path that will make the weight fall off or all the badness go away. My pursuit has always come at the expense of my confidence. After all, if there is a One Right Path, and I’m off it now, then I must have made wrong choices.
Maybe not, though. What if all my choices have been perfectly right all along? Perfect — not in the sense of the One, Right Path — but perfect as in exactly what I needed at the time.
For example, I gained over fifty pounds while my depression went undiagnosed as Bi-Polar II. I ate junk food and wore a couch pillow for a hat most of the time. I was a mess. But I was alive. All that eating served as a pressure valve to keep me exploding from all that pain. In a way, I can now pat my belly and say, “Thanks for keeping me alive.”
Seeing all my choices as valid — even the ones that helped me gain weight — is empowering. This level of acceptance gives me space to be; permission to have gained weight back then and to lose that weight now. Erasing all of the black and white feels powerful. I am smudging the judgment into a new picture of forgiveness and acceptance. I can undo all the shame I’ve carried for being obese. I no longer want to hide because there is no mistake or blemish to cover up. There is only me; in all my forms; in all my ways.
Still, warning lights go off in my conscience. First, there’s the part of me that prefers a One Right Path because discovering that path would make me valid; like being part of an exclusive club. Part of me wants to be set apart, to feel special. Believing that all my choices are O.K. feels like watering-down my specialness. If all my choices are valid, then nothing matters; nothing stands out. How do I stand out then? How do I feel special? I want my choices to matter because I want to matter.
To all that, I say, Yes and Amen. It is my right to matter, as it is everyone’s. It is our purpose. The simplest way to answer our compelling need to matter is to acknowledge that we each matter SO MUCH that EVERYTHING works to connect us deeper with ourselves. In fact, our degree of importance is so profound that we attract circumstances and people all the time, so we can see more of ourselves. We carry the gravitational pull of all the Universe in our attempt to find ourselves. In this regard, my goal is not to find the perfect path, but to rest in the perfection I’ve always had; to possess my soul.
Ahh, but I hear another argument rising from my conscience…You think you’re the Center of the Universe; like it all revolves around you. What about standards? Giving yourself permission to choose anything; doesn’t that leave you lawless, without a moral compass? I like that question. It means something in me cares; something is careful. Still, I have to say that most of today’s standards are a poor substitute for integrity. The standards I’ve followed have been more like external thermometers for taking my temperature. I’ve used church attendance to measure my spirituality. I’ve used diets to feel disciplined. I’ve used money to count my value. All these measures are rooted in a deep desire to feel worthy and valid. Still, they don’t get there; they can’t reach all the way in. As my husband recently asked, Why do we reach outside of ourselves in order to get to ourselves?
To reach me, I need the ultimate standard: unconditional love. When I allow every reaction to be, giving every choice permission to lead to new possibilities, then I’m pointing my soul’s compass straight into my heart. Nothing can steal me from my journey because I’m already home. Even if I gain the 100 pounds back, I will know more of myself, more of why it happened. No matter what decision I make, even I cannot take away the truth of me. I just experience different ways of touching that truth. That’s unconditional love.
Now, I’m learning to view my myriad of reactions and choices more like pulling taffy. Sometimes it’s like a tug-o-war on the inside, but each pull works in harmony with the push. All my desires and choices push and pull, not to tear me apart, but to expose me to everything that could keep me from what I want. Over time, become softer, until my heart carries that perfect taffy sheen that says, I’m ready now.