I am trying to kick ITs ass these days.
Yesterday, Dr. B. had me write my new words on my arms: Fierce and Brave.
“Do you know why I like these words so much?” he asked. “Because they require courage. I know you have that courage even if you don’t believe you do. It’s easy to capitulate to IT; it takes courage to turn away from IT towards love and family and connection.”
I sighed. “But what if I can’t? What happens when IT demands pain, demands punishment, demands that I die?”
“Look at me," he said. “I can see your future even if you can’t. Can you trust me to see it for you? To believe in the future where you die an old, wise woman surrounded by your family who loves you? It’s that or ITs path: revolving door institutionalization, confined to hospitals, creating chaos in your wake. You need to choose which life you want.”
“Obviously I want the life where I die old and loved, but I don’t know how to promise that I can carry it through,” I said.
“When you got married, did you know everything you were getting into when you made your promise of commitment? No, you were flying by the seat of your pants. Well, this is exactly like that. I need you to promise me that you will live. Can you give me that gift?” he asked.
Of course. My new mantra: Yield and say Yes. So I said, “I promise I will live.”
That promise has been dogging me all day. IT has been circling me—today was the day I saw my nutritionist, the day I found out what had happened with my weight. I am supposed to be gaining back weight I lost a few weeks ago, am supposed to be aiming for my agreed upon maintenance weight. But all I can think is that I don’t want to find out that I’ve gained weight. I don’t want to see the numbers on the scale increase, only decrease. So my intention, today, was to go for a long run, then restrict, wherever possible, what I had to eat, so that damned scale would show a decrease.
But that promise echoed inside me, filling me up with a desire to keep my promise to Dr. B. because he has been holding onto hope for me all these years. So instead of restricting, or sticking to safe food (i.e., yogurt and granola), I actually ate a hot dog for lunch. Today was a zillion degrees, so Christopher decided to start up the grill for lunch: hot dogs and hamburgers. I was already reaching for the yogurt container, already thinking about my appointment with the nutritionist in an hour, but there was Dr. B’s face, imploring me to take a chance and not listen to IT. So I put the container back. “I’ll have a hot dog,” I said, and ate it outside in the backyard with my family, sharing the same meal with them instead of isolating. Now, don’t jump to conclusions: IT was not banished completely. After I finished the hot dog, I immediately regretted eating it. On the drive to the nutritionist, I thought about pulling over in a parking lot, parking beside some dumpster, and purging lunch. But I kept on going. That was not who I wanted to be today.
Later, we all spent the afternoon at a friend’s pool. The kids swam nonstop for two hours, and I had a lovely time standing in the shallow end with my friend Alice chatting about summer travels, the difficulties of raising kids, my tattoo (a blue jay on a cherry blossom branch), my daughter’s inexhaustible supply of energy, my son’s newfound confidence in the water. Around five o’clock, her husband walked into the backyard bearing a stack of pizzas.
Fuck shit fuck shit, I thought. I can’t eat pizza. IT won’t let me eat pizza.
And at that thought, my promise echoed again. I will live, I will live. I eat to live, I eat to live. And there were my friends reaching for a slice of pepperoni and bacon and pineapple, and there were my kids, their faces already glistening with oil and smeared with sauce, and there was my husband asking me if I wanted a piece.
Did I want a piece? IT said, “No. Refuse. Restrict.”
Did I want a piece? Dr. B. said, “Be fierce. Be brave. You’ve promised to live.”
Did I take a piece, despite IT, to spite IT? Yes. Gloppy cheese and bacon. It was, unbelievably, good.