In high school, I recall wanting to lose a bunch of weight quickly, but a doctor told me I would have to eat right and exercise for the best results. I was angry with the doctor because I wanted a pill to do all the work for me. Eventually, ephedra was hot on the market, and there I had my quick fix. I lost the 40 extra pounds I’d been carrying most of my life, and while I took the pills, I remained quite thin. The worst part about it was that I could eat like a pig and not gain a pound, so I developed terrible eating habits while using ephedra. Eventually the FDA took the pills off the market because there were a few reported deaths due to heart attacks. I was more than willing to put my life on the line to take those pills and remain a size four, but I would either have to accept my natural size ten, or figure out a way to keep the weight off organically. There is nothing on the shelves that will melt the pounds away and keep them off. Eating right and exercise is the only sustaining answer, so I had to change my mindset.
This last year, after three years of recovery, I have slowly lost weight that I gained while drinking. It has taken me six months to lose ten pounds. That sound dreadful, I know, but at least the habit of eating right and a daily exercise routine is something I have been able to maintain, not to mention that my self-esteem has increased, because doing the hard work has made me feel good about myself. If I can’t look in the mirror and accept myself for what I am right now, then there is a lot more work to do simply than a diet. More than anything, I want to be healthy, feel good and live a long life. If it takes me three more years to lose another ten or fifteen pounds, I’ve got the patience now. I know it will stay off because I’m not using a quick fix, and I fundamentally feel good about myself for once.
This morning I read an article about a vaccine for heroin addiction – a pharmaceutical that will block the cravings. This is another one of America’s short term answers to a fundamental problem in the culture. This drug could literally increase the usage of heroin. I mean, my old addict thinking is like, “Cool. Now I can try heroin because if I get addicted, I can go to the doctor to stop the cravings…” (Yeah, that’s how sick I am on an addict level). There are no sustaing quick fixes in life. As pioneers, we Americans are also incredibly backwards. We work ourselves to the bone to maintain a standard of living, and then drug ourselves into zombies in order to maintain that standard of living. None of it is fulfilling, and there is way too much pressure in our society. We’ve got to turn this around on a fundamental level.
When I was twenty-seven, I already had been married for six years, birthed two children, and maintained a stressful career for nine years. I got the children ready in the morning, did all the laundry, kept my house in tip top shape, cooked dinner most of the time, and cleaned up afterward. I was doing what I thought was “normal,” but I was miserable. I got through it with ephedra and alcohol. We all know how that ended. My husband was fighting his own demons at the time, trying to contort his natural way of being, into a standard American husband model. We both failed greatly. I don’t know how most people do it without going insane, especially if they are doing it sober. All of that keeping up with the Jones’ nonsense, felt like I was twisting my soul inside out and then flushing it down the toilet. To make things worse, some people made this lifestyle look incredibly easy, and the pressure from outside people, was terrifically constricting. I didn’t know anything about what I wanted in life, yet I was molding myself into something completely opposite of who I truly was. I’m an explorer, not a homebody. I’m creative, not regiment, like my career required of me. I’m also not keen on committed relationships. I cried a lot back then.
It takes a lot of courage to discover yourself, and all your defaults of character on a fundamental level, but some of us don’t have a choice. For some reason (perhaps a deal I made with the gods before I was born), I couldn’t ever drink myself to death, so the only solution for me was to figure out how to live my life sober without being completely miserable. Nearly four years later, here I am sober and happy. My lifestyle is nowhere near what it was in my twenties. It certainly doesn’t live up to the American standards, but I am fulfilled. I took the time to find out who I was. I explored myself and the world around me enough to know that I’ve got dreams, and hopes and yearnings. To ignore those, is futile for me. I have nightmares of people telling me, “You have a calling to be a pianist in a church…” blah blah blah. (You might as well stick a needle in my arm and call it a day). God, the last thing I need is people deciding what’s best for me, yet that’s what I did until my late twenties. Thank the gods for my rebellious nature. It eventually did me a world of good.
I truly believe that there are people who have naturally addictive personalities, just like there are those who are naturally hyper. I call that “excess energy.” It simply needs to be channeled. Put an addict to work on something they love, and you will see passion. That extra energy simply needs to be focused. Most people who have an addictive personality, are incredibly ingenuitive. You can’t put a bird in a cage and expect it to forget about flying. I hate seeing birds in cages. It’s awful. It reminds me of a creative mind being forced to learn algebra. (Kill me now…)
There is no quick fix to a fundamental problem. We need to teach our children how to channel their creative energy into what they’re passionate about. If they are drawn to horses, we shouldn’t direct them toward tap dancing just because that’s our dream. If another family has all their children in sports and your child doesn’t like sports, don’t force them to be in sports. It’s a dangerous thing we’re doing by keeping up with the Jones.’ If you hate working nine-to-five, find a way to make a living more creatively. The good thing about America is that we have a lot of choices. We shouldn’t settle, and we should never stop exploring. It is not human nature to be stagnant.
I feel like there are many people who are fundamentally unhappy, and rather than taking the time to explore ourselves, we quick fix it. Many people don’t have a drug or alcohol problem, but they eat to fill a void. This is so common. Other people are chronic relationship chasers. Listen, we all have an inner void. It’s there for a reason. Explore the void, rather than trying to fill it. It takes less time to enter into that void than it does to fill the void. You can never fill the void because it isn’t a void at all. It’s your inner-self needing your full attention, and it gets louder and louder until you acquaint yourself with it. We need to learn to sit quietly with ourselves, and to be uncomfortable once in a while without trying to numb the discomfort. We all have traumas and pains and sorrows. They are there to assist us in our spiritual development, but if we ignore them or numb them, then we end up even more miserable for a longer period of time.
Self-love is the answer to this backwards thinking society, but not on a topical level. We need to go deep. It doesn’t take as long as we fear, and the journey is incredible. The bottom line is that if you’re unhappy, you can turn it around, but you need to do the work. Admitting it is the first step. If you can do that, then you’re already brave. You also need to be courageous and willing. And if you can’t muster the courage up, think about the end of your life and reflect on what it’s going to feel like if you didn’t make an effort. If you spend your life trying to impress other people, how is that going to add up in the end? It’s not worth it. We are responsible for what we do, who we hang out with, how we feel and where we are headed. There is no one or nothing that can pump you full of self-esteem. It takes work, and time, but it’s worth it because the journey is truly fulfilling. Along the way you realize what you’ve been missing all along, which is incredibly profound. I won’t give it away, but it begins with Y and ends with U!