I have a friend who has also struggled with her weight, and she said to me once that she has decided to call weight loss “release.” Because the words “losing weight” didn’t work for her. She didn’t like to think of it as something lost. Rather something that no longer served her being released. That made sense to me.
My friend Lisa is a therapeutic breathworker, and before a session she asks us to share an intention. The intention must be phrased as a positive statement. So, you can’t say “I don’t want to be afraid anymore.” You say “I want to be brave,” or “I want to face each situation with courage.” If you use the first one, all the universe hears is “afraid,” and you end up manifesting more fear. It just now occurred to me that my whole journey toward health might have been hindered in the past by this same principle. If I’m always concentrating on “losing weight,” and all the universe hears is “weight,” then maybe the divine has actually been answering my prayers with weight gain.
Yeah, I said divine. I use the word God, too. So if that miffs you, you might as well be aware of it now. I used to identify as agnostic, as my parents did when I was growing up. My parents have now decided to identify as atheist. Me, I have had too many moments of touching and feeling divinity to call myself an atheist. When someone says that they know there’s no God, it makes just as little sense to me as those who say that they know there is only one God and his son is Jesus Christ, and that anyone who has different beliefs is going to hell. God, and what happens after death, is something that none of us knows. We all have to come to our own beliefs. If someone says they don’t believe there’s a God, who are the rest of us to argue?
I’m a 12-stepper. I have participated in several 12-step recovery programs over the years, and they are all different. The commonality is that they are all spiritual programs, and they ask each participant to define their higher power. I struggled with this for years, especially having been raised not to believe. My parents never discouraged me from exploring. They never forbade me to go to church or anything. So I did explore, starting at 10 years old, way before I realized I was an addict. I went to an Episcopal church for years, which was kind of a paradoxical experience, because on the one hand I didn’t believe a word of all the Jesus stuff we were taught there. On the other hand though, I could feel divinity there. Especially through music, which is what drew me to that church in the first place.
Anyway, the last thing I’ll say about God is that I believe that divinity wants to connect with each and every human being. Therefore, it would be pretty dumb of God to insist on people coming to him or her through one avenue such as Jesus Christ. I believe God, as something beyond human understanding, will manifest and connect through whatever images human beings can some up with. For some people it’s Jesus Christ. For others it’s Krishna. Or Allah. Or the Great Spirit. Or Gaia. Or Aslan the Lion from the C.S. Lewis books (the image I chose to use for several years in 12-step groups). If you want God to be a purple-skinned green-eyed giant toad, God will oblige as long as your request is sincere.
The thing about having a higher power that’s effective is that you can get out of your own way. As long as us addicts think we can control things, whether it’s our use of this or that substance, or whether the traffic lights all stay green on our way home from work, things fall apart. Many people have a “God Jar;” a receptacle in which they can put pieces of paper with worries on them. It’s symbolic for letting God handle things. That’s where we get back to the topic of “release.” “Let Go and Let God” is cliche, but there’s wisdom in it. If you’re having insomnia freaking out about something, and there’s nothing you can do about it at that moment, doesn’t it make sense to let it go? At least for the time being? Speaking for myself anyway, once I was willing to believe in a higher power, it sort of naturally led to my belief that not only am I powerless over my use of substances, I’m powerless over everything. The more I stop trying to control things, the more they work out. “Fake it ’til you make it” is another 12-step slogan. It sounds dumb. And it works. If you act as if you believe for a while, if you ask for divine help every morning and say thank you at night, you begin to see all kinds of evidence to support your belief.
My friend Cheryl calls these moments “God Shots.” Let me give you an example. Last night I went to a 12-step meeting and someone there said something that I reacted to with anger. It pissed me right off. My interpretation of what he said was that he was being an insensitive jerk. I stood up and stormed out of the meeting. When I got outside the church I saw two regular members coming in late. A 98 year old alcoholic woman whom I adore and call “Grandma” (with her loving permission), and her daughter. They were kind of struggling to get out of the car because of Grandma’s mobility issues, so I helped her into the church and into her seat. Then I sat down next to the daughter just in time to hear that the topic for that meeting was “anger.” Do I believe that God made Grandma and her daughter come to the meeting late so that they’d snag me into going back in and hearing the topic (and all the subsequent awesome things that people had to say about the topic)? You bet. Because since I’ve gotten serious about the 12 steps and my recovery, that kind of thing happens to me (and to those around me) all the time. I’m not asking you to believe what I believe. Just to accept me as one who believes. None of the rest of this blog is going to be me trying to persuade anyone to believe in God. It was just important to define my own beliefs.
So, I find myself ready for release. Of adipose cells that I don’t need. Of anger that I don’t need. Of the belief that I can control things I can’t. Of negative self-esteem. Of fear. Of the illusion that I’m alone. Someone commented on my last post saying basically that self-acceptance was more important to her than the number on the scale, and I wholeheartedly agree. Here and now I’m going to stop saying that I’m trying to lose weight. I’m going to keep track of my weight, because it motivates me and I know that I will feel better at a lower weight. My intention though, will be health. Eating things that are good for my body and not addictive substances for me. Exercising regularly. Engaging in the forms of prayer and meditation that work for me. Being kind to my fellow human beings. Compassion. Forgiveness. Everything that hinders my ability to achieve those things can be released.