I had a really hard week.
First, my back pain started getting worse, not better. There is always a moment, when I realize I am injured, that I have to believe the best and not the worst. Well, this week, in part I think because I was sleep-deprived (my back pain wakes me up every half hour to say hello), I started thinking the worst.
“Oh, no! This is going to be a long term problem. It might be a disk problem. I will probably need physical therapy. I am not going to sleep well for months. I can’t work out like I want. It hurts to work. I will need the chiropractor or the orthopedic doctor. It may become chronic. I’ll gain all the weight back, lose my job, and become homeless.”
Second, I started feeling run down like I was getting sick. I couldn’t get warm. My energy was really low. Things started to pile up around the house and at the studio. I found it hard to keep up with regular daily tasks. I just wanted to lie on the couch under a blanket near the doggies, or lie on the floor on a tennis ball to relieve my back pain.
To try to counteract this lack of energy, I was gulping down triple shot lattes from Starbucks all afternoon and eating way more sugar than usual. Of course, this starts a downward spiral of feeling lethargic, craving, needing more drugs, eating more sugar, crashing, etc. And with that spiral does not come a healthy dose of self esteem. No, more like self loathing. Blah!
Third, I was sad. I realize I was grieving the loss of a few relationships this year that were important to me, I was grieving my parents and other important people I have lost (don’t we always miss them more around the holidays?), and I was feeling lonely.
It all came to light Friday night. It was rainy and cold. I was really low on energy so I took a long nap after work, but I just didn’t feel up to going to the Christmas gathering I’d been invited to that evening. I laid there on the couch for hours just thinking about how crappy I felt. Then I got up to order a pizza.
When I am feeling like that and I order a pizza, I know with absolute certainty that I will, for a short time, get to escape from all my emotions and instead be mesmerized by how good I feel when I eat pizza. And I also know I will eat the entire thing; all 8 pieces.
Remembering how awful it feels to not only have an entire pizza in my gut, but then to have all the original feelings PLUS new feelings of self hatred come flooding back, I got my butt in the car and went to Kroger. I bought all the ingredients I needed for my veggie bowl and made a big, spicy batch of it.
After I ate, I got out the photo albums and I let myself feel all of it. Life without mom. Life without dad. Life without kids. Friends who are gone. Fears about my health. Feeling alone.
And I made it. I sat with it all and survived, again. All the energy I had been using to hold it all back was exhausting me. And making me want to escape into pizza, sugar and caffeine. But I forget I am strong and am actually capable of just feeling my feelings. And when I do, they pass through me and move on. And with them go the cravings and compulsions to escape and all the fears that come from thinking the worst.
I went to bed that night more exhausted than ever, but it was different. I somehow knew, because I was brave and processed my feelings authentically instead of escaping, like I was so tempted to do, that I would wake up free from the burdens of the week. And I did! My back pain is gone, my energy is back and I had a wonderful weekend with family, friends, and church. We all have bad days and weeks, including me. But I believe the way to stay healthy is to be brave and process our feelings as authentically as we can. Even writing this to you is healing, but there is that little voice that asks, “do you really want to be this vulnerable with everyone?” And the answer is yes! I do. I want to be known and accepted for all of me. And the only path to that is having courage and willingness to share all of me.
So yes, my loves, I am human. I am weak and I am strong. I am scared and I am brave. I think the worst and the best. I am all of that, and you are, too. So find a way to get as real as you can. That is where you will meet with real acceptance, which is where you finally learn the truth. You are loved, worthy and absolutely good enough even on your very worst day.