Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How Olivia and Hannah Helped Me Realize My Fears

I know a lot of people make fun of The Biggest Loser, and I have to admit that sometimes it's a little too staged (and my BIL sent me this, which, I admit, is pretty funny). But the overall achievements of the contestants never ceases to amaze me. They are so inspiring! I was thrilled beyond belief when Hannah and Olivia made it to the top two spots. I see myself in them; I feel connected to them somehow. When Olivia talked about always starting strong but then always giving up? That's me, dear reader! That's me! When Hannah talked about living in fear and being in the background of her own life? That's me!

The interesting part, however, is not that I relate to them because I'm overweight (which I do. And I am). It's that the emotional problems they face are the ones I face, regardless of my weight and/or health. Let's analyze myself for a moment, shall we? How I relate to Olivia:

A. I always start strong. Always. Weight watchers, exercise, raw food, vegan eating, cleansing, organizing the house, planting the garden, cleaning out the closets, volunteering at the school (and then cancelling or refusing to help, although, looking back, the reasons were valid and the excuses weren't "excuses" but reality, but still!), chore charts, healthy meals for the family, more spiritual FHE's, family activities, less TV, writing (my novel, my book on mothering, my book of poetry), etc.

B. I always give up.

C. It's a constant battle of starting and giving up. I rarely finish. The one time I finished something strong (losing the weight back in 2008), instead of enjoying it (which I figured I would), I ended up with crippling Depression. Technically, that's not really my "fault," per se, but one could argue that I hadn't dealt with my demons in the pursuit of the weight loss that the contestants on The Biggest Loser are privileged to address.

Let's look at how Hannah's background/fear issues relate:

A. I'm afraid to do things on my own. I want social validation from family members, from friends. I want people to help me. I become a victim. I can only exercise "if someone helps me." I can only eat vegan "if my husband is eating like that, too." I see independence as something that is too hard, too lonely, too much.

B. I have many heroes. Some of them I have come to resent because of my own jaded jealousy (yes, jealousy can get jaded. Stay with me, here), and I won't talk to them anymore. I see women who have fulfilled their careers in music --the only thing I had wanted and failed to accomplish. I see women running marathons and triathlons and I'm too afraid to run a 5K again (even though I've run two). I see women writing novels while they nurse their babies at 2AM, but I'm too afraid to even start. I see women teaching their children about service by getting out of their comfort zones and really serving. I see women cutting out TV and video games and taking their kids on fantastic day trips or just going outside.

C. One could argue that I'm waiting for all of the above because it's not my time, yet, and I get that. I'm a mother. Mothering is the most important thing I'll ever do --ever. Hands down. I know this. But it's not just the stuff outside of mothering (and one could argue that a lot of things one does individually makes for a better mother, of course) --it's the stuff I do (or rather, don't do) inside of mothering.

D. I stay home most days. Depression gets worse the longer I'm inside, but I feel afraid all the time. I'm afraid to go into public because of my weight. I'm afraid to go into public because of my clothes. I'm afraid to go into public because what if someone wants to talk to me? I'm afraid to go into public because what if nobody wants to talk to me? I'm afraid to start my garden because what if I do it wrong? I'm afraid to organize the house because what if it's not what my spouse wants? I'm afraid to get rid of the TV because what if the kids' (and husband's) meltdowns over it don't last only a few weeks? I'm seriously afraid of so much.

E. Which is crazy. Because I tend to have so much optimism and faith. I really believe God gave me these gifts so I could face all this fear, this mental prison, these challenges I have --it's been a blessing and a curse, dear reader. My faith is strong and immovable. I sincerely know, in my soul, that I'm important, that I matter to God, that I have a purpose, and that Jesus is my Savior. I know this. So why do I deal with all the opposites? How can I have this much faith and yet be so very, very afraid? What has happened in my life, in my heart, in my soul that would bring me to this?

F. The longer I live, the less confidence I seem to have in my abilities. I can't figure out why. Most people learn humility as they grow --this is pretty true. We learn we don't know everything, we can't possibly know everything, and we see situations and people from new perspectives. This is good, dear reader. Very good. However, it seems to me, that the longer I live, and the more humility I attain, the more I see my mistakes. The chinks in my character. Things that I realize if people saw or knew or cared, they would run the other way. And instead of making me humble, it has made me afraid. I don't want to open up like I used to. My confidence and wit is slowly dying. I don't trust myself. I always talked too much (I'm crazy social), but now I'm afraid to communicate.

G. I'm not sure how to fix it all. Granted, I know nobody is perfect --nobody has it all figured out. It's a process and a journey, but since I'm still not in therapy (too much travel, dear reader), I figured this is the best place for me to sort it all out. On a public blog. Because that just makes sense, right? Sigh.

Anyway, with all of what I said above, I'd like to conclude with something I did finish today. I woke up at 5:45AM and slept for another 10 minutes. I realized it could be raining, I could skip out, but did I really want to? I had the phrase "You're amazing, just the way you are" from that awesome song in my head, and so I got up and headed out the door. I thought I missed the girls, so I ran quickly to catch up, but only one of them was there and she was just there to say she couldn't come. So, I was alone.

I had two choices: Go home and sleep, or just do it alone. Independently. ALONE.

I started walking. It was cool and drizzling, but I didn't care. I walked our route and when I came to the 103 stairs down the hill (which we usually pass), I decided to do something. I had Olivia's voice in my head about finishing strong, and so I went down those stairs and back up them --twice! And then I finished the route (which is about 3 miles). I didn't have music in my ears. I didn't have conversation. I just did it. When I found myself slowing down, I picked up the pace.

It felt great. Being outside and just seeing nature and other people out running helped me feel so much better. I realized that I tend to take these things I learn and try to force myself to implement them immediately. Right now! Change NOW! Sometimes, though, it takes time.

After the walk, I read this fantastic article about food addictions. It was also about how we learn and grow and need to give ourselves a break --give ourselves some time to figure stuff out. That article, along with a some great conversations with my friends, made me realize that even though I'm a total hypocrite at this point (eating-wise), I'm still doing better than I was. The knowledge I've learned won't go away; it's still there. I just have to keep moving in the right direction and do the best that I can.

The End. Not really, but sort of.

P.S. I know this doesn't relate, but I need to write (word for word) what my buddy Ann wrote on her blog about the Word of Wisdom. Talk about a Mormon myth that needs to be debunked! I know this doesn't make sense in the context of my post, but I feel strongly enough about it that I really want to share it:
...If you'll notice, NOWHERE in the WoW does it say, "Moderation in all things." It's a Mormon Myth that that phrase is part of the Word of Wisdom and it comes up in nearly every Sunday School lesson about the WoW. In fact, that phrase is not found ANYWHERE in the scriptures. Nor has it been spoken over the pulpit. We mentioned this in Sunday School once, and a lady in our ward went searching through the church's archives looking for the source of this myth. She found it a total of 2 times. Once it was said by a member of the 70 in a different context. And once it was said by Pres. Joseph F. Smith. Except that he added a word. He said, "Moderation in all GOOD things." I like that because people like to use this phrase as an excuse to eat crap. Because they're "eating it in moderation." That is not at all the intent behind Pres. Smith's statement.

And you know, if you think about it, we are NOT a church of "moderation." In fact, most people consider us quite extreme. In the scriptures, it DOES say, "Feast upon the words of Christ." not just read the scriptures every once in a while. It says, "Pray always." not just pray whenever we have a need arise. We are a peculiar people in that we are expected to -and tend to- live our religion full-time, not just when it's convenient, or "for show."


Cheryl said...

You are right about the phrase not in the WoW but the term "moderation" is in the scriptures multiple times and has been spoken of by the brethren many times. I know...I studied it a few months ago!

Biff said...

I looked it up, Cheryl. Moderation is only in the scriptures once, and it's in Philippians. And it has nothing to do with food.

As for the brethren, they may use the term "moderation", but not when it comes to food or the the W of W. In fact, I did another search, and if it's ever in relation to food, it's by somebody who is not a GA --it's an article from 1974 from some random member. Or the word is in a manual about behavior, NOT food.

And my heart is actually breaking right now. I should have known, but the ONLY comment on this post, the one where I bare my soul to the world, is about how I'm WRONG about something --or, rather, how my friend is wrong. I decided not to take the high road this time. It hurts. A lot.

Biff said...

Ah, crap! That's my husband's log in name --It may say Biff, but this is Cheryl. :)

Amanda D said...

I think it's interesting that we all assume that moderation is part of the W of W when it isn't. I guess I need to study better! :)

I started out not liking Olivia and Hannah but they grew on me in the end. I have been really inspired by them. I tend to start a lot of things that I never finish (my new years resolution is to finish -- but it hasn't happened yet.) I am determined to finish this weight goal though -- I am down almost 30 pounds and I feel so much better. I just need to keep pushing until I reach my goal. Good luck with yours, Cheryl. And! Don't be so hard on yourself. You're amazing - just the way you are. ;)

Cheryl said...

Thank you, Amanda. Sincerely. You made my day with your last sentence. :)

Cheryl said...

Oh, Blah. Cheryl, I'm sorry I was offended, and I'm sorry I made it look like your one comment was the cause of all my frustration, fear, and yuckiness. I should have sorted out my feelings instead of replying so quickly to what you had written (which wasn't even offensive if you look at it in context).

I'm just not doing very well with myself, lately. I'm sorry. :(

Marianne said...

I have loved, loved, loved Olivia and Hannah this season. I agree with you...I identify with them in so many ways. I'm trying to be better because of them and the impact they've had on me. I've thoroughly enjoyed watching them transform from the inside out. Inspiring!

I think you're awesome and I know you're not alone! Keep fighting the good fight..:o)

Handsfullmom said...

Good for you for doing the stairs! I would have quit after once up and down, figuring that was good enough.

And actually, I think the quality of "not finishing" is not really that bad of one. Most things we do are works in progress -- your five beautiful children will never be "finished" even as you give all your life to work of helping them reach their potential. I think it stands to reason that a lot of our other goals -- writing, fitness, weight loss, etc -- might have some milestones that we celebrate, but really are works in progress.

Cheryl said...

I didn't say that I studied it in relation to eating or the WoW...I just studied it and here is the link of the talks I studied. They may not say exactly relating to that but temperance or moderation is a good quality to have regardless of where you apply it.

I also studied temperance. I did this because I felt so out of balance with many things and moderation and temperance are synonyms for balance. I was not trying to offend or prove you wrong.

Anne Marie said...

Best wishes to you in your journey! I have no idea if you want to hear any of can just plug your ears and sing, "I'm not listening" if you don't like any of it...hahaha. There is a book called The Depression Cure that has some amazing, simple things to change our moods (you can do an Amazon peek at it). Stuff like Vitamin D and fish oil, which you may or may not like to take, really does work and make a difference for people. The other book I highly recommend is The HOw of Happiness...tons of simple ideas like keeping a gratitude journal. Last one...Feeling Good by David Burns...absolutely incredible. Best wishes to you. You are God's daughter and His creation. You are beautiful and have done so many good things with your life.

michelle said...

"What has happened in my life, in my heart, in my soul that would bring me to this?"

Remember that you are mortal, fallen, human. Maybe it's not anything specific except just being born into a fallen world that brings opposition.

I can so relate, though, to the struggle of coming to see more and more weakness. My feeling is the answer is to learn to lean more and more on the Savior. We talk a lot about that, but it's when we really understand how much we need Him -- and I think that comes with age and experience with our weakness -- that we start to learn what that really means.

I'm still trying to figure it out, but I know that He's the answer. We're not here to finish perfectly, we are here to endure well, and I do think there is a difference.

Also, if you have a chance to listen to Elder Bednar from Women's Conference, it's a good one. ;)

btadlock said...

I've never read your post before, but ran across it this morning. Your comments about starting and never finishing and giving up....being spoke what I feel. And I also don't know why! Why am I so afraid. I do not currently suffer from depression, but have in the past. Like you, I'm working on being a woman of action, rather than obsessing about failures I've never even had. Thanks for putting so beautifully how I so often feel. Good luck on your journey to find joy, because that I why we are have joy!