False Sense of Control.
It’s so strange how my plan for this blog was to write consistently, but instead it has become random bursts of NEEDING to write my thoughts. It’s about 9:37 PM, I just finished my last bite of dark chocolate, I’m wrapped up in my insanely soft white blanket, and I have the worst cough I have had in a very long time. It is the kind of cough that comes from deep inside your chest and shakes your whole body. It’s like my body completely loses control and I couldn’t hate it more. I had to cancel plans to focus on healing, I took a ridiculously long bath, listened to a TED talk, and sipped freshly made apple juice. It may not seem like much, but for me, it felt super indulgent. If you know me, you know that I have a very hard time allowing myself to relax and slow down. While yoga is very healing and meditative for me, it can also become very stressful, too. Why? Let me explain.
If you haven’t read my “Life Story” then you may not know much about my battle with an eating disorder. While many people assume eating disorders are about food, you would be surprised to know that it actually isn’t about the food at all. For me, it is a sense of control or rather a false sense of control. The world around me seemed like it was out of my control, I felt like everything had become so unpredictable, so many changes were happening, and thus my controlling of food became the ONE thing I felt like I could control in my life. It was my defense mechanism against my fears and anxieties. I took out my emotions on food. I wasn’t afraid of the food itself, it was the unpredictable outcome I was afraid of. Will this make me gain weight? Will this make me sick? Is this bad for me? Did I eat too much? And so many others questions that went through my head and still do. However, I’ve realized that all of this, while it feels like I’m in control, I am not. At all.
What does this have to do with the yoga I mentioned earlier? Well, exercise was and still is something I use to create a sense of control in my life, too. Now, while I do genuinely love to move my body, especially since I danced for 15 years of my life, I abuse movement more often than I would like. I have this schedule ingrained in me that I MUST exercise 6 days a week or else I am a failure and will turn into a complete whale. It sounds silly, doesn’t it? However, this is what screams in my head when I am forced to skip my yoga or skip a run. I immediately get anxious and feel horrible about myself and call myself “lazy” or “a fat whale.” Sometimes when I take too “long” sipping my coffee in the morning, I feel like I’m not doing enough. I can’t just sit and enjoy myself, that is blasphemy. It all sounds strange written out, but when something has become engrained in your mind, it is very hard to change it. Sometimes there are days where I am extremely sore and exhausted and I still feel like I can’t skip a yoga session or a run. There have been times where I have forced myself after a day full of classes, walking all around town, back home, and still thinking ” I NEED to do something or else…..” Or else what? I will wake up a huge elephant, lose muscle, become lazy, and so on. It is even more frustrating when I am able to verbalize it to someone and despite it sounding silly, my mind is SO stubborn, I completely ignore what my mind knows is right.
All of these things that I think I’m controlling, I’m not. I am not in control and feel like a complete mess sometimes. I feel like a rigid soldier yet, I crave to just do what my body wants, when it wants. If I want to do an intense yoga practice one day and do nothing the next, that is OKAY. If I have to miss a session or run because of an event, the weather, or simply my mood, that is OKAY. There is not a single person making me do these things. It doesn’t make me lazy, worthless, or fat, or anything. It makes me human. We are not robots that function the same every day. Our bodies are constantly in flux and that is something I need to realize. Another thing that makes it really hard is the world wide web. While I love Instagram, there are SO many people who post workouts, workout pictures of rock hard abs and toned legs. People that post how perfect this and that is and so many other things that make us feel like we need to compare. “Oh gosh, she just spent 1 hour at the gym and all I’m doing is sitting here. I am so lazy.” These comparisons are so automatic that it’s hard to stop them. However, we need to remind ourselves that social media is just a picture of someone’s life. It does not show their whole life and it may not even show their true emotions. That picture of the girl that spent 2 hours at the gym and has the “perfect” body, for all we know, she could be in pain and hate herself still. Social media is a great tool to make connections, learn new things, and discover, but it can also be harmful. I know I’m not the only one falls in this trap.
So, this goes to say that to be in control of my life, or whoever is reading this, you have to just let go. It is about accepting the unknown. Indulgence is okay and is part of a balanced life. You can not have kale without cake and you can’t have that amazing workout without a really long morning in bed, too. We are too hard on ourselves and we need to stop ourselves during those negative moments and think, “Would I talk to someone I care about this way?” I doubt it will ever be a yes. Take a deep breath and relax. Be okay with stillness and embrace movement as well. Let go of these “rules” that you give yourself and just let yourself be.
Be in control and actually let go….