Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nope, still a Jew

My beloved and dear friend and mentor shared Jesus with me tonight. I am truly blessed to have such a loving woman in my life, and if what she showed was even a 10th of the love that g-d has for me, then... I almost have no words. 

The Emperor was baffled by my peaceful response to her evangelism. But I know why she shared this with me, I know why she is praying for me to be Saved. She loves me. She believes in me. She wants to share with me that which she loves more than anything else in the entire universe. And I am grateful to her, and to that whom she calls g-d for having that depth of love and sharing it with me. I may not have been able to hear it before, but this time g-d has stilled my mind and allowed me to see love for love. 

But, I am still a Jew. I will always be a Jew, and I will continue to live the life that my ancestors lived, l'dor vador (from one generation to the next), standing beside people who want me to pray to their g-d and saying "I love you too, thank you for praying for me, but I will stick with my g-d, thanks very much." That's how my people have always lived, and we continue to exist, continue to have a relationship with g-d, (contrary to popular belief by certain sects of people, the Jews are not cut off from g-d, in fact, I think Adonai still speaks to Jews on a fairly regular basis), and we succeed in life and live the way g-d wants. 

Now, there may only be one way, I won't dispute that. I won't even dispute the divinity of Jesus; I see great value in his teachings and am grateful for his having lived. If there is only one way, then so be it. People are going to continue to argue about it, continue to tell each other that this or that other person is wrong, or that this or that other person is going to hell. Except, my people don't believe in hell. That's a Christian concept too. For that matter, our concept of Heaven is different too. But it's all the same g-d. Adonai is One.

When you genuinely have faith in something, that faith will be challenged. It was challenged for Moses; it was challenged for the Jews in ancient Greece who refused to change gods and started a damn war over it (that's the story of Hanukkah, if you don't know); it was challenged for our dear friend Esther whose holiday is coming up this weekend. Each time there was a challenge, the Jew stood up and said "no, I am a Jew". 

And I am. I always have been. G-d placed me here as a Jew. There's no question. Just as my beloved friend has no question about her faith, I have no question about mine. And since the conversation began as a means of encouraging me to grow my relationship with g-d, I will say it was a successful venture, because I feel closer to g-d than ever. I could be snarky and sarcastic about it, (in the past I would have been), but there's no reason for that. And just as I feel absolutely no need to justify myself to atheists who think I'm stupid to believe that there is a g-d, I don't feel the need to justify myself to my friend who just wants me to have a good life (and that's really all that is when you break it down it its roots). 

I am not hiding, and neither is g-d. We have met, we are close. And I won't even say that I don't need Jesus, it's just that I am a Jew. I mean, I also believe that there are other gods aside from the One whom I honor and pray to, but I don't pray to those gods. I don't ask those gods to help me out, but I wouldn't say that I don't need them, and I would never condemn or ridicule those who do need those gods. But, telling me that I won't go to Heaven if I don't accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior is kind of like telling me I will never ascend to Valhalla if I don't honor Odin and fight and die in his name. Maybe that sounds blasphemous to the Christians out there, but my place is not in Valhalla any more than it is in the Christian Heaven. I know that, and I'm not making it up.

I love my Christian friends dearly. I also love my Pagan, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, atheist, and agnostic friends. There may only be one way to get to where you are going, Traveler, but perhaps I am not going to the same place. However, I love your map, it is beautiful; and I love you for sharing it with me.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Kittens McTavish, I'm invincible! (Or, I will be) - Week 15

My last symptom was a bingey feeling eating a chocolate pudding at lunch last week. I kept eating it, even though my stomach was telling me I had had enough. At the time, the Emperor and I were talking about my parents and me growing up, and that subject makes me very emotional. I felt sick for a few hours afterward, but I didn't purge. 

Before that, I think my last symptom was intentionally missing breakfast, and I haven't done that in at least 5 weeks. I finished my workbook this week, and the last chapter talked about the "slippery slope of relapse", and how you can feel "in for an ounce in for a pound"* once you have one symptom and just revert back to the eating disorder. I think I managed a remarkable amount of self-control after that binge, even though I was exhausted (physically and emotionally), and even though the last several weeks haven't gone the way I wish that they would. 

During that time, I've wanted to purge several times a week. Usually in emotionally overwhelming and tense situations, but I don't because I tell myself I won't. I tell myself I don't want to. Part of me reminds another part of me that it wouldn't help, and that if I stick it out in that emotionally overwhelming situation, the next one like it will be a little easier and I will be able to handle it without the desire to run screaming from the room and turn myself inside out. Eventually. 

Today though, I did have to run screaming from the room, wanting to turn myself inside out. I had a brave and stark realization, and I wanted to distract myself from reality by changing the subject in my mind to one that I'm much more used to. I'll lay out what happened:

We had a great MK event, and at lunch all the women who were at the spot on the career** path that I am, and above, were learning from the visiting NSD and my sales director (who is the top director in the state, and the driving force behind this particular event). During the training, the visiting National had us cross our arms the way we normally do, then try to cross our arms the other way. 

"The first time you crossed your arms, you were sitting in a play pen," she said, "and you've been doing it the same way your whole life." She went on to illuminate the fact that you can't change overnight a habit that you've had your entire life, that you have to keep an eye out and not just go back to being unconscious about your decisions. This was a metaphor for moving up the career path and into leadership.

This is when I lost it. Suddenly I realized that I had not changed overnight a habit that I had kept for 15 years. What I did was decide to improve, work daily at improvement, and struggle toward tiny successes day by day; sometimes minute by minute. I didn't give up and throw away all the work I had done when I had an urge for a symptom or even if I acted on that urge. The reasons behind wanting to get better were strong enough to drive me forward, despite the fact that it has been very challenging, very scary, and that I feel no small amount of shame over it.

I ran out of the room and to the bathroom. I didn't purge though, I just cried. I couldn't get away from this thought:
If I can overcome an eating disorder, and start loving myself as I am (instead of hating myself for what I look like): I can become a sales director.
That is, if I can re-learn how to eat, how to love myself, and become whole through that process, I can do anything. I have been struggling with my career lately, and wondering if I have what it takes to move up, become a sales director, become a leader of women and change lives by sharing the Mary Kay opportunity. I wondered if I have the power to make the decision. I wondered if I have the strength and courage to do the work. But the fact of the matter is, the work involved in becoming a successful businesswoman (especially with this opportunity) is cake compared to what I've accomplished in the last 15 weeks.

Regardless of whether I'm proud of myself or not, I have already achieved something that is ten times more difficult than becoming a sales director. I'm not done yet. I still have to deal with the whole not hating myself part, but what I have already accomplished*' is actually harder than the decision and process of moving forward with my career. Eating disorders kill people because of how hard it is to undo. No career move is that powerful, no matter how difficult it may seem at the time. 

The realization that I do have the strength and courage to step it up in my business is what made me lose my shit. Of course, now comes the part where I actually do that, and I guess I just have to approach it how I approached beginning recovery: do I want this or not? what are the short and long term costs? what are the short and long term benefits? why do I want this? how dedicated am I? can I just try an experiment where I work my business like a business for a month? 3 months? a year?

And after everything I've already been through, it doesn't seem that hard anymore. I just have to work up my why, make the decision and move forward. The same way I did when I decided to tell you all that I was battling an eating disorder. That scared me, but I did it. I wanted to give up, but I didn't. I'm still struggling, but it hasn't made me give up. 

One last thing: none of this would have happened without Mary Kay. I started down the road to recovering from my eating disorder because I wanted to be able to move forward in my career. I realized that this was a problem because of the richness of character in the women I am surrounded by every week. I am grateful for that, and even if I fall on my face and never ever ever ever ever accomplish another thing in my business, at least I have that. Which means that this whole makeup thing isn't about makeup at all.

*An unfortunate bit of colloquy 
**Star Team Builder, if you're curious
***National Sales Director
*'It's a challenge even to admit that my recovery is an accomplishment, and I tearfully admitted to the Emperor on the drive home from our event today, that I am filled with shame over having to take this journey, but that's another post entirely.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Moral of the Story (Recovery Week 14)

All this work that I have been doing has been aiming for something. Yes, I did do the work for its own sake, because I did want to stop torturing myself for an ideal that would never become reality for me, and I did want to stop scaring the Emperor and my doctors with my refusal to eat; and I did want to start developing a greater, fuller, and healthier love for myself (body included). But there's been a revelation coming too. A message that I could go on to share with the world, teach to other women and girls, and build something for all of us with that message which is:
"[compass 33]" lipstick & eyeliner on mirror
This revelation started coming about when I started listening to The Power of Now audiobook, and realized that what I had in mind for the concept of beauty existed within the idea of presence. I began practicing that thing called presence, and eventually realized that my important work was going to lie in this thing up here: acceptance. That is, "a person's to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition ... without attempting to change it, protest, or exit"*.

So what am I accepting? In the beginning of my recovery process, I started by accepting my symptoms. I accepted that I had these urges to deny myself food (and often times comfort), and I stopped putting a value judgment on it. Then I accepted that this wasn't a healthy way to be, and it was making me miserable, so I started down a path toward more normal eating. Since then I've faced the ups and downs of the process without** protest, and done the work on the inside to rewrite the inner dialogue that was driving me to thoughts like "I feel fat" or "I'm just gonna check the scale to see cuz I'm curious" (which would then lead to starting my cycle of denial, over-exercising, and bingeing all over again!); or the thought that I wasn't worthy of the attention and affection of my loved ones, and that my needs aren't important because someone else needs something or I have better things to do.

What I want to begin accepting now is my body. It's mine, after all, and I don't get another one***. I get to live in this body for the rest of my life, and I'm the only person qualified to take care of me! My body, that is I, me is fat. Has fat. It's not as much fat as some people have, and there is more than other people have. But it's mine. My fat is a part of me. My fat makes me soft, cushions my internal organs, fills out my shape (even though some people don't like that shape), makes my clothes look nice; it also means that if we have any really nasty winters, I'll be able to whine as much as I want without losing precious energy for things like breathing, foraging, and survival. 

None of that matters, however, because I can't really change my fatness, and my trying to be less fat is the only real thing that's ever been unhealthy in me. Which means that not only is there no reason for me to change my fatness and force my body to be something it is not, it also means that for health reasons, I can't. There is still a fear in me that I will one day be muuuuuch fatter, and that fear is just a shamey ball of shame trying to convince me that what I'm doing is wrong and I should keep with the whole eating disorder thing, cuz at least with that I was never over 200lbs!

But that is a very ugly attitude to have. If beauty begins with acceptance, then ugliness begins with shame. We've had it backward the whole time! You're not ugly because someone shamed your appearance, they're ugly for shaming you! Yeah, you or I may have physical characteristics that don't fit in with airbrushed models, or what is generally considered "conventionally attractive", but when we accept ourselves and love ourselves our beauty shines through. And that's true whether a person is considered conventionally attractive or not. Thin people have as much beauty to share with the world as fat people, and vise versa, because it's not about what you look like, but what you are like.

I don't think I'll ever entirely get over the shaming instinct, but as I continue to recover from 15 years of chronic dieting, over exercising, bingeing, and purging that instinct will be set at bay.This is what I'm working on going forward. This is what I want to help other people work on. Whether it's through my writing here, my friendship and love, or my work as a beauty educator and MK consultant.  

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acceptance I cut out the part about this often referring to something negative and uncomfortable because it's not appropriate in this context.
**with a little
***neither do you, for the record

Friday, February 1, 2013

A painful review for week 14

Actually, there's a lot of dipping below the start point too...
This week I woke up and realized that I was starting a new job-working-for-someone-else almost exactly four years after my last position working for someone else. I felt ashamed. As though I had failed myself, my family (especially the Emperor), my team members; but the worst part was that I was the only one who felt this way. 

I tried to ignore these feelings of shame, not discussing them with anyone but Captain Jack at the end of day one of my new j-o-b. However, Mable caught these feelings much sooner than I did and on Tuesday I started having this intense urge to self-destruct. First, panic. I ran screaming from the room*, promising myself (outloud) that I wasn't going to the bathroom to throw up. I then promised myself that I would wait until I got home** to lose my shit. I succeeded at that, and was able to make it home where I had a melt down after holding onto this need for nearly two hours. 

I wanted so badly to implode; to completely self-destruct. I wanted to barf, and smoke, and cut myself and I very nearly made a phone call to someone who would gladly help me lose what I had built***. I didn't do any of these things, and after talking to the Emperor in a very intimate way, we decided that I would have something to eat. 

So, despite the entire cycle starting like it always did, I made the painful decision to be a grown-up who is able to acknowledge that my decisions have consequences and that I couldn't fall back into completing that cycle. I swallowed my pride, acted like an adult, and went on with business. 

And got 5 hours of sleep the night before my first day back to working-for-someone-else.

The first job I got all by myself, way back in college, was at a Hallmark shop on 4th Ave in downtown Seattle. On my first day I got so upset by something that I had to run off the sales floor and throw up. I thought I would be "let go" for my lack of professionalism, but it ended up being okay and the day went on. My first day at this new job reminded me much of that first day, except -- while I did have to run to the bathroom a few times to keep from losing my mind in front of my cow-orkers or our client -- I didn't run out of the room and throw up. So, when I asked myself what the hell kind of progress I have made since then, I was at least able to give myself credit for mostly holding it together*'. 

These last few days have been rather difficult. I thought I had swallowed my pride and dealt with it when I started looking for a day job, but once the reality hit it was very difficult not to clamor for old coping mechanisms. 

On a professional note, I noticed that my attitude toward work has changed greatly since the last time I held an hourly position as an employee. Now, even though I'm counting hours*'', I still think of myself as a contractor. I'm in charge of my time. The position I hold currently is not some employer liking me enough to give me money for answering their phones, but rather I decided that I was willing to answer their phones for an hourly fee.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
I'm not happy that I had to take a second job. But the way my health has been in the last several months, and how it has interfered both with my business and my leadership growth and practice necessitated this move. I realized at some point that I had to fulfill the bottom level of my personal hierarchy of needs FIRST before I could really give my business and its accompanying leadership practice their due. 

That's what's been going on this week. I've felt completely insane. I've reached out in ways I could, and did my best to be around people who give me a feeling of meaning and importance (even though sometimes I deny myself that feeling). I also successfully avoided reaching out to people who have the opposite effect. And while I'm trying to give myself credit, I simply continue to feel like I've failed. I'm trying not to, but I just have to accept that feeling, validate it and eventually let go and move on because the only way to let go of something is to acknowledge that it's there.

*Not literally.
**from my real job
***However this person has never read the script to the play wherein he was the accomplice to my undoing.
*'Although, because of my exhaustion, the time I spent with Jack that night was hardly worthy of how fond I am of him.
*''The timeclock that we use has buttons that say "Punch In" and "Punch Out". It's not cute. It's stupid.