The Loss of Control—Day 2

It’s not the hunger that’s so bad. It’s not being able to do anything ABOUT the hunger that is more painful for me right now. There are addictive processes embedded in our human condition, and wanting control is one of them.

This is the kind of learning I love. When my normal way of handling discomfort isn’t available (like eating because I’m hungry, bored, or not sure about a decision I’m making), I get to learn and remember healthier ways.

One of them I’ve found to already be immensely helpful (as always) is: EMBRACE WHAT IS AND DON’T DENY YOUR OWN TRUTH. Earlier today, whenever I anticipated how to be my “best self” tomorrow in three new situations I haven’t been in before, I felt anxious when I pictured trying to think clearly with a headache, be sociable with my fatigue, or be an enjoyable person to be around when I simply don’t have the energy.

This is the faulty thinking that the Ration Challenge is helping me to remember: I need to let my honest self inform my words and actions more than I need to “be” what others are expecting me to be for them. This is the heart of a mature and self-differentiated adult. It’s so much easier to just play into the expectations of the world around me. But ultimately soul-killing, of course.

When you can’t control the taste or appearance of your food very much, it becomes important to find the source of enjoyment in something different. Today I simply enjoyed the hot temperature of the unseasoned white rice and red lentil dish I had just taken off the stove. I hadn’t had anything warm in my mouth all day, and it allowed me to appreciate the pleasantness of heat in the absence of the usual taste and appearance of food I love.

I also found delight in studying the beauty of one of my orange nasturtiums in my front windowbox while I ate this rather tasteless dish. I certainly don’t want to be distracted reading or watching a TedTalk while I’m eating; I want to remember every one of the few morsels I’m ingesting each day! But there is no beauty in this food. No vegetables, spices, or meat. Almost no flavor at all—which is good at killing one’s appetite actually. Today I reflexively reached for the salt and pepper on the back of my stove while the food cooked—and then remembered that those twins of flavor are no longer in my friend group.

The feelings of humiliation that I recorded from Fatima yesterday are more understandable to me today; when a person feels so little control over something so primary in her life (obtaining food), and she is prevented from changing her level of control in the typical ways she always has, there is a feeling of despondency that could eventually feel shameful. These hard feelings may need to precede the remembering of the truth I just typed in bold print above (written here slightly differently): BECOME WILLING TO EMBRACE WHATEVER THIS MOMENT HOLDS AND STOP TRYING TO CHANGE IT. Live my love from the realness of what I understand each moment, and admit what I don’t understand as I determine that. Herein, I find my feet back on the path toward joy.

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