I’ve been spending a lot of time alone with my emotions lately, examining them and trying to sort them out. I’m a huge believer in deep and meaningful reflection on experiences. It might have a lot to do with strongly justifying a lot of bad decisions as learning experiences but I’m okay with that.
I’m mostly kidding.
Still, as a growing and learning human being, I make a lot of mistakes and I can either choose to learn and grow as a result of those mistakes or I can stagnate and be the exact same person I was five years ago.
I’ll take the introspection.
One of the things I’ve really been examining is my eating habits and how they relate to my emotions. I mean, I like healthy food but sometimes (no matter how delicious it may be) I take one look at the “healthy” choice and my internal voice screams “WON’T WON’T WON’T WON’T WON’T.”
My internal voice is a curmudgeonly old house elf, apparently.
So, today as I went to grab lunch, I slowed myself down. Rather than grabbing the pizza I knew I wanted, I slowly and intentionally browsed the salad bar and healthier options. I considered them, knowing I’d end up back at the pizza anyway, and paid attention to how I felt as I considered choosing those.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the flavor of the foods that I objected to or the contents, it was something completely different. For some reason, eating the healthy options just felt like SO MUCH EFFORT.
A few months ago, I had a conversation with my ex-boyfriend after we’d gone hiking. I thought it was a nice little hike that was a bit of a challenge for me. He was unsatisfied with it and decided to do a solo hike the next day. He told me, “it just doesn’t feel like a real hike unless I feel like I’m about to pass out from the effort.”
I thought that was really strange. “Why would you want to feel like you’re about to pass out? That sounds awful.”
“Nothing in my life is really a challenge. It’s about the only time I really exert myself. It feels good.”
I thought about that a lot while he was gone the next day. As I sat on our couch munching on a brownie, watching Arrested Development, and feeling very un-exerted, I realized how different my experience in life seemed to have been. At the time I was still in my very difficult work situation, I’m an overweight girl who lives in a city with a bajillion hills, and my personal history is rife with difficulty and challenges.
I spent most of my time dealing with very challenging things and high levels of exertion still felt somewhat traumatizing to me.
It’s a huge part of the reason I have so much trouble sticking with an exercise routine. The mental games I have to play are difficult to sustain.
So, as looked at all the food options in the café today, I let myself sit with that feeling of SO MUCH EFFORT and realized that when I feel that way, there’s a twinge of profound loneliness mixed in with that feeling.
It took me a few minutes before I identified the source of it.
Back when I was recovering from my car accident, not only was I completely isolated but EVERYTHING was SO MUCH EFFORT. Walking just a few feet was excruciating. Yet, I pushed myself continually to go further and to work through the pain.
It was one of my biggest triumphs in life but it came at a cost. The achievement was huge. I regained my ability to walk and to function as a normal adult but it was the most isolated I’ve ever been in my life. The level of very profound loneliness I felt at having cut myself off from my friends was terrible. Even worse was the hostility I felt from my family and their bitterness at having to give me somewhere to recover.
I was alone and unwanted.
And yet, I fought for myself. Hard.
Still, that association remains. When I push myself hard the physical sensation brings back the mental association. It was also at that time that I started making an effort to eat healthy. The mental battle of “I have to do this!” left its mark. It all just took so much energy.
So, I realize that when I feel worn out, mentally or physically, it just feels like SO MUCH EFFORT to make the healthy choice even though, in reality, it take no more effort to eat one item than the other.
It seems that I still need to do some internal work on that part of me that goes back to that place. That part of my brain needs to learn that it’s not the same anymore and that picking the chicken and vegetables doesn’t have to be accompanied by overwhelming loneliness or stressful exertion.
I mean, I like Brussels sprouts.
Like, a lot.
So, I’m going to spend some more time with those emotions, allowing myself to experience that feeling and reflecting upon it. I wonder if it will make a difference in my eating habits in the days and weeks to come.