Wednesday, September 02, 2015

About Bodies and Control

We think we can control things. . . but we can't.  Mostly, control is an illusion, a lie we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better.  We go though life thinking that we know the outcome of each day, but moment by moment, as each day unfolds, there are always surprises. 

Most of the time the surprises are small ones, and the general outline of one's day generally goes the way one plans.  Sometimes there are huge big horrible surprises, like the house catching on fire, or your family getting killed in a car crash, or cancer.  Some surprises are sudden, and some are slow to reveal themselves, like an autism diagnosis that is 13 years in coming, or a chronic illness that's been showing symptoms for years, and you finally get a diagnosis and you are actually GLAD, because now the big "it" has a name. 

All these examples are taken from my actual life, by the way. 

And this blog post is about control. . . and how we really don't have much control. 

We can control a few things:  some basic choices we make. . . but even the fact that we have a choice is a gift.  Many people don't have a choice about many things.  Perhaps we can control our words, even our thoughts if we engage in the spiritual discipline to do so.  We can choose to pray. 

But being human, there are so many things that are truly beyond our control. 

I can't control the fact that I have fibromyalgia, although I can make lifestyle choices which help me live my life to the fullest extent possible. 

Wes can't control the fact that he has cancer.  B can't control the fact that she has autism. 

We know better than to think that we can cure ourselves. 

But there's one area of my life, that for my whole life, I thought I ought to be able to control, but have never BEEN able to control, and the resulting shame has been utterly toxic and debilitating for me:  my weight. 

I can control my eating all day long and then some...I can choose healthy foods, nourishing foods, good real foods...not the processed junk that most people assume fat people consume in mass amounts.  And I do...but that does not result in my weight going down. 

For ever shorter amounts of time, I can control how much I put into my body.  I am a master at food restriction in so many ways, shapes and forms.  But biology takes over and wins, and hunger is a cruel mistress. 

I have been on every diet.  Ok...I never did the Zone, or Somerizing...but I was on a diet that was based on the same concepts.  I won't list all the diets I have tried over the years, but I will say this:  I am the yo yo dieting queen. . . and each time, there is a bounce back, a regain and so very very much shame.  And I have come to the conclusion that I am done.  I'm done dieting.  So. Very. Over. It. 

I accept the fact that I do not have control over my own body shape or size.  You could say:  "Body sculpt, exercise, lift weights...you will see!"   But, I've already tried that... and with a stack of autoimmune illnesses, a body does not work that way.  Even the whole exercise and body shape and "get in shape" assumes control that is really an illusion:  Health can leave you in an instant.  Could be a virus, could be an accident, could be anything.  Health can leave you in an instant.  Health is a GIFT.

All that control you smugly think you have is just a blessing from God.  A gift. 

And ultimately the thing about realizing that I have so very very little control in my life is that I am learning to trust God.  I am learning to trust God with our money that is crazy tight due to medical bills and insurance costs.  I am learning to trust God with the future of whether or not I will be a young widow, and how I will provide for myself then, how I will live.  I am learning to trust God in all these things...and yet, here I am spending my entire life, my thoughts, my energy...NOT trusting God about my very BODY, which HE MADE. 

Someone said that for many people, the desire to be thin is about the social capital/power that thinness gives (at least for white American women this is true).  This rang instantly true for me and it was convicting!  One of the reasons I always wanted to be thin was I was very aware that as a fat woman, and now a fat middle aged woman, I am an undesirable nobody in this world that sexualizes all women.  Pariah.  Ugly.  The Dregs.  All the shameful things that flood though my head about myself when I think of my body shape and size.  Every ugly fat shaming comment ever written has been internalized...it's all in there.

But here's the truth:  What if I surrender control of that which I have no control over?  I can choose healthy foods, I can choose to be as active as my body will let me.  I can choose to take my meds and my supplements, and I can choose to go to bed early.  I can choose to drink water and to give up sodas and park in the back of the parking lot and all those thousands of choices that make for a "healthy lifestyle".  I can, and I DO... but for all that...I can't make my body lose weight.

So I'm giving up trying to control the shape of my body.  I'm giving up and TRUSTING God who made me that He will enable me to live the life I need to live in this body that He gave me to live it in.  I don't need the social capital that comes from thinness.  I choose to trust God with my body and my life. 

And that is all. This is poorly written.  But I feel like it needs to be "out there".  Circumstances prevent me from polishing it up more.