It seems that for about the past twenty five years, every seven years or so, I go on a strict diet and lose all the weight I need to lose. And then proceed to gain it all back over a seven year period. It is strange what I can find out about myself when I am walking briskly around the neighborhoods of Chestnut Hill. As I am striding along, a flash of recognition about this or that fact about myself comes sweeping through my brain and my eyes widen with amazement. Wow! That is what I feel when it happens. Wow! What a revelation. And I wonder at how I had not seen it all before. Sometimes I gasp out loud, or notice that I am smiling, by the way passers by greet me enthusiastically, or smile back at me.
I adore those revelation moments. They arrive when I am commuting for an hour to work, doing my workout walk, washing dishes, in the shower, vacuuming the carpet, folding laundry,or staring out the window while traveling in a train. They hardly ever happen when I sit down purposefully to think about myself or try and write in a journal. Rather, I usually have to rush to my room and jot down the thoughts way after the fact. Naturally, I have a pen and paper available in my car when I am commuting because I suddenly have other ideas too, while I am driving. Some of them are useful and prove important for my books, papers, articles, or lectures. Once, I tried a small tape recorder in the car, but talking to myself embarrassed me, and so I returned to the pen and paper. Mind you, it is not easy jotting down important revelations while I am driving. The lines and words come out very squiggly and awkwardly, as you can imagine, and afterward I have to decipher what I wrote. So it becomes like a re-discovery of a revelation – a revelation twice over.
Very often, after I have realized my realization it feels as if a veil has been lifted from my eyes and suddenly I can clearly see all the little details of the surrounding environment, and notice things I have not noticed before. It feels as if I have just woken out of a long foggy dream and breathing seems easier and deeper. I sigh a lot. Sighs of wonderment and relief. Sometimes I weep. Tears roll down my cheeks with regret about hurting someone I love, sadness at what I might have felt as a child, longing to have made different choices in the past, wishing I had known what I realized at that very moment so that I might have avoided past wounds, sorrow about wasted time, or relief at finally understanding what had been so confusing for me for so long.
Indeed, it is a painful and exhilarating process. One that starts me on a journey of self-alteration, weaving me back and forth between old habits, and developing newer skills at making more fulfilling life choices.
Having reached my seven year weight cycle, it is time to lose weight again. I wonder, out loud, if, this time, I will be able to end the cycle, and hold still with losing the weight permanently. For, I have also discovered that as I become lighter, healthier, happier, I start to feel sensual and sexy and, oh my! That immediately brings on the guilt. General, insidious, and repressive feelings of guilt about everything and anything. And, of course, guilt heralds in anxiety, and, even anger and resentment, which then cycle me into putting all the weight back on for yet another seven years.
For example, I have observed that lately when I am feeling happy and confident, I suddenly find myself ruminating about something a new friend of mine, who does not know me well, said to me a few months ago. Instead of telling me that a couple of my behaviors had disappointed her expectations and standards of our friendship, she wrote an e-mail to me in which she said, “… and we all know what difficulty you have in retaining friendships …” or words very close to that effect. At the time I was mortified. I wept for days and felt deeply hurt. For, I had been so grateful for her friendship and was trying to be a good friend in return. I felt punished like a child. From then on, I have tried to prove to myself what a good friend I really am, confusing my reality with her expectations. This morning life-partner told me that the only good thing that came out of that friendship, is that I can use it as a barometer for self loathing. Wow! I thought. Yes! Indeed, I only start to feel guilty about what a bad friend I am when I feel good about myself.
Oh well, I think I will put on my sneakers and go out for my walk. Who knows, perhaps a new revelation will rise up to greet me. One that might actually save me from my Self.