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In January 2007, at the age of 51, I joined a 12-step program and began my recovery from food addiction, losing 75 pounds in the process. Read more…

In January 2011, at the age of 55, I began my recovery from a multi-trauma accident, 36 fractures, damaged lungs, and post traumatic stress. Read more…

I am deeply grateful for all the kindnesses, large and small, offered to me in recovery. Here I am... alive… still making progress … still not perfect … finding a new way forward in a growing community of women and men who share a lot in common around food and life.

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Training for happiness

 

 

Last Saturday, I woke up, went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth.

As I was looking in the mirror, I realized with a shock that I had just had 90 seconds of ordinary life. I didn’t say “oh, shit” when I woke up. I didn’t say “ugh” when I stood up from the bed. I didn’t say “my leg… my hip… my back” as I hobbled to the bathroom. I didn’t say “I was in a terrible accident. I was on a ventilator and I still couldn’t breathe. I could have been killed. I could have been paralyzed… ” There was none of that. I just got up, went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth and was ordinary for 90 seconds.

Joy! If I could do this ordinary life thing for 90 seconds, I could do it for longer. During this week, I’ve been changing my inner language. Instead of walking around with my mind telling me over and over again, “This isn’t your regular body. This is too different. We need to get that other body back,” I’m training myself to note, “This is the body that I’m in now. I’m working with it. It’s my new normal.”

About three months after my accident, I began to have the strength to turn myself over in bed. It was a struggle. I was weak and there was pain. I grimaced and groaned through the whole procedure. About six months in, I began to think that my face might get stuck in that grimace. It looked to me like the furrow between my brows was deepening. Something had to be done!  So, I began to train myself to relax my face and gently smile instead. I acted as if turning over in bed was a pleasure. Gradually, I began to feel incredibly grateful for the accomplishment of turning over in bed.

This “acting as if”, and telling myself a better story, and creating a new meaning are helping. They are helping me to do the necessary work to get physically better and they are helping me to notice my progress.

Of course, I still have “ugh” moments. I get tired in the afternoon and evening. I’m more uncomfortable. I’m more vulnerable to sadness and fear. But, it feels like, as I get stronger, that vulnerability is what is actually creating the opportunity for healing. Each time I get a little stronger, another level of Post Traumatic Stress symptoms show up — difficulty sleeping, restlessness, agitation, shallow breathing, hot flashes, fearful and negative thoughts. Once I see the symptoms for what they are, I can say, “I hear you. A big thing happened. It’s over now. Everything is OK.” Thank you, G-d, this works. I’ve made it through this level… until the next time and a deeper healing.

So, as my 12 step program for food addiction teaches me, I can make up my mind to be happy. Easier said than done. It’s a process. And, miraculously, it can work.

P.S. Wallace & Gromit always make me smile.

Love & Light,

Valerie

4 Comments to Training for happiness

  1. Myra Tate's Gravatar Myra Tate
    May 16, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I am so glad you see a way forward. Me too in various ways. YOur message helps me see my way, unlocked from past fears and sorrows. xoxoxom

  2. Liz Thorson's Gravatar Liz Thorson
    May 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    This posting makes me smile for you, Valerie!! You are working so hard to discover and accept your “new normal.” I can “see” you turning another BIG corner with this 90 second experience!! I loved hearing you share your furrowed brow story, and what a feat you achieved in learning how to retrain your brain!!
    You ARE an inspiration to so many of us who know you and those of us who only know you through your writings!!

    Cheers!!

    Liz Hay Thorson

Leave a Reply to Liz Thorson

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