We can’t be perfect all the time, especially when things are difficult. self compassion
When I first started my 4-year spiritual road trip, I was in great physical shape. I had been getting up at 4:30 every morning, on the treadmill by 4:45 for a half-hour run, and then following that up with yoga and meditation prior to getting dressed for the day. In the afternoons, I would also try to do a fitness class at the local Goodlife gym.
My weight has been an issue for me since childhood… I was the sensitive, shy, squishy child, not the outgoing and athletic one.
So feeling good about the size and density of my body was important to me, and I was confident in my appearance as I embarked on my journey in late 2013. I therefore wanted to keep up my routine.
I also wanted to continue being a vegan; eating plants rather than animal products. I first became a vegetarian in 1992—back when hardly anyone understood it. I became a vegan when I learned about factory farming. Over the years, I went back and forth between abstaining from meat and eating it; my mind and heart wanted plants, but sometimes my body and budget turned to the alternative.
In autumn 2013, I was lean and vegan and happy about it.
Reality Sets In
But I couldn’t sustain this level of “perfection” for long.
Once I started on my road trip into the US, to discover who I really was and heal all that I was not, the stresses piled onto my life. I would always drink a nutritional shake for breakfast and eat protein bars throughout the day, but eventually my body needed comfort food.
As well, I was trying to do at least yoga or running every day, but the process of healing is draining and sometimes my body just needed rest. I was also constantly moving from one temporary home or motel room to another; that’s hard on the energy field, the root chakra, and the emotions.
I resisted resting, and I resisted eating my one comfort food—ice cream. self compassion
Beating Myself Up
Added on to this, I would mentally beat myself up if ever I caved and ate things that would make me fat. How would any guy find me attractive if I got squishy again? (This was back when I was also yearning for a romantic partner, thinking that that was the solution to what my life was missing. [It wasn’t.])
The more that I ate for comfort, and the more that my body got softer, the worse I felt. I felt like I was letting myself down. I felt like I was failing somehow.
The final resentment: I felt like my “spiritual journey” had taken over my life such that I had absolutely no control.
For me, personally, that latter was true: I, the little “I,” had no control. I had surrendered to my highest purpose, turned my life over to Source and my soul, and could only continue to allow whatever needed to happen in order to reach that goal.
After about a year and a half of this unhealthy dynamic, I finally caved and gave my body permission to do and become whatever it needed, during this intense time of transformation.
During the winter and spring of 2015, I was processing and integrating such high levels of energy that I could barely even walk, let alone run. I remember the June Solstice that year: I was helping out at a Reiki 3 training, and the attunements (uprgades to the energy fields of the Reiki students) happened on the day of Solstice. I had already been working with the Earth’s energy field to help integrate the energies that come in at Solstice, so my circuits were fried from that. Add in the energies in the room of a Reiki 3 group, plus everything I’d already been through over the winter and spring, and it happened that I couldn’t hold myself upright that day.
One of the other volunteers told me that I needed to get a stress test done, some bloodwork. Admitting that I did have a serious problem, I drove myself to the emergency room.
They couldn’t do anything for me there, so I checked out. But I went straight to the grocery store and bought myself a tuna sandwich and a Vitamin Water. Those helped.
The following week, I was pushing myself once again to “get skinny.” I put on my running clothes and hobbled out to go for a run. I could barely walk. Literally: My physical body had a hard time figuring out how to do it. So much for running… self compassion
Allowing the Comfort
Over that summer, I did the best I could with what I had. I think that’s all we can ever do. I moved my body when I could, and rested when I needed to. And I ate the foods that comforted me and also made my life easier. That included ice cream, as well as meat. I didn’t fault myself for either of those.
By the following year, ice cream was a regular part of my diet—and I was okay with that. I knew that I was going through something that was threatening my life; I genuinely was just focused on staying alive. Whatever I needed, I allowed; as long as it wasn’t too destructive.
Now it’s 2020 and I am still squishy. I hate that. I don’t hate it because I’m being hard on myself or have an image of perfection that I’m trying to attain. I just hate how it feels. So I’m working on it, when I can. self compassion
Something’s Got to Give
When life has become challenging, we strain our resources when we try to maintain levels of perfection that we might have endured while the challenges were absent. To try to continue being perfect—at every single thing—only adds to the stress. I learned that something’s got to give. One of those figurative balls that we’re juggling needs to drop. We need to allow ourselves to do what we need and want to do, in order to get through it.
I learned, too, that the energy of craving is a strong force. To crave something and simultaneously deny it to ourselves, can sometimes be a distraction, and can also drain our energy. I once realized that trying to resist my craving for the soothing comfort of ice cream, was so strong that I was spending all of my time resisting it. I finally realized this and went out and got the dessert. I had some, the need went away, and I could focus again.
I will add a caveat that in cases of dependence or addiction, it might be right to act differently. I am merely talking about a) my own experience, and b) somewhat benign cravings such as those for comfort foods.
As well, I’d like to add that when I did have a comfort food, I chose ones of a higher quality. I wanted to lessen the destructive impact of these foods on my body, and also support the companies that had a higher level of integrity (I know—the dairy industry by definition is torture, I know this…). I felt no need to add more destruction by choosing products that really shouldn’t be put into human bodies. self compassion
In my life even still, there are days when just getting out of bed, standing upright, having a shower, and putting on fresh clothes is a success. On those days, anything else that I do is just a bonus. The world that I live in as an empath and an energy worker is unpredictable, tumultuous, and sometimes incapacitating.
I understand that now. I don’t like it (and I fight it when I can); but I understand it.
I do look forward to the day when I am exercising every day. Because it makes me happy and I love how it feels.
I also look forward to the day when I am consuming only plants. Because I like how that feels. More importantly, the animals…
Until that perfect day arrives, I do the best with what I have. I try to make every single decision a conscious one. I do start each day with a nutritional shake and a handful of vitamins and supplements, to stay on track as much as possible. But I allow the imperfections.
It’s a challenging time, and we do what we need to do in order to get through it; being compassionate and kind to the world and to ourselves.
How are you doing?
The full account of my 4-year road trip is called “25,000 Miles to Me: Faith, Endurance, and Uncovering My True Self.”