“Yes, your chore for today is making brownies,” I said matter of factly.
GG (my twelve-year-old) stared blankly at me as realization crossed her face. She suddenly took off to the kitchen to do her “chore”, before I changed my mind (the promise of a reward at the end of her task motivating her).
I’ve managed to avoid eating brownies for years knowing that they are my vice. But with the quarantine, all rules have been laid by the wayside. The two treats a week rule has been thrown into the abyss along with my hopes and dreams.
I avoid putting on my apple watch, knowing the shame I will feel at the end of the day. Apple has this great new feature that compares your movements to an animal. My husband will be rewarded with a picture of a great black stallion and hardy “Neigh”, declaring his prowess for activity. I, on the other hand, will only see a sloth grunting (at least I think they grunt). (Apple doesn’t really have this feature).
My business all but shut down these last months. I help people launch their ideas and dreams by applying process, accountability, and resources. In a time where everyone is re-prioritizing, extra dreams are not on the top of the list. I get it, no hard feelings. Who gives a crap about building a personal brand when the world around you is potentially dying and we are fighting over tp. The issue is, my DNA is about feeling productive. I love it. The rush of motivation as I dive into a project headfirst is like a drug. I come alive as someone talks about their dream and I see the potential times ten. When this all started, I tried to force the client’s hands by asking for content and encouraging clients to continue to meet. Then clients canceled and rescheduled continuously. My attempts at email and texts were met with silence. It was time to take the hint.
Idle brains make a devil’s playground…then I started overthinking everything and overthinking about everyone. Which, I think we can agree, is a dark path to go down. This path looked like: losing my religion, regaining it, switching political parties (multiple times), picking several fights purely for entertainment’s sake, consider going back to school (again), redecorating my entire home, deciding to become a writer fulltime, apply for a job at an ad agency, realize I don’t want to work for someone else, deciding to become a homesteader, look for a farm to buy to become a homesteader, ordering seeds for the garden I will never plant, convince myself that I have no friends, realize I have the best friends ever and declare my love over text messages, planning next year’s spring break vacation to Malaysia, resolve that COVID will never end and we will not be going to Malaysia or anywhere ever again. Then, I gave up.
So here I sit, in all my slothful glory eating forbidden brownies (for a third time in a week). For just a moment, the sweet morsels hit my tongue and I stop thinking. My world slows down and all the cares slip away. This is my new drug. Then I look down and see my stomach roll protrude over my jeans and the thinking begins again. Time for the next drug to distract: bingeing on yet another poorly written Netflix series. And once again for a brief moment, I escape the hamster wheel of my brain…till it ends and I am left with the sinking empty feeling once again and the hampster starts his perpetual trek.
I sat nervously in her office wringing my hands. I had been meeting with her for a couple of months now. She wasn’t in-network, so I was paying out of pocket. But I hoped her spiritual/holistic approach would help me to finally have that deep breakthrough when it came to my diet and exercise regimen.
“What is a healthy coping mechanism?” I pleaded as I thought about the whole bag of chips I ate the night before.
She looked at me confidently, “Warriors don’t cope.”
This resounded in my soul. I’ve always considered myself a warrior type. In fact, my name translates warrior. Then I wrestled with this statement and the validity of it. How could she say humans didn’t need coping mechanisms? If I don’t find ways to escape the hamster in my head, I believe he would eat me alive.
As I’ve had too much time to think about all of this, I think I have a resolve… Maybe it’s not about coping at all. I’m thinking this all comes down to four things: Recognizing, Permission, Response and Resolve. RECOGNIZE the reality of the situation. This applies to our current epidemic situation and other trials we face. We give ourselves and others PERMISION on how to behave based on that reality. That might look like consuming a pan of brownies. Next, RESPONDing with kindness to ourselves and others based on that reality once a choice is made. If I look at my stomach roll in disgust after my brownie snack, but I already gave myself permission to cope in this manner, a better response than disgust, would be to delight in the brownie and its glory. To take it further, I RESOLVE that it might not have been the best choice but gave myself permission to enjoy some pleasure during a time where we need to find the joy in life. My RESOLVE might be to not make that choice again, as in a practical sense, I won’t fit into my clothes soon. Ultimately, I apply no shame to the choice I made. I learn from my response, move on and hope to make a better choice moving forward based on the tested evidence from my last response. This cycle should be repeated over and over with all my choices.
Now I’ve completely overcomplicated eating brownies in a time of crisis. Simply put, it comes down to doing the opposite of escapism. Which is being present. Being present in our choices even in coping. I think the shame comes on when we realize we just did something that is contrary to who we believe we are at the core of ourselves. Shame comes when we mindlessly make a choice, learn nothing from it, and repeat said mindless choice again.
**It has been a week since my last brownie. I’ve given myself permission to moved on to cookies.
Always Growing, Marcy