Monday, June 28, 2010

DAY 323 Breaking Free From the Riptide

Hello Journal & Friends,

Have you ever been caught in a riptide?? That's when a strong undercurrent of water powerfully pulls you OUT to sea, away from the shore.

(this is a pic of an actual riptide, in the 
middle part where the foam whitecaps are missing)

When I was about 11 years old, my sister and brother and I were out swimming together in the ocean, near Santa Monica, California. When we weren't fighting, we were the Three Musketeers. We were all 1 year apart in ages...I was the middle kid.

Well, we got caught in a strong riptide, and ended up WAY out... little dots bobbing up and down in the water. We tried and tried to swim back to shore, but kept going OUT to sea. 

Finally my older brother, Les (he was 12) said to follow him. He started swimming parallel to the shore, and only slightly trying to swim inward. We didn't give up, but chose to keep trying, til we finally broke free.  

We ended up waaayyyy down the beach, I don't remember how many miles, but we finally made it back to shore, exhausted but alive. We never did tell our parents of our little escapade.

Why am I thinking of that?? 

Because when someone is about to drown, that's not the time to lecture them on water safety. 

When they are struggling to keep their head above water, you don't stop to teach them how to swim.

When they are caught in a riptide, you don't lecture them on how to spot a riptide and how to get out of it's grip.

When they are scared and going down for the third time, you don't go into all the fine details of stroke technique.

You give them basics, a way to survive and get going back to safety. Overall, how NOT TO DROWN.

I tend to do that on my blog... I tend to talk about the basics of how to get free from the riptide of being overweight... how to change the direction you are going and swim free from it's powerful pull. How not to be a victim, but take charge of your life and go toward your goals, not be pulled along and drowned in defeat.

I write about that stuff because that is what I, myself, have been learning. It is what has helped ME get free. 

I understand what it's like to feel like you are drowning, that you can't break free from what's pulling you down, that it's hopeless. I understand the frustration of trying and trying and trying, only to fail again and again and again.

So... I share those things that have helped me, hoping it might help someone else.

But, this morning I was thinking... there is a difference between Understanding and Compassion.

I guess I don't major on the Compassion part... I don't communicate that very well. I tend to focus on the practical, how-to parts. And that might sound like I don't have sympathy or concern or care for someone not "there" yet. Someone who hasn't broken free yet from that "riptide". Or that I even feel "superior" to them or think less of them.

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

I WAS them... for too many years. I struggled, and doubted, and hurt and hoped and tried... I STILL struggle at times.

So I tend to share the foundational stuff, the stuff that got me GOING. We all have to fine tune it, to personalize our journey. But there is foundational stuff that is true for all of us. 

We are NOT victims. 
We have the power to choose. 
We CAN change.
It IS possible to do this.

I stopped eating sugar and flour in March of 2009, and my journey to health got easier. It was still a battle, but the physical cravings for that stuff calmed way down. After that, it was mainly the mental battle. I had to change my way of thinking, of coping. I have to face my stuff instead of stuffing my face.

But my point is: even before I stopped the sugar/flour, I had a choice. It was harder, yes, but I still had a choice. I was not a victim. No one was holding a gun to my head and forcing me to eat. I had a choice. 

If we only realized how much power we have... we have been given this wonderful ability to DECIDE that we are going to reach out, to find the answers for ourselves, to not accept "fate", to not give up. 

It is life-changing... and that is why I talk about it. 

My focus is not on how bad things are, but on what I can DO.
My focus is not on being a victim, but having the power to CHOOSE.
My focus is not on having an addiction, but on my ability to DECIDE.

It seems to me that the most compassionate thing I could offer would be not only my sympathy and concern, but what to DO about it... how to get free... to tell someone that they CAN choose, to encourage them to BELIEVE it, and support them in that.

From Dr Phil's book: "You can pull up the stakes, transcend your conditioning, and reprogram yourself for success rather than failure."

My verse for today: "Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle."

My quote for today: "People who make no mistakes lack boldness and the spirit of adventure. They are the brakes on the wheels of progress." --Dale Turner

Enjoy the Journey,



Christine said...

very very good. I know I can come off as lacking in compassion too.
But the image of me leaning over a life raft and saying
"oh, how looks like your drowning, that must be an AWFUL feeling."
makes me giggle.
Good post.

dailyseeking said...

Wonderful post; just what I needed today! Thanks for your response in regards to my grandparents; yes they were everything and more!

Anonymous said...
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debby said...

Good post Loretta. Fantastic (and scary) story about all three of you caught in a riptide.

Retta said...

DEB SAID: "Hmmmm. Understanding powerlessness is not the same thing as declaring oneself to be a victim. Really, it's not."

I never said it was.

"My focus is not on how bad things are, but on what I can DO.
My focus is not on being a victim, but having the power to CHOOSE.
My focus is not on having an addiction, but on my ability to DECIDE."

My point is what to FOCUS on... where to put my energies... what to fill my mind with.

DEB SAID: "Acknowledging addiction is not the same thing as giving up..."

I never said it was.

DEB SAID: " is knowing what to fight. Understanding addiction actually set me free."


We ALL have reasons it is harder or easier. Many people have physical reasons, like gluten, sugar, allergies, etc that play havoc with their ability to make healthy choices... making it harder.

Many have emotional/mental reasons. Example: I was taught from infancy to use food to soothe, to celebrate, to reward and to escape. Does this make it harder? Dang right. I had to change... whole long process, but I finally "got it". I had to be willing. It's hard. Lots of mental hurdles and minefields...

Bottomline, we all have our own cards we have been dealt, and we get to play the game with them. I wasted a lot of years whining about the cards I was dealt... didn't think they were "fair". We are all going to be unique... we will all have different cards. But there are a few basics that apply to all.

We are all on the same journey... to wellness. I'm glad you found your path to freedom.


Scarlet Simple said...

This is so true. We all have within us (all of us losing weight or trying to overcome something) the ability to make choices that will effect the outcome of our journey. My mental hurdles are very very tall, but I'm still making it over them.

I considered overeaters anonymous (before WW) but these are the reasons I didn't go. And I am certainly not kicking anyone. This journey to lose weight is so personal and so raw. It is completely different for everyone. Even had I said that I was powerless, I would not have felt it, and saying it would have made me feel shame...because I know better(about me). I am strong willed, and I have a strong personality. I am not powerless in the face of the hole I've started digging. I need help! We all do, but I made bad choices to get here and one way or the other its good choices that are going to get me out!

Sorry! That got long! Good post!

Kat said...

Awesome post Loretta. I find you very compassionate.

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