Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?" "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. --The Velveteen Rabbit
The second in a series
After the first three weeks of exercise and prayer, I recognized that more habit-changing had to happen. I was no where close to the peaceful healing I so wanted and my family needed. I decided to stop blogging for the month of June. More about that in the next post.
In addition to the blogging break, I undertook the Saint Diet. I knew I wanted to fast--I wanted my body and my soul to be oriented towards dependence upon God. I considered other fasts, but this fast made the most sense to me. I wanted to overcome my tendency towards gluttony and to be reliant upon the tangible help of the Spirit to do it, but I wanted to work with my body chemistry, not against it. My body reacts very badly to sugar and to wheat. A fast that eliminates other foods, but allows wheat and sugar would have conspired to make overcoming my gluttony more difficult and it would have been detrimental to my physical well-being. Furthermore, I have learned that essential fatty acids are, well, essential, for me, particularly when battling depression. I paid careful attention to increasing fatty fish, beneficial oils, and EFA supplementation. The Saint Diet offers ample opportunity to whisper imploringly to the Spirit, "Please God, help me to desire you more than I desire this food." Jen does such a good job connecting the physical and spiritual dimensions in her posts, that little more needs to be said here.
After the first week or so of the "s" focus, I read this piece. And that finally resonated in a way no other look at fasting --and everyday eating--ever had. Again, I had to tweak a bit to reflect a healthy diet for me. But I have pretty much adopted this monkish meal plan.
My family does not eat this way. One of the other things I did during my detox time was to make well-considered meal plans and detailed grocery lists. I've always done this, but this time I did it with a distinct sense of detachment. I still believe in the beautiful expression of love and community that comes around the dining room table. And I still believe in healthy, well-prepared food. My personal perspective has changed a bit though, in a way I can't articulate very well.
This was about the time I added an intentional reduction in telephone use. I have long had a tradition of little or no telephone use when my husband is home. In searching my heart to see how things had gotten so out of control, I could see that my telephone and computer use had gone up exponentially when he stopped working from home and took a job downtown, right around the time Karoline was born. So, in order to train myself to be sensitive to computer and telephone use once again, I endeavored to refrain from both when my children were present and awake. It's crazy how much peace that practice brings! Truth be told, I have never been idle while on the phone. I use a headset and fold laundry, clean the kitchen, cook meals, but there's always a bit of chaos around me as I do.
And then there is another thing: my children are older now. Adult conversations don't sail over their heads. They hear them. They understand them as well as one can understand when he only hears one side. They shouldn't. It's not their world. Nor should I carry on a conversation with someone else while they are in the room. It's just rude. There are rare exceptions, of course. But they are exceptions. It's amazing how much this has affected the quality of the conversations I do have. When I wait until I can fully focus on talking instead of being distracted and interrupted by my children and couching my speech so as to protect them and the listener, I have better conversations. I can share more deeply. I can reach my "real." What's more important is that I can reach the "real" of the person to whom I am talking.
So, the second three weeks was more of the same exercise and prayer, with the addition of sharply curtailed internet use, very little telephone, and the Saint Diet. About a week into this phase, it was Memorial Day weekend. Three soccer tournaments, three different towns, all far away. I drove and drove and drove. I schlepped my poor baby around in 90 degree heat and DC humidity. I got to know every corner of rural Maryland.I didn't even think about the computer or the phone. When I got home at night, the only things I read were soccer-related emails. And I felt utterly detached from the bloggy world. That was the good part.
The bad part was that I was so unbelievably, incredibly, overwhelmingly tired that I seriously wondered when I would fall over. Around Thursday of the week following Memorial Day, I crashed again. And I despaired. All this work! All these habits! Hours and hours of prayer. And all that driving time? I had spent that listening to spiritually uplifting and challenging podcasts. Still, here I was a sobbing, exhausted heap.
What in the world was the problem with my program?
The whole series: