Last night, I attended CoDA Coffee Hour–they meet at a nearby coffee shop prior to the weekly meeting. It’s a chance to socialize, to get to know better the people you’re in recovery with outside of the meeting’s 6-minute closely-timed shares.
Coffee Hour ended up being my share last night. I told how one woman was telling me about her recent digital interview experience. She praised its novelty and effectiveness for drawing out her real personality. Soon into answering the questions, her posture was relaxed, her hands became animated, and she felt she nailed it.
And she did–she got a job offer as we sat having coffee.
I thought about my own job search, the interviews I’d participated in, and the number of rejections I’ve received. Suddenly, I was aware of how not animated I was in the moment. In fact, throughout most of coffee hour, I said very little. I was quiet and reserved. I became of aware of how easily some held my attention, and others didn’t. In my quiet moments, I worried that perhaps something was wrong with me.
Was it because we were steps away from a restaurant that played a role in our breakup last year?
No, not really.
Was it because I was alone, with no companion?
No, not really.
Perhaps it was because I woke up sad that morning and that feeling had carried over to the evening?
No, not really.
And then it dawned on me: being quiet is not the death knell of a good day. It does not necessarily mean anything is wrong. Or that I’m hurting. Or that I’m in crisis.
It simply means I feel like being quiet.
This should not be a foreign concept to me, but it is. After all, I’m drawn to hobbies that promote independency and quiet. Puzzles. Reading. Long, hot baths.
Maybe, my compulsion toward being talkative and animated and getting rid of silence is part of a codependent performance, an ingrained–though false need–to constantly perform, to be on stage, to please those around me.
Then perhaps this is just the latest re-discovery of me: I have a quiet side.
I shared this, and I had others approach me after the meeting to confirm they were the same way. I left CoDA feeling self-assured, confident, and capable.
…and then, I fell down the rabbit hole.
I wasn’t getting the text responses I wanted from him. While I was at dinner with a friend, his responses to me were sporadic and short. I started to catastrophize. I fell down the rabbit hole. While at dinner, and as my friend was distracted in her own text conversation, I hopped on Facebook to see if he was online. Then I checked his friends list–it had grown. More pictures of mostly blonde, single, busty women.
I told my friend I was in the rabbit hole. She told me to breathe and that it would pass. But it didn’t. And before she, I, and the waiter knew it, I had blown through 15 Andes mints. The wrappers I had taken and neatly folded not unlike I did bath towels at home. And as I was in the process, I was reminded of a character in one of my favorite movies doing the same thing with gum wrappers. She was in the midst of a rabbit hole of emotions and withdrawals.
My massive consumption of Andes mints turned into a joke between my friend, the waiter, and I, especially after I calculated the number of calories I’d just consumed. They teased me that they’d have a t-shirt printed with the waiter’s face, pictures of Andes Mints, the words, “Calories are fun!,” and a bold 400 (calories) on the back.
I easily joined in the laughter and added a few self-deprecating comments. And then we got into our cars and went home. On my way home, my stomach began hurting. 15 Andes mints felt like they were burning a hole through my stomach.
I got home, crawled into bed, and he made his chest available for me to lay my head on. I was asleep within minutes. And when a big thunderstorm rolled through and a large clap of thunder shook the house in the middle of the night–startling me out of a deep sleep–he pulled me back close to him and I fell asleep again.
He asked a few times last night and again this morning about how my meeting went. He asked if anything interesting happened, and if I shared.
As he left for work this morning, I told him be wary of sirens out there.
Sirens, he asked.
Don’t let them lure you, no matter how blonde and busty they are, I said.
I added: You are loved here.
As if he didn’t quite hear me, he repeated: I am loved here.
I know, he said.
He kissed me goodbye, told me he loved me, and headed out to work.
The rabbit hole is damn tricky place. In many ways, the rabbit hole is my siren. I feel lured in by the promises of knowledge, reassurance, or control. And yet, it never delivers on those promises. It only perpetuates the self-doubt, the anxiety, and the feeling of being out of control.
And the food I feel calling me when I’m in a codependent moment, a gray day, a crisis, is just as misleading. While I only semi-consciously blew through all 15 of those Andes mints, I can tell you that some part within me was practicing self-comfort.
But there is a difference between self-comfort and self-love.
As I drove home last night, the thought crossed my mind: what happened to my mantra, “I am precious…” How had I checked it at the door of the restaurant and failed to make good decisions for myself?
But part of being precious–and treating myself as such–is also practicing patience and returning to a place of self-love. In mind, body, and spirit.
In the movie I referenced above, the character has a moment where she finally expresses that there is something wrong with her, that she doesn’t want to die.
It’s the first time she’s proactively taken responsibility for her actions and it’s the first time she’s asked for help. It’s the turning point of her storyline.
Last night, I binged. Not just through 15 Andes mints, but through dinner, too. I cannot keep equating food with feeling love. I cannot keep listening to the false promises of the rabbit hole. I cannot keep reading between the lines of his online activities with a fearful and anxious lens.
Today, my focus will be living in the present. As today’s meditation confirms:
We can clear our mind of the residue of yesterday. We can clear our mind of fears of tomorrow. We can be present, now. We can make ourselves available to this moment, this day. It is by being fully present now that we reach the fullness of tomorrow….all you have is now. It is enough.
Now is enough, and so am I.