A few weeks ago, I went to see a specialist about the throat discomfort and swallowing problems I’d been experiencing (see my “It’s Always Something” post for more about this). As usual, I had to spend quite a bit of time in the waiting room, and this particular waiting room was more crowded than usual. In addition, the phone was ringing off the hook and the environment was far from peaceful. To combat my internal frustration, I decided to journal about my feelings in that moment. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote:
“Waiting to see specialist, room full of people… I don’t want to be here! I don’t want the medical model with all of its procedures and medications. I am tired of identifying as a sick person! I need to heal myself spiritually. I can do it, and I will!”
In that moment, I felt absolute clarity about what I did and did not want. I was clear in my desire to focus on my “healing project” rather than pursue medical procedures and prescription drugs. I didn’t have much time to reflect, however, as I was quickly whisked back into the examining room to see the doctor. Almost immediately, she spoke of my having an endoscopy and taking twice-daily medications. These things were exactly what I didn’t want!
I requested that the endoscopy be postponed for a month. I agreed to take the medication, but I never ended up filling the prescription due to my worries about potential side effects. Instead, I’ve been focusing on lifestyle changes such as eating more digestible foods in smaller portions and chewing my food more thoroughly. I also take small doses of over-the-counter medication, which seems to be sufficient at this point. Although my throat problem (medical term = Laryngopharyngeal Reflux) has not gone away, it’s definitely less severe than it was a month ago.
Last weekend, my husband and I went on an overnight trip to Catalina Island. This place holds special meaning for us, as it’s where we were married almost 9 years ago. The island is just a short trip from where we live in San Diego, yet it feels like a world away. We generally try to visit Catalina at least a few times per year, sometimes on short notice when we feel the need to get away.
We were lucky to be greeted with warm and beautiful weather for our short getaway. This was fortuitous given that June tends to be cool and overcast in the coastal Southern California areas (hence the term “June gloom” which is used by locals). Warm weather inevitably brings out young women in bikinis, working on their tans and strutting their stuff along the beaches.
Needless to say, I am not one of these women in bikinis. While I have worn a bikini a few times in my life, those occasions have been extremely rare and punctuated by intense self-consciousness. Nowadays, it is a major breakthrough for me to even wear a bathing suit at all. The usual occurrence is about once or twice a year and I haven’t purchased a new swimsuit in close to ten years. I generally try to avoid occasions which call for swimsuits like the plague, although I once was a competitive swimmer and someone who loved being in the water.
To weigh or not to weigh, that is the question. Sure, it’s not as substantial an issue as Hamlet’s “To be or not to be,” but it is a question I’ve been pondering in recent days.
A bit of background is in order. Until around a month ago, I hadn’t weighed myself in two and a half years. I decided to break that streak because I felt my hesitation to step on the scale was grounded in fear, as opposed to being a triumphant and empowering choice. I had reached the conclusion that it would be more courageous for me to weigh myself than to continue to fear an inanimate metal object. I wrote about this process in a post titled “Facing Fears” in my sister blog, “The Healing Project.” At that time of that post, I was feeling quite liberated by having faced my scale phobia after such a long period of trepidation.
Moments of Truth…
Fast forward two weeks… I have since weighed myself two more times. As my initial weight did not meet with my approval, I vowed to weigh myself weekly until I had lost at least five (and preferably closer to ten) pounds. My second scale experience of 2010 went well, as the number had migrated two pounds in the right direction. I felt exalted and successful; the scale had proclaimed my acceptability and I could proceed in my life without criticism or self-flagellation. I only briefly considered the inherent stupidity in allowing one mere measure of my entire being to make a statement on my worthiness. After all, I was feeling good, so why question it?
Fear is a normal emotion and a natural part of life. We all have things which we’re afraid of, and many of our fears are actually healthy and adaptive. Fear can help us to steer clear of dangerous situations and it can help us to navigate safely through treacherous encounters. While some fears can be healthy and helpful, other fears are actually detrimental to our happiness and well-being.
Most of us have fears which could be considered irrational. We can be deathly afraid of things which really cannot hurt us. Some of these fears impact us in fairly minor ways. For example, if you’re afraid of clowns, you may avoid the circus, but this fear likely won’t impact you to any large degree. Likewise, if you are terrified of thunder but live in an area where it rarely even rains, you won’t have to face your fear on a regular basis.