I'm just getting back in town from a weekend away at a women's retreat. It was so wonderful to get away and spend some time with 60+ women all walking a similar journey together. I was a little, okay, a lot!, anxious as Friday afternoon rolled around and the time came to go to Camp Tecumseh. Even though I've been to these retreats before, I'm never fully prepared for all of the feelings and emotions that might arise during the course of the weekend,
The opening night activity was just sort of okay for me emotionally and I was having a hard time envisioning how the theme of the retreat was going to connect for me as the weekend progressed. I think that part of my "problem" was that the theme was tied to the Wizard of Oz and I really do not care for that movie. But, I went along with it. I muddled through the small group activities and free time on Saturday afternoon and I found myself feeling, well, just sort of meh. I toyed with the idea of going home early, but this little voice inside me said "Stick it out", so I did.
The Saturday evening speaker's story was powerful. Her words reached me in the depths of my soul. She spoke of fear. I know fear. I'm introduced to someone new and I'm afraid that they're judging me by my fat before they even hear me say my first name. I'm walking to my mailbox and I get so short of breath that I can't breathe and I'm afraid that I'm going to have a heart attack and die in the parking lot. I'm afraid that my obesity is going to shorten my lifespan. I'm afraid that I'm dying. She spoke of looking at her reflection in the mirror and seeing dead eyes staring back at her. I have those eyes. Hollow. Empty. Distant. Cold. And as I sat there listening to her speak, choking back the tears, I was fervently praying "Please tell me that there is hope. Please. This can't be it!"
And then our speaker got to courage. Courage to give up the fight. Courage to let go and let God. Courage to ask for help. She got to compassion and I heard her say to allow others to love me as I am, and to keep loving me even when I don't love myself. Finally, she spoke of wisdom, wisdom to make the right decisions and to do the next right thing with guidance from God and the love and support from all of the people placed along the path to help me. And then it happened! I got my lightbulb moment. I'm suffocating because I'm still trying to do this on my own! I'm not allowing God to love me and I'm not allowing you to love me because I don't love me. Once I realized that, I was able to begin to breathe again, through my sobbing. My story doesn't have to end here. Tonight, I'm making the choice to take care of myself. Tonight, I'm making the choice to breathe!