Weekend Reading
January 16, 2022

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

On Thursdays and Fridays, I facilitate recovery groups for individuals in recovery from eating disorders or disordered eating who also identify as recovered (or recovering) from substance abuse or addiction.

These are two of my favorite hours of the whole week. I’m always so impressed with the vulnerability and courage that I see on display when my groups meet and vow to support themselves and each other.

I facilitate a pretty open-ended meeting. Sometimes I’ll sign on with a theme in mind, but I really prefer to let topics arise organically, in keeping with what’s on people’s mind.

One theme that keeps coming up lately is the comfortable familiarity of suffering. It seems that everyone who attends these meetings, including me, can identify with having some degree of attachment to old patterns of unhappiness, self-destruction or self-sabotage, and pain.

We meet because we want healing, and we believe that healing is possible. So why is it that we sometimes cling to patterns or behaviors that stand in the way of change?

I’ve suggested to my groups that we do this because the relationships, behaviors, patterns, or sensations that make us suffer are what we know. They hold us back, they make us miserable, and occasionally they drive us nuts. We’re all fed up with them.

But we know exactly what we’ll get from our suffering, whereas we have no idea what change—even change in the direction of freedom and happiness—will look like.

For people who seek to control their lives, which describes many of us, a painful known can be a lot less threatening than a potentially liberating and enriched unknown.

Not surprisingly, I often raise themes with the groups that I’m contending with in my own life. I don’t really make resolutions for the new year, but I usually have some intentions and hopes for myself that are on my mind in January. 2022 is the first year that I began with only one wish for myself: I want to be happy.

By this I don’t mean that I want to be happy all the time. I don’t expect a constant level of contentment or lack of tension, conflict, or pain.

When I say, “I want to be happy,” I guess what I’m saying is that I’d like to be happier than I’ve been for the last few years. I’d like to feel more joy, more ease, and yes, a little more contentment, too.

It would be cool to lean in to more things that feel good and lean away from things and habits that consistently make me feel like garbage. Challenge and pain are inevitable, but to whatever degree possible, I’d like to loosen and release unnecessary suffering. Especially suffering that I create myself, unwittingly or not.

I can observe the ways in which I’m honoring this desire as the new year kicks off. For the first week or so of January, I was excited to end my quarantine and hang out with friends. It was a week of abundant energy, gratitude, and celebration.

In the past week, prompted by freezing cold weather and a sense of overwhelm, I’ve been saying no to lots of stuff and turning inward instead. It’s been a cozy, quiet, contemplative week of steady (but not frantic) work, yoga, reflection, and processing my feelings.

Normally I’d be fretting about canceling plans and not being more present for other people. But I’m opting not to do that. Peace, quiet, and space to breathe are what I need right now.

Two very different weeks and moods. Yet in both cases, I’ve been able to meet myself where I am, ask myself what would feel good, and actually move in the direction of that sensation. I’ve been adaptable and honest with myself. This isn’t my default setting—in fact, it’s quite foreign—but it’s really nice.

Proof that the unknown can be a wonderful place to explore.

Wishing you a week of leaning into what feels good for your body, spirit, and heart. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

This creamy vegan mushroom pasta is one of my favorite things I’ve eaten lately. Now I’m excited to try Lindsay’s mushroom bolognese.

Air fryer shoestring fries, don’t mind if I do.

Sadia’s vegan Onigirazu are so colorful and pretty.

I’d love to try making Isabel’s Tamales de Elote.

A thousand times yes to Jenna’s vegan peanut butter chocolate cookie cups.

Reads

1. Ha! A professional baker reviews baking scenes from movies and TV.

2. Journalist Rebecca Coffey confronts her acrophobia of 30 years (and lives to write about it).

3. I found this inspiring: how activism keeps optimism alive.

4. When I did my oncology rotation for my dietetics training, I spent some time working with patients who had lymphoma and multiple myeloma, so I learned a bit about CAR T-cell therapy. It’s cool to read about new potential advances in treatment.

5. In keeping with my musings today, it’s always affirming to read about lives after addiction. Recovery is possible.

Happy Sunday, everyone. My mom is having a run with Covid, but it was pretty mild, and she’s doing really well—nearing the end of her quarantine now. Yet another reason to start 2022 with a grateful heart.

I hope that you have a peaceful evening.

xo

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  1. I always appreciate your reflections on our collective ways of being, and how you see these patterns in yourself. This patterned suffering – it’s really a survival thing. Finding any kind of predictability we can in this life to protect ourselves from the unknown. Even if that unknown brings the possibility of better – until we SHOW our nervous systems the new way is safe, it’s going to drive us back to what we know. Practicing joy – this is how we increase it.

    Sending you so much love for your resolution <3

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