On scootching, stalling and catasrophic reversals

..scootch, scootch, stall; scootch, stall, catastrophic reversal; bog, bog, scootch.”
Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith

In her book, Grace (Eventually), Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott tells the story of how when she and her 10 year old son moved into their new house he was afraid to sleep in his new bedroom which was much further away from hers than in their old house – separated by two rooms and two short hallways.

They devised a plan to get him to sleep in his room. He slept in a sleeping bag which on the first night was on her bed. Each night they would move it about 3 feet.  First to the foot of her bed. The next to the floor next to her bed. He made it to the door on the fourth night but stayed there for two nights before he could make it into the hallway. The were three nights in the hallway and another four  during which he traversed the living room with “four three-foot scootches, one stall, and a one night when he had to drag his sleeping bag three feet”.

I absolutely love this story. What a brave sweet boy he was. The quote at the beginning of the post is how Anne describes her own attempts to make progress in her life , “with family, in work, relationships, self-image“.

Over the past year I’ve been scootching along very nicely in all areas of my life. Yes there have been some stalls, but they haven’t lasted long and I’ve been able to get myself scootching along again without to much trouble.

Over the last month or so however I’ve had a series of catastrophic reversals.  After having moved pretty far along in several areas like diet and self-image it all went to hell in the proverbial hand basket.

My self-esteem has taken a self-inflicted and deadly beating.

All the ways in which I feed my soul – writing, reading, meditation, exercise have been grossly neglected if not eliminated.

My diet has had the most catastrophic reversal of all. I stopped eating the minimum 50% raw food diet I’d been aiming for. I stopped drinking my daily beloved green-smoothies which make me feel so good. I stopped eating fresh fruit and vegetables and drinking enough water.

Its not just a case of me not eating the healthy, nurturing food that I’ve been trying to make my primary source of nourishment – I actually regressed to the point of eating and drinking things I’d long given up.  In the past month I think I’ve had 4 sodas (pop/cola/soft-drinks). Those who know me will be shocked, knowing that I gave up soda several years ago. It has been the one vice which I have never felt a desire to pick-up. I have eaten candy. Lots of it. Something I don’t particularly like. But I did it anyway.

Last weekend, I set out on a quest for my old nemesis – Popeye’s fried chicken. It wasn’t easy. It required a special trip to a mall that I happen to know has a Popeyes in it. I spent 20 minutes driving around this gargantuan mall in search of the food court and because it was so busy I had to walk though acres of parking in sub-zero temperatures. (OK maybe they weren’t sub-zero but it sure felt like it.) Obviously I was jonesing pretty badly for that southern fried chicken and was willing to go to any lengths to get it. Even braving the frigid cold.

What has happened to make me regress in this insane way?

I don’t know. All I can tell you is that the regression has spread like a petroleum-fueled blaze. So powerful and quick has it been that I’ve only been able to watch in horror as one act of self-violation has led to another.  And as it has spread I’ve felt more and more awful. My body is staging a revolt. My digestive system has all but gone on strike. My skin is losing its brightness and dark circles are starting to reappear under my eyes. I have no energy. My mind is fogged over and moves with the speed of an ant that’s been thrown into a vat of molasses. Depression has crept in and shrouded me in its pervasive cloak. I have been feeling like shyte in body, mind and soul.

The good news is that I’ve stopped to take a breath and refocus on what I’m scootching towards. I’m stopping the madness.

In Anne Lamott’s essay, after a massive binge involving fried apple-fritters, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and fried jalapeno poppers – she finds herself immersed in “waves of nausea and self-loathing”.  She calls a friend who says:

“You struggled through something really miserable. You told the truth when its to tempting to cover up and disguise it. You said ‘This is the mess of my life, and I need help.’ And now you’re being helped.”

So I guess I’m telling the truth and asking for help. It certainly helps to “talk” about it. I feel better. And as a wise friend advised me, I’m not going to beat myself up for beating myself up.

I am being helped. Going to my writing group yesterday helped push my reset button. Picking up a couple of my favorite books helped. Eating  a fresh persimmon for breakfast helped. Help is always at hand.

Isn’t this what life is like for many of us though?  The constant steady scootching; the frustration of stalls and bogs and the devastation of catastrophic reversal.

The only thing I’ve been able to figure out is that you have to keep on scootching. You have to be kind to yourself, remember what it is that you are scootching towards and recognize how damn far you’ve scootched already!

  • http://tharealherstory.wordpress.com Nikki

    Popeye’s?????? *heavenly sigh*
    don’t beat yourself up what good will that do? i read this in my LBD Programme so thought i’d copy and paste it for you….i hope it helps it may not work on popeye’s but on everything else it’s a winner.

    ‘Something I learnt at a workshop this weekend was the concept of having an imaginary bouncer in front of you or beside you all day long. (Does the term ‘bouncer’ exist outside of the UK? – They are door men who stop people going into clubs if they don’t look the part). So what you do is pick a word – mine is exceptional – and if anyone or anything comes towards you the bouncer asks “Are you exceptional?” If the answer is yes then in you come, if the answer is no then “on your bike, you’re not welcome!”
    It’s so simple but so cool, like the best things in life. So this morning I was feeling sorry for myself and fancied a slice of bread, my bouncer filtered out the bread because it was not exceptional. Now I need to put this to practice on men!! – lol ;)’

  • Sue

    @Nikki. Yes. Popeyes. I know its your nemesis as well. Aren’t you glad its an ocean away from you?

    I absolutely LOVE the bouncer concept. LOVE it. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to start putting it to work immediately.

blog comments powered by Disqus