A whole wheat sticky bun with a maple glaze and dates. It just sang to me.
I hadn’t ordered something like that since… well let’s just say it’s been alongtime. Possibly because it's been forever.
I didn’t really know what was happening as the words came out of my mouth but I had just actually ordered a sticky bun. Wow. Okay. I am doing this. I'm allowing myself to eat a sticky bun, I thought.
“I’m really happy with that I got for breakfast!,” I kept saying to the table but no one was really listening. It was just me having a conversation with myself, as if to reassure myself that it was, indeed, a good choice. And it was. Most of time, breakfast pastries leave me wanting. They're too airy and light. When I'd borrow bites from other people, I usually felt like if I ate one, I'd be left feeling hungry and not all that impressed. But I was feeling this sticky bun. The whole wheat batter made for a bran-muffin-meets-banana-bread-like consistency and the dates plus the maple glaze were the sweet, hello-to-fall that I'd been craving since the temperature dipped below 65 degrees. Not mention there was the borderline religious experience of giving in to a 10+ yearlong desire to order a breakfast pasty without shame. This moment, however unacknowledged by my breakfast compatriots, was rapturous.
But then brunch ended. And I was left with an hour-long dive home, with no activities or chatting families to drown out the creeping anxiety: How am I going to get through dinner? Oh god. I think we're eating out. How can I find a way to stay home? How am I going to make it through today without exercise now? Why didn’t I just order something normal? My skin started to itch and my tongue felt as if it might swell up and choke me. My muscles were taught with anxiety, I began scratching at the tops of my fingernails – what had I done?
As I tried to quiet those feelings, all that tension turned to a deep, boiling frustration. This recovery thing is just too much. Not even two hours ago, I had felt so empowered by my ability to order food outside of my “comfort” zone and enjoy it as the occasional treat that it was — and instead it had left me floundering in panic. Everything is a struggle. Everything is an ordeal. Nothing is easy. I was fuming and I was exhausted.
Eventually we got home and I scrambled out of the car, searching for a tool to calm me down. I ended up on the front porch swing, listening to music and trying to get out of my head. I started to work my way through a gentle yoga flow. Tunes on, thoughts off, I told myself. So there I went, gently rocking back and forth, in and out of downward-facing dog. As I calmed my thoughts and reconnected with my body, I started to forget my panic. I was just doing yoga. As I worked my way through my flow, I ended up in dolphin pose which led to me drop my head to the ground and lifting...
and then, while standing on my head on the front porch, my eyes started to fill with tears of joy.
Because god damn, look how far I've come.
One or two years ago, I would never thought I could lift into a headstand without a wall behind me for support (if at all). One or two years ago, I would have never imaged ordering and eating a sticky bun at brunch. One or two years ago, I would have dreamed of doing both of those things but the fear (of falling backwards, of letting go, of the unknown and uncontrolled) would have kept my feet on the ground and my fork in familiar, boring territory.
Eating that sticky bun was no different than learning to do a headstand. First I had to know it was an option. Then I had to take the time, lots of time, and practice to work up the strength. Then, even when I had the physical ability and the tools, I had to deal with the fear.
And the thing with headstands is that even once you conquer the fear, you can still fall. But falling out doesn’t undo the effort it took to get up there in the first place. It doesn't undo the fact that you got there.
Sticky buns are like headstands.
You don't always need a sticky bun, but you might want one. You might go to eat one and realize that you weren't ready for it or perhaps it's a bit too big or a bit too sweet. But you tried. You gave it a shot and you owe yourself that shot, if you want it. Food fear doesn't disappear over night. It takes time and practice and sometimes the process feels really crummy.
I spent a little time stressing about the sticky bun after I ate it but probably not a much time as I'd have spent envying everyone else's ability to order what they wanted had I not. At least I was able to get there. Thinking about a decision after it's been made doesn't make it the wrong one. It makes you cautious, just like the yogi practicing headstands next to a wall. The more decisions that you make, the more you will begin trust in them. The more that yogi lifts and stands, the more that wall will become useless.
The more you break through the fear, the easier it get to forget the fear. Eventually that thing you're scared of, it will just happen. Except it won't have just happened... you will have willed it to happen. You will have worked for it to happen.