Surrender, Serenity, and the Same Lesson, Yet Again

A couple days ago, I ended a post with a story about how drowning victims sometimes fight their rescuers until they need to be knocked unconscious and plucked from danger.

Well, this is me, trying not to drown.

*****

John and I went to see our baby for the 20-week anatomy scan on Wednesday. Everything looked great—baby is healthy and growing right on schedule. That night, though, I saw blood.

It was actually the second time I’d started bleeding. The first was about a month ago, after John and I went hiking in Palm Springs. That time, the doctor chalked it up to dehydration. On Wednesday, however, I was simply doing my desk job. No lifting heavy boxes, walking long distances, or forgetting to quench my thirst.

When we talked to the doctor about it on Thursday morning, he said it was my body’s way of saying, “Slow down.”

*****

My sponsor’s been talking to me about slowing down a lot lately, actually, asking me to consider—just consider—whether it might be time to scale back from full-time to part-time work. I haven’t been willing to do it. I’m up for a raise, and possibly a promotion, in December, and even though I’m pretty sure I don’t even want to go back to work after the baby’s born, I want that stinking raise.

I’ve been telling myself that plenty of women work full-time throughout their pregnancies. Plenty of women don’t have the luxury to cut back. My husband, my co-workers, my parents—they’ll think I’m a wimp, a weakling. And besides, I want to get what I’ve earned over the last year and half.

For a few weeks now, I’ve been aware that I’m being willful. But I’ve been afraid to meditate on this whole issue, to “listen to the clarity and wisdom of [my own] experience,” because I’m afraid I know the answer I’m going to get:

Let it go.

Take care of yourself and the baby.

Slow down.

And yet there I was on Wednesday, looking down at toilet paper dotted with blood.

*****

This isn’t the first time I’ve been willful. Far from it. When I first joined my Twelve Step program 11 years ago, one of the most difficult things for me to accept about my own mental illness—my eating disorder, my addiction to food—was that there is no cure. There can be recovery, there can be remission of the disease, but there will never be a remedy. Just as my husband will always have bipolar disorder, I will always have this addiction to food.

For someone who spent much of her teenage years looking for a silver bullet or a magic pill, this was disheartening news, to say the least. I wanted to be able to eat one cookie without suddenly being gripped by a fierce desire to devour the entire box; I wanted to be able to have three bites of cake and leave the rest on my plate without thoughts of the uneaten sweetness then plaguing me the rest of the night. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to find a solution for my weight problem that did not require any work.

But life does not always—or even often—give us what we want, and thank God for that. I will never have naturally blue or green or purple eyes, no matter how desperately I wish them to be so. Nor will I ever not be a food addict, no matter how hard I try to eat like a normal person, to resist the siren song of the food.

Today, I am grateful for this fact, for where there is no effort, there is no change, and I desperately needed change in my life. Through the Twelve Steps I discovered that “ambrosia can be extracted even from poison,” and was given new strength, new confidence, and new self-respect.

*****

I can’t yet say I’m grateful at the thought of slowing down at work. But I know that losing this baby because I want a raise would be the biggest regret of my life.

So I took yesterday off and rested, and I’m going to reflect on this issue during my daily meditation time. I’m going to talk about it more with my sponsor, our couples counselor, and John. And I’m going to try to stop fighting it if I get an answer from deep within myself that I don’t really want to hear.

Because every time I surrender my will, I get serenity. And to learn this lesson again—carrying a baby—I can’t afford to drown.

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