Breaking the rules is fun. It always has been. From the moment you realize your parents don’t want you to do <blank>, and you actually in fact CAN do <blank>, you know the tingling rush of doing it anyway. You anticipate it. And even if you see great value in rules, the feeling of rebellion, of transgression, feels oh-so-good. Our inner child loves sticking it to the man – perhaps never so much so as when that man is US, our boring judgmental adult self.
And so we drink wine, a lot. And eat cake, a lot. And we lay down longer than we should. Take THAT, everybody and everything.
This can be good. We need to test boundaries. But it can also be destructive – especially when we confuse our motivations.
I’ve had a new perspective on transgressing since being forced to give up gluten, lactose, and alcohol. Doughy, chewy, soft and tender bread. Creamy chocolate-laced milkshakes. Crisp white wine… by the glass after glassful. Gone!
Hopefully these are all temporary as my doctor and I hone in on how to best solve my gut issues – but in any case, for now, I am left without any of my typical ways to transgress. My gut pain has been so severe that even my inner child acknowledges the need to follow rules – even though she’s petulant and whiny about it.
Ironically, with the timing, it leaves me essentially giving up things I love for Lent. I didn’t really intend to this year, but I guess the universe had other plans.
And so I’m left a bit lost. I still feel the pressure building – of stress over a broken world I can’t control, of people telling me what to do, of my own haplessness and helplessness. But I can’t release it. Transgressing with food and drink has always been a key release valve for me, letting me blow off all the steam. Hasn’t it?
With a bit of distance, I’m beginning to realize it hasn’t.
Well actually it has to some degree, but only because I gave it the ability to do so. Eating a row of cookies or polishing off a bottle of wine do not intrinsically release that pressure. I associate such things with rebellion and power, and so I feel rebellious and powerful when I do them.
But child me has been fooling adult me, I think, pretty effectively. I’m only transgressing against myself, in the end. And so here I am, on my self-imposed religious sabbatical, somehow learning from Lent without even going to Ash Wednesday services.
Enacting real change is probably a preferable swap to make for these fake cures. When this isn’t possible, I guess we need to examine how best we can vent that pressure. Our little child selves have been trapped in the classroom of our minds, doing worksheets, planning their spitballs and etching curse words in the desk. Any teacher will tell you what they need is to stretch and be free, running around at random at recess.
I’m not quite sure how, but I’m going to try to let my little child roam free – before she lays waste to the body and mind we both inhabit. I’ve got to own her (or her as a dragon, as I’ve described before) and care for her. I’ve got to consider my own motivations. Yoga, nature, music, reading, writing, unstructured time, stimulating conversation, are all a start.
This doesn’t mean I’m not (hopefully) going to sink my teeth into the first bagel I see after the doctor’s go-ahead. But I’m hopefully going to do it because it’s good food, not because I’m rebelling against the idea of limiting carbs. And the first step is to acknowledge that our little rebel is in there, and she needs to be nurtured for all of us to not just transgress, but thrive.