Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On Commitment

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about commitment. My mom and I had an interesting conversation about it a few days ago, and it hasn’t left my mind. She talked to me about an article she read, in which a woman and her friend were cycling in the Oregon woodlands. One woman biked ahead, and rounded a bend, out of sight from her friend. Not long after the woman was out of sight, her friend heard her scream bloody murder. As she sped up and turned the corner, she saw that her friend had been knocked off her bike by a mountain lion, which had a hold on her, and was trying to drag her into the trees. The woman jumped off her bike and grabbed hold of her friend’s leg. She was trying to scream and hit the lion to let go, all to no avail. Obviously, by now, her friend was in extreme pain and in shock. Her friend was holding onto her leg with everything in her, and maybe a little more, but told her that she would never, ever let go, ever. Nothing could make her leave her and give up. Nothing.

Soon after, two young men in a car stopped and threw rocks at the mountain lion’s head until it eventually let go of the biker and skulked back to the forest. Authorities hunted down the poor animal and shot it, realizing that it had killed another biker when they found his remains (well, half of them anyway).

So, commitment. I was so impressed with the woman’s words, “I’ll never let go.” I don’t doubt that any of us, in a similar situation, would let our brother or sister or friend or spouse be dragged off in the jaws of a wild beast, saying, “Wow, sorry. Rotten luck, but I just don’t know how to save you.” No, of course none of us would do that. But what stirs me so much, is that in the face of absolute, stark raving fear, this woman refused to let go, to give in. And yeah, in a life or death situation such as that, I believe we’d all fight for our life or someone we love.

But…what about another situation that requires commitment, perhaps something important, but not so dire? How do we find that kind of commitment in our life? How do we find the desire to stick to a goal or to fight an obstacle without letting go?

I’m reading a phenomenal book right now, entitled Lone Survivor. It’s the true story of a Navy SEAL who, along with five of his friends and comrades, were stationed in the Afghan mountains searching out insurgents and terrorists and members of Al Qaeda. All of them were killed, murdered by terrorists, except for one man, the man who later wrote this phenomenal story. There is a short passage of the book that really hit me, and I think it applies to what I’m trying to write about today:

“Marcus, the body can take damn near anything. It’s the mind that needs training. The question that was being asked involved mental strength. Can you handle such injustice? Can you cope…with that much of a setback? And still come back with your jaw set, still determined, swearing to God you will never quit?”

Isn’t that true? This particularly hit home for me regarding my recovery from an eating disorder. I think, oh, weight gain. But it hurts so much and it’s so uncomfortable and scary, how will I ever do it? But the body can take damn near anything, even a little stomach pain from eating so much food. It is my mind that needs training, discipline, commitment. Why can’t I just commit to recovery? How do I acquire such mental strength, especially in the midst of my own personal stark raving fear? Why can I not consign to the idea that maybe, just maybe life will be okay if I’m at a normal weight? …And then my sneaky eating disorder mind creeps up, and it tells me that I’m fine, and that I’m not unhealthy, and that I don’t need to gain weight or do anything at all. And I think, yeah, that’s right. It’s not like I’m in the jaws of a killer who would drag me off and destroy me. And then I realize, but maybe I am. Maybe it’s a different kind of killer. Maybe it is a matter of life and death.

Commitment: It’s a tough one.


Jodi said...

Powerful post! I think (especially as women) it seems natural for us to sacrifice ourselves. If a friend needs us to we will stay up all night holding her hand and wiping away tears. The problem is that most of us aren't as good at doing the same thing for ourselves, I know for sure that I'm not.

Laurie and Corey Kunz said...

Thanks for the post. Good thoughts. Sorry we couldn't get together this weekend, let me know if you want to get together and when!

Devon said...

Thing number 1:

You should be a writer for Grey's Anatomy.

Thing number 2:

This couldn't have come at a better time - I love you.

Mom said...

You have restated it beter than we spoke of it. Consider your post as a very powerful intro for your RS lesson. The subject of the lesson is believed to be such a man of committment, considering how he lived and died. And your post is how we can apply the lesson to our times and to our life. I'm grateful that you think and that now you write. (and yes, I was there and ED almost killed you and he still doesn't want to let you go. You have to be the killer. We help and call out to you in love but you have to be the one, as in Lone Survivor, it is you and him...

Whit said...

Wow...I don't even know how to respond. That was amazing and something that I really needed to hear right now. It really gave me a lot to think about!

How amazing would it be if we could answer your question... How do we find the desire to stick to a goal or to fight an obstacle without letting go? Let's figure this one out. We could probably make millions :)

Emily said...

I really needed to hear this. I, as you can see from my blog entries, am not 100% committed to recovery right now. I forget that things like heart attacks can come at ANY time, at ANY weight. I think I'm so safe health-wise just because I'm not skinny, but that's not true. I brush aside my major tachycardia and palpitation problems, thinking they are nothing. What's the matter with me? Can't I see that I am danger of death just because I have an ED? You really made me think, Brie... thanks. <3

The Cheese said...

I'm glad that you all have found this helpful, or at least thought provoking. I emailed this blog to my therapist to help illustrate how stressed about this I'm feeling, and this was her response to my blog. It made a lot of sense and made me feel calmer:


Well written and powerfully said. It is a matter of life and death, but I think that it's such a slow process that it's hard to really stay in reality about it. And the denial is thick. The lady in the story held on because she was connected to the reality of the situation and fully understood the need and the fate of her friend if she didn't intervene. In an ED, these things are lacking. It really gets to the point of delusion. The real battle is not exactly about food, but about fighting deception and living in matter how painful. If the goal is to stay comfortable, then people will spend most of their energy avoiding.

I have a picture in my office that says, "...and then the day come when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

Thanks for sharing,


Penny said...

My heck,
I am in love with your therapist. She is so smart. Thank you for sharing her comments. I can use them in my efforts to help all those missionaries that i get to nurture. And good luch to all of us to figure it out. We all livein denial over something. Its just for most of us we can't die over it!

Manda said...

this is a powerful post. One in which I agree with you beyond a shadow of a doubt. I have to ask myself the same question and at times I am not sure that I do have the courage to have that commitment. Brie, I think you have a loved one to fight for in the life and death that is trying to pull you out and one that you are holding on to. Your hubby has a hold of your leg and your little man child is definitely what you are holding on to. You do have the commitment. I think you have more commitment than any of us do than you think you do.