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Finding Balance

Remember as a child when you started swinging really high? It sounded like so much fun when you begged that friend to push you as high as you could go, but all of the sudden it got kind of scary. All you wanted to do was get off, and then you had to decide if you were going to jump or put your feet down and try to slow this crazy ride down. I’ve been riding on that swing, trying to figure out how to safely get off.

I’ve written about it before – the swing between times when I seem to do everything well, taking great care of myself, and the times when I just stop caring and do whatever I want. Those times that I stop caring can feel very rewarding, but they also concern me. I have a sort of panicky feeling that things are sliding the wrong direction, but I feel powerless to stop.

I haven’t written much about my journey to become fit and healthy in every way in a while because I got into the unhealthy side of the swing. The struggle got rough for a bit.

It took a toll on my mental health and my nutrition suffered the worst. I simply stopped paying attention. I’m not in a place with my health where I can afford to stop paying attention, so I found myself once again dealing with fatigue, brain fog, and depression.

I called my doctor, who sent me to a team of specialists. It took just about everything in my power to make the appointment and go into that office. Angry and resentful, I showed up anyway and told them the whole truth. In a nutshell – I’m an over-achiever who understands health, fitness, and nutrition very well. I do well for a time, then I fall apart. I hate to fail, and I feel helpless. I gave them all the details and sat back, waiting for them to say something stupid. Praise the Lord, they’re a lot smarter than me.

After a thorough evaluation, they came up with a plan. BALANCE. I need to eat a consistent, balanced diet to fuel my body and get my numbers into a healthier place. I need accountability and medication to support my weakness until I get stronger. No more swinging between an extremely restricted diet and over-indulgence. No more “Miss Independent” either. The time has come to lay this struggle bare before some trustworthy people and put measures in place to help if I fall back into unhealthy habits.

I’ve tried to manage it on my own and haven’t been able to get to “fit and healthy in every way”. Extreme independence like mine is a trauma response. I’ve worked hard to heal from trauma, so I no longer feel such a strong need to protect myself. It has become nothing more than a very bad habit. So, I kicked that habit to the curb.

It’s time to get off the swing.

During this time, I’ve also done a deep dive into the Enneagram personality trait system. I learned the basics of it last year, but got bogged when I tried to understand it on a deeper level. A friend recommended a book that I found very accessible, from a Christian perspective, and a whole new way of understanding myself opened up.*

I learned that I am an Enneagram 7 with a 6 wing. Some of my experiences mask the most obvious of those traits, which has caused me to get inaccurate results in the past. People with my personality type are enthusiastic and place a high priority on adventure and fun. We crave new experiences. When we’re stressed, we tend toward perfectionism. Our major struggle, the sin that so easily besets us, is gluttony. (Gluttony = over-indulgence in anything.) We want to experience the richness of life, and that can lead to going overboard. The six-wing simply means that I also tend toward an Enneagram 6, and am more sensitive and anxious.

My team of specialists realized that I’ve been in a cycle of swinging between restriction (perfectionism) and over-indulgence (gluttony). My studies of the Enneagram are helping me understand why. Just like other 7’s, when the pressure is on (stress), I can become almost super-human in my ability to get things done, exerting rigid control over myself in all areas. But that doesn’t leave much room for fun and adventure, which is extremely important to me. After a while, I rebel and swing to the other extreme, seeking relief from the straight jacket I put myself in. The overindulgence literally makes me sick. After a while, I panic at what over-indulgence has cost me. That leads to another swing back to perfectionism. And the cycle repeats over and over, leaving me exhausted, frustrated, and confused.

Balance is the answer.

Understanding myself and the things that help me thrive allows me to prioritize what’s most important. My hope is that as I learn to make healthy fun and adventure a priority, perfectionism and over-indulgence will become something I recognize more quickly and move away from. Adventure for me feels like flipping a house or writing a new book or learning how to do something new. It isn’t only exciting vacations and fancy date nights (although, hey, I like those too). Adventure is challenging myself and fun is the feeling when I’ve conquered it.

The swing is a natural result of allowing the challenges I didn’t choose to knock me off balance. Life is full of challenges we don’t choose though. So, my next step is finding a better way to handle the crisis when it comes. Wish me luck! 😊

If you're anything like me, I'd love to hear from you. I'm considering doing a little Bible study for anyone who needs support and encouragement to find balance in their own life. If so, let me hear from you. And hey, give me a little love by clicking that heart at the bottom of the page too.

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