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We so want to skip the hard stuff, don’t we? It’s one of the reasons we turn to food…drink…and other pitiful counterfeits in our efforts to turn off what we don’t want to feel or deal with. It’s just too hard.

There’s no shame in this admission. It’s universal. Most people will completely relate to what I’m saying. Some will admit it. And a few will actually do something about it. That’s why we call it “the hard stuff,” and that’s where we pick up the theme from three posts back with Geneen Roth’s book, When Food is Love.

This woman knows all about it. For most of her life, she used food as her primary filler and escape tactic before finally facing the hard stuff that prompted the habit in the first place. Early in her childhood, she figured out that food helped. For the moment. Sort of. It wasn’t until decades later, after an agonizing cycle of losing and regaining thousands of pounds, that she finally realized the universal truth that only a supply of the real thing we crave can satisfy the true needs we have.

When that doesn’t happen, it can feel like a bottomless, black hole of need…and in the horrible absence of those things we were created to need, we figure out {sooner than you might think} that {one…} it’s not going to happen, {two…} it’s up to us to figure something out, and {three…} if we don’t figure it out quick, we’re pretty sure we’re going to shrivel up and die.} Now, keep in mind that all this “figuring out of things” is being done in the mind of a child who has not yet developed the capacity for such complex problem-solving.

It’s so sad. And again, I repeat…there is absolutely no shame for those who relate. Children should have their needs met, plain and simple… and should never have to spend even a minute trying to figure out how. So, I hope you’ll give yourself a break — maybe even offer yourself a little understanding — the next time you start beating up on yourself over a destructive behavior you know you need to change, but can’t seem to stop.

Try putting yourself in the place of a small child you know. A child you would never expect to supply her own love and nurture, or figure out how to get them. {That’s insane, and we all know it…except when it comes to ourselves…because we’re adults, I guess.} But what if there’s a little girl hiding inside yourself, still waiting…decades later…for somebody to lift the unbearable burden of trying to figure out what will take the place of that terrifying emptiness inside?

It’s a weight she was never meant to carry… a weight that’s impossible for her to bear. Even as an adult. She keeps trying, though…wondering what the heck her problem is; confused by thoughts and feelings that run rampant; and filled with so much self-loathing that whatever keeps it all at bay is what she turns to… again and again and again. A vicious cycle.

It’s the reason we simply cannot skip the hard stuff.  It’s why, even though we wish we could, we know we won’t. We thought escaping pain was worth any cost. Now we know better. We’ve weighed the cost. We know what we must do. We’re ready to do the hard stuff.

It’s a major crossroad in the healing journey. Those determined to skip it, pay a great cost. Those who don’t, end up writing books about what they’ve learned, and we love them for it. Their stories help us admit our own hard stuff. And a few are so moved by what they read that they actually decide to do something about it….

Please… don’t skip the hard stuff!