More on Life-ers. (Those darn perdy dandelions.)

Taraxacum, seeds detail 2.jpg

Image via Wikipedia

I had an interesting comment a couple of days ago on the concept of Life-ers.

If you have a weed in your garden, you pull it.  If there’s something wrong in your life, you don’t fall in love with it.  You get to weeding.

However, there are Life-ers that are both weeds to pull and weeds to just plain garden I reckon.

We here at, got one of the most practical life examples of a Life-er.  It is both one that can be weeded and one that cannot.  Emily said in response to blog-post, One Woman’s Struggle,

…I have been a self-identified compulsive overeater (or binge eater) since I was a child. It has always loomed large (pun intended) in my life. I have successfully dieted and lost 30-40 pounds at a time, and then I’ve gained everything back — with interest. It has been my obsession and my bete noir.

Eight years ago, out of pure desperation, I went to a Overeaters Anonymous meeting. I didn’t necessarily like it at first, but I recognized my problem as an addiction. If you hold my experience up next to an alcoholic’s, there is no difference. I struggled a long time with the program, but today I am living what OA calls an abstinent life. My definition of abstinence is three reasonable meals a day with nothing in between. I am shrinking to a healthy body weight.

I have also developed my spiritual side and my relationship with my higher power (that I get to define) is what makes it possible to eat like a normal person. My obsession has been lifted, one day at a time. Like an alcoholic, this is not something I can do on my own.  This is supported by about 25 years of data.

I am experiencing freedom I couldn’t even imagine walking in the doors of my first meeting — freedom from fat, freedom from compulsion, openness to change and growth and a life that is no longer nearly as self-centered.

Sana, you asked if it helps to think of it as an addiction — for me, it’s not an analogy; it IS an addiction. I use the Big Book for the solution. My recovery is just like that in any other program.  And it’s the ONLY thing that made a difference — not just for me, but for the dozens of people I share OA with. I hope this is something health professionals will understand one day. OA is an underutilized tool, and I think that could change with better understanding and guidance.

Thank  you Emily for your story.  I haven’t been able to get you out of my mind.

Addictions is a weed we could more often agree is a Life-er.  That is not to say there are not those of us who think that they can yank and be done with, but the general consensus in medicine is that addictions are Life-ers.

There are other Life-ers besides addictions.  Recurrent major depressive disorder, treatment resistant major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, okay – a gazillion other medical illnesses that will not be eradicated by weed killer or a gloved garden-grip.  There are also non-medical Life-ers, such as poverty, natural or unnatural disaster, stigma and so forth.  We could even use the biopsychosocial model to catalogue them if we wanted.

One of the things that intuitively sits poorly about Life-ers in our culture and communities is the perceived helplessness that can soil it.  However, we are not implying helplessness at all.  The opposite in fact. Just as this courageous Emily described, when we take care of ourselves, when we befriend ourselves, we take accountability for where we are now, our yards improve neighborhoods.  We have more freedom and choice.

For the world out there who is scared to garden over the long term, let’s get over ourselves.  What we are growing is worth the space we occupy and of high value.  You may never know it but we are and have bank to show for it.

Questions:  What is your response to those who call your Life-ers weeds to pull?  What are some examples of Life-ers you have fallen in love with and how did you? How do you get away from perfectionism? Please tell us your story.

4 thoughts on “More on Life-ers. (Those darn perdy dandelions.)

  1. Sana you just never know how one of your posts will affect someone. Silly, or strange as it might sound this week has been one of dreadful heartache. A dear dear friend and the husband of my best stroked and a week passed with highs and lows, but mostly lows as we came to terms with his death which occurred yesterday. He was 58. Anyway for some reason I felt I needed to read this post, even though reading has been difficult lately, and the very words about ‘lifers’ struck a chord and the struggles overcome and on going. God knows I have a few weeds in my garden and this post has pointed me in the right direction but more than that, I look at a life well lived, and a struggle fought and yes I want to be a Gardener and keep at it in spite of ..well I don’t know. I know I am not making much sense, this is not the time for sense I guess but just wanted you to know this post touched me. Chris Sent from my iPad

    • Chris, I am covered in goose-bumps. Thank you for speaking. You made lots of sense. Keeping at it in spite of… yes. That is hard sometimes. I am so sorry to hear about the death. 58 is.
      Thank you again for letting us share this with you. Big hugs. Many of them.

  2. Sana,
    I always am perplexed when people look at me and say, “But you look okay?” If it is a wonder full day, I look at them and smile on the inside and say, “There but for the Grace of Ggod go I.” However there are days when I look at them and think “Do you think I like holding onto the hopeless, helpless, useless and worthless vision of my world that comes about in the depression?”
    We get these character defenses, I dont like the word in the sixth step used in AA. We get to learn in “recovery,” if we are lucky, that we dont have to live out of that fear any longer. That is what having the obsession to use use is about, not living in that fear any longer.
    But as far as I am concerned, this dis-ease is a cultural one. The deep seated emotional conflicts so prevalent in our world for many, many of us, creates deep wounds to our souls. Those wounds take a long time to heal and we have to go against much of what society says we should do to do that.
    DH Lawrence said that we look at the events that are the traumas that are externalities to our systems of economics and social structures, as events “Which society has chosen to sanctify.”
    That says to me that the system of social life in my culture doesnt want me to get better. It wants me to produce, for the sake of production.
    I keep pulling at the weeds. Some come out easy, some not so easy. They come out in Ggods time. That is all that matters.

Leave a Reply