November is a hard month for me to go through now as a widow.
On November 8th, 2019 our wedding anniversary, initially a day of love and celebration, turned into a completely traumatic day when I was told my husband was dying and would be going into hospice.
November 10th was the day my husband passed away.
This day started as a loving, hopeful reminder of the wedded bliss we shared, only to end in debilitating fear, pain, and trauma sensations all over my body that are still felt today.
Being told that my love, my best friend, and father to my beautiful babies was dying, was life-shattering. It felt like my world was crumbling all around me.
I remember dropping to the floor (just like you see in the movies) when the doctor told me his prognosis.
I remember not being able to hear anything besides a static hum through my body because of the total shock that took over me.
I remember having to console and tearfully explain to my children why Dad wasn't going to come home from the hospital this time.
I remember sobbing and hyperventilating to my parents on the phone in New Hampshire.
I remember endless waves of close friends coming to visit and giving tearful hugs to us both.
I vividly remember every one of those life-shattering moments like it was yesterday, even now, 4 years later.
Through every emotionally challenging moment in those days, I found I was able to stay strong and resilient with fasting. This deliberate choice was not out of a fierce weight loss goal or vanity whatsoever, it was a fierce will and determination to live, despite my growing grief.
I had a conversation with my husband Jim before he became unresponsive. He wanted me to know he was so proud of me, and then he made me promise him that I wouldn't go backward. It was like he knew that I still had a deep little flicker of danger inside me that was ready to emerge out of this situation. (He was referring to the traumatic demise of my Nana the year before, and how she succumbed to grief willingly after my Papa passed away 10 months prior.) I promised him I would stay as healthy as possible for our little family, and I didn't take this promise lightly.
Family and friends around us at the time didn't understand (or want to understand) why I was choosing to have only water while everyone else was sharing seemingly endless amounts of food. Many of them insisted many times that I should stop fasting, and "just eat something."
While many of you could probably understand that level of grief doesn't really allow for much of an appetite, I also felt a deep internal switch flip which communicated to me the importance of leaning into fasting to stabilize my headspace and emotions.
I knew that allowing grief to fuel my eating behavior, even a little bit, was potentially catastrophic for the progress I had made and the future I could envision.
That deliberate choice to fast in the face of trauma and grief, despite what most may believe, was an incredible source of strength, while demonstrating love, compassion, and incredible self-awareness of my emotions.
Leaning into fasting was what I knew and felt confident would keep me present, stable, and aligned with my long-term goals, which were staying alive and healthy.
Fasting was my lifeboat, and I continue utilizing this tool when approaching potentially challenging moments where my headspace could waiver into negative thinking.
Again, I don't share any of this to boast or brag, I share because my default setting for my entire life had been a "victim" mentality which then drove me to overeat to pacify those feelings. I have since realized that it was a direct effect of my feelings from people and environments I was in for my entire life before fasting.
My experience with the many losses I've had, and being hurled into widowhood absolutely changed my life, but this is now a part of my life that no longer consistently keeps me in that negative headspace.
Focusing on the worst and most negative parts of our lives is the easy route. It seems contradictory but how often do you have moments of gratitude and appreciation each day for your life? I bet it can be hard at times to find things to be happy and thankful for when you are feeling your worst.
Very early into widowhood, I had a slow (but significant) mindset flip that allowed me to see the many things in my life worth expressing gratitude for. I allowed myself to passionately focus on the people and things in my life that filled my metaphorical cup.
Does that mean I no longer have a negative headspace?
No, but now I am able to quickly identify when it comes, and NOT hold onto those feelings.
I have come to understand that emotions are like tunnels we travel through, and we are constantly in motion every day. Acknowledge the emotion without staying and holding onto it. Every emotion can and should teach you something and also provide insight into a deeper need that may not be getting properly met.
We all have (or will have) incredibly challenging moments in our (seemingly short) lives. To me, fasting is a tremendous help in letting me reevaluate what is worth caring about, in every moment of every day.
Living our lives (even after traumatic loss) can be extremely challenging, and this is where, I feel, there is tremendous opportunity for growth. I imagine it akin to a Roman Colosseum where the warriors would be thrown into battling for their life. While this can feel like the odds are stacked against you, this is where you can take opportunities to learn and get to know what you are battling, express gratitude for the opportunity, and overcome it. This is where your strength and tenacity for this lifestyle grows.
This is how (and why) I fast in November.
Each year since becoming a widow, I have grown and gotten so much emotional strength from leaning into an extended fast for the first 10 days of November.
This year I plan on doing it again.
Again, my reason for this extended fast is NOT for dedicated weight loss (and again I would NOT recommend others to do this without being metabolically fat-adapted yet).
The reminder of this season still does hit me hard emotionally, but while the severity of those painful emotions has been decreasing over the years, I consider this my yearly "housecleaning" to keep myself as emotionally stable as possible.
Are you at a point where you feel ready to embark on a longer extended fast?
If so, I invite you to join me, starting on the 1st of November, for a 10-day extended fast, where I will be hosting video meetings daily, answering questions, giving support, and providing an opportunity for you to connect with fellow fasters! (and more, see details below!)
I am excited to share this experience with you all, and my hope is that you get as much benefit from this experience as I always do. 💛
Are you in need of more intensive support?
My digital handbook is still available on my Etsy store: NOW ON SALE FOR SUBSCRIBERS!
I am in the final publishing stages of my handbook, stay tuned if you're interested in the printed version!