I think I need to move from believing to knowing.
“But I’m not sure I am at the believing part yet,” I said to a friend.
“I believe for you,” she said.
I started the candida diet on the Monday after Thanksgiving. A friend asked, “Are you sure you want to do that, start it right in the middle of the holidays?”
“No,” I said. “But I can’t keep putting it off. There will always be a reason to not start.”
Jeremy and I planned a dinner with friends that we jokingly called “Janna’s Last Supper.” We made all my favorite indulgences and I asked friends to bring things like spinach artichoke dip and mac ‘n cheese and wine and chocolate for dessert — all the bread, cheese, sugar and alcohol that is forbidden on the diet. I set the table and used the silverware that my parents gave us as a wedding gift. It used to be my Omi’s; she brought it back from Germany and gave it to my mom when she got married.
The day after that dinner I started re-reading Healing Multiple Sclerosis. I needed to mentally prepare for starting the most drastic diet I’ve ever been on in my life. I needed to remind myself why I was doing this. Why I’d be giving up so much of what makes life fulfilling and enjoyable. Pretty much all of Jeremy’s and my camaraderie centers around eating and drinking and the fellowship it brings. What would I do once I had to stop eating and drinking the same things as my husband? As my friends?
Most of my adult life has been about creating community with people who I love, on creating ways to connect with others through shared experiences like meals together and wine tasting. There is a special connection that happens when all the senses are involved; not only does everyone experience the same sights and sounds, but also the same smells and tastes. I work hard and intentionally to create that connection and it’s sacred to me — sacred because for so much of my childhood and adolescence I felt utterly disconnected.
I couldn’t bear to think about losing the way that I create connection with others. I felt like it was being stolen from me.
In her book Healing Multiple Sclerosis, Dr. Boroch writes about how when she first started her diet and cleanse regimen she had a lot of doubts and questions. She was on the diet, but still wondered whether it would work:
“I knew the routine of how to care for my body to get through the down time. My fears were not so intense, but I still entertained thoughts of, ‘Am I really getting better? Or am I just fooling myself?’ I would try to drown out these thoughts because remission was not an option for me. I wanted a new body. I wanted cellular transformation, yet my body was not at the place I wanted it to be. I was still stuck in ‘believing’ because ‘knowing’ had not yet become part of my reality.”
What is the difference between believing and knowing?
The first time I read the book I didn’t get what she was saying. Aren’t beliefs a good thing? Don’t we need to believe in something to keep moving forward? If we know everything, then we don’t need to believe in anything. At the end of this chapter Dr. Boroch writes that once she saw physical change manifest in her body as a result of the plan she’d been following, she no longer believed that her body could heal itself. She knew.
I get it. You know when you have evidence — proof — that what you believe is fact. It’s not some lofty hope or dream. It is grounded in reality because of what you have experienced, because of what you have seen with your own two eyes. Because a disease was there but now it’s not. Well that’s all well and good for her. She has experienced physical change. I have not. So it worked for her. So it works for her patients. How do I know it will work for me? I can’t know. I have to believe.
Fine. I won’t drink coffee. Fine. I won’t drink wine. Fine. I won’t eat bread — even gluten free — or any other yeast-laden thing. Fine. I won’t eat beans or white rice or potatoes or any other starchy thing. Fine. I won’t eat mushrooms. Fine. I won’t eat cheese or milk or yogurt or any other dairy thing. Fine. I won’t eat fruit or honey in my tea or any other desserty thing. Ever. Fine. Fine. Fine.
But will it work? Do I believe that it will work?
Belief is a funny thing. You believe things that you don’t know for sure. And yet people fight for their beliefs. People die for their beliefs. But you first have to want to believe. And then you have to believe so strongly that you are willing to fight and die for what you believe. No one else can believe for you and no one can make you believe. You have to choose to believe.
How do I move to knowing if I’m not even at believing? I posed the question to my therapist. I’m prone to negative thinking, I said. I know I need to maintain a healthy mind and spirit if I am going to have a healthy body, I said. I need help with that, I said.
He gave me homework. Complete these sentences: “A person who believes…” and “A person who knows…” Complete the sentences describing what each person does, he said.
This is what I wrote.
A person who believes…
- …asks questions.
- …wonders if his beliefs are accurate.
- …experiments to test his beliefs.
- …seeks for truth and confirmation of his beliefs.
- …tries something even if he’s unsure whether or not it will work.
A person who knows…
- …answers questions.
- …takes action with confidence, no hesitation.
- …has certainty of his beliefs.
- …experiences confirmation of his beliefs.
- …tells others about what he’s experienced.
- …witnesses evidence of beliefs.
What did you learn? He asked me at my next session.
I learned that I’m acting like a person who believes.