I’m going to be gone camping with family for a couple of weeks and so I’m taking a few minutes to write some things that have been swimming around in my head. My sister emailed and said she’d miss reading my blog while I was gone and I wanted to leave one more post about things that are weighty matters.
I’ve been reading Women, Food and God off and on. It’s been too much truth for me at times. It’s hard to read and very, um, direct and painful. But it’s right on point. It forces me to look at everything I don’t want to look at. All the things I’ve avoided for a lifetime. Ever since I stole money out of the tithing bowl in dad’s office to buy Christmas presents for Sandy and Gary. Ever since I kicked my dad in the shin over and over. Ever since my brother thought it was OK to play doctor. Ever since a stranger assaulted me at school. Ever since I began a lifetime of lying and stealing and cheating. Ever since I decided all on my own that it wasn’t safe or comfortable to be me. Ever since I got pregnant when I was 16. Ever since I tied my crying baby in a high chair and went to a class when I couldn’t afford a baby sitter. Ever since I threw up my first meal. Ever since I began hating myself on a regular basis. Ever since I can remember.
Last night I went to a recovery meeting. Several things connected.
First of all, I’ve been trying to do this myself. I’ve been thinking for y.e.a.r.s that I had to work out my own bizarre relationship with food because, 1] it’s embarrassing; 2] I am so ashamed that I’ve spent my life, my whole dang life! fighting with food; 3] I know people who have real problems and I hate that food, [f.o.o.d of all things!] can put me in a straight jacket; 4] I don’t want to ask God about something that might be trivial to him , even though it has been shattering to me. I mean, He has mountains to move and people to heal and heart surgeries to watch over and wars to content with. So this woman from Lyman,Wyoming is not going to bother Him about her food obsession/compulsions. Yes it’s been a mountain for me. It needs healing, my heart needs repaired as well, and I’ve been at war with myself for over forty years. But, for some reason I thought it was my job to get myself to, at least, the half-way point before I could reach for His hand. And I’ve never gotten half way.
Why am I eating? I keep asking myself that question. Why do I eat when I’m not the least bit hungry. I don’t have a clue what hungry is. I know what empty is! I keep getting hungry and empty confused.
I once read about how people’s relationships with food mirrors their belief systems. I realized that is what I have done, and so many other people have done, for years. I think, ‘I am so messed up that the pain is going to overwhelm me,’ but really the truth is I’ve already experienced that pain. [Over and over! For years! And somehow I’ve made it through.]
Geneen Roth explains, “Yes, you have, (experienced that pain) and what food does at that point is it doubles the pain, rather than make it go away. You’re still in pain about what you were in pain about before you ate, but now you’ve added a whole level of more discomfort which is: ‘Oh, I can’t believe I ate this. What’s wrong with me? Am I ever going to get my life together? Is it ever going to get better?’ Then you’re feeling like a failure on top of the discomfort you were feeling before.”
Oh my heck! Hello! My life in black and white.
Obsession gives me something to do besides have my heart shattered by heart-shattering events. Like when I found out my ex-husband went to get ice for my baby shower and ended up having s*x with my cousin on the way. Obsession gives me something to do besides have my heart shattered every time I remember that humiliation and the other eight affairs he had during that marriage.
Getting up and living day-to-day and going through the stuff of day-to-day, that’s difficult. But somehow we believe that food is cushioning it. Food is protecting us from feeling all those feelings that won’t go away on their own.
We somehow believe that if we hate ourselves enough, if we shame ourselves enough, we’ll end up thin, happy, peaceful people. Somehow if I torture myself enough, I’ll end up feeling great about myself and about my life, as if hatred leads to love and torture leads to contentment.
That’s what I learned last night.
I’ve always known deep within my soul that there is a connection between my compulsive eating/perpetual dieting and deeply personal and spiritual issues that go far beyond food, weight and body image. We eat the way we live and our relationships to food, money and love are exact reflections of our deeply held beliefs about ourselves and the amount of joy, abundance, pain and scarcity we believe we have (or are allowed) to have in our lives.
And that’s my last-minute post about why I am the way I am. I don’t know how to get from here to where I want to be. I don’t know how to get from here to not beating myself up with cheese cake and brownies. Sometimes I even beat myself up with a head of cauliflower. I eat the whole dang thing, thinking it is better than cheesecake and brownies. But even when it’s cauliflower, and I’m not hungry — just stuffing — it’s still crazy.
I’m taking lots of healing books to read and I’m going to breath mountain air and swim in an ice cold lake and river. I’m going to lay in a hammock and cook popcorn over the fire. I’m going to play cards and love my grandchildren and celebrate Blythe and Andie’s 14th birthdays. I’m going to think of my mother. I’m going to take a walk every single day. I’m going to relax and renew. I’m going to celebrate finally working on my recovery. I’m going to smell rain and watch the stars. I’m determined to find Orion. I’m going to watch out for bears.