Friday, April 23, 2010
The Scariest Thing I have Ever Done
So, today I am announcing that I am about to embark on the scariest thing I have ever done.
It's 8:00 in the morning and I have just finished a bagel with tuna salad.
Sounds scary, no?
It is, actually. For me, at least. And not just because it's eating fish for breakfast. It's because it was exactly what I wanted.
How long has it been since I have eaten exactly what I wanted? I can't remember. How long has it been since I took the time and spent the effort to feed myself exactly what I wanted? I have no idea--that's how long.
Friends? That's a huge honkin' metaphor for my life.
It occurred to me recently that I have gotten to this point in my life where food is something I have to do to sustain life and function, but I would be perfectly happy if someone would just hand me a smoothie and I didn't have to think about it. While I cook to my family's specifications, I rarely sit down to eat with them and it is rarely exactly what *I* want to eat. I just go along, rather than listening to the faint desires of my own body. Those desires grow quieter and quieter, actually. I am numb to hunger--I simply don't feel it.
How many other desires in my life have I ignored for so long that they no longer even figure on my radar?
I have been thinking a lot about this lately. First of all, I'm reading a book by Geneen Roth called Women Food and God. (Yes, it bothers me that the comma is missing. I'm dealing with it.) I'm not finished with it because the concepts in it seem bigger than my capacity to understand them. I keep having to read and then try to internalize the idea and then reread. I can't gulp this book --I have to savor every bite.
Which may be the point. Or one of the points.
Geneen Roth wrote books that were instrumental in ending the practice of my eating disorder so I was prepared for this book to be meaningful. I wasn't prepared for it to change my life, though.
It wasn't just the book. We took a trip back home to Texas and I realized at one point that I was really nervous about seeing my family and friends because I've gained so much weight since I last saw them. I was assuming that their judgment of my weight would be more important than their love for me. Y'all, that's just crazy on legs right there. And oh, how they showed me one hundred times over how much they love me! It still leaves me almost breathless with gratitude and surprise and joy.
Then, also in Texas, my mom and I stole a morning and went clothes shopping. Lately, when I need clothes, I tend to buy them without even trying them on. (Hmm, kind of like drinking a smoothie so I don't have to think about food?) I bought some clothes--ridiculously expensive clothes --that I tried on and LOVED. I felt really, really guilty about it, even though everyone around me told me I was worth it, including my husband, who was footing the bill.
Then my foot started acting up again. I'm going for another MRI next week to see if I have a stress fracture. "But Barb?" said the doctor. "Your foot is really messed up. This just might be how it is."
So, here's the thing: I am forty-five years old and I have spent at least 30 years of that lifetime at war with myself and my body and my desires. I have spent 30 years as the harshest judge imaginable of the person I am, the thoughts that I have, the way I live, the way I look, the use or squandering of my talents, the way I express myself. I, who try never to apply those kinds of judgments to others (except to this one person in my life who I am just positive is only in my life so I can call myself a hypocrite in addition to everything else,) am the unkindest person I know to me.
I'm so unkind to myself that it would be labeled abusive by any mental health professional out there.
Clearly, this cannot continue.
I always tell my children, "who you are is enough. Strive to do great things, yes, but who you ARE is enough-- you are a gift to this world."
So here's my scary announcement: I'm done with dieting and judging every mouthful I eat. I know it doesn't sound very scary but it's not only scary to leave behind the judgments of the world about the food I eat, it's very hard to listen for that voice that tells me what it is I really want. I'm done with dieting, yes, but I'm also done with being an afterthought. I'm never again going to grab a handful of dry cereal out of a box as I run out the door. I hope to never again eat MINDLESSLY.
I'm beginning to nurture myself one bite at a time, based on my true desires and hunger. I am suspending judgment while I am listening for a change.