I have been trying my best to rush through this book I am reading, hoping that I will magically just "get it" and be able to apply it so the weight can start dropping off. This is how I read books about weight; with the restless anticipation that somehow, by the time I reach the back cover, I will know that which I didn't know I didn't know, and I will magically have the key to why I haven't been losing and how I can finally start losing weight for good. Books are not magic. And inference not being my strong point, I am only a little disappointed that I have to put a lot of effort in, not just to remember and integrate all the do's and don'ts but also to dig into the WHYs, which come only from within myself, not the pages where I was hoping the answers would be waiting, like a precious secret that changes my life.
I have been going through the book in much the same manner as I go through life; read through it quickly, get the main idea, and come back to things that require more thought or work. But somehow something else always comes up and I never get a chance to go back and dig deeper. My main reason for seeking out this book "Breaking Free from Emotional Eating" by Geneen Roth, is because the author's other book "When Food is Love" spoke so deeply to me, but didn't tell me HOW to break free. So now I have exercises that should help me be aware of the patterns that are keeping me trapped and eating senselessly, and I am skipping over some of them, thinking I will go back to them to get all the details straight after I finish the book. Taking only bits and pieces of the book is confusing me, but I am learning things, retaining enough information from those exercises I skipped over to make a small difference. I have already discovered that, I have a huge issues with knowing when to stop, and I feel uncomfortable when I don't. Uncomfortably full, uncomfortably gripped by over-sweetness, uncomfortably out of control and out of touch. Rarely ever satisfied by food, and that is how I know it isn't about the food, but about what is causing me to seek comfort.
Whenever I read a book about weight that has exercises, I immediately discount the exercises as lame. One book I read a few months ago asked that I remember the earliest time I could remember food being used to apologize or soothe. Really? That's a lot to ask of our memories! Maybe some people have had a very definitive moment where their relationship with food visibly began, but I couldn't recall mine, so I sort of discounted the book and author altogether, when I might have learned something if I'd kept my mind open. So this book, because I believe in this author, because I know she went through way more than I did as a child, and because I know I will not get past my food issues until I heal the inside, I decided I was going to give a real effort. I am not going to say it is easy, but I do feel like you have to go through the tornado in order to see the world rearranged. The one that has stuck with me was an exercise in which I was to "meet" the girl who eats her emotions (my inner hurt self) and ask her what she needs. I was skeptical starting this exercise, it is a bit of a leap of faith to rely on conversations or imaginations of conversations with oneself. But as soon as I imagined myself sitting in the car eating on a cloudy fall day, and asked what that hurt girl needed, I was barraged with a slew of answers. The one that finally hit home, was quiet and undramatic, but it made me cry myself to sleep. I need to know that I matter. So many times in my life I have felt ignored and unimportant, un-special; unheard. I have always attributed it as a Mommy Issue, because there were so many times I would ask her a question and she wouldn't acknowledge that she heard me (especially if she was reading or doing a crossword puzzle), she was absolutely tuned out. As an adult, I can realize that was a coping technique for her, she suffered great abuses from her parents and was suffering through an unhappy marriage, having two children by the age of 19, and dirt poor. But my dad was always working or sleeping or fixing cars with his friends, and almost always drinking or drunk. So my mom was who I turned to when I needed something, and if she was emotionally unavailable, I felt invisible and I felt like a burden and a mistake and I felt like she would be happier if she were free from all this, and I felt like I did't matter; I didn't and couldn't make her happy or make her pain less, and in a lot of situations I made her pain more and her stress more. A lot of images from my childhood have vanished, but I see so much clarity of the image of me standing at the table where she was busy doing something, the cigarette burning in the ashtray leaving sun-caught rays of smoke trailing around her, a little girl dying for her mothers attention and feeling like every word I was saying was somehow getting absorbed by the atmosphere; not reaching her ears. Why was I invisible? I see myself sitting on the stairs, trying to hide my tears, wishing she would get up from that chair and acknowledge me, apologize for not answering sooner and engage me in silly conversation or tickles or crafts or anything. I was so lonely. I felt ignored and unimportant. I felt like I didn't matter; like my feelings didn't matter. I had an older sister that I could talk to, but she was coping in her own way, and to me, it always seemed like she was coping much better than me, which made me feel inferior as well. Her version of our childhood and mine are two different views still to this day, and we are not very close, which is sad. I have my wars to go through, I have to face my feelings about these things, even if my view was skewed, it is how I feel and I don't harbor any bad feelings toward my parents, they have both conveyed disappointment in our how they parented, they both went through their own wars as people, we all do, and we do our best to overcome them. My parents can't go back and fix my childhood, and I would never ask them to. Healing the past isn't about changing it, but learning to see it from a different window. This is not the first book I've read that has told me the only one who can reach out to that lonely girl who is crying on the stairs, is me. Just as I can imagine myself asking her what she needs, I can also soothe her and give her what she needs. If that girl needs someone to listen to her stories or needs someone to play a game with her, I can do that for her. I can be her friend, her parent. I have to make her feel better before I will stop trying to soothe her with food.
Part of my healing will be involving my husband in this. I often feel lonely in my marriage because I don't let him in on this stuff. It is painful, and I am afraid he will judge me as being over-dramatic, or worse, not want to be with me because I have so much depressing, negative stuff to heal. But the more I learn about ways I bury my dark stuff, the more I can tell he has some too, but he is acting like a typical tough guy and just stuffing it, controlling his food as if he were being policed, and living and dying by discipline. As I said before, we have all been through some wars; being vulnerable to the past and how it affected us opens us up for new growth. I think sharing these things with my husband will bring us together and will definitely help him understand why I have so many issues with food. Maybe in time he will be able to help me work through some emotions when I am on the edge of a binge. I only know that trying to hide this all from him is making more space between us instead of closing the gap. Yes, certain things I have to do on my own, as far as realizing what is broken and giving a voice to that, but he can be my support. I don't have to repeat what I didn't like about my childhood; I have a partner and I do matter to him. I have kids who I matter to a tremendous deal, and I always try to make sure that they know I am available for them and ready to discuss their feelings so I don't unintentionally hurt them. We all do the best we can. I think I am beginning to see some light for myself. I may have to gain a bunch of weight to figure this out, but once I get the inside healing, there is going to be an unextinguishable light that glows from within. I still have a lot of life left to live. I am not giving up this fight at inner peace. I am feeling better and stronger every day I go within. As Carl Jung said, "Who looks outside dreams; who looks within awakes." For me, the sun is starting to rise, and I am so ready to feel its warmth.
Here's to healing the broken parts!