Figuring It Out
I finished re-reading Geneen Roth's book when Food is Love a few nights ago and something about the second time really got inside of me. There are so many lessons that I overlooked the first time, so many things that put a lump in my throat because sometimes the way she shares the pain from her childhood (and others') hits really close to home. I feel the grip of my past wanting me to shut up and be a good girl, stop whining and be responsible. It has taken me thirty years to see that food was never the issue, my weight was never the issue, I just used food as a way to take care of myself, my fat a barrier against what was too painful to examine. I was a child, I was trapped in a situation that was unstable and frightening and often made me feel lonely, empty, powerless, small. With food I try to fill those holes.
It hurts to remember these things, it makes me angry that I didn't have a voice and spent my childhood tiptoeing around my mother because she was too proud to admit she had issues that were much bigger than her. But part of the healing process is to grieve over what was lost and realize that the only one who can give me what I need is me. I lost stability, comfort, the feeling that I could be or do whatever I set my mind to, the feeling of unconditional love, the sense that I mattered, the sense that I am smart, the sense that I have a right to be in the thick of things and not feel like I'm in the way, the sense that I am right regardless of the choices I make, that I am lovable, that I matter. But worst of all of them, I lost my right to have a voice without getting smacked sideways into Tuesday. I lost those things but I never grieved for them and moved on. It is like an inter-life karma, until you find a way to stop letting these things affect you emotionally, you will keep repeating painful (and potentially fatal if we are talking about yo-yo dieting) patterns. Restricting and depriving don't work because our eating is protecting us, it's a distraction because we feel like the real things that made us turn to food for comfort will be too much to bear, if we are expected to sift through those things and face them head-on. Losing weight won't make my mom give my 5 year old self more attention or affection. Losing weight won't make my dad stop drinking when I was younger. Losing weight won't make my husband love me more or my customers less crabby. I can't change the past by my actions today, but I can use my past to change my future. I can decide to give myself the things I lost all those years ago. I can realize that I already have, in my remarkable husband and kids, some of those things right in front of me. Healing can't start from anywhere else but in me. It is a process of discovering what missing and putting those things in place. It is giving myself permission to speak about my needs, having a voice and rewriting the story I thought I already knew the ending of. It is permission not just to eat, but to be nourished and take pleasure from life and be loved and love others without fear. Fat is just a thing, it cannot give or take things from me; its a blanket that I'm hiding under. But sometimes when you go beneath the blanket, you find a whole dark world to explore. I'm ready for this expedition.