I spent A LOT of time with the book Women, Food and God this weekend – no TV, just me, the book, a pen, and a journal. I've had a lot of stuff flying through my head, a lot of tears, a lot of nail biting moments, but it's been doing me a WORLD of good.
I started with trying to figure out her concept that basically everything you think and believe about yourself is on your plate.
Theoretically (or not so much a theory), my issue lies in restricting my food (both in quantity and type), not feeling satisfied, ignoring hunger, not recognizing hunger/satiety cues, not enjoying food, and berating myself if I decided to take a rest from monster workouts.
So..back to the plate. The feeling is that I'm not worthy of the food, that I don’t "earn it" or I don't "deserve it," particularly on days off.
Into the "practices" portion of the book, Geneen talks about meditation and offers up the particular method she practices and teaches at her seminars. I've never been someone to meditate, and I will admit when I read that the eye rolls started. Really? I could do nearly anything else she suggested, but meditate? Gah. But ok – I'm open to this…let me try.
And some kinda crazy shit opened up. Relatively new shit, not old shit like "when I was 8…" but stuff that hasn't been collecting cobwebs for too long. I decided to be open to this, to be "curious" about it and explore it.
Now let me be clear before I share – we all have stuff in our head that is based on experience, fear, craziness, whatever…NOT necessarily on reality. I am not deploring my weight loss and I'm certainly not deploring the company, or implying (implicitly or explicitly) that these things were ever relayed to me as fact – I'm simply sharing what I discovered in my head that I've been hiding from – rational and reality based, or not (NOT).
I discovered that I believe my only value at work lies in my weight, my weight loss, and the maintenance of those two things. As in…I wouldn't be here if it weren't for those things (the weight-loss/maintenance of it), if I lose those things…what do I have left? You are worthless without those things.
Further…I discovered that I believe that all of the good things that have come to me have only come because of the weight loss – specifically what came to mind immediately was my independence, confidence & self-esteem (ironic huh?), my ability to MOVE – run, swim, lift, my career (again) … only because of the weight loss. "The weight loss" (and maintenance of it) is therefore...everything. I am worthless without it.
*I* have become ONLY my weight loss, because that is what brought all of the "good things." I cut all of ME out of myself and became only the tiny bit of me that was the weight-loss part. Fragmented, unwhole, incomplete. I've been eating the way I have and believing that was all I needed..nay DESERVED, because I was feeding only my weight-loss self..and only very strictly, because *that* must be maintained or we're all going to hell. The REST of me..well that's the old Cathy..she doesn't get enjoyment, she doesn't deserve to eat, she doesn't get self respect, love, friends…we keep her locked away. This keeps relationships away, socializing…because if Cathy comes out, then weight-loss is no longer in charge, and she might mess everything up for Weight Loss and then we'll ALL go back to unhappy/bad/fat.
I feel like I seriously sound deranged trying to explain this, I'm not split personalities…but I don't know how else to share. Maybe "weight loss" is actually the "ED voice."
That's a lot. But it was RELIEVING.
The book talks about maybe why it's relieving. It says (in a nutshell), allowing yourself to feel the emotions, accepting them in the moment, and moving on allows you to relearn that feeling the feelings will NOT shatter you. If you don't allow yourself to feel them and stuff them away, then they hold you hostage - you begin to fear the feelings, your mind tells you that they will be so overwhelming that you won't be able to function, that you couldn't bare it. Your mind stores them away and then creates stories around them...telling you that you cannot possibly handle it, so you avoid avoid avoid, and possibly turn to food to continue that avoidance. Feeling them, accepting them...they will pass. And one 'event' at a time, you learn that in that moment, you've not been shattered, that you're able to function, that you are still beautiful you, accepting of all of you, the whole you not just pieces that your mind allows you to accept.
A few times going through all this I started down THAT spiral…just really working into that panicky feeling, negative place where the voices were just at each other's throats….that shattered place. It must've been ED voice getting nervous that Cathy was getting some attention, growing...gaining some awareness.
I was able to concentrate and focus on the right here and the right now and pull myself out of it. I was not shattered. I lived. I kept my job, my independence. I could still move! I still had 2 beautiful cats that love me and love to snuggle :)
I accepted the feelings – a LOT of fear, sadness, shame, and lonliness, and told myself that now that I'm becoming aware, I can work on the unthinking…I can start to unthink all those things…I can put the pieces of me back together and become my WHOLE self again, and replace those beliefs with their enemy – the Truth.
The Truth is…
- My value at work lies in my passion, my COMpassion, my dedication and understanding, and my knowledge and abilities. I'm a hard worker, whether I weigh 132, 138 or 141 – those things do not change. I am a whole person.
- I started this change, I (my whole-self) was the one behind the weight loss, *I* reached many goals through focus and devotion and love for my whole self I am the one who took my life into my hands and chose to find independence, to find a new career, try to learn and appreciate movement and all my body could do for her, *I* am the one who looked for confidence inside – the courage to leave and to move, the courage to stand up for herself..the strength for all those things. WEIGHT LOSS did not do ANY of them…a whole and complete Cathy started it all.
- I deserved and earned the right to eat to satisfy hunger, and yes even enjoy foods simply by being born and being alive. I do not have to annihilate myself to earn it, and I deserve to feed all of me, not only my 'weight loss.' I am a whole person accepting of all of me, allowed to share in all of life - including all of the freedoms to enjoy relationships and love and social activities. I have the right to believe that I know how to choose moderation and I know how to lead an active and healthy lifestyle without the fear of losing everything.
- I have the choice each day to remind myself that I am whole, I am NOT my weight-loss.
My weight-loss can still exist, as an achievement, something I did for my health...it probably saved my life. I do not have to let go of it. But it is NOT my entire life, it is not my value on this planet, and it is no longer completely in the drivers seat. I am aware now.
All of this may seem completely obvious to every.single.person.reading ... and if it is, very good on you. You probably tried to tell me this a hundred times over. I wasn't ready to come home yet, for whatever reason. I'm ready now. I don't know how I got here, I don't know why. I don't think a "diet" leading to a change in lifestyle necessarily puts someone on this path...others may disagree. But as the Author states, "It's not about the weight, but it's not NOT about the weight." At a certain point, and I believe I was there - it is all about it, because it impedes your ability to live. That is where I was when I started this very long journey. I ended up here on the other side, where once again it somehow became about the weight...but I believe I'm on the upswing now.
I get it.
I understand being "whole" now. A few times in sharing back and forth with my beautiful and dear friend Honu, in sharing her experiences with her recovery she's mentioned "feeling whole" a few times and I honestly did not GET it.
But I do now. And it's home, and it's everything.
I know, I very very well know that there will still be tremendous struggles with this...but I've opened the door for her...for ME. It's already been a challenge to keep me front and center, but this day today - I've done it. And tomorrow I get another chance to practice that. And again, and again. I'm coming out and I'm coming home.
I feel a bit like I'm drinking the Kool-Aid. But so be it, because I feel amazing.