Women Food and God, Part III

Food RelationshipI’ve been meaning to write another one of these posts for a while now, because in the mean time I’ve been reading two other books by Geneen, but it seems I just have SO much to say about the budget and my daily outings. However, I find this stuff to be more interesting, or at least more therapeutic.

The question of the day is: what do you do when you realize that you’ve been trying to fill a hole in your heart, not your stomach, with food? When your interactions with people have become so starved for sincerity, genuineness and depth that everything is sort of happening on a surface level and you don’t even realize in the mean time how many times hand is going to mouth?

I may have mentioned this before, but when something goes wrong in my day or in my life, my first inclination is to escape. I want to get out of the house, get out of my clothes, leave the room, whatever I can do to immediately extract myself from the situation instead of dealing with it head on. Which, I’ve got to say, seems pretty normal to me — who DOES want to deal with the tough stuff, honestly? So as a follow-up to the question above, one of Geneen’s frequent questions is, What would happen if you DID just feel the feeling, instead of swallowing it down and covering it up with food? The answer to that question is simple, in my eyes — you’d cry, yell, scream, and realize life sucks, people suck, whatever — but then what? What’s beyond that? Because not only do I not like it every time I’m disappointed by someone or something, but now I also have this thing from her books telling me to just feel it. Well, I don’t like it. Feeling it stinks. I don’t want to feel it. I’d rather you tell me how to deal with it.

The only point I’m taking away from it realistically so far is to not eat instead, which I can do, sometimes. Other times I eat because I’m sad and I know I’m eating because I’m sad, and apparently that’s not so bad either. But what can I substitute for that, as a mother of a young child, trying to juggle all things at once, and I can’t just stop and take a bubble bath in the middle of the day, or call a friend at five in the morning, or relax with a good book and a glass of wine instead of cooking and cleaning?

Geneen says that we “bolt.” We don’t get “deeply involved.” That not bolting is asking a lot. This I clearly all agree with, but again, I’m still left asking, what’s the payoff to not bolting? According to the book, the payoff is feeling more alive, because you’re not leaving your mind and your body when you stop shoving food down your throat to ease the pain. But I wonder, playing devil’s advocate here, if feeling more alive is worth it if all you’re feeling is pain and confusion and disappointment and loss? It won’t kill you, but it’s no fun, either.

Is this the gem of wisdom I’m looking for? “As long as I believe that pain is bigger than me, as long as I define being open and vulnerable to annihilation, I believe in an image of myself: that I am someone who can be annihilated.” I may be taking a lot of liberties with her text, but I think what she’s saying is that we can (and should) rise above it. Stephen Levine, a Buddhist teacher, says, “Hell is wanting to be somewhere different from where you are. Being one place and wanting to be somewhere else.” I guess that’s a lot like giving up. “Leaving without leaving. Dying before you die.”

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. I don’t want to be jaded. I don’t want to die a slow death of wallowing in the emotional muck instead of coming to terms with it. And yet I’m fighting it, still, even as I write this, wondering if one can ever “come to terms” with feeling empty or broken — although I suppose there’s no other alternative than hoping and believing. Discovering this whole other universe that’s out there, knowing who you are, taking action, doing it now. Fighting that inner voice inside of you that says “Do what now?” It makes me think of one of Oprah’s sayings — Do one thing every day that brings you closer to your goal. If it’s reading a book, read a book. If it’s painting the entryway, get out of your funk and paint the entryway.

I do realize that may sound too easy, or the garbage would have already taken itself out, and the phone calls would be made, and dinner would be on the table. But just like when you’re trying to figure out what you want to eat — cheese, chocolate, cereal, you can kind of feel your way along when you’re trying to figure out what you want and need to do. It has to feel right. Unfortunately we can’t all go and hide under the covers on the days when nothing feels right, I know, but at least you can go about your business knowing that something is off, and sooner or later you’ll figure out how to fix it.

It’s heavy stuff, true. But let’s be courageous, and be excited, because something better is coming. You’re allowed.

Until next time.

More on Women, Food and God

This book was a very interesting book about food.So I went through this book and dog-eared every page that had something on it that I had underlined previously that really spoke to me as I reviewed it a second time…and let’s just say there are a LOT of pages folded down now. I thought I’d share with you some of my reactions to the author’s insights in case you have a similar take on things.

A lot of her points lead you right back to you, which of course I love — the self-discovery aspect of things intrigues me even though sometimes I wonder if I don’t even have time to fold the laundry, when will I have time to think about my convictions and beliefs? But, of course, thinking is something that you can do anywhere, any time. I think the key is to just take this list one at a time and focus on each point for a number of days or weeks, whenever you think of it, come back to it, until you feel like you’ve dug all the way to the bottom to find what applies to you in the statement and THEN move on to the next one. Be patient. This sort of self-discovery and realization is not an overnight thing, although you may experience dreams or moments of clarity. Slow and steady wins the race.

I may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: “We are walking, talking expressions of our deepest convictions.” What does Geneen mean by this? Well, that’s really for you to figure out, for you alone. Think about your appearance, your home, your clothes, and your relationships. How do you speak to your spouse at the end of a stressful day? Do you live in ratty old t-shirts and pajama pants? Is your home one endless stack of papers after another? Think about what this kind of stuff says about how you view yourself and your worth.

“Allow [yourself] to feel the feelings of brokenness… [Your] resistance to the pain [is] worse than the pain.” Emotional eaters, listen up. Sometimes I think the only way to avoid stress eating is to literally get out of the kitchen, get out of the house — and don’t go to the nearest drive-thru. That may sound like my typical escape mechanism, but if you can go somewhere to breathe deeply and focus on what’s bothering you instead of just tuning out, whether via food, TV or another vice, good. Feel the emotion, not the hunger. Remember that.

“Understanding the relationship with food is a direct path to coming home after a lifetime of being exiled. Perhaps that home is what God was always meant to be.” This book is obviously about more than just food and dieting, and while I don’t expect a non-religious person to necessarily be moved to belief by reading about chocolate cake and French fries, that last sentence comforts me. God as home. (And therefore by contrast, if this speaks to you, Food not as home.) Even if you don’t dive into food as your comfort, it’s still nice to feel comfort, peace and calm anyways. That has benefits that reach far beyond your waistline.

“Diets are [your] most flagrant attempts at fixing [yourself].” Well if that doesn’t say it all right there, I don’t know what does. Is your weight standing in your way? Do you avoid trips to the beach with your friends because it would mean being in a bathing suit? (Or do you go and not enjoy yourself because the whole time you’re thinking about how she looks and how you look and how all the guys are looking at her, not you?) Let me be blunt: Screw that. Again, even if your issues aren’t weight or eating or dieting, I know I’ve put up a million walls and excuses based on this other level of thinking that only involves fear, self-consciousness and low self-esteem that, even if I do go to the beach, or the party, or the meeting, am I really connecting with people? Or am I so locked up inside my own head that I might as well not be there in the first place? I, for one, am sick of that. Number one; diets will not fix your problems. Number two; diets will not fix “you.” Number three; you don’t need to be “fixed.” You can deal with your problems, okay, but you yourself are not flawed or broken. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

“Can you remember a time, perhaps when you were very young, when life was as it was — just the fact that it was early morning or any old day in summer — and that was enough? When you were enough — not because of what you looked like or what you did, but just because everything was the way it was. Nothing was wrong. … You were back to a fundamental feeling of positivity, of goodness just because you were alive. What if you could live that way now? And what if your relationship to food was the doorway?” It’s kind of like my bike-riding analogy. There’s a reason why a Google search of “Live in the Moment” comes up with 50 million results. 50 million! 50 million reasons why we should cast our worries aside (enter God again) and just enjoy the outdoor barbecue party or the pool day or the wedding. Don’t let your preconceived notions put a damper on anything you do. Get rid of them. It is physically impossible to maintain them and live in the moment at the same time. This is not something you can do from one day to the next, but become more self-aware. Notice when you’re having a conversation with someone and all you can think about is whether you’re nodding your head at the right times, listening enough, talking enough, should you smile? Just converse. Just go on a date. Just eat dinner. It shouldn’t be as hard as it is.

I feel like I could have endless book club discussions about this book. I also just found out that she has several other books, so with any luck some day I’ll be reading those, too. I find this stuff so interesting!

Exploring Women, Food and God

This book is an excellent read.From what I gather, the theme of this book, which seems pretty tremendous and all encompassing, is based on the following quote:

“What we believe about food and eating is an exquisite reflection of all our beliefs.”

To me, that sounds huge and unbelievable. I mean, the title of the book itself had me scratching my head, but obviously I picked it up, read it cover to cover and am now examining it more in depth so SOMETHING is drawing me in. I just can’t wrap my head around it all.

The author writes how after she stopped years and years of serious yo-yo dieting, she too didn’t quite understand the connection, but she began relating the lens through which she saw almost everything to her relationship with food.

I’m trying so hard to understand all of this, and I think it starts on page 14, when the author admits to her difficulty trusting herself around food, which eventually led her to contemplate “trusting less tangible hungers” — for rest, contact, meaning in life, etc.

Okay, I’m sorry, but I’m still not getting it. How do you trust a less tangible hunger? Why should you trust a less tangible hunger? To know that it’s OK to want things and not get them? (Like you know you want that chocolate cake, but it’s OK that you’re not going to eat it?)

She goes on to say the following:

“If I tracked the impulse to eat when I wasn’t hungry to its core, I’d find every single thing I believed about loving, living, and dying right there, in that moment.”

But she doesn’t explain quickly enough for me what exactly she believed, so that I can find out if I believe the same things, so that I can determine if she’s right or if this whole book is a sham! What did she believe? That she would never experience enough love to fix the lack of love she felt growing up? That she would never be able to live the life she really, truly, secretly wanted to live? That we’re all going to die anyways, so we might as well eat cake?

That can’t be it. Can it? Do I take my childhood issues, my daddy issues, my ISSUES, to the fridge every time I stop in front of it?

If each of us truly has a basic view of reality and God that we cast out every day in our relationships with family members, friends and food, I need to figure out what mine is, as soon as possible. Right? That’s what I’ve been saying all along. It’s the journey that counts, not the destination.

I kind of like the idea behind it — I think it’s true, to a degree, and it meshes quite well with another quote I’ve been trying to track down all day, about how we if we spend our days trying to be what we want to become, we end up becoming what it is we want to be (or something like that.). In a sense, there is no finding of oneself. It’s the creation, the act, the moments, and the choices. And if I bring my relationship with my mom into everything, or what other people think, or my fear of falling, then I guess I’m not really living freely without casting a glare on things, without going into anything and everything with preconceived notions.

Am I beginning to understand all of this mumbo-jumbo? I still think some of it’s a little drastic, a stretch, but maybe that’s because I’m not willing to give in yet. We’re always learning. I’m on the path. Gaining confidence one day at a time. Thank you for coming on this journey with me.