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.

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