Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I'm going to get all Oprah on your ass...

So I went and read me a book called Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth.  It "read my mail."  Totally.  It has completely changed the way I see myself and food.  I really can't remember when I clung to food.  It seems like forever.  I know it's always been an escape, a numbing drug, a way to feed myself love.  It's like a my "my own personal brand of heroin" as Edward would say to Bella.  I am Edward.  Bella is food.  Where in the hell am I going with this?

The first time I felt in control of my heroin was after I had Amelia.  When I was perfect to a T with diet and lost 80 lbs.  But I remember going past my Flex points one day after 7 months of complete perfection.  I was really upset.  Oddly upset.  Crying.  I called a friend and "confessed" it.  I wanted her to tell me I was still okay.  That I wouldn't get fat again.  And that moment was the beginning of my obsession with "losing weight."  If I stayed on plan- it was a good day.  If I went over my points- it was a bad day.  It was my religion.  I had no real sense of contentment or "goodness" unless I was in control of my eating.  I was not enough until I reached "goal."  I was not enough.

And so I read this...

"Can you remember a time, perhaps when you were very young, when life as it was- just the fact that it was early morning or any old day in summer- was enough?  When you were enough- not because of what you looked like or what you did, but just because every thing was the way it was.  Nothing was wrong.  When you were sad, you cried and then it was over.  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?"

What?   No, but see I'm fine.  I just have to lose 10 lbs.  It's not a big deal.

"No matter what we weigh, those of us who are compulsive eaters have anorexia of the soul."

Oh shit.  Now I gotta be all crazy-inner-healing-praying-girl.  I mean, I pray.  But I don't "deal."  Dealing with pain, emotional pain, makes me want to bolt.  I'd rather eat grass.  Do 100 jump squats.  Hold a plank for 20 mins.  Diet.

"Dieting was like praying.  It's a plaintive cry to whoever was listening: I know I am fat.  I know I am ugly.  I know I am undisciplined, but see how hard I try.  See how violently I restrict myself, deprive myself, punish myself.  Surely there must be a reward for those who know how horrible they are.....Making the decision to stop dieting was like committing heresy, like breaking a vow that was never supposed to be broken.  It was like saying, 'You were wrong, God.  You were wrong, Mom.  I am worth something.'"

And so the realization hits me hard:  I fill my life with goals to distract myself from being present.  Because if I'm working toward a "goal,"  I can be swept up in that task.  And not deal.

Geneen Roth tells the women at her retreats: 

"I tell them that ending the obsession with food is all about the capacity to stay in the present moment.  To not leave themselves.  I tell them that they don't have to make a choice between losing weight and doing this."

Ding! Ding! Ding!  My first thoughts on reading this book was that this lady was going to tell me to embrace my thighs, stop caring about weight loss and like me.  And that kind of thinking makes me feel like I can't breathe.  My obsession with weight loss (whether its fruitful or not) fills me.  It gives me meaning.  I know.  Sounds ridiculous.  But hey- I was successful!  I did it 4 years ago!  And hell, I'm only 7 lbs from where I was 4 years ago.  But I just..can't...get...there.  It's like it's just sitting out of reach and I can't do it.  And so what do I do?  Well, another project of course.  Yeah.  If I get all hard core and shoot to be a figure competitor then I'll have to lose the weight.  I'll have no choice.  And so I get obsessed with figure competing.

"Obsession gives you something to do besides having your heart shattered by heart-shattering events....  It creates a parallel world, a hologram of emotions, passions, breathtaking reversals.  It gives you the illusion of feeling everything without having to be vulnerable to anything.  In the drama of obsession, you are the star, the costar, the director, the producer....Obsession is a way of organizing our lives so that we never have to deal with the hard part-the part that happens between two years old and dying.  We compulsive eaters wouldn't have an obsession with food if we believed that life was tolerable without it." 

You know where this is going.  But I cannot have a realization like this and still be consumed with my "project."  And so I'm doing it.  I'm quitting.  Fuck figure competitors!  Nah, just kidding.  Fuck projects.  Fuck anorexia of the soul.  Life is too short.  In some ways I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  In other ways I feel terrified of not losing those last pounds.  Losing ground.  Being a quitter.  A flake.  And I fear that some of you are thinking that I'm just being lazy and using this book to give me a ticket out of this figure thing.  I fear a lot.  I can be a very paranoid girl.

So what's my theme?  My goal?  What am I doing?  You know, bloggers have to have goals.  You have to be onto something.  Doing something.  And then post pics of it.

I am doing nothing.

Absolutely nothing.  I mean, I'm going to be here.  I'm going to ramble.  I still love fitness.  I still love mochas.  But I can't, with any presence of mind, be a figure competitor right now.  The perfection of diet and hard workouts are counterproductive to being "enough," because you're only striving towards changing yourself.

I want to deal with my need for distraction.  Hell, I have no idea what "dealing" looks like.  I've been through years of therapy that never touched this food stuff.  But I feel strongly in my gut that I read this book at the time I needed to.  And I want to be present.  For myself.  My husband.  My kids.  I just want to enjoy life because I can and I deserve to.  I want to be enough.


Elisabeth @ joggerslife.com said...

This post hit me so hard that I'm doing my own post about it. Wow.

So, here's a bit of a confession. Since I was in my early 20's, I've wanted to do a figure competition. Starting at 15, I was bulimic all the time, anorexic sometimes, and always obsessed. In the process of my eating disorder developing into a full-blown crisis by my mid-20's, I lost sight of my goal to do a figure competition.

I went to treatment and did the work, and I'm "better" for the most part. My desire to do a competition had come back with a vengeance over the past 2 years. I've put it off because I was afraid that it might be my eating disorder trying to creep back in.

When you announced that you were going to compete, I decided that I was actually going to do it. After my races this year and my wedding, I was going to compete. Actually, I was going to put my plans to get pregnant on hold so that I could compete.

Strangely (before I had read this post), last night I decided that I don't want to do it after all. It's TOO MUCH. Too many projects. Too many responsibilities. Too many distractions.

I'm not struggling with my number on the scale (I don't own one), but I must admit that I still (almost) always wish that I was 'thinner' or 'faster' or 'stronger'. It doesn't end with just fitness and weight. I want to be 'smarter', or more 'successful', or more 'fulfilled'. With very little break, I've pretty much been a student for the past 6 years in addition to working full-time. Apparently, I'm not capable of just BEING.

This is a book, but I want you to know that I support your decision. My therapist always told me to "sit with it"...meaning to just be present and patient with feelings and emotions and situations until you reached a point of coping with them. Sitting with the feelings are always harder than distracting and running away, but it's more therapeutic in the long run.

Monica said...

now i know you well enough to know how uncomfortable this will make you...but sit with this compliment!: i am so moved, you are so brave and honest, just love you. I think being present can be scarier than a lot of things.
oh yeah, and fuck anorexia of the soul! best line of the century.

Kate Kiefer said...

i'm happy for you! and this is just what i needed to hear this morning.

Jenn said...

Sounds like you are making the best decision for yourself. I sort of feel bad about encouraging you. I had NO IDEA that you had a food obsession. Your blog is still fairly new to me and I didn't hear it when we talked that one day. So I'm very sorry if I pushed you in a direction you that wasn't healthy for you. It was completely unintentional.

I'd rather "smoke grass". Just kidding. I couldn't resist! Ha!!

Meghan said...

I am sitting here in a chair getting a pedicure (which I was feeling so guilty about) and now have everyone worried about me 'cause I have tears streaming down my face.

Thank you for this post, friend. I'm with Monica, you are brave and honest and I really really love you lots.

Jen Gordon said...

Thanks friends and floggers. Means a lot to hear from others. And God how we all can relate, no?

Jenn- there is no reason for you to feel bad! Don't you for a second think you encouraged me in a bad way. I asked you for advice and you had no idea of my issues. It's all good. :)

Kara said...

Jen, I have really enjoyed your blog, your honesty, and your friendship, though it has been awhile since I dug out all of those old letters!!! Keep on being real. Being present is WAY harder than almost anything in life I think. And that accepting being enough..... yeah. I think we all need to work on that. Miss you, friend.And a bit jealous of your vegetable garden.....

Amanda said...

I'm reading this book right now. So far, I've been moved as well. I'm still trying to figure it out and how I fit in but I think I will in the end. I love your blog, so I am glad you are staying. Your love for fitness is awesome. I love hearing about your boot camps. And I too love mochas! :)

Jennifer Hartley said...

Shit..now I must read this book.

Jen Gordon said...

Kara- miss you too girl. Oh the letters! Seems like a lifetime ago.. I'm jealous of your chickens!

corrie said...

Dealing sucks-but so worth it. I love you and am sooo thankful for your friendship.

Lori said...

Right on. I'm really proud of you. And I don't even know you. But I'm in the same place. I have a little girl that I don't want to have the same struggles with weight, body image, and eating disorders that I have had all of my life. I'm even considering throwing out my scale! I try to exercise and eat healthy, natural food. Treat myself and my body with kindness and appreciation. It's hard, though. The Slow Down Diet is also an excellent book. I'm really looking forward to reading more about your journey.

Alessandra said...

i think it's great that you are listening to yourself and not pushing past it just to please "us"... we read your blog because we like you and we are proud of you no matter what!! we are all just fightin' the fight and i think you are so amazing!!!!! :)

The Kiep Kid's Mom said...

This post just rocks! I am going to buy the book tomorrow! Thank you and don't stop rambling! It makes my day! :)

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