Thursday, March 18, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: Victory

Rachel here: I had an interesting conversation the other night that led me to completely change my mind about what I wanted to share for this post. For over four years now I have been seeing a wonderful, kind, patient, insightful, no b.s. therapist who I will call C. For the last 6 months or so I have seen her with less regularity than I had leading up to that point, feeling like there hasn't been major work I've wanted/needed to do. Anyway, when I saw C earlier this week I mentioned this blog, something I had evidently not mentioned to her before. Seriously, the woman stared at me, wide-eyed and with her mouth slightly agape. What? she said and I felt confused for a moment, unsure of what I had said that caught her so off-guard. And then I started piecing it together.

For years and years of my life food has been THE site of control for me, a source of simultaneous agony and ecstasy that I have clung to and privately defined myself by. When I was younger there were periods of overeating and as I grew older I swung in the opposite direction, starving for years. In both dynamics, though, food was a means to access numbness, a path to physical and psychical disconnection from my body. My journey to learn to eat, to learn to feed myself, has been a long and uphill battle. It is a trip that I don't imagine will ever end, only one that I will have better and better maps for navigating.

For the better part of last year I felt like I had really conquered my problems with food. Then I got pregnant. Becoming pregnant sort of shoved my nose in my relationship with eating, exposing both the progress and the problems that continue to flourish there. Yes, I had come a long way in my four years with C, but yes there was/is still a ways to go. I had gotten to a point of viewing food as fuel, now I needed to see it as actual sustenance for life...oh yeah, and I had to gain a ton of weight while I was at it. There have been days where I feel furious at my body's needs for food, where I wish I could somehow eat like I did this time last year (very healthily and just to the point of ending hunger) and that all the nutrients would go straight to the baby. There are also days (and more and more of them!) where I relish in this project, delighting in identifying varied and interesting ways to get all sorts of goodness to the baby (since she can taste now) and feeling really connected to taking care of myself. It is day-to-day, though, which I guess really isn't all that different from how it's been since I first started seeing C and she told me to eat a few bites of food whenever my cat did (I am like, completely in love with one of my cats because, no joke, she showed me the baby steps towards learning to feed myself in a more viable fashion).

And so, this blog is a victory for me. It is an invitation from my mother and myself to view food as fun, as exciting, as nourishing, as my friend. If someone had told me a year ago that I would be doing this I probably would have nodded and smiled (to keep up my "oh yeah, I'm totally good with food" facade) and thought, "oh HELL no"...hence C's reaction when I mentioned it in therapy earlier this week. I have always enjoyed baking and cooking (in spite of my at times debilitating fear of consuming the end products), but to genuinely enjoy eating is a rather new and novel space for me to occupy. It feels good. I feel closer to whole, like my body and my brain are finally co-habitating. And you know what? I feel damn proud of myself, too. Plus, it feels great to have my mom right by my side during this shift, witnessing and guiding and celebrating all of this change together. Thank you all for watching me grow.

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