Monday, March 21, 2011

Working through "Women, Food, and God": Week 1

Yeah, yeah, I'm actually using the worksheets from Oprah's website. Shut up. I'm going back through the book with a group located elsewhere on the interwebs, and this is copied and pasted from that discussion. As always with journaling, I take very little time to ponder my responses. This approach usually leads to more honesty. And I was surprised by some of my answers, especially the idea that I have anorexic tendencies. That frightens me.

1. The prologue begins with "80 hungry women" sitting in a circle together, waiting to eat and pay attention to how they use food. If you were one of those women being asked to be silent and pay attention to themselves, their hunger and their many feelings about food, how do you think you would feel?

At this point, I'd mostly be okay with this. I think that I have a tendency to think too much and get sort of "overly spiritual" with exercises like this, maybe because I'm trying to prove to myself how much I "get it".

I have noticed that feeling hunger has a tendency to make me feel virtuous, as long as I am hungry. I'm starting to think that I have anorexic tendencies, which is odd, because I'm an overeater. But, feeling hunger makes me feel like I'm doing things "right".

2. From page 2: "Our relationship to food is an exact microcosm of our relationship to life itself. You are a walking and talking expressions of your deepest convictions; everything you believe about love, fear, transformation and God is revealed in how, when and what you eat."

What are your deepest convictions, and how do you think they show up on your plate every day?

This is easy for me! When it comes down to it, I feel like there is NEVER going to be enough of ANYTHING. I have to take it all, right now, or someone is going to take it away from me. And at the very core of that, I believe that everything is going to be taken away from me because I don't deserve anything. If I don't take care of my needs, no one else is going to look out for them. No one else is going to pay attention to my needs enough to make sure that I am okay. But, having those thoughts also means that I am extremely selfish, because you're not supposed to really look out for Number One. Sacrifice is virtuous. Hoarding is not.

3. On page 5, Laurie says that things are hard, but at least she has food. Do you relate to her? Do you use food when things get hard? If so, does using food make things easier?

I definitely relate to this. Especially now. I've been feeling a LOT of "I know I'm not really hungry, but fuck it, everything sucks and this is something that I can do for me" lately. To a frightening degree. And I'm aware that I am using food as a diversion.

It is not helping. The suckiness is not going away. I don't magically have job stability or a peaceful marriage. I don't suddenly feel good about my fat midsection. But, I do feel like I am doing something. I'm distracting myself. And it's not helping a single thing.

4. On page 13, author Geneen Roth writes about her many diets and her weight history. Take a moment to consider your own food and weight history. What has it been like? Did the ups and downs of it correspond with particular events in your life? As you begin to read Women, Food and God, notice the feelings you have about what has and hasn't happened in your relationship with food. As you enter a brand new process and start a new journey, do you feel discouraged? Hopeless? Excited? Does a part of you believe that nothing will work? It's good to name those feelings so that you don't sabotage yourself with them.

I just tonight told my husband that I hate how my weight correlates with my job stress. And this has been a very bad year. I also notice that I lose weight when I'm feeling less stable in my marriage OR when I feel like my job is to the point where I have nothing left to lose.

I've been reading Geneen's books for a decade, almost to the month. And I've had Intuitive Eating on my Kindle for several months. I know how to do this. And I feel totally cynical at this point. I feel like I can't follow this long-term, because I haven't ever been able to do it. I always give myself too much permission to "slip" back into mindless eating. So, I want that to go away. I don't want to feel like I don't have the ability to be mindful and to care for myself.

5. From page 16: "Not sure what you really believe? Pay attention to the way you act—and to what you do when things don't go the way you think they should. Just for today, pay attention to what you value. Reflect on how you spend your time and your money. Pay attention to what you eat." What do you do when things don't go the way you want them to go? What do you really believe about your place here on earth? Do you think your life has meaning? Do you believe you are doomed to fail or that you are worthy no matter what you weigh?

Back to the second question: I definitely feel like the world is a mean, ignorant place and that I have to make sure that I get everything I need. And I need to stockpile, because there is no way to know for sure when the whole system is going to come crashing down. And that people cannot be trusted.

I use my intellect to justify stalling on the spiritual stuff. Rather than attack and conquer problems, I waste time figuring out the source and exploring everything about the problems. If I would ever decide that enough was enough and take action, things would be great. But, I use second-guessing as a way to back out when things start going well. Because I am uncomfortable with life unless things are going wrong and chaotic. That's what I know, and it's what feels safe.

6. How has food served as a source of punishment and/or shame in your life? What do you think it would take for you to really change your relationship with food?

EVERYTHING in my life is a source of punishment and/or shame. Is this abnormal? it's all connected, and any bit of it can be used to degrade or to uplift. Get real, people.

That last part of question 5 is crucial. My husband once told me that I am so used to being miserable that I create conflicts when things are going well. I think he was really talking about his mother...but I also think he is right. If there is no crisis, I feel uncomfortable. Because the other shoe always drops. If I can get to the point where I don't feel that way, things can change.

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