eat, move, think, feel


June 12, 2011

Not Beating Up, Just Wondering

cupcake gone by TheTruthAbout
cupcake gone, a photo by TheTruthAbout on Flickr.

A few people near and dear to me communicated to me after reading my last two posts that I should not be “beating myself up” or feeling badly about myself for eating the Chinese food. And I just wanted to clarify. I wasn’t feeling awful about myself – I was just wondering, sort of curiously, “How did I get there?” Or “How did this happen?” When I know what I know. I’m just trying to sort it out.

Same person said to me that they had eaten noodles and bubble tea. Which to me is not an issue at all unless the purpose of eating those things is to go numb. And it made me think, it’s not the WHAT of the eating that is “problematic,” it’s the HOW. I’ve eaten cupcakes and cheesecake and fried calamari and all kinds of stuff without feeling it’s a problem. I’ve eaten lots of Chinese food without having the feeling I had last night. Last night I wasn’t savoring or tasting or even necessarily enjoying. It was just about the quantity. I had that “shoveling” feeling, and in fact I shoveled down the last of the fried rice with a serving spoon. THAT’s what I’m talking about.

If I eat six cupcakes in a sitting (OK, I’ve never actually done that. Maybe two. Three.) and don’t really taste them, then it’s a problem. If I lovingly, ecstatically really ENJOY eating a cupcake, it’s fine. In fact, it’s wonderful. It’s more about the “how” and the “why” and the “how much” more than the “what.”

That feeling I had last night just was something that hadn’t happened in a long while, and I was just trying to … you know, sort it all out. I’m not feeling bad about myself or even that it happened. Just… sitting here, thinking.

What I Learned From My Dog

the day we brought her home

This morning I was mulling over my Chinese food overload from last night and I saw our dog going through her usual bizarre dog-food ritual. She will approach her bowl, do a weird little backward dance, rear up on her back legs, then stealthily approach the dish AGAIN, take a small mouthful of food, back up quickly, drop the food on the ground and then eat it with her little ears flattened to her head. Every single bite happens this way.

We often laugh at her because it is truly amusing to watch. But we’ve analyzed WHY she does this every time she eats: it’s because she came from a place where there were twelve other dogs, and this was her mode of survival. She would have to jump up and down in order to SEE the bowl in the sea of other dogs. Then carefully plan her approach, sneak right in there at the right moment, then grab the food and back up to take it to a safe place to chew and swallow. She couldn’t just stand there, leisurely-like, and munch away.

We brought her home when she was 9 months old. She’s almost eight YEARS old now and still she does this. She hasn’t figured out that she is the only dog in the house and she does not NEED to do this. There’s no amount of reassuring that can break her of this ritual.

But it made me think of my own “rituals” and the things I do that began long, long ago. I know they don’t serve me. Did they ever? Many people have wondered why we eat to soothe our emotions even when we know we’ll feel worse in the long run. Because at one time, it DID work (or so we believed). Food actually does work as an anesthetic and can mute feelings that are too upsetting or just too MUCH. I think last night I had just reached the end of my proverbial rope. After worrying and caring for mom all week I had to go in and go to work for a longer day than I’d planned. I was exhausted, the worst seemed to have passed, and I just let it down.

Last night I got a good long night’s sleep. Today I am going for a nice long walk. I’m going to be gentle with myself, and learn once again what it means to take care of one’s self.

Lessons Learned from a Hard Week

I really want to thank everyone for the good wishes for my mom. It’s only been a week but it feels like one of the longest weeks ever! Tonight I think I can safely say she is definitely on the mend. After not wanting to eat a bite all week, tonight she asked if we would order Chinese takeout for dinner and she snarfed down a huge plate with gusto. WHEW.

It’s been tough, and rough, but she is one resilient lady. I have spent the week sleeping on the floor of her room, helping her up in the night. Tonight I am sleeping in my own bed again. She can once again make her way up and down the stairs and is taking the doggie for short walks down the street. This is amazing considering where she was just a few days ago.

I have to admit not taking great care of myself this week. For the first few days, she didn’t eat, and I didn’t eat. Then I lost a bunch of sleep. Then when she seemed to get better I suddenly wanted to eat everything in sight. I ate more Chinese food tonight than I think I have in years. Ah well.

This week taught me that I can’t succumb to stress. What if it had lasted longer than a week? Tonight I plan to get a good night’s sleep, then start tomorrow with some good activity and getting back on track.

It’s an old, old lesson but one that needs to be learned over and over again. Food doesn’t fix stress. But some reptilian part of my brain stubbornly wants to believe that it does.

Again, thank y’all for the warm wishes. I think they truly helped. oxoxo

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