A couple of weeks ago, I went to pick something up from my friend Jen’s house, thinking I’d be in and out of there and on my merry way – and ended up in an engrossing conversation on her couch for almost 2 hours. About eating. Jen’s one of those friends who can speak Truth with courage and frankness, magically helping a mass of emotion to form in my throat by pinpointing exactly what I need to hear.
But somehow resist wanting to.
We hadn’t had a real talk for awhile, and I wanted to hear all about how she’d released 75 pounds from her body in recent months. This led to her helping me process why I’d added 25 pounds to mine.
“This isn’t you,” she said, motioning to my physical frame. Oddly, I wasn’t offended, just relieved that someone had voiced the obvious. (Even my husband won’t go there)…
“I know, Jen!” I wailed. “Why is food such a looming issue for me…and for every woman I know? What IS it about food?!?”
Food, we reckoned together, is not the issue. Neither is eating. The more relevant question to ask is, “What am I really hungry for?”
She helped me understand that sometimes we need to sit with the hunger before we reach for a counterfeit means to fill our souls. Most of us are hungry for connection, attachment, security. Being hungry scares us; incites panic. Food creates the illusion of emotional attachment when in reality it is designed to meet our physical needs. We often reach for food in an act of desperation, to fill that “hole” in our lives, wanting immediate relief and satiation. Eating to avoid feeling – or thinking -puts a veil over our surfacing painful emotions and buries them further inside our bodies.
As to why I eat unconsciously…well, you know you’re getting close to the why when it makes you cry. Hence, the nearer my dear friend got to my “why”, the larger that mass of emotion swelled in my throat.
Ah, the lies we tell ourselves without really knowing it. Here are some subconscious emotional programs that my friend helped me realize I’ve been running:
- “It’s not safe to be a beautiful woman.” If I go back to the size I was when I held my Mrs. beauty pageant title 7 years ago, I will attract inappropriate attention to myself (most particularly, from men). That pageant body wasn’t safe – I need to create a barrier (extra weight) between my beauty and the wandering eyes of the male species.
- “Women won’t be able to relate to me if I’m thinner.” I’ll just go ahead and place a physical block (extra weight) between myself and freedom from the voices of others. I need to please other people. The women I teach need to relate to me, no matter the cost. No matter how inauthentic I may feel in an expanding body and compromised energy level.
- “I need protection from my grief.” I’ll eat to dull the searing disappointment of losing 4 babies. To nourish a phantom pregnancy. To feed the empty space.
These a-ha’s (aka lies) were nearly overwhelming to discover. I knew that God had sent me to Jen’s door that day, and we’ve since had deep conversations about food and eating. She has collaborated on an album called Recovery and is coming to sing and speak at myBreakthrough Conference for women on the 16th, which I’m thrilled about. The women I’ve gathered to speak at this event – Jen Marco Handy included- have incredible stories and insights to share.
Though I’m organizing it and am one of the speakers, I’m looking for some more little Breakthroughs of my own that day. I’m sure I have more “whys” that are awaiting discovery. All I know is that in this mortal sphere, the body and spirit are married. When one suffers – when one is not fed – the other will starve.
What keeps knawing at me is that word, HUNGER. Do we focus on curbing it, feeding it…or just allowing it to be what it is? The tendency, physically and spiritually, is to FEED it. What I’m discovering is that little ol’ me lacks the ability to truly feed myself appropriately. I can’t satiate my own hunger; heal my own grief; unveil my own authenticity.
If we’re all just hungry for peace and connection and attachment and safety, there is really only one Source that has it all under one roof. Food is the illusion. Jesus Christ is the reality.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. – John 6:35
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.-Matt 5:6