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I continue reading Women Food and God by Geneen Roth. As I stated earlier, I have not been blogging every chapter because not every chapter has a lot to say. And honestly, the chapters that do have a lot to say [to me], have kept me chewing over them and not talking about them either. I am up to chapter 6. The first six chapters comprise the first part of the book. It's kind of introduction to the approaching our relationship with food from a new perspective. Since I started the Intuitive Eating process as part of treatment for my ED about 20 months ago, I don't really need a hard sell in this regard. Roth is also advocating Intuitive Eating, though she doesn't call it that.

There is a quote from chapter six that captures my feelings about dieting and about this whole process. It's lengthy, but I am going to quote it here and then talk a bit about it.

Diets are based on the unspoken fear that you are a madwoman, a food terrorist, a lunatic. Eventually you will destroy all that you love and so you need to be stopped. The promise of a diet is not only that you will have a different body, you will have a different life. If you hate yourself enough, you will love yourself. If you torture yourself enough, you will be become a peaceful, relaxed human being.

I doubt I am alone with struggling with loving discipline for myself and restriction, with treating myself gently and spoiling myself. In my treatment of myself, I see a pattern well established long before I was the person primarily responsible for taking care of me. Often my childhood was a pattern of neglected NEEDS and an over-abundance of WANTS. This is how you "spoil" someone, not by ensuring that they feel safe, loved, protected, and nurtured, but by replacing loving support with sporadic overabundance paired with benign neglect.

So, for years I've done pretty much exactly the same thing to myself. I'd diet or otherwise restrict my eating and then I'd follow that up with a period of overeating. Or, I'd go back to my bulimia - binge and purge.

Now, I am struggling with the kind of structured discipline that comes from loving yourself and wanting the best for yourself. I kept typing here that discipline has never been a part of my life, but it's not true. It's just that before the last couple of years, discipline was about restriction. Treating myself gently is not something I have much experience with. I live my life hard, whether that hardness comes from restriction or from casting off restrictions. I was living as an over-indulged princess or a bereft pauper. I will eat it all or I will eat nothing. I will exercise every day, balls to the wall, or I will sit on my ass. I will sleep a lot or I will not sleep. I would save compulsively, denying myself necessities or spend like a reality TV participant.

And now, I have taken a big step off what seems to me to be a very high cliff. I have to trust myself to be neither the pauper nor the princess. The rules are not black and white. I can take a day off from working out and it's not "falling off the wagon." I can eat a piece of chocolate and it isn't "cheating." I can buy something I like and enjoy it. I want this to be my normal, but often this is still a matter of closing my eyes and making a giant leap of faith. I have to believe that my body is not shirking if I feel like I need a break from my workout routine. I have to believe that a craving is a momentary want that I can choose whether or not to indulge and not a sign of weakness or deprivation. It's hard. It involves a lot of sitting still and listening to that faint, faint voice inside of me. I am not good at sitting still, and I often doubt that voice.

Even with all of that, though, I am happier than I have been in a really long time. I am slowly beginning to trust myself. I am finding that I can live under a yoke of gentle discipline and that I can be responsible for myself. It gratifying. Right now, there are frequent failures, but they are becoming more about a failure in the moment rather than feeling like I AM a failure. The difference is profound.
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tumblingdays

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