tumblingdays: B&W Photo of a little girl hugging an elephant (ed)
I've started reading a new book- Women Food and God by Geneen Roth. Several people have recommended this book to me, but I've been reluctant to read it. My main reluctance comes from the fact that I don't believe in god, making it unlikely that this book is the right next step for me and my Intuitive Eating journey. Still, SO many people recommended it that I finally added it to my queue.

I read the prologue earlier this week and even that gave me quite a bit to think about. Several people in my support group have blogged each chapter as they've read it, or used the Book Club questions to blog. I'm not sure that I am going to do something that structured, but I suspect that I will be writing it about it as I go.

So far I've finished the prologue and chapter one. It took me the better part of a week to read chapter one, because I knew that reading this book meant digging into my emotional eating, and this is not a fun thing for me to do. The premise, as laid out in the prologue is pretty straight-forward. Our relationship with food is a perfect reflection of our relationship with life. How we treat food is an expression of our deepest convictions, "...when we inhale Reese's peanut butter cups when we are not hungry, we are acting out an entire world of hope or hopelessness, of faith or doubt, or love or fear."

In response the prologue, I have been trying to experience one of my meals each day mindfully- no distractions. Phone put away, music off, no tv, no talking. It's challenging to sit alone with my food. Like most people, I am a multitasker. Given how fraught my relationship with food is, it is really tough for eating to be thing that I focus on absolutely. I can't say that I was completely successful at it. Even with nothing to distract me but my own mind, I would still have moments when I ate in a fugue, when food disappeared off my plate and into my body with no conscious thought. I have had good moments though, when I could be present in my eating. And, if I can be present in my eating, where it is so hard to still my mind, maybe this will help me be more present in my life generally.

Chapter one focuses on "god." Roth quickly establishes a definition of god that encompasses everything from my atheism to something closer to the traditional patriarchal western god. Frankly, I find such broad definitions of god pretty meaningless. It doesn't really matter to me since it means that I can read the book without feeling like it wasn't written for me. It does make me wonder why she bothers with the whole god concept at all instead of just acknowledging that she is talking about life.

Some of what she says here strikes a chord with me, or at least with the child I used to be. She talks about praying, and when her prayers aren't answered feeling like it is because she is not worthy of having her prayers answered. The part of me still connected to my deeply religious upbringing gave a sharp intake of breath at that idea. When I think of all the time spent listening to well-meaning people tell me that faith can move mountains and then to have my own prayers met with nothing.... well, for a big part of my early adolescence it made sense that the only reason that this should be the case was because no matter how fervently I believed and how sincerely I prayed, my faith wasn't enough. I wasn't enough.

She also describes how she hated the act of praying; how it felt like, "begging for love that I already knew I couldn't have." This, along with the pain of feeling like my prayers weren't answered because I didn't believe enough, was my first real feeling of shame. I also felt like the things I asking for weren't worth god's time. He had falling sparrows to count and crops to make grow. My loneliness, my adolescent confusion, my doubts had no place in a world full of hungry people and natural disasters. I was ashamed of asking for love, ashamed of asking for peace, and ashamed that the god I'd learned cared about every little detail of our lives seemed uninterested in my pain.

There are things from my religious upbringing that still make me angry, and one of the biggest things is this: SHAME. Here I am, with that time more than half my life ago, and I still find it difficult to approach the child that I was and tell her that she didn't do anything wrong in asking for love and acceptance - not from the people around her, not from her parents, and not from the god who never spoke back.
tumblingdays: Naked Gnome Running Off with a Sharpie. (blogging)
On a site that I frequent, someone posted a picture that said, "May your life be as awesome as you pretend it is on facebook." The quote made me laugh and it also made me think about the way I present myself online. I'm an honest, open person. I've worked hard over the past few years to balance my open-nature with a growing appreciation of holding back a few things for myself. Since getting married, I've also had to consider my husband's personality. He is more closed off than I am.

It's interesting (and probably a little egotistical) to pull up my facebook, pinterest, twitter, etc. pages and see the way it looks to someone who isn't me. If I were a stranger or an old friend who only knew me from online what would I think of me? Would their impressions be accurate? Would they be positive?

So I did a quick round-up and came up with some adjectives based on my own pages:

fun, nerdy, cluttered, active, sentimental, fashion-oriented...

Not bad. Maybe not the first five adjectives I'd use to describe myself in RL, but still okay. Except for the sentimental one, they are certainly things most people can figure out about me in a very short conversation.

I was a little surprised by how much of my sentimentality shows up in my on-line presence. It's a part of me that embarrasses me more than a little bit and a part that I would have adamantly died existed before the past year or two of therapy. I don't much like to admit how easily moved I am by quotes, music, a good book, a well-crafted story. I tend to avoid movies that tug the heartstrings because they leave me feeling manipulated. Vulnerability doesn't sit well with me.

Still, I have slowly been learning to appreciate the fact that it is better to feel and be vulnerable than to not feel. It's a cliche, I know, but also a lesson that was a long time coming for me.
tumblingdays: (work)
I took drama classes in high school. I can hear you joking now, "What teenager needs classes in drama?" But that's what the school called our theatre classes, and not without reason. I started my sophomore year, after a successful summer of re-inventing myself. I thought I would love being on stage- the attention, the acknowledgment... But I hated it. Part if it was stage fright, but a larger part if it was that performing didn't exhilarate me, it exhausted me. I continued with six semesters of classes because except for actually being on stage, I loved everything else about it. I loved creating something from scratch. I love the camaraderie. I loved studying plays, set design, lighting, even building sets. I loved the house lights going down. I loved costuming and music. I loved the act of finding the right symbols to evoke the right feeling at the right time.

Most of all, I loved directing. It was fantastic to be the bandleader of a crazy group of people working to bring a vision to life. I was, even in retrospect, pretty good at it.

Lately I have been struggling with a process in my career that is a lot like acting. Every time I have to do it, it evokes my memories of the times I had to get up on stage as a price for taking these classes that I otherwise loved. After it's over, I end up feeling like a vampire victim- utterly drained, confused, exhausted, a little bruised.

I thought I was going to be done with this stage of my career before the end of this year and then some things went wrong, and now my chance to move on is delayed until at least March 2012. I know it's the right choice, but the idea of keeping this up for six more months exhausts me just thinking of it.
tumblingdays: May the bridges I burn light my way (past)
I've been making plans with an old friend to spend a weekend with her and her husband in about a month. I'm super excited about it, but a little nervous too. I used the term "old friend" here, but I am not sure how apt it really is.

By one measure, she is my oldest friend. We met when I was four and moved into a house in her neighborhood. But then at nine, I moved away and our contact was sporadic until I was about 16. Then- well, some things happened in my family life that are best left for another post- and I lost contact with most of the people from before. In large part, this was the choice of the people in my past. In some fewer cases, this was my choice. And in a very few cases, this was no one's choice. I turned 16 before the age of Facebook and cell phones and it was easier to lose touch with people then. The problem is, I don't really know who I just "fell out of touch" with and who made the choice to abandon me and my family. This makes me slightly untrusting of people in general, and bitter and definitely untrusting of people in my past specifically. And even among those who couldn't deal with what was going on at the time, some of them have since searched me out to reconnect. My past can be a tangled mess sometimes, and mostly I try to live my life moving forward.

Chronology aside, she is really someone that I am just getting to know as an adult. We met up for a tentative lunch a few months ago, and it went so well that we spent literally hours at lunch and then at coffee afterwards. I like the adult that she has become, and I like that we are reconnecting. At the same time, it is really, really strange to interact with someone who remembers me best as the child I was before... When she tells stories about our past together, it's like getting a postcard from a distant country. I wonder if she feels the same way?

Coming up next month, my husband and I are spending the weekend as her and her husband's guests. We don't live in the same city, and this will be our second in person visit. I admit that I am a little nervous. It's a big step for me to invite select people from my past back into my life. It scares me that this decision will be repaid with new hurts. I hope not though. I hope that it will be a step in merging the old me into the person I am now.


tumblingdays: Oversaturated Photo of a flower (Default)

October 2011

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