Some people deal with grief by being too heartbroken to eat. You see it in the movies (and in real life) all the time, someone reminding their grieving loved ones to eat. Loss of appetite is, in fact, a very common physical reaction to loss. Why can’t I be one of those people?
The two sides of my family are very different, physically and emotionally. My father’s side is very hearty New England stock with strong Irish and German roots, among others. They are outspoken,
strong, and larger than life. Literally. We have our fair share of ample bodies in that gene pool, myself included.
My mother’s side of the family hails from the South with mixed heritage including Cherokee. Despite a lifetime of biscuits and gravy for breakfast and everything being prepared in lard, including vegetables, they are generally small-boned and slender, a few dipping to downright emaciated. My mother weighed about 85 pounds or so when she got married, but she was merely tiny, not sickly. In many ways, that side of the family is quiet and unassuming, especially to outsiders.
Guess which side I took after? Naturally. You can probably hear my eyes rolling from wherever you are. Now if we were ever in a famine or other disaster where food became scarce, maybe I’d be happy that I’ve been so easily able to pack on the pounds. I could live for months before reaching a “normal” weight. But we aren’t.
Why couldn’t I be addicted to exercise like so many other people? Or why couldn’t celery taste like Rocky Road, or Rocky Road have celery’s calories? Either one would be acceptable. It’s very simple, really. I’m lost and empty and trying to fill the void. Food is my drug of choice.
Logically, I know this, yet emotionally, I’m not ready to make the necessary changes to correct it. It would be just one more thing taken from me, and I’m being selfish because I don’t want to give it up.
I’ve always been a stress eater and have certain foods for certain moods. Potato chips when I’m angry or annoyed – that crunch is so satisfying. Ice cream works wonders for sadness. Cereal tends to be true comfort food in general.
Then again, food has always been a reward in our family. Pizza or Chinese take-out is synonymous with celebration. Cakes on birthdays, cookies during the holidays, and other baked goods “just because”. None of these foods are necessarily “bad”, especially in moderation, but when combined with a food addiction and difficulty saying “no” in general, they certainly aren’t “good”. But, essentially, you give me a reason – any one will do – and I can give you a reason to eat.
Now some people need tough love. My husband was quite motivated by someone getting in his face. Insults and demands inspired him. Just like all those sports movies where the coach is spewing venom and vileness. I’m the opposite, and I retreat when someone pushes. I need encouragement, not shame. But I also need to do things in my time. If I’m not ready to do something, all the pushing in the world won’t get me there. Guess “stubborn mule” would be an entirely accurate description. It took my husband literally years to understand that about me. In. My. Time.
Much like putting off writing thank you cards, I’m hopeful that this is simply a phase I’m going through. One more step toward healing. I’d like to believe that once the darkest days are over and I no longer find it necessary to hide out from the world so often, I might have the strength to focus on eating healthier and getting more exercise. Right now, it’s just too much. As am I… Ugh.
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