Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Blogtoberfest Day #10: Worthiness Wednesday #75 Feed your soul hunger
I have a sweet tooth.
I am the girl that can inhale her body weight in chocolate. I am greedy, can't control myself, am not to be trusted around sweet treats. I am the girl with the perennially podgy tummy.
Well, that's always been my story.
Particularly once I started living on my own, enjoying a regular income, with a lot of spare time on my hands. Suddenly, I had unfettered access to all the sweet treats my heart desired. And I learnt that the ache of loneliness, stress and overwhelm could be numbed with M&Ms and salt & vinegar crisps, washed down with red wine and episode after episode of Law & Order.
Unsurprisingly, that's when the battle between body and brain began in earnest. The need for comfort versus the need to be thin/accepted/loveable.
The vicious cycle that so many women know.
After nigh on two years of therapy, I am at a body weight I am quite happy with. In fact, I don't really know how much I weigh. I just know my clothes aren't too tight and I don't feel so sluggish. I am not thin by any stretch of the imagination and that tummy of mine will always be on the podgy side.
And, of course, I still crave sweet treats from time to time (some times stronger than others).
But do you know what made the difference?
Realising that craving sweet treats was not actually hunger for junk food. It was hunger for something else: connection. Connection to my self. Connection to the things that make my heart sing.
Once I started feeding this -- with writing and journalling and music and artmaking and walking and yoga and guided meditations and theatre and brave discussions with loved ones and giving myself permission to be wherever I was -- then I realised that no amount of chocolate would ever heal that wound. (The one that Anne Lamott so brilliantly called her "God-shaped hole".)
And it seems counter-intuitive, but I also saw that once I started really connecting to my self, it was much easier to truly connect with others.
But you know what, I also realised that this new knowledge -- about where my need for comfort food had come from and why -- could be used as an ally rather than an enemy.
Recently, I found myself in a high-adrenaline frenzy, psyching myself up for an unpleasant encounter. With a tremendous amount of effort, I worked my way towards the date and time of the confrontation, activating all the self-care mechanisms I had at my disposal.
That morning, I did not eat breakfast. Knowing that a sweet treat would trigger those old numbing feelings, I held off until I got to work then bought myself an almond croissant and coffee. Then I sat at my desk and savoured every single crispy crumb. It felt like a reward. It was relief. I was heavenly.
I'm not going to do this every day. And I don't think the croissant would have meant much had I not worked so hard to ensure that I had other support mechanisms in place (in the form of supportive friends, powerful mantras and carefully chosen talismans).
But that day I realised that some of the habits I had long been ashamed of and tried so hard to stamp out may in fact be assets in times of need.
So, this week, I invite you to consider: what are you truly hungry for? And, when you do find yourself on the starving side of life, how could you use the things that have traditionally brought you comfort (be it food, mindlessly trawling the internet, impulse shopping, whatever) in a strategic and mindful and guilt-free way?
Because if there's one thing I now know, it's that you sure deserve comfort... deep in your soul.
Those of you playing along with Blogtoberfest might be new to Worthiness Wednesday. Don't be shy! Basically, it's a weekly prompt where I share my musings about the word "worthy" and my journey to understand what self-worth means to me. You are most welcome to respond on your own blogs, share your thoughts in the comments below, or just let the prompt marinate in your mind for a wee while.