I don’t want this post to come across as a commercial, but I can’t help but boggle at how much differently I feel about my relationship with food compared to just six months ago. Yesterday, Michelle read me the following statements that I made in my application to work with her:
“I get very panicked if I have an compulsion to eat junk food and I contemplate not eating it. I feel very threatened and deprived if I think of not eating when I have the impulse; it mentally brings me back to how very miserable and ashamed I was when forced on diets or decided to diet myself. But even though I’m not dieting any more, I still have a great deal of shame attached to eating. I feel uncomfortable with the compulsive eating, but I also feel uncomfortable and shamed when I try to stop. I feel like stopping eating compulsively is acknowledging that my family was right to be disgusted by me as a child, and I am so angry about that that I don’t want to stop either. So I’d like to WANT to stop eating compulsively.”
What really blew me away is that I don’t remember how that felt anymore. I barely even remembered writing it. The changes that she helped me initiate were so gradual, and at a pace that was respectful of what I could handle at any given point, that I didn’t really notice the gravity of the changes until I looked back at my words from February.
The single biggest change is that this work helped me to accept my own authority in choosing what and how to eat, and to trust that not only could I make decisions around food that were good for me, but that I know best what I need.
As I’ve mentioned before I was forced on diets at an incredibly early age, and certainly the messages that I couldn’t be trusted to eat didn’t come from my parents alone. That’s what every single diet plan of the bazillions out there tells us: you can’t be trusted around food, you out-of-control fatty, so pay us money so we can tell you what to do.
Being told time and time again that I am someone who can’t be trusted with my own decisions in my own life has run deep, far beyond feeling stressed out about feeling ashamed for eating a large bag of potato chips, or even for wanting to eat those potato chips. It’s made me question my self-worth and undermined my confidence, and made it difficult for me to find a fulfilling career path or feel worthy of advocating for myself. It’s made me susceptible to listening when other people tell me what I should do, how I should talk, how I should eat, sleep, read – because of course they knew better than me. It told the men who abused me that I wouldn’t question their authority, because I had none.
It seems a small thing on the face of it, to reclaim my right to eat what I want, as much as I want, but have no doubt – this is a powerful and radical act, and I’m in charge now.