Women, Food and God

About 6 weeks ago V and I had a discussion about therapy and how I thought it was going. I absolutely love V and really feel as though she was the answer to my prayers, even though it took me a long time to find her! In session she really challenges me to get out of my comfort zone, but is also really good about picking up on when it is becoming too much for me. There have been times where I have ignored my own signals and pushed myself too far, just to suffer the consequences later when I leave the safety of V's office. We discussed all these things, but the main thing we focused on is what I'm doing outside of sessions. I always felt I needed to push myself so hard and fast because I only had an hour a week with her. That hour goes by quickly and I hated feeling so unproductive outside of sessions (even though she argued that most of the work I have been doing has been outside of her office, not actually in it!). I asked if there was a way she could provide me with things to do in between sessions, mainly articles or books to read, but also things like journal topics or homework. That way I felt like I had a hand in my own therapy while I was outside her office and didn't feel like I was just sitting around waiting for the next hour.

It has proven to be a really good thing for me. It has given me a path and purpose every week rather than just counting down the days, hours and minutes until my next session. Most of my work so far has been in the writing form, which is something I have really come to enjoy over the past few years. I find it such an easy way for me to get out what is inside.

Two weeks ago V recommended the first book as something she thought would be helpful for me. It's called Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth. She was in the process of reading it and said that there were so many times she would read a passage and think to herself "This would be great for Lily to hear" or "This reminds me of Lily". I was a little hesitant when I heard the title because I have had such a huge wall up with my spirituality lately. I'm not sure what it is, but I know I don't want to talk about it. She still encouraged me to read it because there were many things in there that she thought would be helpful.

As I ventured out to return a book at the library I already had (The Red Pyramid, recommended by my kids and definitely not a therapy book! Haha!), I ventured in the non-fiction section to see if they had it. Sure enough, it was on the shelf staring right back at me. I grabbed it and went to the readers section to read a little bit of it to see what I thought. Before I knew it, I had read almost 75 pages and found myself chuckling and nodding at the things that she was writing about.

I don't have an ED, but I do have my struggles with food. After I was abused I used food to self-soothe. I went from 140 lbs my freshman year to 26o lbs when I graduated high school. Food was my escape. Fat was my safety. In November 2004, when I was a junior in college, something in me switched. I literally woke up on the day of November 29th and decided I was done being fat. By the time I graduated in May 2006 I had lost almost 100 lbs. I gained back what we teachers refer to as "The first year 15" but have comfortably stayed in the 173-185 range for 5+ years. That seems to be my body's comfort zone. I know if I worked out and didn't eat as much processed food I could get down to maybe 155, but right now I'm happy staying within this range.

That being said, you don't have to have an ED to connect to this book. You have to have had a bad day and gone to the pantry instead of feeling the stress or the pain. You have to have had times where you are bored and choose to eat because it's easy. I don't know of a single person who would not be able to connect to this book. It talks a little about trauma and how food is used as a means to avoid feelings, but it also talks about how you can learn to not let food control you which is something I struggle with. When I'm on the higher end of my aforementioned range, I restrict like crazy. No, you can't eat this. You are going to gain one more pound and be too fat. When I'm on the lower end, I overeat. You've got some wiggle room, go and eat that hamburger you want! Order that pizza! Don't workout!

She uses a type of no nonsense humor and her own struggles with weight as fuel for her thoughts in this book. I'm really enjoying it. I have my journal with me as I'm reading and am often stopping to write down tidbits that I find very profound or helpful. I've gone back to re-read the first few chapters again (it doesn't flow really well in my opinion, so it's harder for me to read and therefore commit to memory) but have already filled up a couple of pages just in those chapters alone.

I wanted to share this book with you all because I really do feel like it has a message that everyone can connect to. It's not preachy and really is more of a spiritual book rather than a "God" book. I'm looking forward to getting further into it and learning more about myself through what I eat!

What's The Worst That Could Happen?

I'm not sure if it is a personality trait of mine or whether it is a result of my trauma at an early age, but I tend to have an overactive, extremely imaginative "catastrophe brain". I always expect these horrible, extremely detrimental outcomes to things that almost never come to fruition. I know a lot of it has to do with my obsessive need for control and desire for preparedness, but I'm starting to wonder what purpose it is really serving me.

I had a very intense session with V on Thursday, which left me literally hurt. I could barely walk up the stairs to my apartment and every turn in bed racked my body. My normal outlet for my panic and anxiety have always been panic attacks. I can feel them building up inside me and when they erupt, it is not pretty. But lately my body has been venturing away from the "oh-my-gosh-I'm-going-to-die" panic attacks and routing that energy into my body. I have had horrible stomach pains the last few weeks during sessions, and Thursday that got completely bypassed and sent straight to my muscles. It felt like I had the flu x1000. I have never felt that much pain in my body before. I remember lying in bed thinking, "I wonder if this is what it feels like to have cancer." Even being still hurt. My whole body ached.

Thankfully I woke up Friday morning back to my pain-free self, but was left with the burden of trying to sort through all that was discussed with V. Part of it is still in the denial side of my brain. I talked about things that I have NEVER talked about with anyone. I can't believe I did it. So much so that my brain just isn't ready to call that reality yet. A few other things we discussed I don't think I can even write about here. Embarrassing... for me at least.

But one thing that we did discuss was how my overactive and imaginative brain is keeping me from having the things I want. It keeps me "in my head" too much. And when I'm in my head, I convince myself that everything is scary. That everything is going to hurt me. That I can only be safe if I'm alone. It keeps me stuck in my fear.

V said something to me during this conversation that provided me with an "a-ha moment"; something pretty rare with me.

She told me that the idea of something, whether it's an experience (having sex, being in a relationship) or a feeling (pain, fear) is almost always worse than the actual thing.

And especially with me and this dear sweet imaginative brain of mine, it's probably blown so out of proportion that it's not any wonder why I'm so afraid. I've had almost 15 years of convincing myself that these things are so huge and insurmountable that the idea itself has become it's own Mt. Everest.

So she asked me: "What's the worst that could happen?" and I laughed because I have all these horrible, improbable possibilities mapped out (and have had them for quite some time, I might add) for each of the things that have kept me frozen in fear for so long. I think she knew that I already had a response to her question, but we both knew it wasn't the answer she was looking for.

I was a little embarrassed to admit that I never really thought LOGICALLY about this. My mind has been stuck on irrational overdrive for so long (even though I am by nature, a very rational and logical person) that I never have really sat down to think about how reality is going to be completely different than what is in my mind. Can all these horrible things that I've conjured up in my mind still happen? Sure. But will they? Probably not.

I'm not a kid anymore. I know how to protect myself. I know how to listen to my instincts and trust their guidance. They've never really been wrong before (at least when it's counted). I have so much more power as an adult than I did when I was abused. I'm not going to ever be in that same situation again.

The fact that I can take all of that in and not fight against it tooth and nail is amazing to me. Not long ago I would have argued that because there was even a chance that something bad could happen meant that everything else didn't matter. But I'm taking it in. I'm pushing myself to be logical and really open my mind to the fact that even though I may still feel the things I did when I was a kid, that I'm not actually one anymore.