I’ve been taking my sweet time absorbing the pages of a book that has really pushed my buttons so far in, I’ve stayed stuck about a quarter of the way through it for a few months now. The book, by Marianne Williamson, is called, A Course In Weight-Loss. It should be a simple formula. Fewer calories in, more calories out, equals, weight loss. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to work for me anymore. It did when I was younger. A few days of crash cabbage soup dieting, or cottage cheese and hot dogs, and the pounds melted away. Frankly, I didn’t need to worry about it back then either, even though at the time, I thought I did. Something changed about a decade ago. Rather than melting away, the pounds have melded to my rear end and my belly.
I began to notice another interesting dynamic. In the last decade, the most stressful, heartbroken, or challenging times, those were the days (weeks) food became my lover and my therapist. My “sweetheart” soothed me with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. I imagined the best Freudian advice was to eat it directly out of the container. Maybe it was symbolic. My life was the container and it could only be refilled with new pleasures once it was emptied of sadness and suffering. It never was. So, I ate away. A really bad day, called for a Pow-Wow with the contents of the refrigerator, meeting at the open door and deciding that brick of cheddar cheese, the remainder of the bacon, and left over strawberry shortcake, made for the perfect Happy Hour. Soon, all those bad feelings and my aching heart were properly medicated, leaving only an overstuffed (and burgeoning) belly and a silent dose of shame.
I’m really not sure when it clicked that my relationship with food had become more dysfunctional than my worst dating experiences. Awakening number one was trying to zip up my favorite pair of pants, sprawled flat on the bed, unable to suck enough of it in. I couldn’t figure out why I continued to think food was such a great lover, and if it was therapeutic, why was nothing changing except my pant size.
Then, a casual stroll in the bargain aisle at Barnes and Noble revealed the book. The subtitle caught my eye. 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever. Could my problem with weight gain be a spiritual issue waiting to be healed? Would Marianne Williamson be a better bargain than a booklet of Weight Watchers vouchers? I wasn’t sure when I surrendered my weight, who could possibly want it, but for $5.98, why not give it a try?
Each chapter has a spiritual lesson and exercise revolving around a particular theme. Chapter two was titled, Thin You, Meet Not Thin You. These two facets of me, were to exchange letters. I would enjoy this! It was the time for some self-deprecating humor and sarcasm, directed at my two little ladies. I named my split personalities – Skinny Mini and Chubby Checker. Chubby Checker shoved her girth around and got the first words in. Her letter began a bit sharply, chastising Skinny Mini for placing so much importance on her cute little shape and killer legs, thus, attracting the wrong kind of relationships and being such a people pleaser, she didn’t know how to say no. She went on to blame Skinny Mini for a series of heartbreaks, shallow liaisons, and placing way too much importance on appearances. Chubby Checker added, “You can’t be trusted with anything let alone making good decisions, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. So it’s up to me.” She went on, “What better way to protect us from being hurt than to medicate with treats, and hide behind these extra pounds. I may be larger, but I’m invisible this way. No one can abandon us, because no one really sees us.” I may not be happy here, but I’m safe.”
Well, you can imagine, how indignant Skinny Mini was for being blamed for every wrong decision, failed relationship, and poor health in the course of a lifetime. But, being the physically stronger (and healthier) of the two, she kept her cool and said, “It’s not how you look, Chubby Checker, it’s about how you mistreat yourself and our body. No more hiding out in food, diets that don’t work and deprivation mode. It’s time to let our light shine. That will chase the vampires away and draw what’s healthy for our bodies and our life. We are strong and independent and capable. No more sloppy seconds, or life leftovers. Trust me. Trust Us. We can walk away; we don’t have to eat life away. I love you. Let’s kiss and make up. Now, put that chubby little hand in mine, and let’s collaborate. Maybe start by talking a brisk walk and talk about a future of health, vitality and self-love?”
Exercise number two, complete. I can’t wait to move on to the chapters on Soul Surgery and Birthing Who I really am. Just thinking about it leaves me little time to eat.