I had never felt so much freedom, such lightness—I was practically air.
I was 22 years old. Just recently single, recently graduated and recently employed. I had spent the five previous months living at home, working every waitressing shift possible to be able to afford my own apartment. As summer passed me by, the goal was finally coming to fruition. All the declines to party and the dates I refused to go on were finally going to pay off. To say I was overjoyed when October 1st (move in day) finally came would be a complete understatement. I had never felt so much freedom, such lightness. I was practically air. It was bliss. I was financially in control an aspiration I could never achieve in university.
I entered a new social life, the one that was always prevalent in the societal peripheral of my mind, but always a bit out of reach. I began to indulge in this new lavish environment; buying nice cheeses (you know the one that don’t come sealed that have to be purchased through the cheese connoisseur) and expensive bottles of wine and whiskey. Sending out my clothes to the Laundromat and getting weekly massages was the norm in my new sophisticated adult life. But my absolute favorite pastime was going out for extravagant dinners; they made me feel sexy and powerful. I had everything I wanted: several male suitors, income to be proud of and enough space from my mother.
So why was I binge eating?
It’s taken me two years, moving to another country and lacking the ability to lose the weight I so happily had put on to realize that underneath that glowing abundant vessel, was a very scared little girl so afraid of losing the ecstasy she was feeling from the feast that she was so gluttonously partaking in. If life was a buffet, I had been using a shovel instead of a fork. If I didn’t eat it I might not ever get the chance again. If I didn’t always feel full, my happiness would be taken away, moving on to someone else more deserving. This was my chance. My time to thrive! After years of famine my eyes had never seen so much abundance.
So I ate. I ate to feel grounded, to feel safe, to feel protected. It was stemming from a subconscious desire to feel comfortable; when in reality I was so uncomfortable that I poisoned myself, sabotaging my health and happiness. In reflection I can see that this is not the first time my happiness has brought on profound weight gain.
I see it happen in new relationships. We call it love weight, just a little stomach bulging, a puffy face. Why? We should be in paradise. We just potentially found the love of our lives, the person who’s going to make all our dreams come true. Why the extra 15 pounds?
Because we are terrified! Giving someone a part of our space, let alone a part of our heart is very scary business. The roles boy/girlfriends are supposed to fill are unbelievably overwhelming and demanding. We tell ourselves, we must be perfect for them, never show them our flaws, never let them see under the veil. In return, they must provide a shoulder to cry on, give presents for no reason, make up for every ex, deal with our parents flawlessly and not leave hair in the shower.
We’ve gone from looking after one individual (ourselves) to expecting someone else to fill all the little holes in our heart created by Disney princesses, shitty fathers, amazing fathers, mean ex-boyfriends, job that told us we were never going to make it in acting and that friend who called us fat 14 years ago. These little holes have been covered up with post-its , a superficial attempt at re-building the foundation of our tear stained blueprints.
While in remodeling mode, we meet this person who promises to make us happier than we have ever been. Afraid of revealing those badly hidden holes, we start to eat to fill them. Fixing this mental issue with a tangible solution, we push food down our throat in hopes that it will bury the pain of hiding who we truly are. Because how else can we finally be loved if we don’t lie about who we are?
Even on a roller coaster when we can visibly see the drop in front of us our stomach still turns and pulls in and we scream at the top of our lungs. I knew eventually I would graduate Uni, get a boyfriend and make money. Yet despite the knowing, I couldn’t help the fear that if I stopped eating, I would float away.
Food is such a beautiful, solid way of masking our fear of change.
No one (besides maybe our mother) is going to ask us if we’re really okay when we’ve put on 10 pounds. Our friends aren’t going to call an intervention when we’re taking them out to dinner, buying everyone at the bar rounds of shots or having sex with our boyfriend (or many sexual partners) on a regular basis. Society has structured it so perfectly that it is essentially out of the question to inquire about someone’s weight gain. People who target and pick on bigger people are ostracized. Tabloids who mention a celebrity’s weight gain are boycotted and the celebrity becomes a martyr for their struggle.
We must be able to talk about this. Once we make it okay to talk about weight gain without all the taboo, political correct bullshit we can then address the underlining issues: the inability to deal with change, the fear of losing comfort that an external environment or person provides, a feeling of un-deservingness, a lack of grounding, an inability to receive and enjoy the gifts from the universe.
These gifts are part of our dharma, given to us to proceed in our life’s true purpose. They are aids to guide us on our way. When we indulge in a physical way, we betray those beautiful gifts and create blockage in a metaphysical way. A blockage from fulfilling our destiny, from achieving our karmic lesson; and most importantly feeling true happiness. Feeling that oneness, wholeness, that can only come from Presence (Love). In these moments of happiness when we eat to celebrate, we are not loving ourselves, not respecting our purpose, our worth. We are living half a life.
From a purely a biological point of view, if we were to go deep into the body and look at hormone levels, functions of organs and circulation, we would see just how unhappy our body really is. Everything might look amazing on the outside, people encourage our new curves, our love belly, but our insides are screaming at us (they are mad). They want us to listen so we can see the destruction we are creating in the name happiness.
Life is giving me a boy who accepts all the holes in the foundations of my vessel, a career that allows me to do anything my heart wants and the freedom to grow. If there was a little voice in our ear reminding us that life is giving us beautiful opportunities, then maybe the fears would feel less magnified and food would be used to enhance life, instead of preventing life from proceeding.
Maybe we have a new job, promotion, had a baby or just finished a PHd… and we wonder, why am I going to the kitchen for my 12th Oreo? We need an open discussion to address the biggest elephant in the room; why has our survival instinct to conserve nutrients for times of drought turned into a flight response when fear sets in?
Why, instead of running, do we stay…and eat?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Jennifer Moore/ Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Flickr Commons