I have been hiding an eating disorder, of sorts, from the world. Don’t be too alarmed. I am not bulimic or anorexic. I could benefit from counseling, for sure, but I don’t need to be hospitalized. I have an all-too-common terrible relationship with food. And this unhealthy relationship has developed in to a very unhealthy relationship with myself. Or maybe it happened the other way around. I’m not sure.
A few months ago I had the idea to host a women’s health retreat at our family cabin. What a perfect venue! What a perfect idea! Hikes in the morning, plain oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, yoga, workshops on Eating Whole Foods, classes on The Importance of Weight Bearing Exercises for Women, and How to Stock Your Pantry for Feeding Your Family Right, quinoa salad and raw veggies for lunch….. I was excited about this! Sorta. I was going to start a craze and I would be the go-to woman for health and wellness. Problem is, I’m not that person. And neither are my closest friends or siblings. I’m wonderfully average and, while I do desire to be healthy, I want to be happy too.
I think I wanted to host this retreat so bad because of my desire to be healthy. Question is…. what IS healthy? Everyone has a different definition and everyone has different needs. It’s all so subjective and SO personal. But this health craze that surrounds us (and it is definitely a craze, because it’s making me CRAZY!) teaches us that there are cookie cutter ways to be healthy. Apparently, one must exercise a certain amount, stay away from certain foods, eat plenty of other varieties of foods, be a certain weight, and look a certain way. The vegan craze makes me feel guilty about eating animals and animal by-products. The fitness craze makes me feel guilty for not working out at peak performance a minimum of 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The cookie cutter ways of life are endless! And they are not sustainable!
Can’t I just be a biscuit! A biscuit doesn’t have to fit into a mold. It is simple. You can add butter and jam to it. You can smother it in gravy! I do like cookies, just as much as the next girl, but biscuits are yummy too! And they’re not so bad to look at!
Sorry about the biscuit tangent. Back to my relationship with food. Here goes. (Gulp!) I am a binger and a purger. I purge to punish myself for binging. I binge to punish myself for purging…. and for not being good enough, or worthy of anything good. Why do I do this? I think it is BECAUSE I don’t feel good about myself. There is a certain someone in my life who would counsel me to take care of myself more in order to feel good about myself. That’s great advice, except that the reason I DON’T take very good care of myself is BECAUSE I don’t feel good about myself. It’s a cycle that I have gotten myself caught up in. I think that self esteem has very little to do with size and weight, and weight and size have very little to do with how we feel about ourselves. I’ve got to love myself unconditionally, and I’ve got to do it now. THEN the healing can begin.
I tell myself that my husband will love me more and desire me more if I am a certain size and a certain weight. Perhaps I developed this belief because he is very health conscious and he watches his weight. He is dis-ci-plined! and he has a hard time understanding my “less disciplined” approach to healthy living. That’s okay. I too, have a hard time understanding my way of thinking. It’s just the way I am wired. I’m non-competitive to the core! It doesn’t help matters that my husband is fed the same crap messages about what healthy “should” look like. We almost don’t stand a chance! But here is what I have decided. He isn’t as much concerned about the way I look, as he is concerned about the way I make him feel. He just wants to feel desired. I KNOW this about him. I know this because he’s human. This is what I want most too. Again, it has very little to do with size and weight.
While I haven’t figured it all out yet (oh honey, I am a long way from home!), I have figured this out: I need to learn to love myself. I’ve said this before. I have a husband who needs me to love myself so that I can freely give my love to him and make him feel desired. I have a daughter who needs me to love myself so that she will learn to love herself. I’ve got sons who need me to love myself so that they can learn what type of a companion to look for. I’ve got sisters and friends who need me to love myself so that I can help and support them.
My disordered view and relationship with food is normal. It’s not healthy, but it’s normal. My unhealthy relationship with myself is probably fairly normal too. Sadly, Satan is pretty smart and he knows how to get to women. I don’t hate myself. I really don’t. But I’ve definitely got some butt-kicking to do on Satan. I want to be my kind of healthy. I want I feel good about myself and I want to love myself.
I’ll still host a women’s retreat. Or 2! Or 20! But I think they will NOT be “health” retreats. I want to host “happy” retreats. Who’s in?!