The View From Where I Sit
I'm still angry. It's kind of a tenor for my life right now, as I sit, looking out at my past with the help of my therapist, over all of the emotions and thoughts that I have about who I am and who I want to be. I'm also afraid. The world is so beautiful, my life is so beautiful. But I can feel it slipping away from me as I sit, still too afraid to move.
No, that's not it. I'm not that afraid anymore, not like I was. Little by little, I've been working on my translation; little by little, I'm starting to ask questions again, starting to see things that I would like to do with my research. But I can still feel the panic rise when I hear about work that a colleague has been doing and I start thinking about how much time I've wasted ("wasted") trying to get my feet again. And I still worry about not being beautiful or thin enough. About not being loved.
There, I said it. (Did I really? Breathe. Say it.) I worry about not being loved. More important, about not being lovable. Even as I sit in the sunlight, warmed by the day star, watching the Dragon Baby chase squirrels in the backyard, I panic. Because I don't feel it. I don't feel God's love. Which, I have learned to recognize, is another way of saying I don't feel worthy of love. This is very, very hard for me to say out loud.
Because I don't know where it comes from, this deep conviction of being unlovable. It is why, I now appreciate, I have worried so much over almost the whole of my life about being thin. It is at the root of the magical thinking that drives my anxiety over my weight: "If I were thin..." But I've been thin, and I still haven't felt lovable, which is why I gained weight again. I ate in an effort to feel loved. Or, perhaps more accurately, to feel as if I might be loved.
My husband asked me a question yesterday that threw me into a terrible tailspin. "Tell me something good about your childhood," he asked. I panicked. I couldn't think of anything. Except food. The doughnuts that my mother would buy us on Saturday mornings to eat while we watched cartoons. The double-layer heart cake she baked me every year for my birthday. The tapioca pudding that she made me when I had my teeth pulled. The cream of wheat and English muffin and Instant Breakfast she would make for me in the mornings before I had to catch the bus to go to school. The little puddings she would pack into my lunches in middle school. And then I realized: almost all of my memories of feeling loved have to do with food. No wonder I have had such a hard time saying no to the ice cream and chocolate and cookies and caramel popcorn all these years. Comfort food, indeed. Which I was wrong to eat because it made me fat.
Did I say I was feeling angry a lot? I've been practicing watching myself as I eat simply with an eye to see how I feel. Sometimes I am able to eat only when I actually feel hungry, but the past few days, I have definitely been eating out of another need. And yet, when I stop to notice how I feel after I eat, e.g., the chocolate I supposedly love, I realize that I feel somewhat sick. Chocolate makes me feel sick, not cherished. Not special. Just sick. No wonder I've been confused. Here I've been telling myself for decades that chocolate was special, that being allowed to eat chocolate was special, that chocolate was something I deserved. As if eating were about being good, not hungry; as if food were a reward, not fuel. And the one thing that I "deserved" most (or, rather, didn't, because I was "fat"), I don't even like.
These are very, very uncomfortable feelings to have to sit with. Not that I've been terribly good at sitting these past few days. So many mixed messages. So many hard things to have to think about. Like why I had such a hard time making friends when I was growing up (if, in fact, I did; maybe that's just one of the stories that needs retelling). Like why I am so inclined to default into feeling disposable, trouble, not worth dealing with. Like why it is so hard for me to trust my own sense of a situation, particularly when someone else is asserting him- or herself and implying that I am wrong. I am afraid of asserting myself, lest I make him or her angry. And yet, here I sit, furious, too afraid to push back.
I don't think chocolate is going to help anymore. So there.