A year and a half ago I joined Weight Watchers. I've lost 20lbs so far....but it should've been more. And I say that not to be self-depricating, but because I'm admitting that I haven't been taking it very seriously. Most of the time, I'm not really trying to follow the program. It's super-difficult for me to keep a weight-loss program up high on the priority list. Is this any surprise, really? This, in fact, is the problem: I don't take care of myself and I'm not allowed to (says me). My kids are more important. My husband and his issues are more important. Taking care of my home-- that's my identity-- that's more important.
But slowly, s l o w l y... I am learning to move myself up on that priority list, slowly I'm starting to see and believe how taking care of myself benefits my family.
But what does that even mean? Again, slowly... I'm learning... I have two friends that come to mind who have asked me how that's going, or what I'm going to do this week to take time for "me" (note to self: let them in!).
Sometimes when I am stressed, bored, overwhelmed, or whatever emotion I find painful, I start wanting to eat. It makes no sense to me: what will eating solve? Now that I'm thinking about it more I realize I'm not really even hungry...or am I? I don't know if I'd know hungry if it growled in my stomach. My brain says eat. My body says, "no thanks, I'm cool."
Years ago, my mom sent me a series of books by Geneen Roth. I finally cracked one open, and in Feeding the Hungry Heart I read this:
"Binges are purposeful acts, not demented journeys. They do not signify a lack of willpower or the inability to care for yourself. On the contrary, a binge can actually be an urgent attempt to care for yourself when you feel uncared for. Binges speak the voice of survival. They are protective mechanisms. Binges are signals that something is terribly wrong, that you are not giving yourself what you need-- either physically (with food) or emotionally (with intimacy, work, relationships). They are your last stand against deprivation."When I read this, a lightbulb went on. I'm not sure why I couldn't admit it before, but suddenly I let myself recognize my true feelings: I feel uncared for.
Sure, as the wife of a sex addict in full swing, you are uncared for. To the extreme, you might even be flat-out abused, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. But right now, at this point in my life, at the space I'm in where our marriage is fairly healthy and my own issues are bubbling to the surface, feeling uncared for happens in seemingly benign situations. If the kids are fighting and agitated when they're getting ready for school, and then we're late and I didn't have breakfast and someone's complaining about what's in their lunch and someone else forgot their jacket or shoes (yes, that has happened!) I suddenly can't get my mind off what I'm going to order when I am smiling at the barista in give-or-take 15 minutes. But I haven't had breakfast, where can I get a gluten-free pastry? Because I definitely deserve some elaborate pastry at this point. And now I'm driving half-way across town to "take care" of myself when I would've actually been better cared for by quickly going home, fixing a healthy breakfast and taking a bike ride with the baby. And doesn't my insanity sound just like a certain sex addict I know...?
So now I'm on the lookout for times when I feel uncared for. I'm not sure what to do in those moments, but I know what NOT to do. That's a start.