As I have been working with clients this week, I have been reminded that the lifestyle that I am teaching them is the one that I am striving to achieve as well. This week, my biggest challenge has been my awareness of my long-time habit of eating to fill emotional voids, and this week has been an emotional roller coaster for me. I had a great birthday last Saturday followed by a really quiet week. Personally, I like to be busy because it distracts me from feelings. This week they have been flooding me. And since I have made a conscious commitment to not fill emotional voids with food, I have had to find other means for fulfillment. Challenging but doable. I have actually spent more productive time, more time aware of my feelings, and more time taking care of me than I have in a long time. Do I miss the solace of food? Not really because it was only satisfying for the moment and the cravings would return or I would have eaten so much that the only feeling I could concentrate on was how overstuffed I felt. No, I have progressed one day at a time, learning to be a little kinder to myself, a little more patient, and a little less tolerant of my old pattern of eating to mask my feelings.
As I said, this is a really old habit that I learned from my family. When you can't do anything else, stuff something in so the feelings are tamped down. I can remember when my grandmother died. I came home from first grade, and my mother was very upset. She sat me down on her lap in the kitchen and told me that Grandma had died that morning. She was in the kitchen cleaning the stove after breakfast, and had a heart attack and died. Being a kid, I wasn't aware of my mother's obvious trauma - after all it was her mother that had died in our house. I was only aware of my own loss that my mother attempted to remedy by giving me a cookie.
That is really a metaphor for me - feel pain, anxiety, stress or discomfort, and stick something in my mouth to fill the void. And since these kinds of feelings tend to come up when I slow down and begin to relax, night eating has become a habit over the years. I wasn't really aware of it. It was just a normal part of life.
Now that I am working with clients and asking them to be aware of their eating patterns, to be aware of physical and emotional hunger, I have become much more aware of my own. And with awareness comes the need to act - I can't claim ignorance any more. However, the more I love myself, the easier it is to be gentle with me, to take care of my emotional needs appropriately, and to allow myself to release feelings without eating them.
Be gentle with yourself today; you deserve it.