Terms that exist and that we hear with increasing frequency, but what do they really mean. In searching for this meaning, I’ve been reading Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz, a book in part about relations with others, but also about the relationships we have with ourselves, the relationship I have with myself, which has been, for so long clouded and overshadowed by my addiction to food. Every time I engage in mindless or emotional eating, I distance myself from MY SELF. Sugar, fat, eating past the point of near fullness obliterates the ability to be my best self.
Even after all this time, I still seek that comfort from foods that do not feed my health, my mental, emotional and physical health. I know I am not alone. According to a Columbia University study forty million Americans suffer with addictions and another 80 million have a strong susceptibility toward addictive behaviors and substances.
The solution? In a TEDTalk Johann Hari suggests LOVE serves as the lasting solution to addictions. https://www.ted.com/talks/johann_hari_everything_you_think_you_know_about_addiction_is_wrong
Based on my lifelong battle with a food addiction I find this perspective more healing. I’ve been shamed, yelled at, abused verbally because people believe that they have the absolute right to judge me based on my size. They have said “just count calories”. Well, they’ve said much worse. Their words don’t bear repeating now. I may be fat. I may be big, but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to be loved and feel loved, but this begins with me.
So, how then do I love myself? For me, it means not expecting others to be something they are not. I have spent time in co-dependent relationships, where my mood and actions have depended on others, on how they’d reach to me. I felt I had to fit their image of me. I had to be someone I was not in order for them to love me. In turn, I wanted them to fit a mold. I wanted them to save me.
Part of me still wants someone else to save me, but, alas I must save myself. I must love myself. I do this by being me. Don Miguel Ruiz says “trying to be what are not expends all your energy. Being what you are doesn’t require any effort.” I’ve spent too long trying to be something I thought other people wanted me be. Sometimes that had to do with how I ate, how I drank, how I talked. I wanted to be loved and I’d do anything to be loved. Anything except be myself. And that has taken more effort than I can ever explain.
Who am I really? I’m a liberal democrat. Always have been. Probably always will be. I believe in God, the God that lies within each of us. I believe in meditation. I like Starbucks. I don’t always enjoy yoga, but I love how I feel after. I like my job, but grading papers can be sometimes trying. I like watching mindless tv: Survivor and Amazing Race.
I’m hard on myself, much harder than I ought to be. I need to learn to forgive myself, to be kind to myself, just kind in every way. Maybe then I’ll get what it means to love myself. I washed my sheets today for the first time in over a month. That’s self-love. I went for a walk today. That’s self-love. I’m allowing myself to just be, just in this moment. That’s self-love. I wanted a snack around midnight last night. I ate an apple. That’s self-love.
And, for now, that’s more than good enough.
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