I want to try to be as honest as I can in this blog, mostly for myself, but also for anyone out there reading this, so today I’m not going to pretend like things were dandy, because in all honesty, I felt anxious all day long, and it took me a long while to figure out exactly why. I woke up late and got my whole day started on the wrong foot. My workout was just meh and same with my lunch and my overall motivation to do anything good for myself. I felt in a funk the whole first half of the day and I tried to ease myself out of it with a long shower and a refreshing phone call with a friend mid-day, but as the afternoon progressed and I was left to my own devices, I felt little bits of that anxious tension in my chest that I had been trying to fight off all morning long. I struggled to stay positive with my food choices, going back and forth between positive and negative self talk all day long, constantly battling the desire to be strong with the desire to give in to that dreaded granola as comfort for my anxiety (the granola won. I confess), and when the inevitable family dinner rolled around, I found myself entirely torn, frustrated, and oddly, near tears, wanting nothing more than to just feel in control of and freed from this mysterious bout of anxiety that seemed dangerously related to food. It didn’t help that I had started to write in my journal before dinner, trying to let out as much of what I was feeling as possible, but was cut short by an abrupt call to come eat. My writing flow and thus my emotional catharsis was left hanging mid-sentence, literally, and upon returning to my journal after dinner, I had lost whatever impulse I originally had to shed some of this anxiety and set it aside for the night. And so, after all of this, I am sitting here at my computer, belly full of rich, creamy pasta, unable to fully let go of whatever has been clouding my spirit today.
After reflecting a bit alone, and with a friend who helped me by asking some useful questions for me to mull over, I began to think that maybe my anxiety was not entirely unusual or without explanation. I’m realizing that I feel anxiety with food, or anxiety about having anxiety about food, and I think part of my motivation for this blog is to help myself discover a way to ease that anxiety and find some peace in my relationship to food, and to my own self image. I fear that I will never have a “normal” relationship with food, as other people seem to have, where food is just a thing and not a place to find comfort or strength or control or happiness or a sensation of self worth. I wonder though, how many people out there actually have a normal relationship with food? And how do we define normal? Everyone must have an entirely different experience, some more extreme than others, but I think it might be better for me to realize that the spectrum of “normal” and “healthy” is quite vast and diverse and unique for each individual. One thing about the health and fitness industry is that I often feel incredibly intimidated by the intensity and drive that some people seem to have – I often feel worse about myself, not inspired, after reading fitness magazines or other blogs because I always feel like I will never reach that level of self control, like I’m just not good enough for that. They make it look so easy and for me it is so clearly not.
And still, I am here being open about something that I partially wish I wasn’t being open about. But maybe writing it out (and for whatever reason, making it available for the world to see) is a way to complete that incomplete catharsis that I attempted earlier. I want to acknowledge my very real and I think very normal anxieties about food, health, mortality, control, self image, etc and hopefully start to find ways to overcome that anxiety, and, as my overarching goal here, to find my own strength.
Despite what happened today, I have to remind myself of something that I think of quite often and quite often forget to really listen to: “… be gentle with yourself.” (From the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.)
The poem continues,
“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”
I have interpreted this in many different ways, depending on what place I’m at and what is in my thoughts at the time, but today, in this battle with my personal anxiety about food, in my frustrations in my seeming inability to just not eat the “bad” thing, in my fears of never reaching whatever goal I’ve set for myself, in my insecurities about my body, my self, my spirit… in this place that I’m at right now, I need to remind myself that I am okay. I need to forgive myself for whatever needs forgiving and allow myself to be at peace with whatever happened today. With all the ‘sham, drudgery and broken dreams’ (can be symbolic for whatever it is I’m feeling right now), I want to remember and hopefully really believe that I am still beautiful, and that what I am today is just as worthwhile as what I was yesterday and what I hope to be tomorrow.
‘Strive to be happy’. I’m working on it.