My Year of Blogging Vulnerably
At the beginning of this year, I committed to blog 100 times in 2016. That is an average of roughly twice a week with a couple of weeks off for good behaviour (or vacation or sickness). Here it is January 11th and only one post to date. Hmmm. I am a little bit behind schedule.
I can tell you that it is not a shortage of things to say. My mind is constantly whirling with one of two things. To start, ideas about how my relationship to food is a mirror/substitute in my life for my life. This is important to explore and discuss because I constantly hear how my experience is representative of many other women’s relationship to food, and because I am convinced that it has so much to do with our situation as women in this still patriarchal Western world. What I mean is “internalized oppression:” that is both about how we have internalized the social-political limitations of yore as negative self-talk about our appearance, especially about our bodies, that continues to limit us, and how we use gossip and criticism of other women–again about appearance and body–to police and confine them so that they don’t have lives bigger than ours. (Yes, there is a fuller blog post in there sometime soon).
Or my head is whirling with the specific and ever-growing awareness of how I use food to protect myself from my feelings, and by consequence my fully lived life. And while I have undertaken this 100 blog posts in 2016 project to confront myself in order to expand and implement these insights as a key to freedom from my relationship to emotional overeating, this week, I was felled by the whole thing.
I felt vulnerable with what I shared, which led to an intense feeling of unworthiness for having this issue, rather still having this issue. So I ran to food as the seeming kindest thing I could do for myself in the moment. I overate. Then I felt like a big, awkward undeserving girl who was left disempowered from doing anything at all. Intense self-negation and self-loathing. In order to even get to this position to write again and have an element of protection, I’ve had to fortify myself. I’ve just finished bocconcini mozzarella pearls, kale and cranberry salad and a slice of apple pie. Ooooh, I am a wild woman!
When I review the time that’s passed since the last post, I realize that I have been confronted by two things. The first is the deep recognition of the vulnerability that writing this way is asking of me. I like to go into situations with big daring. I mean, hey, I am strong with personal insight and good with articulating it. So that just leaves one more step: putting it out there. Yes, I want to be both authentic and brave. But I see for me now how it is often a short walk between brave and bravado. That means too far outside my comfort zone. I wanted to stretch but instead I strained. Then I am left feeling the need to run to food for protection.
While I appreciate the side of me that is “There is nothing this Aries can’t do!” I need to take into account that there is another part of myself that is tender and afraid. After writing what I did last week, after some initial freedom and euphoria, I had the classic vulnerability hangover or superego attack. That means a lot of demobilizing self-criticism and self-hatred. There were the attacks on my writing “one deep post, yeah, but you’ll never follow it up with another good one,” “no one wants to hear your whining,” “what if you start to really have great personal insights and make changes in your life? What will you have to say? People don’t want to read about your being happy.” Then there were the more personal attacks: “You suck that you are still dealing with this,” “you will never have another relationship because you clearly have too many problems and you should know better than to talk about them, it makes you so unattractive” and “anyone who could like you is clearly a loser.” Interesting that there is an equation in my head that being worthy means not having feelings and vulnerability.
The second insight is that I am afraid to love. I have protected my heart quite a bit since my marriage ended in 2008. (I know that the reaction to protect my heart goes back so much further than this. But divorce is its own kind of thing.) And yet there have been moments of late where I find myself wanting to show my heart to someone. Scary. Like death scary. Danger, danger, DANGER! Pain inevitable. Drop the gates. Wail the sirens. Eat quickly before you risk it and have heart-crushing disappointment.
But it is lonely. I ponder the concept of solipsism. It is the philosophical contention that only my existence is real. Think of The Matrix. But what abstract philosophy doesn’t pay enough attention to is that we humans are of flesh and blood. We are not just minds. We have needs. When we deny that, we leak and then we unconsciously turn to behaviours to stop the leak. I’ve come to the conclusion that psychologically solipsism is the position that only my existence is trustworthy. Enter food. Food is a defence mechanism, a perfect device to gird solipsism. It insulates me. I use food to fill in for love. On the one hand, it is warm, pleasurable, familiar, reliable. And it doesn’t reject me or have expectations of me. It just waits patiently, invitingly. On the other hand, it makes me feel bad about myself so I don’t dare reach out. Preemptive protection. Except my heart is restless. Sometimes I hate my heart.
Conclusions. I am human. Writing at this pace and about these kinds of matters will mean that I will not be polished or perfect. What I share will instead be raw and revealing. That won’t be pretty. But I hope you can see in it some beauty.
As far as love? I will keep you “posted.”