Tag: emotional eating

edge of the mountain

The Edge of My Mountain

I open my office to welcome her. A warm transparent smile draws attention away from the sad expression that adorns her hazel eyes as she extends her hand toward me. She has shoulder length auburn hair with several wisps of grey interwoven around her face, as well as the back of her head. I take notice of it as we enter the office where we will spend the next 90 or so minutes talking about her relationship with food and how it influences her daily life choices.

Her mouth and her eyes tell me two different stories. This much is already clear to me. She tells me that she is, “58 years old and does not have a comfortable relationship with her age, her body, or her food choices.” She adds that this has been, “going on for close to twenty years to varying degrees of severity.” Upon further questioning, I learn that the past five years had been “extremely difficult” for her.

When I ask her what she did to manage the life triggers that lead her to feel that she needs to act out with food, she just stares at me with huge tears in her eyes and says nothing.

“I have no control over anything that goes on in my life, that’s part of the problem. I just go along with everything that is said and done to me and around me even though I don’t agree with any of it. I feel stuck and trapped in my life as well as my body. I hate it all. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m a mom, I would have found a way to finish myself off a long time ago.”

Well… that was one hell of an opening statement for a woman that I just met less than 15 minutes ago. I understand that she feels very helpless and angry at herself and the people around her. She perceives herself to be drowning in the shape that her body of life has formed. When I ask why she reached out to me, tears begin to flow like a faucet.

“I want to feel happy with myself and I’m not. I want to have some control of my daily life and I feel as though I don’t. I hate the way that I feel inside my body so I use food to numb what hurts me so much. I just don’t understand why I keep doing this to myself day after day.”

She is hurting badly. I can just see the emotional pain oozing from her pores as she shares her story with me. The veins on the side of her temples are bulging around her drawn pale complexion. I reach my hands out toward her and she latches on to them ever so quickly as though she is dangling from a steep mountain’s edge. I sense her desperation and have a clear sense that she needs to feel connection and support with someone who is not here to judge her or challenge her in any way.

All I did was listen, reflect, and re-frame some of the things that she feels
like sharing in a less dark, yet supportive and hopeful way. After about forty minutes pass, she suddenly stops talking. I ask her to try and draw in a deep breath and let it out very slowly. What emerges along with her exhale is a smile – the first one I have seen since we met about one hour ago.

“I feel better and a little stronger as though you gave me a vitamin injection.”

I can’t help but smile right back at her.

I ask, “And what kind of vitamin might that be?”

She squeezes my hands and chokes on her tears. I sense that she needs to hold on a bit longer, so I stay put right where I am with her. Something shifts for her inside and she is able to let go of one of my hands and draw another deep breath.

“Talking to you gives me hope that I don’t have to drown in this mess. I can also feel and see that you are not judging me and that you understand what I’m feeling.”

“Yes, Liv, I understand how you feel and I hear the pain and the suffering that you are experiencing in your daily life. I understand why you turn to food in the hopes of drowning your pain and sorrow, I truly do. I understand that the momentary pleasure and relief that you think you are getting seems worth it in that moment. I get that. I also hear that the emotional consequence of anger and depression far outweighs any pleasure that you may derive from acting upon that impulse that seems so alluring at that particular moment. And it causes you so much anguish after you do that to yourself. That is what I am seeing today. You feel helpless at that moment as though there is nothing else for you to do with those emotions accept to eat them in this way so that you won’t have to feel them.

“Yes that’s exactly it.”

We talk awhile longer and make another appointment to continue our discussions and formulate a plan of action.

Liv wants me to share this little snippet of our talk because she hope that it might, “…Touch someone who is suffering today as I was when I came in to see you. You helped me to find my center of gravity again and accept me as I am. You also give me some perspective about what I am doing to myself that I didn’t have before. It felt kind of like I crawled out my skin for a little while and observed myself along with you much different way than before.”

“Well I hope that it was in a more caring way, Liv. If you can learn one solid thing to take away with you today, it’s that it is so critical to consider having compassion for yourself and your current situation. Compassion for yourself gives you honor and respect for who you simply are right this very minute… Even when everything looks bleak and out of control.”

“I feel like I can breath right now, Vida. For the longest time, it’s felt as though something was pinching my airways.”

She reaches her arms out to me as we approach the doorway and I offer her a big supportive hug before she leaves, hoping that the comfort and relief that she has found for herself that day will linger on for at least a little while as she re-enters her home and life space.

Self-destructive behaviors are so hard to change until we are able to understand the reason for their existence in our lives and then find the courage to learn how to replace them with nurturing habits that will eventually heal our wounds if we tend to them with compassion and respect that we so deserve.

Keep Moving On

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The first two weeks of January find me working on a long list of goals, as well as challenges. The goals are much more fun despite being demanding of so much of my time and attention. I will share a few snippets of what is going on.

My son and I decided to co-author a children’s book over the past month. We want to publish it before Valentine’s Day in hopes of reaching an audience that will enjoy reading and experiencing the details of the adventure that we have written together. My son is an amazingly talented and magical artist and also happens to be an excellent illustrator. He has been drawing cartoons for me since he was about ten years old and I have tons of scrap books loaded with samples of the characters animals and scenes that he has depicted on different sizes of papers for a myriad of occasions over the years.

Lucky for me, he has finally agreed to pen them into a little book to accompany a story about the power of love and friendship amongst a family of fish and their humans as they interact with one another in the most unlikely of stressful circumstances. Love is their guide within a dark sea of utter despair and the light that emerges from the depth of that abyss will warm the readers heart and teach both kids and adults about the true power that love and compassion can have as we travel through our lives.

We think that it will be a wonderful Valentine’s Day story and gift to share with Loved Ones! The clock keeps on ticking and we are running low on time and are truly loving the challenge of racing toward the finish line. I have so enjoyed spending this time with my son and learning so much from and about him. His wit and sense of humor has literally had me laughing so hard that salty tears would not quit streaming down my face when we were editing one another’s writing. His ability to describe our fish characters adventures with such finesse, emotion and humor is simply astounding to me. When I asked him where he learned how to do this, his response was, “duh look in the mirror Mama, I’ve had the best teacher there is. You’re an amazing writer and the funniest person I’ve ever met in my life so to answer your question…. duhh”. I didn’t know what to say after that so I gently touch his bearded cheek and mustered up the warmest smile that my heart will allow. He has far more confidence in me then I do in myself, that’s a fact. I love to make my son laugh, always have, even when cancer moved in and tried to take over our lives. But I never thought of myself as a funny person or a good writer. Well if he thinks that I’m all those things, perhaps it’s true, at least in part.

As many of my readers already know, my son and I have also been working on a book or should I say a long novel based on the true story of his life threatening battle with cancer. He calls it “our battle” with cancer so I try to respect his wishes and view it in the same light. As he always reminds me, “If you were not in the same room with me, I would have pulled those IV’s out of my body and either run for the hills or jumped straight out the window of the cancer prison and that’s a fact. You were the one that made me stand up to Cancer and fight back with oil brushes and paints as my weapons. You taught me to believe that Love, eating your food and my Art could slay the cancer beast and so far it’s all true Mama.” Ok Josh, you win. Time for a deep breath and the need to use either my sleeve or some soft tissues to wipe away the salty memories of the most painful moments that life could present to any mother or her young child. Our novel will come out in sequels once we are lucky enough to secure the right publisher. We also dream about the day when the right film producer and director will read our manuscript and become passionate about turning our story into a memorable movie for the big screen to enjoy. We keep telling ourselves to believe in all of our dreams so that they will turn into a reality when the opportunity arrives. We are both very hopeful that this dream will come true very soon because as we well know, life is short.

Way too short. We learned it the hard way and that realization is embedded into each of our souls. So the “challenges” that I was referring to on this first month of the new year, have to do with my own health and I opted to make a clear list of all of them because I fully intend to line them up, one next to the other in a straight line and execute them one by one, till I murder every last one of them. The details are not urgent at this point. Only the fact that I intend to slay them all! I will share about them in future blog posts with the intention of helping even one person who might find themselves overwhelmed by health challenges of whatever sort in life. So I have several positive goals and a number of difficult challenges that I am hoping to conquer one by one. Takes a lot of motivation and inner strength to take on such a huge physical challenge. What has helped me a ton is my decision to return to the gym on a daily basis despite all of my limitations due to arthritis. In the past month i have improved so much it’s truly mind boggling in my condition. I could barely peddle 1/4 of a mile on the stationary bike due to hip dysplasia. The pain and stiffness were ridiculous. I also had surgery on my big toe,( long story) so I lost a couple of days in the middle of the month but I am finally getting better. Today, I rode 3.5 miles in thirty minutes. I used to ride two miles in 40 minutes but daily persistence has changed all that.

My stiffness is improving a ton, yet it’s still hard to bend all the way to the floor. Give me some time, I will get there too. I share all this with you today in the hopes of encouraging and inspiring those of you who are struggling in life to cope with physical and even emotional adversities.. You can do it! I know you can! You can choose to believe in your own power to overcome starting right now! Please love yourself enough to believe in your ability to overcome your pain. I believe in you.. It’s the only way out of your darkness.. Come on.. Stand up and put one foot in front of the other.. You can do it! It’s tough I get that, but it’s what you need to do.. Please feel free to leave me a note in the comment section and tell me about what you are doing to overcome your own adversity and live in the light of life..

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