Chicken Soup For The Soul
Twentypounds more and I have a part-time relationship. Ten of those poundsare a group of homebodies. They wave off their more mobilerelatives and stay firmly put. The other ten leave for thesummer, but as winter approaches they must think of the family theyleft on my belly because they come back home for the holidays. Iwatch their comings and goings confident that, when all of us areready, we'll never see each other again. I've lost another forty poundspermanently. It took two years for them to go, but we parted asfriends. It wasn't always easy giving up the protection theyprovided. For most of my life I have been embarrassed byemotions. I thought that there was a difference between how Ifelt and how I was supposed to feel. Good people, I thought,didn't get so angry, unhappy or whatever this new feeling cute boysinspired was. By my early teens I was twenty pounds overweight,to buffer the space between my embarrassment and the world of slowdancing and kissing. That buffer was not enough as my feelingsbecame complicated with artistic passion, real romantic desires, asense of dissatisfaction and a mysterious inadequacy in the face oflove. The more complex and unfathomable my feelings became, themore I sought to numb them. As adulthood progressed, I numbed my emotionsby strengthening my five physical senses. Here was a wealth ofexperience I could understand through eating. The visual changesin the patina of crust as dough bakes into bread. The aromaticbouquet of red wine as it breathes. There was also the musicalsizzle of butter browning in the pan. And taste. Everythinghas one taste as it crosses the lips, another on the tongue as it istransferred to the teeth for chewing and still another as it travelsdown the throat. Perhaps surprisingly, since I had gained anothertwenty pounds, this was also a highly sexual time in my life. Thesatisfaction my senses brought me through food, drink and sex replacedthe shame of dealing with depths of feeling and the realities ofintimate connection. The world of the senses did not protectme. My so-called romances brought disruption. I developed afear of being alone. I was worried I would be seen as astereotypical fat girl, unworthy of love or acceptance. Therewere loud arguments that I knew would turn violent if I didn't stopthem through some gesture of self-abasement. During this time, Iabandoned my sensuality and sought the comforts of fullness. Idid not care what I ate. I did not care how it was prepared or ifit was quality food. During this great emptiness, I gained twentymore pounds. Then I got smart. Suddenly, I startedtalking to people about what I was feeling. I realized I had totake care of my emotions and the information they were giving me.To learn to feel, I discovered, was to learn to communicate and to makelasting connections. I did not join a gym and find true lovethere. I did not discover a magic formula to erase years of pooreating habits and a tendency to over-indulge. I did not become anascetic subsisting on leaves and water. Instead, I discovered there was some essencein me that I shared with every other human being on the planet.Sharing my own feelings with the people I met and listening to theirexperiences was enlightening. I began to live with my sensualityrather than for sensual experience. I no longer believed that Iwas fundamentally different, and I stopped being embarrassed by my ownemotions. I believe that the first twenty pounds came off throughthe release of that heavy burden. The second twenty pounds were a practical andmethodical loss. The many options of lifestyle change were oftenoverwhelming when I needed to focus on coming out of numbness.Simplicity worked for me. I learned that frozen vegetables arethe working person's best friends in the kitchen. They areinexpensive, quickly prepared, and come in a huge variety of flavorsand colors. I learned to exercise every day, even if it is onlyten minutes of stretching. It helps to ease stress andfrustration. I stoatching television after 9:00 pm.It made me feel inadequate with my physical imperfections and thentempted me with fast-food commercials. The last twenty pounds and I are stillfiguring things out. They make their occasional forays out intothe world, and I learn gently how to experience life withoutthem. It's a new emotion, but I'm finally open to feeling it.