Jon and I are back in Maui after a 7 month absence.
In that time, we got married, had a honeymoon, spent a couple of months in the Dominican Republic doing our Digital Nomad jam. I also spent three months in California helping my mother and brother transition into more supportive living situations due to my mother’s Alzheimer’s.
If you have been hanging out with me on my usual social media spaces, as well as here at FoodPractice.com, you know those last three months were hard ones. I wrote about them a bit as it related to the topic of Food Practice, here, here and here.
It’s that last one in particular that this post is about.
Three Months Of Depletion
I don’t think it’s possible to ever know what is needed of you when dealing with a family illness, changing family roles and grief.
Actually… I do know. It’s impossible to ever know.
For me, the last 3-4 months have been the hardest I’ve ever encountered. And through it all, I kept telling myself that it would soon be done… soon be over.
Soon, I would have finalized the financial clean up and transition. Soon, I would have not only made the decision on where my mother and brother would live, but I would also feel good about it. Soon, I would move them each out and then clean out the home they both left, making sense of what ended up being 50 years worth of belongings.
There was so much to do all at once and every day. My mother’s friends all looking to me for answers on the direction of her life. My brother now depending on me for the emotional support he hadn’t been getting in a long time, because my mother simply couldn’t.
I’ve never felt overwhelm like that in my life.
And as I wrote in the blog post above, I could see and feel the signs of my own depletion in the ways it usually shows up for me.
Though I Had Moments of Consciousness… not so much
Somewhere in all that time, which wasn’t much time at all, I gained weight. And though I was quite conscious of the fact that my depletion was manifesting in the desire to eat more food, at some point, things got quite challenging emotionally.
I have no idea how much weight I’ve gained, because I have long lost interest in those numbers.
What I do know is that my bras are tighter, my jeans aren’t comfortable and my face is rounder in a manner that reveals how tired I am instead of how engaged I am in the whole of my life.
When I first realized this, I took a pause, thinking back over the last few months – Had I overeaten? Was I stuffing and not aware?
This line of thinking stopped pretty quickly however, because when it came to me, I was standing in the middle of my mother’s living room looking down at the couch that I had been sleeping on for the last 3 months.
My body had been in constant ache, sleep had been hard won and nothing around me felt like home save for the weekends when I’d run back up to Idyllwild to hide, touch Jon Brown and savor some silence before jumping back into things.
Yea… I gained weight. That’s what my body does when I’m in the middle of emotional overwhelm. Weight has always been a potent manifestation of my need for boundaries, space and emotional safety.
The Difference Between Before And Now
When that realization downloaded fully, I smiled to myself. It was the kind of smile that acknowledges and perhaps too, carried with it a hint of gratitude.
Because, fuck yes… it’s been a hard few months and I had been lying to myself that it would soon be over.
Acknowledging my weight gain didn’t come with what once had been a devastating blow of self loathing and shaming. The acknowledgement now comes with the deeper truth and compassion that comes from knowing that life is a spiritual journey of self inquiry and intimacy.
It isn’t about pounds, it’s about pretending that once all the logistics were over I’d be done – my family’s transition would all be done and fine. We would be fine.
The weight I gained is at once a need to feed myself when I was feeling so depleted and a boundary against the truth that once the logistics of money and housing were taken care of, what would come next was the grief, the sadness, the full consequence of being shell shocked by something no one has any control over.
How Is This About Food?
Here’s the thing: Back in the day, this fast weight gain would have sent me into a frenzy of fasting or ‘cleansing’. I wouldn’t have looked beyond the surface of what I looked like or what my new size was, I would have just seen a number.
Back in the day, I might have been aware that it had to do with hiding from a truth that was uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t have faced it, addressed it or embraced the depth and breadth of the experience and it’s implications.
I simply would have tried to reduce my size, failed and invested way too much time shaming myself internally about it, while pretending it was all good on the outside.
Today I have no idea how much I weigh. It’s not information that really tells me anything or holds much meaning. I gained weight because it’s how my soul processes hard shit right now. That might change one day or not. It’s fine.
What I’m really interested in now is self care; resting and practicing presence with my family because we are so not done yet. We are grieving in our own ways and I at once need to allow for my own path through that, while also facilitating my mom and my brother though that as well.
Today, I’m slowing down even more, because this is how I know to pay better attention and tend to the needs that come up.
Today, I’m making a lovely home cooked meal for Jon and I and I’m going to eat it with no small measure of anticipation and excitement because it’s Pad Thai, yo. And I LOVE Pad Thai.
I’m not binging, I’m not depriving. I’m not measuring what I put on my plate, nor am I eating differently. I’m simply asking myself the following questions:
What do I need in order to feel vibrant and healthy right now?
What will best nourish that need?
Am I as present and in gratitude for this moment as I can be?
Weight, Food + Food Practice
Some people’s weight fluctuates wildly. Others weather the ups and downs of life with a very consistent body shape and size and the manifestation of their spiritual journey shows up in other ways. We all move through our lives in our own unique manner. There is no right or wrong way to any of that.
It’s time we embraced this and stopped taking out our self loathing on the intimate and life sustaining relationship we can have with the food we eat.
Presence, compassion, joy, gratitude and self inquiry can heal our distorted relationship with food.
Approaching food with presence, compassion, joy, gratitude and self inquiry makes up a Food Practice that allows us to dive deeper into our own personal growth and union with the life we live.
I’ve gained some weight lately and I’m about to have an amazing dinner that not only facilities pleasure and nourishment, but connection with my man.