August 10th -Let’s do some heavy lifting today; set aside some time and write about your relationship with your body & the life experiences that have come to shape that relationship (like I did here.) Push yourself to really be honest and think about the cause & effect of things – sometimes knowing why you feel bad is all you need to stop feeling bad (and sometimes its just a fantastic first step!)
(I spent about an hour free-writing, a lot came out. This is a polished-up portion of what I wrote. Before anyone reads I’d just like to say that it was really hard to find anything I was comfortable with sharing, and I’m not 100% okay even with what I am putting up with here, due to the light in which it paints my family, but I feel as if it’s something that needs to get out there regardless.)
So last week, like any good stereotypical New Jersyan, I headed down to the Jersey Shore (with my boyfriend and his family) to a little town in Long Beach Island known as Beach Haven. Now, anyone who knows Beach Haven knows that it is home to quite possibly the best restaurant ever – The Chicken or the Egg. We went there twice for dinner in the three nights I spent there. The first night we went I found myself overwhelmed by the menu – I knew what I wanted, Chicken Pot Pie, but for some reason did not feel comfortable ordering and eating it in front of his family – so I searched and searched to find something else that I could request. The waiter came and my search grew more frantic as everyone around me ordered. Finally it was my turn and I managed to ask for the only thing that came to mind, Chicken Cesar Salad, before bursting into tears right then and there at the table with my boyfriend’s entire family watching me. Great.I came up with some BS excuse I don’t even remember for the tears but it was still simply mortifying.
Later that night, on a walk into town with my boyfriend, I was left to explain why I had really started crying over a salad. That’s when it came out.
Years ago, at that same restaurant, my mom had made some offhanded comment about Chicken Pot Pie and how calorie laden and “bad” it was in response to the fact that I’d been considering ordering it. I hadn’t ordered it that night, nor has I eaten a Chicken Pot Pie since, but I’d wanted one every time I walked into that restaurant thereafter. To her it was a simple comment, certainly not meant to cause me any harm – I doubt she’d even remember making it to this day – but for whatever reason I took it to heart and Chicken Pot Pies became a “forbidden food” in my book. Lately I’ve been trying to really examine my relationship with food and my almost pathological obsession with having my mom’s approval on what I ingest (as well as how unfair that obsession is on her) so it really came as no surprise to me when I finally acknowledged the reasons behind my Chicken-Pot-Pie anxiety.
The next night I ordered the damn Pot Pie, ate it, enjoyed it, and moved on with my life.
Cue a week later, at the diner with my brothers and grandparents. I order mozzarella sticks and my grandmother comments on the fattening nature of a plate of fried cheese. This time, however, it doesn’t get to me. I just told her that they taste good, remembered the salad I’d had for lunch, and felt perfectly content in the knowledge that I’d had a healthy day food-wise both physically and mentally. (Even better my brother came to my defense, pointing out his “big plate of fried meat” and reminding us all that “it’s just food and we’re people who need to eat, plus it tastes good!” That made me happy.)
At the end of the day both my mom and my grandma love me and have my best interests at heart – they want me to be healthy – and they’re simply doing what mom’s and grandma’s across the country do when they weigh in on the choices I make regarding food, I can’t fault them for that. However, only I can make the choices that keep me healthy both mentally and physically – choices that mean having the Chicken Pot Pie or Mozzarella Sticks every once and awhile is much much better than obsessing over them and, furthermore, is completely fine so long as I balance them with other, healthier foods. I’ll never cry over a Chicken Pot Pie again.