I requested that WordPress send me an email weekly to remind me to keep up with my goal of posting one per week. According to them, a lot has happened since my last post a couple of weeks ago and I should write about it. And a lot has happened. I’ve cried several times. Received from pretty solid take-home messages from my therapist. Had some deep thoughts.
So here I sit with puffy eyes after a melatonin-laden sleep with yesterday’s refrigerated coffee trying to garner some creative GENIUS for this post.
My last entry was a prologue to my journey since last summer. Naturally this should begin to tell that story. So, let’s.
I took a nutrition counseling class last spring, and in the class our professor asked for a volunteer to come to the front and be a client. My friend Sammi said under her breath, “Nicole will do it…” and I said I would NOT because I’m sick of always volunteering. However no one volunteered and I couldn’t leave the prof hanging so up I went.
I guess I could say that was a life-changing moment, now that I think about it. In those next 10 minutes it was like it was just me and the professor in the classroom. She had me totally focused on her questions, and I finally saw what it could be like to have a good therapist. I had tried several a couple years earlier without avail (would you continue to see one who told you that “lawyers don’t know how to have a conversation” so your dad probably has no personality?), and this was different. My professor’s first question to me was “So what brought you here today?” I had to think fast because, I don’t know, I volunteered to sit up in this chair, so I said, “I just don’t think of food the same way that I used to.” And we went from there. She asked me some personal stuff. Lowest weight in adult years. How I’d gotten to that weight. When we were done I needed to let out a big exhale. It was kind of intense answering questions about my relationship with my body and food in front of 18 other people. But I am so thankful I did. I knew I had a lot to explore, as they say, but that 10-minute intro sesh was eye-opening.
Fast forward to this past summer at my Cornell 5-year reunion. I was excited to go but overwhelmed because I wanted to eat everything that I’d loved as a student there. Even before arriving, food added an exciting but slightly negative component to the weekend. I’m disappointed to say that food essentially ruined my weekend up there. The first night I was distracted by whether I should eat more pizza at dinner (I did). Then I hastily purchased two Betty Crocker cookie dough bars so no one could see while we all bought ponchos for shelter in the downpour (#Ithaca), and secretly ate them through my poncho walking to the quad (those big sleeves come in handy). The next day I ate so much BBQ, despite the fact that I was still full from breakfast, that I skipped sushi with my pledge class and by the end of the night got totally sick (the quality of the BBQ was questionable, but I blame overfeeding myself regardless).
It was sad. Looking back on the weekend, I don’t think as much about catching up with old classmates, or walking campus with two of my friends and taking beautiful pictures once the sun finally came out. What sticks out in my mind is that food consumed me to the point where it was a total distraction and ruined my night. Disappointing as that was, it was a turning point. I called my then therapist-to-be that week and made an appointment.
One thing I quickly learned in therapy regarding that weekend is that one of the reasons I couldn’t control myself at the reunion is that I didn’t allow myself to eat anything like that normally. I ate in a manner that I considered healthy but was actually restrictive. I thought I had some sort of balance going on: really “good” and really “bad”. Two opposites – that’s balanced, right?
Well, not exactly, because that sort of pattern isn’t a healthy one. That’s one of the many lessons I’ve learned in therapy, and it’s one that I try to keep with me. NOT easy to do, I can tell you. Winter break in Austin (i.e. Tex-Mex and the best BBQ ever) put a few extra pounds on this chica, which has not been sitting well with me, and I think about restrictive (quick/easy) ways to get back to normal frequently. I’ll go into that in a future chapter, including healthy behaviors to help you achieve a positive relationship with food. For now, though, I’ll leave you with something sweet: