I love Carolyn Myss. No, really. I own most of her books and most of her CD lectures. I like that she holds a lot of the same “energy-woo-woo” beliefs that I do (what? I can call a spade a spade) but that she’s grounded and even a little cynical. I think it makes her easier to relate to.
I wrote yesterday about her theory of “woundology,” and I’m going to stay on the Myss bandwagon for today, although on a different topic. Today I’m thinking about archetypes and how they relate to my daily life, specifically to my relationships with food. This is a VERY brief version of her stuff – if you want to read more, go buy her book “Sacred Contracts.” The abridged version is that everyone uses various patterns/archetypes to work out their energetic crap in life, but that EVERYONE uses 4 of the same ones: Victim, Child, Prostitute and Saboteur. The post on woundology yesterday is an example of the Victim. Staying in a job you hate because the money is great is an example of a Prostitute. Anytime you say, “I’m doing [x] because I DESERVE it,” or “It’s not fair!” you’re working through your Child. The Saboteur says, “There’s always tomorrow,” or “You’re not strong/smart/short/tall/thin/fat enough to do [x].” Get it? Ok.
So here’s the thing. I’ve been reading a lot of Fat Acceptance blogs lately. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my own body and how I feel about it, and more importantly, how I feel about food. I run a lot of my food relationships through my Child. I find myself thinking that if I’m not dieting, and I can eat anything I want, well then I WANT cheese! Except . . . cheese makes me sick. I can’t claim that it’s healthy for my body, but if I tell myself, “I’m not eating cheese anymore,” my Child (Brat? LOL) has a FIT. I sometimes end up bingeing on the very foods that I KNOW will make me sick, because “You are not the boss of me!” Way to cut off my nose to spite my face, there. 😛
I also spend a lot of time with my Prostitute when it comes to food. On the one hand, I don’t think I should have to diet. On the other hand, in some ways life is a lot easier when I do, even if I don’t talk about it. So then the question becomes, How much of my integrity am I willing to compromise? The Prostitute can cause depression, illness, stress and a host of things that most of us would like to avoid. Think about it: when you are doing something you really feel is wrong, it stays with you. It sticks in your head, in your heart, in your gut. You are literally selling out: you’re selling your energy to something you DON’T EVEN BELIEVE IN.
Here’s the really interesting thing about this archetype, though: if you’re not investing your energy in what you’re doing, it won’t have the same effect. Myss uses an example of a single mother who had a really good job that she didn’t particularly like, with office politics that she thought were horrible. But when Myss asked her about it, the woman responded, “I have a job that pays really well and allows me to spend a lot of time with my kids. I vote the party line at work because honestly, I just don’t care about that as much as I care about my kids. So I stay in my job for those reasons. If it really bothered me, I’d leave – but at this point, it doesn’t bother me enough to make the financial trade-off.” So even though this woman was “selling out” in some ways, it wasn’t affecting her health because she had made a CONSCIOUS choice and had come to terms with that choice. She knew what her limits were, and acted accordingly.
I bring all this up because lately I’ve been struggling with my weight and self-image. On the one hand, I’d really like to lose weight. On the other hand, I’m not willing to be obssessed and disordered and completely fucking crazy about it. I’m actually going to ask my holistic doctor to run a nutritional profile on me and I’ll probably start learning to eat according to that. At this point, I know that I could lose some weight without going crazy. I don’t know when I’ll hit the point where further loss will require my craziness, but I DO know that when I hit that point, I’ll have to reevaluate my priorities, because losing weight is NOT worth being fucking insane.
Here’s my Prostitute in action, and also (800 words into the post – ha!) where the title kicks in: I absolutely believe that we should live in a culture that honors everyone, and every body type. At the same time, I know from previous experience that (assuming I’m not insane over it) I feel better when I weigh less. I have more energy, my system runs more efficiently, I can actually digest the food I eat (no, really – right now I’m having all kinds of problems). But that’s not really the whole truth. The whole truth includes my health, but it also includes the bald-faced fact that I’m selling out a little bit. Life is easier when I’m thinner, and if I can get there without being crazy, that would be great. But at least I recognize it for what it is: my Prostitute in action.
So I’m on the back side of the pendulum swing: I was dieting to the point of disorder, then I was rabidly NOT DIETING, and now I’m kind of/sort of dieting. After a little of this, I’ll probably be kind of/sort of NOT DIETING, and after a few swings back and forth I’ll find my balance between bingeing on ice cream and eating nothing but tuna and lettuce. In the meantime, I know that the Fat Acceptance stuff is there to remind me that my size is not inversely proportional to my worth, and that 2 pounds gained or lost doesn’t make me a bad person (or a good person, for that matter).
As one more example (and probably a more concise one that I can give regarding food and weight), several years ago I had a really good friend who decided to get a boob job (totally unnecessary, IMO). I was then (and still am) adamantly anti-plastic surgery. There’s something wrong with the thought, “Hey, you’d be way better looking if you cut your body open and shoved foreign objects into it!” That’s FUCKED. But when J told me that she really wanted a boob job, I told her I would support her. She was pretty shocked, considering how I felt, but here’s the thing, and what I told her: I can be angry as fuck with a culture that tells women they need surgical “enhancement” in order to be attractive, but I can’t fault an individual for doing what they need to do in order to feel like they can function in that culture, even if that includes surgery. That’s just not my call to make – we all conform to society in some ways, and rebel in others. We all have different tolerances for which battles we can fight, and far be it from me to tell anyone else what their battles should be.
At the moment, I’m not sure I have it in me to be militantly NOT DIETING. (I have other things I’m militant about, LOL.) So for now, I’m playing with my weight. I’m not going to talk about the particulars here, because a) although I recognize that I’m playing the social game, I don’t want to encourage (or discourage, if they want to do it) anyone else to do so, b) because talking about diets is just boring, both for me, and also for everyone around me (I figure if I don’t care what you ate for breakfast, you probably don’t care what I ate, either), and c) because the level of self- and diet-obssession required to blog about it every day is precisely the kind of craziness I’m trying to avoid. This will stay an anti-diet talk blog, and that will include me. Gotta play by my own rules, right? 😉
What I WILL talk about are the emotional issues that come up for me during this process; one of the things I’m trying to do is root out the woundology I’ve built around food, and I can’t do that without acknowledging and examining it – and I can’t do THAT when I’m either starving, bingeing or deliberately eating foods that my body rejects. If there is a safe and healthy way to use a “diet” or “nutritional plan,” I’ll learn it – and if there’s not, I’ll learn that, too. Either way, I’ll have to deal with my own issues (including not only my health, but my actual weight too), and I figure that’s not a bad thing.
So that’s my cognitive dissonance: fight for the cause, but pick my battles. Hate the sin, love the sinner. Blah, blah, blah.
I tried to work this link into the post, but I’m already at 1400 words, and haven’t managed to do it, yet. So just go read it. Much like the debacle I referenced yesterday, this echoed and clarified a lot of things that I’ve been thinking about lately.