I hope this letter finds you well. I wrote the following FB post on March 29th, 2018. Late at night for me. And spontaneously which I often do, but I could tell from the drop in my stomach that this one was going to potentially shake things up a bit. I wasn’t totally prepared for the discussion but I can see we are hungry for transparency and truth.
If you missed it that day, here it is….
I rarely open up Geneen Roth’s emails anymore but I did and ugh, here was the first paragraph…
“It’s uncomfortable to walk around in a body that is uncomfortable.
It’s hard to let innate brilliance or power express itself when you are schlepping around twenty or fifty extra pounds. It’s not impossible, just more difficult. And since there is already so much inherent difficulty in being alive, what with people getting sick, raising kids, dying, and the earth on the verge of destruction, why not make life easier on yourself? Why not make the effort to discover what enhances your aliveness and vitality? Because when you do, you become less and less fascinated with those foods, activities, and people that don’t.~GR ”
What a bunch of garbage. Life is hard and you could be more brilliant if you weighed less!? What!
Yes, not being in a thin- privileged, able-bodied, white body is no picnic a lot of the time.
However, the clients that I have the privilege of knowing that GR says are schlepping around “excess” are doing a pretty brilliant job of learning how to thrive and see through these not so veiled fat phobic messages.
I’m no GR or any person hater. My bones are tired of the people who write of “having your best life “ coupling weightloss with life’s enlightenment and success.
Talk about reinforcing the shame of our childhoods.
My cells have no patience left for people who’ve had access to all the same info as I do for decades and still feel okay about telling people keep at and you’ll “get there “, ie, the weight released body.
But… I am hopeful because every year, more and more people, in their brilliance, are seeing through it.
You aren’t broken. Or schlepping around the wrong body. “
This post got a huge response and a mix of glad I said something to surprise and anger to questioning me and my motives.
Why I care so much about this.
You see, my dieting that turned into disordered eating stemmed from a couple of things:
1) My not so secure attachments with my mother as a very young kid
2) My personality traits
3) My highly sensitive and desire to go to the depths with people about life (what teacher on the playground wants to discuss where God is with a 7 yo old?)
4) Living in a surface driven, looks/body size driven, fat phobic world that derives value with being an object to look at versus a subject to respect
5) Breakups based on what I wouldn’t give to people
6) Not having a place I felt safe to feel the bigness of my thoughts and emotions — Where were the adults I could ask and who could tolerate questions like, “why do people use each other”, “why don’t people respect each other instead of judgment?”
7) Going on a diet because I felt like it was a way I could be less “different” and therefore more wanted by the “norm”
8) Not having a container for any of the above plus other un-seen or heard events
So in my attempt to get more power through having less body, I was disembodying myself and having LESS power. And moving farther away from healing anything from the past and accepting myself.
That is why I worry about posts like Geneen Roth’s. i know she does amazing work with compulsive eating. But she is still missing uncoupling ourselves as seen and heard for how and who we are, not just not compulsively eating so we can lose weight and life is a little easier and then we will have more power.
I read her books when I was 18 years old. They were helpful in understanding that it’s about the food. However, If she had written the words she does today back then this is what would have happened:
My 18 year old self and her (inner) roommate’s chronic dieting and shame, self-hate, anorexia, compulsive exercise, binge eating and people pleasing would have thought, “She is right, it’s my body that is causing the lack of power in my life”.
So when our “mindful eating” gurus like Geneen Roth say that our lives would be more powerful when we get less interested in the food and stop schlepping around weight it is a bait and switch. Baiting people who feel bad about their bodies. Again, she does great work in helping people see beyond the food, what the behaviors mean, etc.
A good non-diet, body acceptance professional does all of that plus doesn’t assign worth and value and success to what happens to your weight in the process.
Like so many of us in the early, vulnerable stages of recovery and intuitive eating, it matters so much what we read and who we listen to.
My thoughts on this are, is whatever you are reading/watching giving LIFE? Does it touch you or motivate you to want to tend to yourself more deeply? Challenge the thoughts that make you believe you aren’t good enough? Put the blame of body hatred on the shoulders of diet culture and off of your lack of willpower? Help you have more compassion and willingness to care for yourself? Help you see you are whole and complete right now, no matter what you’ve been through and you’re still learning?
If not, use that exquesite sensitivity of yours and your inner BS detector to see where the the fat phobia lies and focus on what gives LIFE.
PS: I have some embodiment tools I put together for you to help you practice feeling more grounded in your body. I have my clients do these daily if possible to stay more focused on their own inner wisdom and drown out the noise and provide a safe place internally to land.