My Grandmother, my mom’s mom, was a large woman. And a short woman, which contributed to her largeness. She had all kinds of theories about why she was so large, including the one about being made to eat everything on her plate at every meal. Which makes sense when you consider that she was a young girl when the Depression hit, and every morsel of food counted. And I sort of buy into that theory, because what you do as a child has a tendency to stick with you as an adult. You eat everything you can because that’s what you’ve always done.
My mother, who is fortunate enough to at least have some height on her frame, is a large woman, too. The reasons my mother is heavy are fairly easy to pinpoint – genetics, poor food choices, lack of exercise. And she eats when she’s dealing with her emotions. Good day? Let’s get ice cream! Frustrated? Have some cobbler.
I recognize this tendency in myself, too. While my mother never rewarded me with food (for I am not a dog), I was witness to the kitchen capers that came about as her way to deal. I try really hard to not repeat this because she’s fat, and she’s unhappy that she’s fat, and so she eats because she’s unhappy. I don’t want that future for myself. Adding to the complexity of this tendency is that I really like wine. I’ve been known to have a conversation with myself about how early is too early for a glass of wine. Alcohol at 9am isn’t a good idea, even though a lot of the world’s best literature was conceived in a bottle. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. It doesn’t end well, is what I’m saying.
I have a theory about it, of course. It’s like picking a scab – you know better than to do it, that it’s just going to prolong the healing process, and maybe leave a scar to boot – but you do it anyway because at least it’s something to do.
We don’t do a great job of sitting quietly with our emotions. Our emotions scare us, particularly the ones that are on the darker end of the scale. And our emotions are reactions to things that are going on in our lives, and a lot of that stuff we’ve got no control over. So we eat, or we sleep, or we drink, or we shop, or we do any of a number of things that have become our medication of choice.
They say that recognition of a problem is half the battle. I’m not so sure. I think it may be a battle in and of itself.