Her little face beamed at the challenge. She studied the picture like it was a “Where’s Waldo game” having no idea just how much was at stake for me!
Just when we thought we were past all those old stereotypes about women we get quarterback Cam Newton calling our qualifications into question. But, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the POTUS joked about grabbing women’s privates and even his women voters didn’t blink!
So, when I saw this image it made me stop and wonder about what we call freedom. It’s easy to look at women in other cultures and congratulate ours for evolving. I mean, look at us (Americans)! Our women get to be sports journalists and presidential candidates and we can even wear bikinis! Woohoo!
Nevermind that we get paid less and our credibility is often on the line, or that we can be twice as qualified for a job, but lose opportunities to men who are half as qualified. And, about those bikinis…why is it that we obsess about our bodies, or feel compelled to starve ourselves, or go into debt for surgeries that will perfect our bodies so that we can look more like the super models in the magazines when we put them on?
Oh yeah! To impress those men who refuse to acknowledge our intellect or talent, but love to look at our assets. Right.
Liberty and justice for all. Woo–hoo.
I’m a workaholic. I have a hard time slowing down and unplugging from work obligations, especially when I have a lot to do. There’s a sort of adrenlin-rush that comes from busy-ness and activity and a bit of anxiety that comes over me when there’s nothing going on. I always feel like I should be “doing something”. I actually have to make a concerted effort to rest when work is calling. Crazy, huh? But they say that recognizing you have a problem is the first step towards finding a solution, so I suppose I’m halfway there!
Of course, knowing what to do is a lot harder than doing what you know. In today’s “Revamp Monday” Tanzy reveals her own struggle in “Confessions of an Abuser,” but I don’t mean for you to esteem her struggle in contrast to mine. You should see them as one and the same, for they both have one crucially common component: our health. My penchant for busy too often pushes me to the brink. I suffer from migraines, high blood pressure runs in my family, heart attacks and strokes are common risk factors. We both have to take seriously the lure of our addictions–even those that seem, on the surface, to be a good thing!
It was a stressful day. Caseload at work was epic and I had paperwork to last hours. There was a mountain of laundry begging for my attention and a sink full of dishes that had been woefully neglected. My stress levels were climbing towards 7.9 on the rector scale, So I did what had become so natural to me. I pulled into the drive through at my favorite burger joint and ordered my usual sedative: a number 6 with a root beer and extra sauce. Only 5 minutes into my meal and I felt blissful stress relief come over me.
Later that night after rushing through homework, laundry, dinner time, bath time and bed time, a wave of overwhelming fatigue took hold and I reached to the cupboard for my rescue: a bar of chocolate that soothed my suffering. I repeated this pattern regularly. For years, but not just in hard times, in good times also. After completing that project at work that consumed many weekends, I decided a celebration was in order. Reservations at my favorite pasta restaurant. Appetizers, entrée, soda and dessert! In fact, eating became my answer to many emotional callings:
The practice of eating was closely integrated into every life experience. Every emotion. Every occasion. Food was my best friend. Like a toxic lover, my addiction lured me and always delivered the relief I needed–rich, high-calorie foods with little nutritional value, excess sugar, starch and fat–they were good to me, but not good for me. They made me feel better, but not without consequences. Years into the co-dependent relationship, it bore fruit: weight gain, splotchy skin, worsening asthma, chronic fatigue, digestive upset, a sedentary lifestyle, insecurity and low self-esteem. While I had been exercising consistently I wasn’t addressing my diet in the way I needed to, and the mere thought of facing it, made me fearful! Food had become my best friend and confidant, my “blankey”, my “binki,” my counselor, my consoler, my relief, my medication. I was terrified to fix it!
The relationship we had was twisted, toxic and abusive. I was both the abused and the abuser. I was the victim and the offender. I was in the right and also in the wrong. We all need food to fuel our body, but I was using it to fuel my emotions.
The effort it would take to rectify this complicated relationship would be constant and intense. It requires moment by moment mindfulness, regular prayer and accountability. It means learning to embrace the full weight of my emotions whether positive or negative. It requires finding alternatives for celebrating and mourning. It means going through crippling periods of withdrawal. It requires learning the ugly nutritional truths of man-made food, but also being enlightened by the glorious nutritional truths of God-made food. And it will likely take a lifetime to heal the bond between me and food–a lifetime to put food in its rightful place.
But it’s worth it. For the sake of my mental health, my children and grandchildren, an extended life expectancy and an improved quality of life. It’s worth it. Everything we put into our bodies is fuel. Either fuel for disease or fuel for good health. I no longer want to indulge in things that rob me of the abundant life available to me. I want to live my life to the fullest. After all, you are what you eat!
I had a dream the other night where I was surrounded by people from my community, “the elders” you might say. A contingency approached quite abruptly to inform me that I was late on a payment that I was responsible for as executor of my grandmother’s estate. The payment had been $50, but now that it was late I had to pay $10,000!
Their faces were quite serious.
“Are you crazy?”
“No, you owe us $10,000 and you must pay it immediately!” was their stern reply and I felt them pressing closer as if they might arrest me if I didn’t produce the money right away.
“No!” I screamed back at them. “What, do you think I’m crazy or something? I’m not giving you anything! You can’t control me! You can’t make me do anything! That doesn’t even make sense! What makes you think you can just tell me to do something and I’ll do it? Who are you to tell me what I’m going to do anyway?” And on I went, raving at them, pushing back with all of my might as they tried to press me down.
They seemed confused by my resistance, and the faces of all those surrounding me registered shock–not at the men, but at me! The entire community that stood around watching looked at one another in surprise and I could hear them murmuring, “is this Alice’s grandaughter? Oh my! Alice? Yes! Oh, I just can’t believe it, not Alice’s grandaughter it couldn’t be…”. They were “amazed” that Alice’s grandaughter would “behave” this way!
When I awoke I was tired and could still feel a pressure on my chest, as if I am still being pressed down. There’s a knot in my throat. It’s a familiar feeling–this pressure… to meet ridiculous expectations, to attain to ridiculous standards and to be someone I’m not. Maybe it was just a dream.
maybe it wasn’t.