Saturday, January 15, 2022

On the Cusp of Remembering...again

 I have felt on the cusp of remembering something I already learned, but is easy to forget so then needs to be learned again. I have an internalized conversation about food, relaxation, community, even communion. It began before I can remember, and so it is what feels most natural to me. And yet I’ve come to learn again and again something else that simply takes more time to remember, and then to remember that I already know it. I have an internalized voice about moderation that eventually can (though not always will) send me into this cycle of (mis)remembering. 

Philosophers love this kind of obfuscation, but I hope you will simply bear with me. A more personal angle here...

All this shows up in my household most often because my beloved husband eats vastly differently than I do (now). I am the one who has changed the calculus, and sometimes it hits pockets of grief for him, sometimes challenges best-practices I now know for myself. For example, he loves to get a loaf of challah for Friday nights, the Jewish egg bread blessed, dipped with salt, and eaten with a blessing in gratitude for a day of rest. We’re not Jewish, but we love bread and love the practice of Shabbat that Jewish wisdom has brought into the world. When I’m in my on-plan eating streams, I smile and am glad for his way of honoring Friday night, but I toast my own almond-flour bread. During the holidays, Friday nights became a day of challah-communion, as I would have a slice or two. And I love the feeling of sharing in that communion with the man I love. All things in moderation, as we say, and carbs & communion went together for this season.

Except I’m just now remembering how edgy I get inside, and how the cycles of craving begin, with just a weekly challah-communion meal. It takes about 4 days of 100% on-plan eating afterward to be free once again of the craving cycles. Which is made more difficult because that choice so easily leads to the next “small bite of whatever,” which leads to the next one…and then I’m back into a 75% on-plan eating pattern, which gets harder and harder because the cravings begin to convince me I am depriving myself of something instead of creating food-freedom for my body and mind.

I love this communal-communion side of myself, to be clear. I’m really good at connecting with people, even feeling into their emotional weather(s) so to be a companionable presence. My way of holding this kind of interconnection with B, early on, is such a part of our life over the years. Our romantic reconnection, now over 20 years ago, was all about foodie-celebration and theological explorations, drenched in good wine and new love. It wasn’t until after I had finished my dissertation in grad school, while he was finishing up his own masters’ degree, that I realized I cannot keep eating like this. I cannot eat like he does. I was so focused on my dissertation that I gained well over 30 pounds upon getting married! I came to call this time in my life, with respect to food, married eating. I had learned early on to be thankful for meals crafted for me–B was often the chef of our home, and still is. I was conditioned to try to eat everything I was given. Voila! Married eating, and 30 lbs more than my body needed.

Fast forward to today, when both Brian and I now realize we are much happier when each of us is happy in his/her own streams of exploration. It challenges the sense of commonality sometimes–I’m doing my thing, he’s doing his–but I am happier and steadier inside, which means also with him. He’s lived with his melancholy for so long that these last years have been disorienting for him. “Maybe I’m simply happy now?” he mused to me at one point. He’s not quite accustomed to being content, but he smiles a whole lot more these days, and we laugh a lot more together. I’m now (also) in love with how I can feel in my own skin, which requires a whole lot more movement and intention than he requires in his. We find our way, as ever...

But post-holidays, and every once in a while especially when I’m overworking and underplaying, I can begin to forget what I so deeply know. I can prioritize his moods, or project my own moods onto him, and lean into food or booze to unwind. I can yearn for the communion I know with him, enjoying a challah slice on a Friday night. I can forget that communion with him doesn’t require food, for me, and more and moreso, for him. Old patterns over a couple decades of shared life can be hard to change, evolve, stretch… I can forget that clean-eating is not actually about being stringent or uncompromising, but about breathing into a peace of mind that comes when I’m not craving anything. 

So this morning, I’m remembering that this thing about moderation is a good principle AND its pitfalls are me misremembering and beginning to forget over a period of weeks. This can ultimately disconnect me from the food-freedom and peace of mind I know comes when I fuel my body well. The signal I need to listen for is when I begin to feel deprived, or like I’m wrestling with good choices in a sense of being deprived. That’s when I’ve forgotten what I know. When I can catch that, and simply breathe through the cravings for the four-five days it will take, I can begin to remember that a bite of something is not worth it for me. It's not about the bite at all, really, but the choice for 3-4 days of cravings.

Freedom comes when there is a lessening of craving and a remembering of how good it feels to be fueled well, have to eat a lot, and celebrate remembering with a nice long walk in the woods, winter sun shining, and the promise of tea with a friend.

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