I’ve been reading an advance copy of Geneen Roth’s upcoming book “Lost and Found.” It’s brilliant. It’s illuminating. It’s deep.
It’s also about food and money, and there are delicious bon mots throughout the entire read but a recent passage I read really captured my interest.
Roth says the she often tells her students “that they have to want something more than they want to be thin—they have to want to be close to themselves, to know the truth, to question the very heart of who they take themselves to be—because if they don’t, then they will always go back to what they know: their familiar selves, their default ways of operating in the world.”
Yummy material to say the least.
So, I thought, what really is my biggest want? If it’s true, and our actions tell us more about where we are internally—you know, the notion that what you animate says so much more about you than what you tell yourself or the world—then I suppose my great desire is to be thin and look great and have the perfect body. If it wasn’t … if I truly craved a truth deeper, stronger than wanting to be fit and thin, would I, then, self-check myself in the mirror as much as I do on a daily basis?
And while I can see that my chronic self-checking has subsided a bit, I found it curious that, after an evening or two of allowing myself to eat the foods I craved, I woke up the next morning studying my body. Was my stomach protruding? Did it flatten? Was my ass hanging lower? Was it tighter? (Damm.. it better be, I’ve been taking all those SPIN classes, right?)
Is my great want to spill forth my love onto others—you know, as in actually helping people—or is it to have my body be the size and shape I believe I need it to be? I discuss this topic, especially as it relates to men, in a section of the new book I co-wrote, “Shut Up, Skinny Bitches!” (Let’s face it, when it comes to body image, body image disorder, and eating disorders, men are not often left out of that discussion. (Isn’t all that a woman’s thing, I often hear.)
Fittingly, my co-author Dr. Maria Rago, and I, dubbed our mens’ chapter: “Shut Up, About Excluding Guys.”
All this has also made me recall another of Roth’s jewels … where she tells readers something along the lines of: “reacting to things that are no longer there.” I laughed when I read that and wondered: Who told me I didn’t look good enough? Am I simply responding to old voices that are no longer there? Ghosts?
As these inner tremors keep happening, I was given an opportunity today to actually help somebody get from New York to San Francisco on very short notice—for a memorial this weekend. I watched myself, my reactions, my thoughts … as I was asked to help with $100 or so for a quick flight …
… and then I watched myself when I listened to my gut and decided that I wanted to help; that the amount of money really didn’t matter so long as I was offering it with grace and fiscal responsibility.
And then … as time went on… and the cost of the flight increased, I watched myself again. I began to worry. Could I part with the money? Did I want to part with the money? Fear—it was having a field day inside and the patterns of behavior, so locked into their own groove (“couldn’t we just go back to worrying about becoming thin?”) tried convincing me that I should not fork over the cash.
I did it anyway. Because it felt right.
In the meantime, I’m thinking the only diet I need to go on is “the inner-critic fast.”