Feed Your Soul
I should know better. In working with tens of thousands of women over the
last two decades, I've found that there is a whole set of beliefs called
"the bad things that will happen if I take care of myself." I've heard
things such as, "My son will choke on a fish bone the minute I leave him
alone and take some time for myself." "My husband won't be able to make
friends without me if I stay home from this party and rest." "My friend
will hate me if I don't make brownies for her bake sale."
Think about this: Do you feel it is right to put yourself at the center of
your own life, or is your secret fear that if you consider your own needs,
you'll alienate the people you love and end up homeless, rifling through old
chicken bones in a dark alley? Are you afraid that a "me first"
attitude will get you drummed out of the "good people" club?
Most of us secretly believe that good people, especially women, take care of
others first. They wait until everyone else has a plateful and then take what's
left. Unfortunately, most of us make decisions based on our ideas of who we
think we should be, not on who we actually are. The problem is, when we make
choices based on an ideal image of ourselves — what a good friend would do,
what a good mother would do, what a good wife would do — we end up having to
take care of ourselves in another way.
Enter food. When you don't consider your real needs, you will likely fill
the leftover emotional hunger with food. (Or another abused substance. Or
shopping. But most of us opt for food.) You eat in secret. You eat treats
whenever you can, because food is the one way, the only way, you nourish
yourself. You eat on the run because you believe that you shouldn't take time
for lunch; there's too much work to do. You eat the éclair, the doughnut, the
cake, all the while knowing this isn't really taking care of yourself. But to
really take care of yourself, you have to think of yourself first.