“And now abide faith, hope, and love, but the greatest is love.”
I Corinthians 13:13 KJV.
My heart breaks as I see or watch people in dysfunctional relationships.
We had a patio party with some friends this past smoky weekend. Smoke from the Canadian forest fires filled the evening sky.
Here’s the story they told. A friend of theirs is married to a man who has a problem with alcohol. Their friend was explaining something complicated to her partner and her alcoholic partner was trying to interject his ideas, and eventually became so angry and told her to “Shut the fuck up!“
His wife turned around and walked off in embarrassment, shame, or maybe even fear. I wondered why she stays with him. I was a member of Al-Anon for a number of years, and I remember hearing similar stories. Here’s what Al-Anon taught me:
You cannot love your partner out of their addiction problems, but what you can do is love yourself out of the dysfunction of the relationship.
People who remain in abusive relationships often do so because they fail to love themselves.
Don’t misunderstand me, these dysfunctional relationships are mired in all kinds of issues: financial dependence, cultural taboos, and religion, just to name a few.
Al-Anon taught me that I can only help others if I first take care of and love myself.
Cover your ears if you don’t want to hear this next part. If you choose to stay in a dysfunctional relationship, it might indicate that you are having lapses of self-love. It’s love gone awry.
Love gone awry means that the lack of self-love transports you to a land were choice is extinct. There comes a point in life when you are living in a dysfunctional relationship, to say it’s over! I love myself, and the best way to demonstrate love is to break up.
If this is true for our dysfunctional relationship with people, it might also be true for a relationship with food. We get into trouble breaking up and staying very broke up with food because we have lapses, at least temporary lapses, of self-love. What else could it be?
Something has to compete with our appetites and cravings. Something has to compete with our addiction to sugar. Something has to break the chain of overeating and binge eating. And maybe that something is self-love.
It isn’t self-loathing that keeps us in a dysfunctional relationship with food. It’s love that has gone awry. When we love food more than we love ourselves, we love what it does for us. Food makes us forget about us. Food makes us forget about what it’s doing to us, one calorie at a time. Food makes us strong and powerful and creates a new you. It makes us feel good if only for a moment. But food can also rob you of a future with your children, your family, and your friends by shortening your life.
In the past blog, I’ve told you that in order to have a breakup with food, you have to start thinking differently about food. But first, you have to start thinking differently about yourself.
Think this: I love me. I don’t want to hurt me. I want to take care of me. Food doesn’t care about me so I need to care about me. I want to take care of me. I want to be happy and healthy the last 10 years of my life, so I want to take care of myself now. Giving into those cravings might feel good but I want to take care of me. I love me. Those momentary pleasures are not good for me. Self-love is the only thing that can break the spell that food has over you. Self-love is the only thing that can break you out of the trance that food has over you. Self-love is the magic that will make your cravings and appetites disappear.
Where to Start with Self-Love
In the same way that you would protect your family member from harm, protect yourself from harm. Tell yourself that your relationship with food is hurting you, it’s harming you! Cry!!
Let yourself feel the pain of food addiction and cry because it hurts you.
Pledge to take care of the most important thing in your life, you and your body. Your body is vulnerable to its appetites. It needs you to love it and shepherd it, to take care of it! Be your body’s champion. Be your body’s protector. It needs you to love it and care for it.
Stop now, and look at your hands, your arms, your body. Find a mirror. Look into it. Look at yourself. Decide now whether or not you love the person you’re looking at, or rather, will you love the person you’re looking at? Will you start loving you?
In my last blog I talked about magic, not magic in the Harry Potter sense, but magic in the ability for you to change from the inside out.
Once you start loving yourself, you then need to believe that there is magic within you to change you and transform you.
Breaking up with food is mostly an inside job!
My next blog will be about writing a Dear John Letter to food.