It took 23 years for me to get a handle on my relationship with food – to be able to get to a point where I was able to take brilliant care of my physical body and begin feeling really good in my skin.
It took exactly one month to lose my way again.
In September 2008, I met Cookie. In that moment and for the first time in my life, I felt comfortable in my body. Sexy. Pulled together. As though I was living in my skin instead of dragging my body around with me begrudgingly.
But, as Cookie and I fell in love, I rapidly lost myself again.
This losing showed up on my bones as weight gain, but it was so much more than that.
It was my distinct inability to make space for myself within a close relationship with another.
Up until that point, I had been able to feed myself. I was able to prioritize my own needs, when I was all alone and there was no one else there for me to concern myself with. I was so proud of myself, then, believing that for the first time I had finally figured something out.
I had learned how to feed myself in solitude, but was unable to feed myself (well) in a loving relationship.
We shared food. We shared everything. I softened deeply into a love that I had never expected.
And so, I lost myself. The weight came, but it was the fuzzy, I don’t know who I am without you feeling that shook me.
In relationship, I take care.
In relationship, I compromise.
In relationship, I shrink.
At this point I would like to point out that Cookie never asked this of me. She never demanded my sacrifice of myself.
I am primed for sacrifice. Somewhere in my spirit, deep in the depths of my early knowing, this message is emblazoned: Be very careful. Don’t be too big. Don’t be too much. There is something wrong with you. Hide yourself. Keep yourself safe. Don’t scare them away. Make yourself useful, make yourself indispensable.
I could have told you many stories about my relationship with my body, but I chose this one with care.
I chose this one, because I know that for many women, this is the place where we get stuck.
Is it selfish to put myself first?
Oh I couldn’t possibly take time out for myself – I have so many people depending on me!
I like taking care of others. It brings me so much joy.
And perhaps this last one is the most insidious. I do like taking care of others. In fact, it is one of my best qualities – the ability to be the nurturing mother and safe place to land. I love that about myself.
The work began then, of walking the road back to myself.
This is the work of both/and. Both being in a close and loving relationship, and taking care of myself as an individual. Of separating myself out from a partnership and tending to my needs.
I have been walking this road for the last five and a half years, stumbling and relearning what it means to be a human with needs inside of a divine matrix of humans that I love dearly.
You deserve to feed yourself well. You deserve to have your needs and to meet them, selfishly. You deserve to deeply nourish yourself, even when you are in the presence of others.
You are allowed to feed your own hungers, even when others near to you are hungry for your attention.
You can choose yourself. You can choose to be the agent of our your flourishing.
Because you are important and the quality of your life is important, you can recalibrate as many times as you need to. You can walk the path back to yourself, again and again. You can find your way back home.
Your body is your sacred vessel upon this planet. It is deserving of your kindest love and attention.
You can do this work deeply in service to and out of love for your body.
You can give yourself permission to choose to prioritize your homecoming, as many times as you need to.