Why do we feel that we have to have small bodies to have big lives? What feels good about feeling bad? And where do we turn for nourishment when it's not in the places we thought it would be?…And because we believe we are not enough we also believe that if we had more or were different, we would feel nourished. — Geneen Roth, Appetites
Why is it that we feel we have to shrink to be enough – good enough, happy enough, attractive enough? As if getting smaller thighs or a flatter stomach will make us a better person. Sadly, this is the belief that so many people cling to with fervor.
If you could be a fly on the wall of my office you'd hear stories all day long that go something like this, "If I could just be as thin as I'd like I would be more confident. And if I were more confident I'd be more social and people would like me more." And if a client becomes thin she usually decides she's not thin enough, so she must keep working to get thinner. When I worked in the hospital I literally saw people on death's doorstep who required nasograstic tubes for nourishment who still didn't believe they were thin enough. And certainly didn't believe they were sick enough to warrant treatment.
The process of making ourselves smaller is so detaching. It forces us to deny hungers, not only for food, but hunger for rest, socialization, pleasure and other things that nourish our bodies and souls. The behaviors it takes to get and stay thin tend to produce the isolation and life-sucking disconnect that we tell ourselves we wouldn't have to worry about once we reach our destination on the scale. Thus, what we thought was thin enough must still be too big. Better try to get thinner. And in the process end up more disconnected from self and others.
Perhaps what we've been longing for all along has nothing to do with the size or shape of our bodies. But what does one do when the thing she has devoted her life to finding isn't where she thought she'd find it? And what if she were enough all along?
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