I was speaking with a friend last week who has struggled for years with weight and overeating. She’s seeing a therapist, but sometimes struggles to understand why she has so many food issues. She said, “I don’t have any major trauma in my past. It would be easier if I could point to some particular day in 1983 when I was robbed at gunpoint, and that led to all my issues.”
I struggle with this as well – I can point to some traumas of my childhood which have definitely contributed to my weight issues. But healing those issues have not healed my relationship with food.
Diet talk itself is a huge trauma to the self. After years of self-talk that we are unworthy, ugly, and inadequate, we completely lose track of our own loveliness. It is easier to pin that shame and guilt over who we are on some outsider who did something to us. It is harder to heal the damage we have done to ourselves in willfully ignoring our own loveliness. This is true whenever we have internalized messages that we are unworthy – because of our weight, our race, our gender, our social class, our sexuality, our ability, and all the ways we systematically put people down in this culture. It is so hard for us to even see our own loveliness. Even when we do, it is hard to fully trust that message when we have so often delivered exactly the opposite message to ourselves.
Sharon Salzberg says “to reteach a thing its loveliness” we can practice metta or lovingkindness both to ourselves and and all beings. What would my own life be like if I relearned that I am lovely? If I actually believed in my own loveliness as much as I believe in the loveliness of those around me?