red flag, moving on.

I've been feeling a bit OFF lately. It's not a guilty feeling, or an afraid feeling, or an unhappy feeling (although I suppose I would feel those things were this imbalanced feeling to continue). It's just a little voice I've been hearing that says, "Something isn't right here."

And then there's the chocolate. The bag AND A HALF of Dove chocolate that I've gone through in just one week. One week!

I called my little sister today. As in, my personal guru, my life coach, my supplier of good energies. She said, "I'm definitely sensing that something is off. You've definitely been more stressed out since starting your new job." That's an understatement! Still, it calmed me that she could see it too. M keeps telling me, "Give the new job time." It's been a month since I started but something is just plain OFF.

And then, I went to the doctor today. The nurse weighed me and while normally I turn my back to the scale this time I looked. I'm up three pounds. In one month. And three pounds is a lot on my normally small frame. My first inclination was to blame the aforementioned chocolate. I wanted to chalk it up to PMS or poor eating habits or not making it to the gym as normally as I like to. But having recovered (mostly) from a ten year eating disorder I know any fluctuation from my "happy weight" to be a red flag. So I consulted the Bible. Well, the Bible for recovered disordered eaters, Intuitive Eating. Here's what Evelyn and Elyse had to say (and yes we're on a first name basis. I consider them within my circle of soul friends):

You may go a long time without using food to cope, when all of a sudden emotional eating catches you by surprise. If this occurs, it's not a sign of failure or that you've lost ground; instead it's a strange gift. Overeating [or under-eating!] is simply a sign that stresses in your life at that moment surpass the coping mechanisms that you have developed . . . Overeating can also recur when your lifestyle becomes unbalanced with too many responsibilities and obligations, with too little time for pleasure and relaxation. Consequently, food is used to indulge, escape and relax (albeit briefly). In both of these situations we've described, overeating becomes a red flag that lets you know that something isn't right in your life. Once you truly appreciate this, eating will not feel out of control -- rather it's an early warning system (162).

See! They know their stuff. The truth is, my new job is stressful. As in, sometimes I go to the lesser used stairwell in the museum just to soak up the quiet in a place that is never without commotion. As in, at the end of the day I'm nearly catatonic from being "on" for 10 hours straight. As in, that one time last week when I was running around in a LBD and high heels managing a team of 30 and setting up an event for 500. Yes, that was me, the girl with a walkie talkie stealing a bacon wrapped date off of the server's tray before the VIP's arrived. Don't get me wrong, I love the events, the excitement, the drama. But there's a little TOO much of it. All of it. Last week I worked 45 hours, when I'm only salaried for 30. And while I try to make up for my time by taking long weekends I feel like I can never quite catch up. And then there are the days that I answer emails. All. Morning. Long. I never knew event planning required so much correspondence, even from people who are just two offices over from mine.

All of this is not to say that I regret taking the job. Or that I don't feel grateful every single day for this opportunity. But something's got to give. The chocolate. The three pounds. I don't want them.

I used to think weight was just fat, excess calories, sugar, whatever. Now I think of weight as a metaphysical weight. Those 3 pounds don't just come from chocolate, rather they are the physical representation of worries that aren't addressed, stress that I can't leave at work, feelings of unworthiness and fears that I'm not doing what God put me on this earth to do. (I miss speaking Spanish and reading and cooking and just BEING, for Pete's sake!)

After reading Geneen Roth's book Women, Food and God I practically forced it into my mother's hands. She read the first half and proclaimed, "I don't get it. It's a bunch of women crying into pieces of chocolate cake. Why do they have to be so dramatic about food?"

The thing is, for those of us recovering from disordered eating, food is the manifestation of our feelings about ourselves and the world around us. It's the way I used to measure my daily success or failure rate and it's still the way I can tell when something's off. And what a blessing that is.

I'm still not sure what to do about work, although I do have some ideas. I'd like to maybe go in to work later, "paying" myself first by taking time for my own pursuits in the early morning hours. A part of me isn't ready to sacrifice my personal commitments to work ones, and I don't think I should have to. But something does have to give. Thanks to my early warning signals, the physical and metaphysical weight gain, I'm now prepared to figure it all out, before I reach for the chocolate.


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