Surveying the food I had placed by the till I noticed my choices were strikingly different than an average grocery store trip. The usual ground beef had been replaced with bologna and bread. Cookies and chips stood in place of vegetables or a pre-made salad. Oh. It had been awhile since this had happened. I ignored my awareness that this was not my usual behavior and proceeded to drive home, while eating as many cookies as possible before I even got there. Oh. Eating in the car is typical for me, but mindlessly making cookies disappear was not. Something was wrong. I didn't want to deal with whatever it was.
Loving ourselves isn't about always making the choices we tell ourselves that we should be making. Loving ourselves is seeing what we are doing, and then, instead of attacking ourselves, we can gently ask ourselves what’s wrong. It’s the same as how we would treat a friend. Sometimes we know from the outside that something is off with one of our friends, but when we can see that they aren't ready to deal with it, we don’t make them deal with it. We let them play out whatever they need to play out, all the while being understanding and open for when they are ready to talk. We don’t attack that friend and tell them how bad they are, we simply ask them what’s wrong, and then wait until they are ready to tell us.
I was experiencing loss and grief over someone leaving my life and I didn't want to deal with it that night. I wasn't ready to face or acknowledge it. So, I let myself do what I was doing. I let myself eat the cookies and the chips. I didn't attack myself. I just gently watched. Then I asked myself if what I was doing was making me feel better or if it was making me feel worse.
When I was ready, I had the answer. It was making me feel worse. I was trying to numb out. I was trying to escape the sadness that came with the loss of a friend. Instead of adding guilt to the sadness by telling myself how terrible I was for trying to escape it, I just noticed that eating wasn't helping. It wasn't useful. I still was hurting underneath all that food, and on top of it, not feeling as physically well as I usually do. By being gentle and aware with myself, I didn't stay in that place of escaping. I noticed it, I let it happen, and then I moved on to being happy again.
Loving ourselves isn't about being perfect. It’s not about always eating healthy or making the ‘right’ decisions. Loving ourselves is about honestly looking at ourselves and asking ourselves if what we are doing is feeling better or if it’s feeling worse.