Monday, September 19, 2011

Missing Rituals and Nurturing Emotions (or not!)

I've started a diet/exercise program. I haven't blogged about it. I seem to have some resistance to putting it out there in cyberspace....well actually that's not true. I'm quite willing to 'check in' at the gym on Facebook, but not much more than that.
It was a photo that started it, a picture of me in Barcelona that I looked at and I thought wow I look big. So I bit the bullet, and called the local gym...and now I'm there 6 days a week. Doing cardio, meeting with a trainer, and learning about nutrition whilst in a weight loss competition.

And here's my first problem/challenge. I'm now eating 4 meals a day and following a strict regime, and in that regime there is no room for my mug of Hot Sweet Tea. Now, as many people have pointed out, I could switch to fat free milk and to splenda (or some other chemically dubious sweetening substance), but that's not really the point.

I want my mug of tea to be like I've always had it. The whole ritual of making and drinking. Tea is what I reach for after my morning shower. It's what I consume while sitting on the couch reading a good book, it's my night cap. Tea opens and closes my day. I may be known because of my love of Dr. Pepper (which also doesn't fit within the nutritional guidelines), but it is tea that punctuates my life.

Do I sound melodramatic? You have to realize that in the U.K. the humble mug of tea is granted almost mythic properties. Hot and sweet is viewed as a cure for shock. The mug of tea also eases social conventions. It says 'welcome to my house, please sit and relax.' It is a symbol of pausing from the rigors of work. The tasks are always there, but even they pause for the humble tea break.

I miss drinking it, but more than that I miss the rituals surrounding it. I was downstairs in the morning after my shower and I'm suddenly at a loss for what to do. The ritual no longer exists. I sit down with a good book and it just feels wrong to drink water.

I can live without tea. During my recent trip to Spain I didn't drink any at all, but I didn't feel the loss of ritual because everything else around my was different. It's the smaller changes that seem harder to cope with.

It's the patterns and the rituals that I am grieving. My sense of the familiar, the usual, the comforting.

I wonder if my experience is shared by people who attend church and discover a change in the Liturgy? Suddenly a different translation of the bible is used, or everyone saying the Lord's Prayer uses the words 'debts' instead of 'tresspasses'. Even non-liturgical churches have a ritual or a pattern to worship that they follow. In the church I grew up in it was Hymn, Prayer, Hymn, Bible Reading, Hymn, Sermon, Hymn.

When our patterns get changed a little bit, not enough for us to even be consciously aware of them, then we grieve for the rituals lost.

By changing eating patterns I've become irritable. I know that the feeling of hunger I have is a sign that my body is eating fat instead of storing it, but I get angry. I want comfort. The handful of peanuts from the dispenser in the church office. The cold soda from the vending machine. Never hand me Guacamole when I am stressed as I will consume the entire amount and you will be left with an empty bowl.

I've heard that Full = Happy so many times that I've taken it to heart. Therefore if I'm hungry I can't possibly be happy because I lack one of the conditions required for inner peace.

To type that out exposes it for the lie that it is. My emotional state is affected by my hunger, but hunger should not be the driving force. Somehow I need to recalibrate the connection between my level of consumption and my inner peace.

Hopefully this 28 day diet and exercise program will help me retrain myself to realize that overeating is not self-care, and Food and Love are not synonyms.

1 comment:

Deidra said...

I don't think I have entered the blog world since the girls have been born and yours was the second one that popped up tonight when I clicked on my little blog tab. I really want to cry for you actually I just told Cliff that I want to throw up for you after this post. I totally get that you are trying to loose weight but giving up tea I just can't imagine. I too gave it up while pregnant with the girls ok just the caffinated kind but still it sucks and I feel for you. Hopefully someday it can be something that you can go back to on special occasions like hanging out with me:) I love that you introduced me to tea and in the 11 years since there really haven't been many mornings without it and if I get through my morning without it I find I am just grumpy. Hang in there Peter you can do this. If it makes you feel better I am training for a half marathon right now and my body truly hates me for it. Love ya