Near the finish of Louise Erdrich’s dreary “Shadow Tag,” Irene, who is trying to end her marriage (or maybe not) and to stop drinking (ditto), wonders “as I will do every day of my life exactly what I will do without a drink…” The syntax is a bit gnarly, but I get it. Oh, boy, do I.
Every day I wonder what I will do without a mouth full of food, all day. How I will get through the late afternoon, the evening, go to bed and to sleep without over-eating.
I would be surprised if people without food issues spend time every day around 4 or 5 p.m., thinking, “What am I going to eat tonight (that will make me happy ((at least while I’m eating it)))?” Why isn’t good health, a few consuming passions, a good marriage, good children and grandchildren enough? Why do there need to be snacks and entertainment (I also look at the TV listings every morning to see what I’m going to watch that night)? Why, as my shrink used to ask me over and over and over, can’t I be content with myself doing nothing?
The answer, of course, is easy without being at all simple: As a child, I had to achieve to get any kind of positive attention, praise, love. There was no such thing in my childhood as just being. I was a trained seal who sang, played the piano, showed dogs, got the best grades, etc. So, now, in the evenings by myself I want more seals, music, awards, etc.
And my mother was threatened by everything I did, every time I looked good or someone told me I did. You can figure out more of my baggage from here. If only it were as easy as the time my blessed shrink explained that “Asthma is the lungs weeping for Mother.” Eating to the point of obesity is keeping the idealized Mother happy, alive and unchanged?
The second part of this eating-right black hole is that there is no end. I, who like to finish things up and check them off my list(s), can never again eat like a skinny teenager (which I never, ever was!). I guess the “end” is wearing people-sized clothes (not chubbettes) and being able to go for a one-hour walk or bike ride without having to call 911.
A 42-year-old friend just started working with a personal trainer. After her first workout she came to our house and crawled out of her vehicle on her 24-years-younger-than-mine hands and knees. I don’t want to do that. Figuring this is for ever and ever, I want to get gradually stronger and smaller. And my fitness routines have to be free or nearly so (a $20 yard sale mountain bike is about as near as you can get). Which means I have to keep doing what I’m doing, all by myself, alone, because that’s pretty much how life is. No rationalizing, “Oh well, I’m this far, I should be able to eat this, this and this. Just for tonight….”
And while I’m at it, if anyone’s interested, I’m declaring myself a candidate for next year’s LA Fitness Body of the Year. This year it’s 66-year-old Helen Mirren (go, Helen, you rock!). I’ll have to have my tummy lifted into my bra, but after that, I’m good to go.
And, now, home-made oatmeal with raisins for breakfast. He Who Fell Off His Bike This Morning While Making Fun of My Dismount is just putting on the finishing touches. Thirty-eight pounds gone, 14 to go. Then I’ll reconnoiter to decide if I want to try to get rid of another 10, which would take me back to the summer of 1975 and the National Critics’ Institute. Scary. Make that terrifying.