My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is not the first Geneen Roth book I’ve read. I remember feeling like her other books were on fire in my hands–20 years ago? A long time. Her stories horrified me because in some ways they were so much worse than my own, but really weren’t that different at all. I was not ready to try what she was suggesting because I was not ready to feel the feelings that I feared would somehow have the power to kill me.
Two divorces later, I’m ready. “Women, Food and God” added a spiritual element that I found helpful, but mostly it was the right time for me to read her thoughts again.
Here’s Roth on “bolting”–
“But if as adults we still believe that pain will kill us, we are seeing through the eyes of the fragile selves we once were and relying on the exquisite defense we once developed: bolting. Obsessions are ways we leave before we are left because we believe that the pain of staying would kill us.
But the person who would be killed, the ‘I’ in the ‘pain is big and I am small’ belief, is an idea, a memory, an image of yourself left over from childhood. You already felt destroyed. That was then. You will never be that small again. You are not dependent on someone else to hold you, to love you so that you can continue breathing.”
In my 30s, with no career, and no sense of self, and young children, I had convinced myself that if I could somehow morph into the perfect Anima woman for my husband, all would be well, and really I had no choice but to fit my round body into some square hole, because I couldn’t cope out there by myself.
Even at 40, I still believed that validation would come in the form of a man-shaped object.
It’s nice at 50 to be over that, and to recognize that sadness, anger, grief are not going to kill me. If they could, I’d be dead already.
Roth retains the famous Eating Guidelines that freaked me out in the 1990s, and I still find them challenging.
Eat when you are hungry.
Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
Eat what your body wants.
Eat until you are satisfied.
Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.
For those of us who grew up in the era of the TV tray, she’s heretical! But I’m going to try. I ate breakfast this morning without the early news, my laptop, my iPhone, a book or a newspaper. I did have a big dog drooling at the sight of my toast…but that’s a distraction I can’t fix instantaneously.