I must get behind the purpose of my preoccupation with food. I found myself in a silent battle next to my parent's refrigerator this afternoon with my nose deep inside a Ziploc baggie. The brisket from last night's dinner was carefully laid out on slices of challa bread, topped with cheese, pickles, mayo, and ketchup. The scent was a memory: my favorite sandwich from my childhood. My mind flooded with thoughts of my father (who was sitting in the next room eating the other half of the sandwich from the baggie) and the bites I used to take off his lunch, cuddled up on the couch on a weekend afternoon as he watched TV. There is a closeness, an intimacy, connected to the scent of this brisket sandwich and I wondered what it was I actually craved.
Did I salivate because my body is signaling some need for brisket--its scent causing a hunger I've not experienced in quite some time, or was it merely the intimacy and tradition connected to the sandwich? I didn't know. I still don't. All I know is that for nearly three years I've been preventing myself from eating meat for a variety of reasons, and now for the last three months every time I smell Shay's fried chicken in her cubicle on Wednesdays or the flank steak my parent's seem to serve whenever my boyfriend comes to dinner, I salivate, battle, and leave meal time in an irritated state.
"What would happen if I ate it?" I continue to ask myself.
Would I have a panic attack because, originally, I had stopped eating meat out of fear? Fear of illness and creating a sense of control. Would I get sick--the pain in my phantom gallbladder erupting again? Would I forgive myself for breaking a rule I made? And if I made that rule, aren't I the one who can change it?
Last week I left work because I wasn't feeling well. I treated myself to a tai chi yoga massage from a dear friend who began his practice a few months ago. It was amazing. In the midst of it, I fell into a meditative state and as I paid a little attention to the thoughts coming and going by, I noticed there was a theme. There is sacredness to all living things and this idea is important to me. It is also an adjacent meaning behind my refusal to eat meat. But there is also the idea of appreciation. I couldn't remember the last time I gave thanks for a meal, and I knew this was a place I needed to start. Instead of fighting my food, I need to be grateful for it. Gratitude will bring a different energy to the table--or as is often the case--to my standing in the corner of the kitchen. Gratitude for the sacredness of the food, the energy, the nourishment that is before me.
My boyfriend recently told me a few stories about his meals in East Africa that he had experienced. In these stories I learned that he had bought live animals at the market, learned how to slaughter them, and then cook them for his meals. He also shared with me that he was taught special prayers to give thanks and honor the animal before the slaughter--understanding that their life was a gift to him for his nourishment. Now, I could go into all sorts of details about the problems I have with the power principal here, but I won't. The point is, that there is a sacredness to each and every living thing and to be grateful for it makes a difference in my mind.
Now, will it make a big enough difference for me to change my eating habits again? That remains to be seen, but as I lay in my meditative state last week those were the thoughts that gently floated by: that there was something in the meat my body needed, and that if I gave thanks to the animal who was going to fill that need for my body, then it would be okay.
Ah, this all sounds a little crazy, I know. But I struggle with making sense out of the purpose of my condition. I don't even remember what it feels like not to care about what I was eating...and I don't mean that in a gluttonous or immature kind of way, but just to be able to sit down with a plate of healthy food with good flavors and eat it without worry of one sort or another would just be unbelievably freeing...
Fear of Food