|the real me, Grandma, and June|
that in the two weeks she spent with me that I hadn't read a single book).
So I started reading. I thought it would be about as exciting as reading something by Beth Moore. For those of you who don't know how I feel about Beth Moore, let me sum it up in a couple of words: brainwashed regurgitator of patriarchal religion (little woman must cower to big, all powerful, knowing and wise husband). How pleasantly surprised I was to find that this author appears to be the complete opposite of Beth Moore. She's honest about her own struggles while supporting the reader with the idea that she must feel her own emotions in her own body and work through the self-judgment. At the end of the process, she should have learned to love herself enough to want to listen to her body's cues about hunger (this could also apply to thirst, cold, heat, fatigue, and all of those little things we ignore so that we can just plow through the day to accomplish the work in front of us). Her premise is that we create a weight problem (whether we're 80 lbs and anorexic or 200+ and out of shape) through obsessive eating habits to hide what's really going on inside. In reading the book, thus far I am feeling supported; and the large, looming fears seem to be manageable.
In addition to having a difficult childhood and a more difficult marriage, nursing school added to the mix by ingraining the philosophy that 'my body and my needs are not worthy of attention while I'm at work'. Every nurse I know who has practiced for more than 10 years recites a similar philosophy. Patient care is to come before all else. It makes us obsessive and task oriented. The physical consequences of adhering to this philosophy are devastating. Besides the unhealthy eating habits that are exacerbated by working in a pressure cooker where life and death are literally in her hands, some of these women have had emergency hysterectomies, bladder lifts, back surgeries. (If you're wondering what makes a hysterectomy or a bladder lift an emergency, it happens when someone ends up in the ER on her day off with her organs literally falling out of her body.) I have tended to work in areas that have a healthy male RN population. The men don't buy in to the "nurse martyr" syndrome so easily. Many like to rescue people and move toward other goals.
The idea that we flee from unpleasantness of emotion by indulging in "comfort food" when we aren't physically hungry isn't exactly a new one. The idea that we can disconnect from our bodies and live mostly in our heads is presented in a way that resonates with me. I can't reproduce good examples of why I feel that way, so you'll have to read the book for yourself and see how you feel about it.
As I have been reading the book, I am reminded of my April 1st car wreck. There are hours where I was living an out of body experience. I don't remember the collision. I don't remember being taken out of my car and placed into an ambulance. What was happening in my head at that time, I do very vividly remember. At first I thought I was asleep and dreaming about work. Then, I really believed I was working. I worked hard to save someone. I was doing a marvelous job of being the perfect nurse, making perfect decisions for the best possible outcome for my patient. I gave everything I had to make sure she lived. I wondered why I was working in an ambulance, and I wondered who at my local NurseFinder's branch scheduled me to work in ER. I haven't worked ER in about 10 years. Although I was performing wonderfully, I was working night shift. I preferred days.
That was all in my head. It was so REAL. At that same time, I was taken out of my car by someone, transported in an ambulance, and taken to ER. I had at least two CT scans, but I don't remember being in that machine at all. When I came back to my body, I was aware of lying on a stretcher or table, and someone cutting my clothes off. I didn't know what had happened, how I got to ER, or what was wrong with me. I found out that I had a lung contusion, four fractured vertebrae, and horrible whiplash. I remember a female nurse's voice telling me, "At least your face is still pretty." Later, I discovered that while there was glass in my hair and scalp, my face wasn't cut up by the glass. I felt uncomfortable and needed to be repositioned. I couldn't turn myself. I didn't understand until later why they wouldn't turn me. I couldn't comprehend my injuries, but I was beginning to feel them. Now, three weeks later, I am acutely aware of the pain in my body. The bruises are starting to heal, but my back is still quite swollen. My ability to walk is better, but I still need a walker to steady myself. Last night, I started feeling the emotional pain of these injuries. I even hoped that RJ, the driver of the car who caused the crash, felt as much pain as I was feeling. Then I felt guilty about wishing that on anyone, even him. I sobbed. I have tried to "resign" from this princess-like existence that I have had. Everyone waits on me, and helps me. All the assistance I could possibly need is right at hand. My brother was here to help when I couldn't get out of bed or get to the bathroom by myself. My sister got up in the middle of the night with me when I woke up in pain many nights. My mom heard me say that I wanted RJ to hurt as much as I do. She heard me sobbing in guilt, pain, and frustration that after these weeks, I'm not well yet. The scary part for me is what I don't remember.
Women, Food, and God is helping me to feel my pain without being angry at my body for being hurt or (temporarily) disabled. I encourage all my friends who need some extra support to read this book, male or female. It gives another perspective that gives way from self-judgment to allowing love in, therefore,it is completely worth the time and effort to purchase and read.