While you’re thinking about a word that can’t be used on television, I’m diving into an eloquent chocolate cake with butter cream frosting — and wondering how to Forgive myself for using food the way I do.
Forgiveness. The other F word.
About 12 years ago, my half-sister and I had a fight. I wanted more help supporting my mother who had some health issues. Asking a sibling to help with an elderly family member can stir up a lot of, well, shit. I was driving, on weekends, from upstate New York to Washington DC. She was in North Carolina. I had the expectation that since we had long distances to drive, we’d share responsibilities. Wrong.
After three minutes of her yelling about her finances and other limitations, I became frustrated and, yes, I dropped the F bomb — the one you can’t use on television. She has not communicated with me since. Has she forgiven me? I don’t know.
I‘ve found forgiveness to be vaporous in nature. All of the scriptural directives, scholarly studies, church sermons, and secular workshops that are intended to guide us, the unenlightened, don’t erase the pain that harsh words can create. Still and all, isn’t forgiving for the forgiver and not the forgiven? Forgiving lowers the blood pressure and opens the heart. I remember summers on the farm with my half-sister. All of my farm memories are blissful. So how is it that sometimes I feel like I’m walking blind along a beautiful beach and can’t see a thing? I will never know my half-sister’s pain, but I can forgive her behavior.
Where do I begin? With self.
I begin my self forgiveness with food because it is my most prominent vice. I forgive myself for indulging in chocolate or almond croissants, large bowls of egg salad, and ice cream laced with caramel. No,I cannot do it alone. After my CIDP diagnosis, support appeared from all around. Support made forgiving myself easy and is a part of the miracle of my not being obese. What did the song say? “Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Start all over again.”
Many years ago I had a dream. You know how dreams are sometimes. They’re so real that you wake up surprised. Why am I not what I experienced on the other plane? In this case, I was grateful that it was a dream. I was cold and shivering, standing in snow and ice and banging on a door. I pushed, it wouldn’t open. I pounded, no one came. I woke up completely unnerved, knowing— without doubt — that the door was a metaphor for my heart, and that if I wanted to be warm, I would have to open that door. Forgiveness is one of the keys.
But back to the beginning. I’m grateful for my relationship with food that leads me to the path of self forgiveness. Self forgiveness opens that door in my dreams and allows me to come into the warmth. If I don’t forgive myself, I won’t forgive others. If I don’t forgive others, I cannot be forgiven.
Forgiveness through food makes it easy. At sometime, probably in the near future, I’ll hear myself saying, “I’ll take fries with that.”
And that will give me a moment to forgive myself and create a moment to pay it forward.