Walking at the park and shamelessly eavesdropping whenever the conversation is close, snippets because the see-saw of passing keeps contact to a minimum. Couples sharing a story and parents laughing with the kids are my favorites. I listen and we smile when they look my way.
Today was different.
A young mother needed something…some comfort, some pain relief. And it was pretty obvious that food was her pill of choice. Dad and kids walked together, but several steps behind mom as she struggled to carry her weight. They seemed to be giving her space. When Dad and the kids laughed, Mom angrily shouted for them to keep up. One of the girls asked if they could stop on the bridge and look at the water. Mom’s sigh let everyone know the depth of her annoyance. She stopped dead-still, back to the family, foot tapping, and waited while they interfered with her life. They looked at the water.
No way for me to make this my business. None.
I could smile and say something inane…”beautiful day”…but it wasn’t a beauty she could see. So I just said, “Hi. Cute kids. Nice day to be together in the park.”
And I moved down the path, helpless.
This young woman reached for the comfort of food–the comfort of eating and the comfort of suppressing what was eating her. That comfort is vital but her choice is deadly. To sustain we have to find some wiggle room–a way to get out from under the pain.
Sometimes, the comfort is food or drink…or both..fleeting comfort that adds new layers of need.
Realistically misuse of food and drink lead to a new guilt, but a guilt that is easier to handle than the guilt or shame that triggered the pain. This new guilt is one that masks the hopelessness and one that we say we can control. We just need to stop.
That isn’t the key. Dieting won’t open the guilt and shame to the light of freedom. Dieting is the twin of drinking/eating for oblivion, another broken crutch that won’t hold the weight.
Risk. Risk trusting someone, an individual or a group with whom to share what needs to be spoken. Risk opening up what festers so the healing can happen. Imagine the joy of no longer needing the false comfort because we faced the real pain and we understand.