I recently watched Brene Brown’s Netflix special, a video version of her book and course called Daring Greatly. I had taken the course with a friend of mine and we’d learned a lot. Much of the video special was familiar to me, but when she got towards the end and was talking about vulnerability directly, I saw once again how much I protect myself against feeling vulnerable. And food is one of my best devices.
I grew up with parents who loved us and kept us physically safe and attended to our physical wellbeing. But my father was often absent and my mother was not emotionally equipped to parent, especially someone as vigilant and sensitive as I was. Her rebuffs of my vulnerability, my fears and concerns, taught me to protect my feelings at all costs. And she modeled first food and then alcohol as ways to self-protect.
While I needed that protection as a kid, I don’t need it so much anymore but I sure think I do. And I’m coming to see that a lot of my overeating is not a response to vulnerable situations but a pre-emptive strike. If I stay numb enough with food, I won’t get vulnerable.
But I’m coming to a place where I don’t want to be so guarded anymore. I also don’t want to eat so much. So embracing the prospects of vulnerability by not eating is something I’m becoming open to. And the key will be identifying that tendency to eat in advance of discomfort and not doing so.
Do you eat to protect yourself? Could you become willing to let that go?