Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Gaining and Losing, or, What Gets Lost Part Two

The title of my post on losing weight wasn't called Gaining and Losing, but that was the topic.

I got many responses - comments on the blog and also over email - people noting that they, too, had in some ways had mixed feelings about losing weight. I barely addressed what I meant by that, though, and a few folks were curious. So here it goes, an attempt to get at the nuances of those "emotions stored in fat" that I was talking about...

First, please hop over to Praying Horse to read her comments, as I'd basically be repeating them.
What I have encountered is that, on a literal, external level, I have surely used fat as something to hide behind; something to blame when I am feeling sad, something to excuse self-hatred or explain it. For example, I often tell Dylan that the first sign of depression (meaning, not of emotion, but of emotions being shoved under) is me talking about or thinking about how much I hate my body. I could be the same weight as yesterday and a week before, but the "hatred" arises out of discomfort with more than my body - with emotions, in particular. So on the surface level, the fat shelters me from my own emotions, and on a surface level, I have to deal with them more, face my self-hatred for instance, if it can't hide in my fat, metaphorically.

On an inner level, I definitely rank as an emotional eater: eating when bored, sad, scared; when feeling empty, angry, tired.

But on a secret level, the relationship between fat and emotions goes even deeper for me. This is where Praying Horse's comments really come into play. There's no science, and I am not purporting a theory, rather, talking about the emotional/physical response and my intuitive feelings about connection. The way to say it that feels right to me is something like:
As I am losing weight, I am burning through old emotions that are stored IN that fat.
I have literally had dreams of childhood or adolescence, flashbacks to emotional states, and been triggered by things that haven't triggered me in a long time. This also means the positive emotions, too: felt a happiness and calm, a peace and resilience (from time to time) that I hadn't felt in a long time. Where are these coming from? Intuitively I don't think they are coming from the *fact* of losing weight as much as, as I said above, what is stored in the weight.

I did acid when I was younger on and off for a couple of years. The going theory about acid flashbacks, which I no longer suffer but did for a few years after, is that they are stored in fat. If you burn that fact, the flashbacks are released. This is the intuitive image in my mind for this weight loss/emotion gain process. It ups the ante, means I am dealing with more, and more directly, and need to not cover it over with food.

So the process of exposure, of rawness, of losing my shell and opening up, feeds itself. It's very akin to meditation, what Chogyam Trungpa calls "being processed" - eg cooked. This imagery is powerful for me as well, for obvious reasons. Cooking breaks down the chemicals, softens the walls, makes the food more digestable, palatable, even flavorful. My emotions in the last months have been like food, for sure: juicy like steak, mashed like potatoes, crisp like salad.

As I burn through layers of both my hiding in weight and also hiding from myself in eating, as well as burning through the emotions buried in the fat, I'll keep writing about it. For now, though I wanted to say a bit more about it, so you'd actually hear the experience a bit more clearly.

Any others who have experienced something akin to this, please comment. Thanks for reading.


  1. Thank you for your comment on my blog post about emotions in fat - I still do believe that. Your blog post is also wonderfully insightful and honest and it's great reading that others encountered similar experiences. I especially appreciate your description of "cooking" - yes, it is like that, but now instead of running away from the emotions, they can be savored in their fullness - or bitterness as the case may be.

    I'm working on another blog post as response, will link back to yours.

  2. Thank you! I'd love to read your response as response. It's a great ongoing conversation...

  3. More from Praying Horse on this!: