Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Women, Food, and God. And Oprah.

by Jyll
San Francisco, CA

My little sister Aria and I are holed up in bed, watching Oprah. We didn't do much today, apart from drive her to her new chemical dependency rehabilitation center, park outside, decide the place was a hole (it was) and drive back home. That sounds like a lot, but after the last week, which more or less consisted of Aria swallowing half a bottle of vicodin, me flying down here from NYC to spend the night with her in the ER/ICU, her doing it again the next night, and me being so over-nerved that sleep, basic conversation, and things such as 'showering' and 'meal time' became remnants of an era long gone. So, anyway, today was not a very stressful day, considering.

After 9 hours of psych evaluations, pharmacy runs, and consulting with her counselors at her out-patient program (and by 'consult' I mean me telling them to take our $200 a month premium and contract to a better facility) we came home and put on jammies, pulled out the trashiest, starchiest, sugariest junk food we could find, and commandeered our mother's bedroom (complete with king size sleep number bed, flat screen TV, air conditioning, and 1000-thread-count sheets). She will probably be less than thrilled to come home from work and find cheetoh prints all over her sheets, and maybe a little upset that little Aria isn't checked into rehab, but I did lock the medicine cabinets and I'm sure I'll remember to wash the sheets at some point this week so it should be fine.

My mom had some Oprah tivo-ed, and I insisted that we watch it, especially because it seemed like the episode would be about fat people. Always reassuring to see people with far more weight to lose than you ever will, especially after a long day. The topic was a new book, Women, Food, and God. The author is a life-coach, or whatever they're called these days, and she works with women who use overeat food to fill up various holes in their lives. She maintains that women express who they are in every thing they do, and when one stuffs oneself with food it is an act of defiance or great sorrow. When we lose our connection to the greater universe at large, we supplement by filling ourselves with food to try to hide the pain.

It was a very interesting program, and as Aria and I watched it we downed a box of crackers with dip, half a Costco-sized bag of popcorn, cheetohs, PBJ, popsicles, a bag of some organic hippie flax seed arugula chips, chocolate, and a family sized pack of chocolate chip cookies that weren't 'tasty' so much as they were 'there'. So much for awareness. Even though we, and by we I mean I, knew what we were doing, we were so stressed and as the author would say, disconnected, that those cookies were better than anything that we could talk about or think about. After spending two weeks with my family, and especially with my baby sister that I adore (but who rivals Lindsay Lohan in both attitude and lifestyle decisions) but can't really help right now, I have to say that those nasty cookies were the closest thing to calm that I've had in a long time. Roth is definitely onto something. And of course just I'm self-aware enough to know enough about the wonderful world of eating disorders. I am definitely eating my worries about Aria, and focusing on hitting serotonin receptors with chocolate rather than actually acknowledging my feelings of what I assume are shades of grief, anger, guilt, and complete and utter terror at the thought of losing my baby sister to the demons of addiction and self-destruction. Sure is a lot easier to deal with those cookies, though.

Women, Food, and God
By Geneen Roth