Healing, part one.

19 Dec
Smiley-Face Cheese Sandwich 1
Image by Hammer51012 via Flickr
Reverb10:  Healing. What healed you this year?  Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution?  How would you like to be healed in 2011?  (Author: Leonie Allan)

“I need to eat now.” Almost six month into my job and I still feel a little guilty every time I say that. I feel like I’m abandoning my team and selfishly thinking only of myself and ignoring the fact that everyone else needs a break too. But, I say the words and I go eat. Little by little I am getting better, I am healing. I think I will always have an eating disorder, but I think I’m learning to live with it instead of merely surviving it.

I hate that I have to feel guilty about something so basic as my need for food and I hate how hard I had to fight to even get these breaks in the first place. Not having the time to eat is an interesting job hazard given that I cook for a living. We’re all expected to feed everyone else, but no one really gives much thought to when or how we’ll eat. I love feeding my coworkers; my own problems make something as simple as making a grilled-cheese sandwich a way for me to treat the people I work with with care and affection.

It took me over a month to get my supervisors to understand how important it is for me to eat consistently. I kept trying to talk to my boss, but he made it clear my need to eat was mostly just a pain in his ass. It’s a horrible attitude, but work is supposed to come first in a kitchen, so it’s not a surprising one. I just couldn’t do that to myself anymore though — I cannot put work ahead of my own basic needs. (Especially not for what they’re paying me.) So I persisted. I kept bringing it up to him, and I kept trying to make him take it seriously. Finally I went over his head and talked to our manager who immediately recognized that there was a problem and tried to find a solution. He talked to one of the sous chefs and suddenly the problem was solved. I spent a few months eating at 7:00 PM, with no leeway. Eventually, knowing that I would definitely be able to eat sooner rather than later, I became more flexible. I am healing.

My sous chef also informed our executive chef who now seems to think I’m vaguely diabetic. I’m not sure it’s worth it to try to explain it to him, but I certainly appreciate his concern. I’ve lived with this for about seven years now. I’ve tried to explain it to various family and friends, but very few people seem to get it. Almost no one understands just how dangerous it is to go without food for prolonged periods of time. As difficult as it was get everyone at work on board, everyone there understands that I need to eat. No one pretends that I am perfectly fine. Because I can be honest about what’s going on, I feel safer, I feel like I have a space to heal. I have people that I can share my successes with and people who will understand the significance of my occasional failures. I’m no longer being silenced by what other people don’t want to see. No one has ever commented about how this must be a great weight-loss technique.

And now I am eating.  I am healing.

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One Response to “Healing, part one.”

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  1. Wishcasting Wednesday: Feeding the Hunger « Real Live Revolution - January 21, 2011

    […] first thing that came to mind was that I wish to feed myself, in a very literal sense. While that’s something I will be working on every single day, that is not how I want to […]

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