Every morning I wake up to pecking at my roof, which is just, as it happens, on the other side of my bedroom wall. Some days I am glad for it. Other days, I wake up, hear it, and I begin to cry. Just like I cry when I hear the Scrub Jay that sometimes calls in my neighborhood.
It's off and on, grief. It pops up sometimes for no reason and stays for as long as it wants, and all I can do is observe and serve it as best I can, which usually involves laying in bed, crying, sleeping, and eating small bits of food here and there so I don't also suffer from extreme hunger. Crying takes a lot of energy.
After it's done, I feel so much better; empty in a clean way. But it seems to come from an endless spring of sorrow that resides deep within me, always ready to burst at the slightest provocation, or, more mysteriously, at no provocation at all.
That's why I elected to stop eating sugar and drinking alcohol in March, because I know that I am fully capable, and have a long history, of using these things as substitutes for what I'm really wanting. If I get to the cake or the alcohol fast enough, I might not even feel the depth and the breadth of my emptiness. That is why I am crying, because I am not distracting myself from the pain of absence.
I haven't missed the alcohol, but every day, at some point, I am really aching for a nice piece of cake, a slice of pie, (damn you, Pi Day!) or some ice cream. My whole body screams for it. But I know if I give in I will put off the inevitable, and I know, deep down, it's a bit of an insult to whatever I might be eating. If I am to eat cake, pie, or ice cream, I want to eat it for it's own sake, not because I would rather be hanging out with my ex-boyfriend.
The truth is I want something deeper, something that came from my past that I hadn't remembered, until my brother reminded me how food was handled in my house growing up. At a certain point in my teens, my mom shacked up with a woman who had a lot of weird things about food. I refer to them in this insulting way because I had to suffer for them. The fridge and cabinets were stuffed with food I couldn't eat because it was my mom's and her partner's. We were forbidden from eating most of the food in the house. The food that I could eat was often sparse and between my brother and I, it was a race to see who would get to it first, each of us worried we wouldn't get our fair share. Sometimes my mom would eat our food and not tell us so that we were fighting with each other over who took all the pizza bread, apples, tortillas, cheese, whatever.
There was so much tension around food in my house it's a wonder I am not more screwed up about it. But the reality is that it was just an echo of the actual issue, which was love. My mom really didn't have that energy for us at that age, and for the most part, we were treated a bit like a nuisance during our high school years. The food thing exacerbated it, but what I wanted was my mom's undivided attention. I never really got that.
I see that in my last relationship as well. I wanted more of his attention, and whether he was giving it to me or not, that is the feeling I learned to feel in my relationships. I found ways to set him up to fail, or ask him for things I knew he would not give, just so I could validate my own feelings of being unworthy. Instead of asking for more, I would allow him to ignore me, secretly making him the villain and myself the victim in a relationship pattern that had been set decades ago.
This loss has awakened all of my feelings of lack, so going back to food and alcohol is my primary urge. It is my goal, in this month, to focus on that feeling of lack, come to terms with it, and grow comfortable with it so that I am not driven to eat something lovely without proper appreciation. It is my goal to understand that I am actually lacking nothing.
I was able to fix my relationship with food when I made it my own. When I started thinking about what I really wanted about food, what I wanted it to do for me, when I started to listen to my body and recognize the signals it was sending when I ate certain things, I claimed ownership of my relationship with my body and with food I would put into it. All the issues I had as a teen melted away as I saw food, more and more, as a way to care for myself, and used it to do just that.
It is the same with the birds. I am birding now, and it is painful because my world expanded exponentially as my former partner taught me about them over the five years we were together. I saw parts of the world I would never have seen otherwise, and I came to see life in a whole new way. Over the years, every time I saw or heard a bird, I would associate it with him, with us. It was a sweet thing that no matter where he was, or what he was doing, he was not far as long as I could hear a bird's song.
This pecking that happens in the morning, the Chickadees that call to me outside my window, and the Scrub Jay I occasionally hear on the wind are a challenge. I don't want to give up the birds, though it is painful sometimes, I want to in some way, make them mine. My work now is to move to a place where I can hear their songs and pecks as a reminder of all that I have, not all that I am missing. When I see a Bewick's Wren or a Flicker, I want to remember all that I was given, not all that I never got.
I will make the birds my own and over time, I will remember the goodness of our trips to visit the birds. I will remember looking out at the sky with him, feeling how wonderful it was to watch the world grow as he stood beside me.
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