Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Liminal Time and My Eating

When I was in Seminary we learned about a concept called "liminal time". This is time between time, the transition point. Time when change is occurring, when we are "in between". Holy Week is liminal time. It's not lent, it's not NOT lent...it is something in between. Liminal time is about transition, about becoming.

Other loose examples of "liminal time" in life might be when one is traveling, say for instance the exciting and yet sad interruption I experienced when I had to fly down to Texas for my grandfather's funeral in January. Moving to a new city was certainly a transition point. In such a case, the liminality morphs into a new normal and it can be a disorienting experience. And it can take a long time. I expect too much from myself. I expect things to be easier than they ever are, and I expect myself to handle things with more strength and sanguinity than I ever do. I am trying to learn to be kind to myself.

My struggle this week has made me realize something: during these transition points, these "in betweens" I have a very very very hard time controlling my eating. It's liminal time and the usual rules don't quite apply to life and neither do the eating rules (of course the moral rules, the God things never go away...not talking about that). I find myself reaching for the fritos and the bread this week, and really struggling to put them down. Each day is a new day, and the hard part usually does not hit until late at night when it's just me and my sadness and the liminality.

I had the same trouble during the funeral trip and very much the same trouble during our transition to Louisville. A year's worth and thirty pounds worth of trouble with my eating.

Why do I reach for food (um, I mean carbs) during transition points? Why do, when the ordinary becomes extraordinary, does it HAVE to involve throwing out the this-is-good-for-me food rules for me? Why does feeling sick from eating bread for dinner with my soup have to accompany this phase of the journey? (You might argue that it does not have to, and that might be true on a logical level, but on a deeply personal level I have not moved past the must have bread NOW of it all.) I know. It's a comfort thing.

It's just an observation I'm making about myself along the way of my journey. I don't precisely know why I'm sharing it in such a public way. I suppose that such an observation might have value for another. It certainly is a good thing to have figured out about myself. Because now that I realize this, I can start working on improving or accepting. It might just be ok to accept, rather than to try to change yet another thing about me.

Constant personal improvement is exhausting.

3 comments:

Shelley said...

I'm reading Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth and finding lots to think about. Although it's written in a somewhat stream of consciousness way, without the subjunctive tense even when called for, what she says is beginning to make sense and I feel much calmer around food.

elizabeth said...

this makes sense. moving, funerals and actually, holy week, are all overwhelming in different ways. Holy Week, esp. for introverts, is often overstimulating and overwhelming. That you would have this struggle is totally understandable. My love to you.

Marigold said...

I often experience the whole of Great Lent as liminal, like the normal state of the Church as not quite here and not quite there is intensified, and I, like you, find myself reaching for things to 'medicate' it, dullen the rawness of reality. It's not just you in other words :) But we're nearly there!