i barely recognize myself lately; but i think it’s mostly a good thing.

i have always been somewhat glib about my strange relationship with food. i have characterized is at combative in the past, and it really seemed apt at the time. it still occasionally does, but lately i’ve been trying harder to make peace.

previously shudder inducing; now considered edible!

previously shudder inducing; now considered edible!

a few weeks ago i was sitting at the bar in a local eatery looking at the menu and contemplating my options. typically, in almost every dish there was at least one ingredient i did not wish to enter my mouth. this is because i have a fairly long list of food items i do not much care for. and one of them is tomatoes. which, it turns out, lots of other people actually like. while i am not certain i will ever understand this fact from anything more than an intellectual standpoint, i do recognize that since so many people like them a) they may, in fact have some redeeming qualities (even though i have yet to discover them) and b) they are present in lots and lots of things i want to eat.

i have handled this in the past by ordering in a vaguely “When Harry Met Sally” sort of way:

“i’d like the bacon mushroom bbq swiss burger with no tomato or mushrooms. and could i get cheddar instead of swiss? and mustard for my fries rather than ketchup?”

and yes, i DO like the taste of spit, thanks very much.

recently however, i’ve decided to revise my attitude toward food. i do not want to see it as my enemy. i do not want to see a meal as a gauntlet of nasty unwanted items to be plucked out and disposed of.

so.

i have started eating stuff anyway. things i would normally have NEVER eaten. tomatoes only being the most prominent item on the list, there are many more indeed:

  • avocados: slimy yet flavored as i would expect earwax to taste
  • cilantro: mmmm soapy!
  • beets: why yes, i do love “vegetables” that look like dayglo innards
  • garbanzo beans: in hummus, they are yummus. otherwise gro-ess
  • mushrooms: fungus. nasty. only meant for recreational consumption. not budging on this one.

so now, my new approach is to simply order whatever i am getting with the ingredient list in tact. then, i put it in my mouth. if i do not immediately throw up or die, i chew and swallow. turns out, this is not nearly as hard as i expected it to be. i havent died once so far!

this also extends to other sorts of food related hang ups. for example, i have long had the tendency to not eat leftovers. i cant explain why this is exactly, but i just find the concept of reheating food rather odious. an exboyfriend of mine used to INSIST i take home doggy bags from restaurants (i have a small appetite and can almost never finish a portion the size a typical restaurant delivers) so as not to make the chef/waitstaff/maitre de/parking attendant feel bad about themselves in case they saw my leavings as a condemnation of their fare. he would insist upon this knowing FULL WELL that i was going to throw the food away as soon as i got home, or after letting it take up space in my fridge for a few days more. because i simply could not bring myself to eat something a second time around.

and yet, tonight, i made myself a meal that was comprised ENTIRELY of food items from last week. and it was tasty. and i did not throw up or die. this, is progress.

the funny thing is, that for the first time in my life there is no one pressuring me to make these changes. it has been a sore point in almost every relationship i have ever been in, my pickyness. and now, when everyone who matters seems to be pretty okay with my weird relationship with food, i look at the people i most admire, and they are not the least bit picky about their food. they eat with relish and enjoy what is set before them. it is more that i wish to follow their example than that i am being prodded to grow up and stop being such a brat about what i eat.

thinking about this made me contemplate more fully the role of acceptance in relationships. i like to think of myself as a pretty forgiving person. i judge people certainly, i see faults, but i in no way expect or desire them to change. i feel like i should be able to take people as they come, appreciate who and how they are, and love them nevertheless.

and yet, it is a truly rare thing to have. i know i am not always perfect at this, but i think i am pretty damn good about it overall. and, not to be unduly immodest, but i consider myself to be better at it than a lot of the people in my life who have loved me. much of the love i have received in the past was expressly conditional; dependent upon my willingness to change, fix, and improve myself.

but somehow, at this stage, i can say that i have love in my life that is profoundly unconditional. that is based on that kind of comprehensive acceptance. it is not that anyone is fooled about me; it is not that they fail to see my frailties and shortcomings, but rather that they are seen, and accepted, and loved in their own right as a part of the whole of myself.

and this, beautifully, is what helps me feel free to change in the ways that i like. to become more who i am, and who i want to be.