Weekend Reading, 4.1.18
April 1, 2018

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy weekend to you, and happy Easter to those who are celebrating today. This is less my holiday than Passover, which I celebrated on Friday, or Greek Easter, which my mom and I will celebrate next Sunday, but I’m spending time with the idea of rebirth.

A year ago today, Steven moved out. It’s a strange anniversary to commemorate, but I’ve been surprised at how much feeling it brings up. Memories have been coming and going, and I even had my first dream since the breakup last night. (I’ve never been able to remember dreams; a year or so before the breakup, I started remembering bits and pieces, and my therapist and I spent time journaling them, but they stopped altogether last spring.)

I’ve been observing this one-year mark in small ways. I wrote a thank you card to the yoga teacher whose class I took while Steven was here with the moving van. I’d put myself in a supported pose and cried quietly through most of this teacher’s class, and I remember feeling so grateful to him for giving me the space to do that, for bearing witness gently.

I’m also thinking of the time that’s passed since April, comparing where I am when I wrote this post to where I am today. It’s a different interior landscape. Anxiety has receded; I know that it’s something I live with and will experience again, but it’s been months since it affected my ability to function, and I’m grateful for a period of freedom. I’m still angry, but I’m less angry, and I’m not clinging to my anger the way I was for a while.

I’ve gained enough perspective to see that the breakup isn’t something that happened to me, which is how it felt at first. I’m learning to own the things I chose not to see, the clues I didn’t want to pay attention to, the ways in which I did my own hiding and dissembling. I’ve gotten over the idea that there’s something I could have done to make things happen differently. The relationship belonged to both of us; I couldn’t and shouldn’t have steered it on my own.

I’m letting go of my shame about the fact that things ended and the way they ended. I’m releasing the idea that what happened between us is some sort of indication that I’m not capable of making a lasting partnership work. I carried that idea around like a weight for a long time; it’s still with me, but I’m learning how to put it down.

I’ve started dating again, here and there. It’s been OK. Mostly it’s shown me how far I am from feeling at peace with myself and my life as it is. So I’m continuing to take the advice of a good friend who invited me to date myself. I’m planning solitary time and activities that I look forward to. I’m saving for a trip this summer. I’ve made my home a space that I love being in. After months of erratic sleep, too much screen time, and soothing myself with vegan cake, I’m getting back into more consistent self-care routines, including calming nighttime rituals, lots of nourishing food (along with the soul-nourishing treats), and finding a good balance between social time and me time. I’m redefining the experience of being on my own.

More than any other breakup I’ve experienced, this one has worked in unpredictable ways. The same wise friend who encouraged me to date myself told me, “heart wounds aren’t the same as other wounds—the healing is never linear.” For a while, I felt so impatient to be healed and partnered up again, which I see now was a way of resisting what had changed. I’m not interested in rushing the process along anymore; I’m simply staying curious about what it has to teach me. Or at least that’s how I feel on a good day.

A few weeks ago I started reading Sharon Salzberg’s Real Love. The book has helped me to see something that I was starting to see already, which is that love is abundant, but some of the narratives we create about it are narrow and fragile. I’m working to widen my understanding of love and to cultivate the self-compassion that makes me more able to give and receive it. Even a month of this mindfulness practice has helped me to feel more connected. And I’m grateful to Salzberg for reminding me that “letting go is an inside job, something only we can do for ourselves.”

I’m looking out my window on this Easter Sunday at trees that are just about to start blooming again, peeks of sun through a cloudy sky, and I’m catching breeze through the window that’s finally cracked open as New York City thaws from winter. I’m feeling poignantly aware of how possible it is for life to begin again. What a blessing.

Wishing you a hopeful start start to the week. Here are some recipe links and reads.

Recipes

Lindsey’s apple breakfast cookies look like just the power snack to get me through this wild home stretch of grad school.

I’m so intrigued by the idea of a miso pesto ramen!

I want to toast thick slices of this seeded current spelt bread and eat it for breakfast tomorrow.

Walnut avocado yum sauce, anyone?

I don’t usually go for beans in dessert, but I’m drooling over Jerrelle’s black bean olive oil brownies. Super excited to check out her cookbook, too!

Reads

1. Miriam Reilly draws on her experience of grief to inform these wise words on how to comfort the brokenhearted.

2. A reader sent me this article, which offers a curious and interested, yet balanced perspective on the emerging field of nutritional psychiatry. On the same topic, new research suggests that the DASH diet—which can be modified to fit a vegan lifestyle and has been associated with lower rates of many chronic diseases—may benefit depression, too (I paused when I saw the word “cure,” but the article is more nuanced than the headline).

3. My cousin gave birth to very premature twins over the summer. I’d worked in the NICU as a volunteer during my post-bacc, but this was my first glimpse into the often terrifying experience of being the parent of an extremely premature baby. This article highlights the remarkable advances in neonatology that are changing odds for premies who have access to care.

4. On the topic of pregnancy, RD Jess Cording addresses food shaming and food anxiety during pregnancy. I really like her emphasis on tuning out shaming or triggering voices.

5. Finally, and relatedly, I was moved to tears by Heather’s tribute to ED recovery and how it opened up space for her to experience the joys of new motherhood. It’s a really beautiful read.

Till soon, be well.

xo

 

 

 

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    13 Comments
  1. Gena,

    Apple breakfast cookies! Yippee!

    What a beautiful article that last read was. We seem to be so hard on ourselves and it was nice to read something so positive. And I read the article about food shaming during pregnancy. I don’t know if it is social media that has done this but people sure aren’t shy about pointing the finger these days. Whatever happened to stones and glass houses? What a bad trend, in my opinion. (And what I really want to say is “Mind your own business and go get yourself educated on the subject before speaking up or speaking at all.)

    Another lovely post, thank you. Your insights into your first year on your own remind me (again) that humans are a work in progress. All of us, a work in progress.

    Happy Passover and Easter to you. Hope all is well.
    Libby

  2. Such a beautiful post, Gena. I empathize so much. Thanks for opening up about this on the blog.

  3. I am also Orthodox Christian and therefore celebrate Pascha (Easter) next week as well. Do you participate in Holy Week services at your parish? Love looking through your recipes and I have followed you for years but don’t think I have ever commented before. Have a blessed Pascha!

  4. Thank you for this beautiful sharing and honoring of this anniversary here, Gena. I felt so honored myself to be given this presence and these details. love you

  5. It takes a while for to mind to accept what the heart already knows. You are such an excellent writer and I hope you someday will consider writing a book. You are in my thoughts. Wishing you the best.

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