Sunday, May 19, 2013

Grief and Clutter: You don't need to keep it just because they would've wanted you to

I lied in previous post about only having gotten a TV from Grandmom. The day before she passed away my dad sent me home with some soups from her freezer and her recipe books. Grandmom was a prize-winning cook so I wasn't going to complain. I've made enough peace with my eating disorder that I can bake and cook now without inevitably bingeing.

I finally took those four soups out of my freezer. I heated up the carrot one and tried it -- yuck! Maybe it was that it had been in the freezer since 2009, which I didn't realize until after I'd tried it.  Or maybe I just didn't like the soup. Down the drain it went.

But there were still three more soups left. I heated up another one, potato this time. It was okay. Far too salty for my taste but I ate it anyways. This was a big no-no. As part of my eating disorder treatment I was told not to eat anything I didn't really love. This is to help me get over years of only allowing myself to eat diet versions of food which I couldn't stand, but only ate because they would keep me thin. If I'm only eating what I really want to eat, I won't be eating the awful diet food while craving and then overindulging in the the good stuff that I'm "not allowed" to have. Eating a soup I didn't like was akin to eating diet food again. This was risky and could've set off a binge. I ate it anyways.

Last night I opened up the second container of carrot, vintage 2012, this time -- this one seemed better, but still not great. I had to stop. Why in the world was I going to eat something I couldn't stand?

Oh, right. Because I could hear Grandmom 1.) being insulted about me not liking something she made and 2.) being furious at me for wasting food  3.) reminding me that this was the last dish she would ever cook for me. 

Grandmom is the one in the family who gave me and my father the idea that fat is ugly, lazy, and reprehensible. Grandmom is the one who kept telling my father that he needed to get my normal-sized mother to lose weight. This kept Mom in a pattern of disordered eating for decades, and now that her eating has normalized her hoarding has gotten worse to make up for the loss of the eating-disordered behaviors. Grandmom is the one who would make oinking noises at me at family dinners and then, in the same breath, would turn to my skinny sister and tell her that she needed to eat more.

I dumped the soup down the drain.

My eating disorder voice panicked -- You're wasting food! And Grandmom's gone, you'll never get to have it again!! You have to eat it whether you want to or not!

I grabbed the fourth container and dumped that down the drain.

I kept the handwritten label from the soup and stuck it into my recipe book. Grandmom did teach me to cook and bake and helped me make my own wedding cake, which was a necessity with the Chief Engineer's and my food allergies. The good memories I have of her are, ironically, in the kitchen. The sticker is a reminder that Grandmom was a good cook and she lives on through her recipes, which will never disappear. And the last meal she ever cooked for me? Well, she didn't cook it for me specifically, and she's in the ground now, so it's not like she can actually know what I did with her soups. I have the recipe for both of the soups and I can make more, the way I want, with far less salt.

I'm doing what's right for me, and not doing what she told me. And she can never make oinking noises at me again. Woo hoo!

(The slightly more empty freezer is a plus too.)

That one on the left? I made that,
with instructions from Grandmom. I did learn
something good from her afterall. And tastier than the soup, to boot.


  1. Hi, I'm not even sure how I got to your blog, but I'm glad I did. I can empathize and sympathize with so much of what you are going through. You are very brave to allow the world to see inside your world. I have so many things in common with you. I wish we could sit and talk. I would like to make a suggestion though. Give yourself more credit. Don't act like the little steps aren't important. They are. You are doing a phenomenal job at controlling yourself and getting on with living. Every single thing you throw out, every decision you make not to buy is very important. You are doing it! Yeah, you may have some road ahead of you, but just look at how far you've come. I admire what you've done and will cheer you on to continue this trip. You can do it, you ARE doing it.
    Angela/Mooresville, NC

    1. Thanks, Angela. Learning to give myself credit and celebrating the little victories are things I'm working on, but I'm getting much better thanks to all of you! I truly appreciate your support and kind words. Looking forward to "seeing" you on the blog again.

  2. Congratulations on all of your achievements! Nothing like the voices in our heads, our own or those of influential people in our lives, to wreck us is there? I just wanted to say that, whether it feels like it or not, you are so freakin' brave! For sharing AND for dumping the soup! Relationships with family are so complicated, and when family is gone it just seems to get worse. Understanding and really KNOWING that throwing away the soup isn't somehow rejecting your grandmom is such a wonderful step, and saving the label was the perfect alternative :) Kudos!

    1. Thank you so much! I really appreciate hearing you say that I'm brave, because most of the time I'm just terrified. I forget that being brave is about being terrified and doing what you need to anyways. Knowing I have support from so many wonderful people I've never met like you is such a help :o) Thank you for reading!

  3. I've stumbled across your blog by a roundabout route, but I am really appreciating what I read :-)
    GO YOU! Great work with the closet - and especially with identifying your triggers.
    And fantastic work with the soup!! I love how you kept the label.
    Thanks for sharing your journey

    1. Thank you for your kind words, and for stopping by to read!


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