Update from last post: Thanks to my padres, I now know that the upside-down acorn-shaped tree is a Linden Tree! The leaves on the tree are shaped very much like the tree itself, so Linden trees are officially at the top of my list of favorite types of trees. The list consists of one type of tree so far.
In this post, I am going to cover the topic of cafeteria anxiety and the importance of lunch buddies.
Cafeterias are chaotic; there are multiple lines, way too many people for the amount of space available, and a lot of mysterious rules that vary from cafeteria to cafeteria.
I don't remember ever enjoying lunch time from grade school onward due to the aforementioned chaos, and my high school cafeteria was no exception. I always brought my lunch to school, and I think that became more of a fear-based practice in high school rather than the simplicity-based practice it had been in the past. I like to keep things simple, and abhor overcomplicating things. Abhor is definitely not too strong of a word. If you want to see my blood boil, take a simple task, find a complicated way to do it, then make me do it the complicated way.
That was usually why I brought my own lunch to school- no lines, no rush, no need to always check your lunch account for funds. Simplicity.
But somewhere along the way, the thought of actually having to stand in a line in front of people, pick out what I wanted, pay more than what I thought it was worth, and eat things that probably weren't healthy anyway became an intense fear rather than a minor inconvenience.
Some of this fear started to break when I went to Bolivia because we ate out probably once a week while I was there. Sometimes more often, other times less often. I was not very accustomed to eating in public prior to that, and I had felt very anxious and exposed whenever I would. I went through probably a 7-year period where I thought everyone around me was looking at what I was eating (paranoia) and calculating the calories to make sure I was "being good" (performance-based acceptance).
While in Bolivia, that noose loosened slightly, and I was able to enjoy mealtimes. I was usually with semi-new friends, and much of their culture is based around lunch time. Inside voice: Ahhhhhhh!!!!!! This is a nightmare!!!! What are you doing to me, God?!?!?!?! Outside behavior: Calmly eating the meal with everyone else, trying to stay engaged in the conversation.
Side note: when I had gone to therapy, one of the topics of contention was a food journal. In one column of the page, I was asked to write what I ate. In the other column, I was asked to write what I was feeling while I ate it. So for example, this morning I could have written "Steel-cut oats with almond milk" in the first column and "thankful/happy" in the second column. If I were writing the entry for myself from 15 years ago, I'd put "cereal with milk" in the first column, and "fat, bloated, ugly, slow, stupid" in the second column. I never wrote in the food journal. I never even bought the special kind of notebook I was asked to buy for it. I was convinced if I went to K-Mart and bought that particular kind of notebook, EVERYONE would know. Oh my goodness, that girl has anorexia. I can tell by her notebook. I couldn't tell by the way she lost weight and hates a bunch of foods and likes to exercise all the time. The notebook gave it away. Oh my.
I didn't really think the rebellion against the food journal was a big deal until it came up again in my Navy interview. They had read my doctor's notes, and saw that as a red flag, which it rightfully was. "Were you asked to keep a food journal?"
"And did you fill out the food journal?"
"Why was that?"
"I didn't feel it was helpful to my recovery."
*Franticly scribbling notes. *
I can only imagine that the interviewer's notes said something along the line of "insubordination" or "does not listen well."
If I could go back, I'd most definitely write in the journal (only I'd probably get a cooler kind of notebook.) And I'd gladly share it with my therapist and whoever else wanted to see it. Healthier-brained me gets it now. Sick-brained me was panicked. Sorry for giving in to paranoia, everyone.
That was a long side note. I think my whole point was that because I didn't deal with the baby-step of writing down my feelings and discussing them when I was given the opportunity to do so in a safe/controlled environment, I went off running when I barely knew how to walk. And God had me deal with it then too.
However, because God is awesome, it didn't just end there. Yay, Allie can eat out without having an internal panic attack! My work here is done.
Instead, He was like, good start, but there is still a long way to go. I was still celebrating the eating out part, having a Titanic moment: I'm the king of the world!!! I can do this! Life is good!
Moving forward to 2012, I got a temp job where I am now permanently employed. Guess what my workplace has? Seriously, guess.
Who knew a first-world "convenience" could be such a source of mental torment. Chaos. Lines. Noise. People everywhere. Weird rules.
Then...the lunch buddy. Haha, I am making this sound so dramatic partially for humor, but mostly because it was dramatic. There were highs and lows, fear and trembling, all because of a cafeteria.
My lunch buddy is actually one of my very close friends outside of work, and we happen to work in the same building too, so it is a win-win situation.
What is a lunch buddy? My definition: A lunch buddy is God's provision. Someone to keep you focused on the external, rather than letting you get lost in the internal. Someone to make you laugh, to make eating just eating. To make lunch enjoyable- a highlight of the day.
Do I still get nervous if my lunch buddy is busy and I have to eat alone in the cafeteria? Sometimes. Is there still room for improvement and more healing? For sure. It takes time, and God always provides.
Buen provecho! Bon appetit! Enjoy your meal!