The Greatest Love of All

This is the first of the CarbSane Chronicles posts I'll be blending into the main blog. I made an "executive decision" of sorts a while back to dial back on the personal stuff here at the Asylum and have all but abandoned the Chronicles. So I'll be moth-balling it and just posting under the CarbSane Chronicles label here on the main blog.  

So Whitney Houston has died.  May she find the peace now that seemed to elude her in life.  That's all I can say about that and may her family and friends heal from their tremendous loss. 

Amongst the many tributes and media pieces, they've been playing the song "The Greatest Love of All".  I did not know this back story on one of the songwriters, because as I read the lyrics this morning, they sound so much like Whitney could have written them for herself.  Certainly some of those lyrics speak to me (although I had my fair share of heroes and good role models growing up). The year this song came out, 1985, was smack in the middle of my worst struggles with eating disorders.  It spoke to me, and that self love was  certainly something I lacked and longed for myself.  Many a time this came on the radio the volume was cranked to the max ...   

The notion of non-ELMM/CICO forces at play is also sorely missing in many of these discussions of obesity from strictly nutritional viewpoints -- that if we just nourish our bodies, our minds will follow.   Whether it's obesity or anorexia or the hellish existence in between (bulimia in all it's feast or famine versions (including yo-yo dieting), food/weight obsession, etc.)   It seems so easy, for so many (myself included at times), to talk about eating behaviors as strictly passive occurrences caused by something in our diets, or missing from them.  It isn't that simple.  Among those taken out of context by the Patron Saint of How We All Wouldn't be Fat w/o Carbs, is Hilde Bruch.  Indeed the only time I find myself having a visceral reaction to anything Taubes says, it's when he misrepresents her works and opinions to make it seem as if Bruch would have endorsed GCBC or something.  Ironically enough, Bruch was German born but did most of her work here in the US publishing her works in the 70's and 80's.  
In 1973 she published her seminal work Eating Disorders: Obesity, Anorexia Nervosa, and the Person Within. This book was based on observations and treatments of eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, over several decades.
If only Bruch had read Atkins in 1972, eh?  Various agreements or disagreements with Bruch are not as important as the fact that she spent her career looking at reasons other than physiological hunger for why humans consume (or don't) foods beyond (or insufficient for) the basic biological needs.  Most of us do so to varying degrees, certainly not all rising to some level of "disorder", but I'm willing to bet that the reasons for doing so are even more complex than human metabolism in and of itself. 

Back to Whitney Houston.  Self love -- or lack thereof -- is a powerful motivator of behavior.  When you love yourself (or even like yourself) perfection is not important.  Doing good by yourself, for yourself, is.  You become responsible for that, and you know what?  It doesn't even have to be your "best" 24/7.   When you don't love or like yourself, you make poor choices, obsess over a perfection that can never be attained -- so why bother, and punish yourself in various ways for doing so.  And when you make poor choices, as we all do from time to time, you cannot forgive yourself for them.  It seems paradoxical that overachievers seem to have the hardest time with this concept of self love and acceptance, except, perhaps to the overachievers themselves.   When we lack self love, as much as we blame ourselves first, foremost and always, at the same time we desperately seek someone or something else to which to shift the blame.  Certainly we all have a finite control over our lives, but I'm talking about placing blame elsewhere in the areas where we do have control.  And yet self love has its limits too.  Finding it won't make your life perfect or solve all your problems (including your weight issues if you have them).  But it sure does help keep that impossible notion of perfection in proper perspective, and it's a powerful weapon in your arsenal to realize those dreams.

Self love is a uniquely human trait I believe.  Something, sadly, I think eluded the lady who sung so beautifully and movingly about it.  RIP Whitney.  Your voice and parts of that song touched me long ago when I longed so for it to happen for me.  It brings me to tears to hear it today now that somewhere along this path we call life, it did.

... I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows  
If I fail, if I succeed at least I live as I believe  
No matter what they take from me  
They can't take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all is happening to me 
I found the greatest love of all inside of me  
The greatest love of all is easy to achieve  
Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all ...

Were I a song writer, I would change that second to last line I copied here.  It's not easy.  Heck, it may be the toughest love to achieve.  Certainly it appears from the outside it was for Houston who was loved by so many others but couldn't beat back her self-destructive behaviors.  But it's "easy" in the sense that it is the only love each of us ultimately can control. 


Anonymous said…
I read a Geneen Roth book years ago where she talked about how an editor kept changing her book draft - whenever Ms. Roth mentioned the "self-hatred" she struggled with when she was younger, the editor changed it to "self-negation" because she thought "hatred" was too strong. I suspect that editor never struggled with eating disorders.
Galina L. said…
Women often try to find some unrealistic ideal love( men are less prone to do so). Is it a mark of the lack of a self love?
One of benefits of getting older is the growing self-acceptance for most.