I was excited to present at the Bedford support group because I’d heard very good things about the people who attend. And the rumors are true—Bedford has a great group! I also got to finally meet my publisher/editor who is a Bedford native. Before the meeting I had only talked to her by by phone and traded emails.
I would compare the Bedford support to a big family where everyone gets along, talks about the past with a big smile, and encourages each other to be their best. They’re a welcoming bunch, too. I felt a little like an outsider when I arrived at the hospital over 100 miles from my home. But in short time, the regulars made me feel like one of the family.
Of all of the support groups I’ve led over the last several months, this one felt the most like a therapy group. For example, one attendee, who once relied heavily on the support of the group, was now providing good advice to somebody who had her own set of challenges. By the time we were finished with introductions, the group had allowed themselves to be vulnerable and reached into the trenches to help each other.
To be honest, much of what I presented was just icing on the comforting cake of conversation between the attendees. One of the most memorable slices of that conversation was when a group veteran explained his thoughts on refusing food offers. He said that eating a doughnut is a short-lived pleasure--it doesn’t last long at all. What can remain forever is the memory of an experience. Since he’s eaten doughnuts in the past, he can’t create an entirely new flavor experience. The memory of the taste of doughnuts is somewhat valuable to him, but eating another one now won’t be that unique of an event. And the short-lived pleasure doesn’t outweigh the many benefits of a healthy body. This logic leads him to politely say "no."
Another participant painted a vivid image of the comforting nature of food. She sees love as a grandmother stirring noodles as she holds her grandbaby in her arms. Later in the session when talking about her motivation for health, she described being outside and active with her grandkids. My interpretation of these images is that love can be imagined in many different ways. It is possible to feel, receive, and express love without food entering the picture at all. It might take a little imagination and practice for some with an emotional attachment to food, but you CAN do it.
To Monica, the exceptionally kind group leader, and all of those of you who attended group, thanks so much for being there. Special thanks to Sammie Justesen for your dedication to publishing books that you believe will help others. It was great meeting you and hearing your inspirational story.