Reid's Reviews > Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth
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Sep 16, 10


I began to realize while reading this book that the title is a bit misleading, since it does not exclusively deal with any of the three things it names. First of all, it is not only for women; men could benefit just a mightily from what is written here. Second, it is not just about food, but about any obsession we use to divide ourselves off from our lives and our true natures. Third, when Roth speaks of God, she is referring to whatever in our world equates to that feeling of being entirely a cherished part of the whole experience of being alive. For some that is God, for others it may be Flow or Nirvana or presence or awareness or something entirely other than these.

I suffer from some eating compulsions, but I also have other compulsions which I am acutely aware stem from my feelings of inadequacy and my perception of danger in the world, danger from which I feel insubstantially protected and against which only my compulsive behavior can create a zone safe enough for me to continue to exist. Never mind that this has never worked (every zone I construct begins to deconstruct as soon as it is built, for one thing); I still find myself engaging in the same behaviors over and over again, because I have yet to find any strategies that will make me permanently safe. Therefore, I keep using those which are familiar, no matter their dubious efficacy.

I suspect this pattern sounds familiar to nearly everyone who reads this. We have, our whole lives, been sold a bill of goods: if we are good enough (thin enough, rich enough, accomplished enough, sexual enough, have enough shoes, cars, houses, or lovers) we will some day reach that pinnacle of being permanently loved and safe, and from that height we will never need to descend ever again. This is, of course, bullshit, and we know that, but we cannot seem to break the bonds of the beliefs we have built into the simulacrum of such a place and a way of living.

So, what to do? To abandon our old patterns without new ones to replace them simply leaves us feeling empty and abandoned; better the old, ineffective ways of living than having no clue. In this book, we are provided with a cogent, caring, articulate way of approaching our lives through our compulsions, not in spite of them, a way of using these false beliefs to nurture a truth we had never believed could exist: that we were born and remain whole, worthy, capable, strong, and loving beings.

One of my favorite statements from the book is (I am paraphrasing), "If your job is to fix yourself and there is nothing to fix, then you are unemployed. What then?" I, for one, intend to find out, and this book is a wonderful guide to how one can start on that path.

Is this a perfect book? Well, no, but it's flaws are minor and the intent of the author is clearly so benign and helpful that it doesn't feel worthwhile to elaborate them. I would hope that anyone who thinks one more of anything will finally push them over the edge to perfection will pick up this book and realize that the perfection we seek has always been here, and we have only to set aside the lies we have been sold to access that perfection. Bon appetit!

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