There was a time in my life that I got nervous when I left the house without a snack in my bag. I still watch myself buying food whenever I travel… and I can easily recall the hunger pang that hits me, whenever I sit in a train and it leaves the station…
“I feel safe when I feel stuffed.”
I use(d) food and a full stomach to create a feeling of safety.
Do you have similar ingrained reactions? I certainly used chewing to calm my nerves, the full stomach to make me feel safe. Yes, one part was motion sickness in cars, as well as the nausea I would feel with certain smells from brakes or new cars… I learned to override my body symptoms of unwell by chewing and eating. But was my nervous stomach really just a reaction to the present triggers?
In WWII my grandmother and her father were placed on a Russian train towards Siberia… luckily the German friendly train conductor indicated at night that he was going to slow down, and that they could jump out of the wagons – without being noticed. This is the beginning of her story of fleeing from a war zone where she could have easily lost her life.
Even though my whole family likes to travel, and we used to travel a lot by train (my grandfather being an employee of the Deutsche Bahn – German Railway), trains became a mix of excitement, adventure, family support, and still carried a scare factor from the past.
Just writing this, and connecting the dots, I have the feeling of extremely unpleasant queasiness in my stomach. Yes, I carry a part of my grandmothers emotions from back then still in me. It gets triggered by smell, by driving in a car (motion sickness), by going on a train ride. (I don’t get hungry on a plane 😉
Food meant survival back then, and today it is my go to in order to feel safe, to know I will survive. I am a child of my mother, and of my grandmother. I have learned from them how to relate to this world, this life on earth. So whenever I am in an unsettling, or stressful situation, my default reaction is to get some food, chew, eat, feel full.
Can you relate?
I had a conversation today with a young woman who told me that she was scared to go hungry. I didn’t ask more, but I am sure that she can tell me a story of her own, why feeling full is important in her family.
Today, I choose to give back what I have carried for my grandmother, I let go of the fear and panic that sits in the pit of my stomach whenever I travel in trains. I thank the train conductor from back then to offer my grandmother a way out – because without that gesture I wouldn’t be alive. I thank all the unnamed generous people who offered her food back then. Today I open myself to the experience of being nourished and supported by life itself – and feeling full this way. The memories of my grandmother stay with her, and she has a special place in my heart. But I don’t need to recreate what she went through, I don’t need to stay close to these feelings in order to be close to her.
Lots of love,