Thursday, September 24, 2015

The beast inside

Early settlers described it as a werewolf, devil, or cannibal. A wendigo is a supernatural entity that feeds on human flesh. It is always hungry and never stops feeding. Native Americans believe that a wendigo is made when a man eats his own kind.: I have a deep fear of starving.  Maybe this is blood memory, or maybe a result of other experiences.  My mother had hyperemesis (extreme vomiting) when I was in utro and was frequently hospitalized as she could not eat.  Maybe I feel that first lack of nutrients?

As a child not having enough money was something I was aware of, but we had food.  While there was not enough money to buy processed foods or eat out a lot, that is a long way from starving.  For a while my parents ran the food bank, so maybe that is part of it, seeing all those people come in for food seeing that side of life early on.  That was when food banks were first created.  They were shocking.

I also remember the shame on the years that someone decided we should get a food hamper.  The dirty feeling of it all, that someone saw what your family had tried hard to hide.  I remember trying to figure out what to do with food you did not normally eat and the weird food. 

I know my grandparents stored food, scarred deeply by the depression.  I remember the cold cupboard full of weird jars where the canned peaches looked like the tiny corpses of something awful and the pickles were worse.  The strange things in the cupboards that you weren't allowed to touch, likely far past their best before dates, but kept just in case.

When we were first married I used to have a cupboard full of lentils just in case we ran out of money.  I would buy lentils every time I shopped.  The lentils would save us.  Pregnant with our children, I also had hyperemesis and was hungry all the time.  I lost weight with each pregnancy. Eating is still such a blessing to me.

Even in the morning now, when I get my coffee I have to fight the urge to get something extra to bring up to my floor.  What if I get hungry?  What if there is a lock down?  What if...?  I am surrounded by places to get food and a grownup with access to cash but I am fearful.

Looking for a picture to go with this post, Witigo/Wendigo came up as the beast who is always hungry and feasts on human flesh.  I feel like Wendigo sometimes.  There is never enough to make the fear go away.

I have been thinking about this issue of hunger for a while.  Is food the stand in for other things that are missing in life?  Is food just food and my experiences have made me weird?  Is food the one thing the church did not demonize so it became the safety?  I had not thought of this with the lens of the Wendigo and his stories.  Maybe there is story medicine there.  Do you fear starving or do you have another fear?  How do you deal with the beasts inside you?

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