My best friend, Daria, called me after the kids had gone to bed one night in the early spring of 2008. Her voice had that off-kilter pitch that meant really crappy news was coming. I noticed that she had seemed a little distant lately. Her complexion was pale and she was less engaged in the usual Mommy banter. I even noticed her picking at her food the past few times we ate together, which was not like her. I braced for what she had to tell me.
Daria exhaled, deflated. “Carey, I’m getting divorced. Rob and I have actually been separated for three months now. He got an apartment about a mile away.” I sat heavy in the wooden kitchen chair. My heart sank and I thought of her kids.
Rob and Daria had been acting strange for a few months, but I figured they were going through a bumpy phase. We all went through them. Work could become intolerable. The kids’ struggles could become all-encompassing. The daily rigmarole was probably taking its toll on them. They likely stopped taking care of themselves a long time ago and their relationship suffered.
Suffice it to say I’m not great at sitting with sad feelings. In the past, I had a tendency to want to fix things quickly, not take the time to learn tough lessons on how to do better next time. That night on the phone I just wanted to fix things immediately for Daria so we could all go back to normal, but that wasn’t what she needed. She had a long journey ahead and I was grateful she let me in so I could be there for her.
Weeks passed and my more grounded and less reactive sensibilities returned. I was present enough to notice patterns emerge in Daria’s fears, comments, behaviors and overall health.
According to the Five Elements Archetypes in Traditional Chinese Medicine, we have five distinct ways we react to difficulty. Daria’s primary archetype is Earth, which means her biggest fear is isolation and abandonment. When she feels insecure, Daria has a tendency to:
When she was at her lowest, Daria shared too much, became wishy-washy about what she wanted, was overly needy and got stuck worrying about her future without ever taking action. These were all telltale signs of an Earth person in an overwhelming situation who needed physical and emotional support.
It took a few years of ups and downs, but over time, Daria began to take care of herself better and she prevailed. She sold her house in 2012 and found the courage to start a new life. She travels to places she’s always wanted to go and has found love again.
In my practice at Tournesol I’ve come to discover that women of divorce who share Daria’s Earth archetype share similar emotional and physical needs for balance. Earth types certainly need a strong therapist to help them work through the divorce process. But Earth feelings of self-blame and fear of isolation are also correlated to improper nutrition. If you think about it, the one feeds the other.
When you feel emotionally disconnected from your unit (family, community, friends), your appetite suffers and so begins the dysfunctional cycle. We require sustenance to fortify our bodies so we can withstand emotional trauma, but when we’re emotionally traumatized eating is the last thing we want to do.
If Daria’s Earth pattern seems similar to your own, I suggest finding an eating specialist in addition to mental health support to help you get back on your feet. Once you structure your food, your ability to think clearly and make sound decisions will improve. While you’re at it, don’t forget that one size never fits all. To that end, I highly recommend finding an Ayurvedic nutritionist who can help you eat for your specific constitution and imbalance.
If you want to go ahead and get started, here are some universal Ayurvedic nutrition recommendations for when you’re feeling emotionally unbalanced and need some strength to help make it through the tough times.
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