With the permission of a reader of mine who has become a dear friend, I am posting part of one of her emails to me. I find it to be very stirring and very true, and I think that the words of someone wrestling with food so intelligently and bravely right now might be a good perspective to add to mine on this blog. She discusses what makes her binge, and why, and it’s enormously touching. Moreover, we could all really learn from her radical and brilliant self-honesty.
I thought about WHY did I want to eat. Was it because I was hungry? Was it because I had just “allowed” myself that day and wanted to make the most of it as a treat? Or was it because I wanted to be distracted from a thought about myself or a void inside?
Usually when I binge, Stef, I think its the last two questions. I’m getting better at learning how to handle the second to last one- the go crazy because I already screwed it up mentality- that’s all about willpower, and realizing that the real treat and the real spoiling of myself comes from getting to that goal weight that would make me so happy. It’s the last question I think is the hardest- the types of thoughts I’m trying to escape from are ones where I am disappointed in myself, or ones where I feel lonely (like I’ll never find someone to spend the rest of my life and will live alone forever), or thoughts about how I could be better at everything, or thoughts about how little progress I’ve made- I don’t need to describe more because we both know what those self-castigating thoughts (thriggers [purposeful misspelling lol] lets call them) are and how they get us going on a binge. And we talked about it before and I knew that, but what I think I realized this week, is when you are in that moment, when you are reaching to eat something, and IN THAT MOMENT when you realize that you are doing it because you don’t want to think whatever you are thinking, or you want to run away from that loneliness inside- it is so hard to put it down. Not because you dont realize its not going to make you better- I’ve made that realization already- i know that it’s not going to make me feel better, and i know that probably in an hour and the next day its going to make me even feel worse but IN THAT MOMENT, it’s something to do, something to distract myself with, something to fill myself with. Something to keep me from being alone with my thoughts of self loathing and loneliness. And when you do decide to put it down, and when you do decide to not eat, you are alone with those thoughts. And that’s when it becomes something you actually know- that is when you actually realize that you were eating to not be alone with those thoughts, because being alone with those thoughts suck. At least it was something to do (like people turn to alcohol or drugs, the analogies weve made before to addictive substances). It’s not until you actually let yourself be alone with those thoughts do you really understand that you were running away from being alone with them. And I know why- because it sucks to be alone with them. But I know thats the only way to heal. Its the harder route, but in the long run makes me happier, and in the long war against self loathing, its beginning a small battle with those thoughts- giving yourself the opportunity to sift through them, to face them, instead of eating away from them.
Did any of that make sense? I hope it did. I was trying to convey something I think that’s been very powerful for me. Realizing that 1) not only will eating not make it go away or make it better and will actually make it worse and make me hate myself more and that 2) being alone with these thoughts is what I was running away from, is what binging was doing for me. The thoughts of feeling like I obsess too much on whats on the outside and that my inside is not good enough, or that I will be alone forever. Or that I feel like a failure in everything. Not always, many of the times I binged because I felt I needed to make the most of this “break” — which I think is more about dealing with willpower and arming myself with the knowledge that Im not depriving myself but actually doing better.
As you can see, I’m sifting through the WHYS of my binging so I can move forward with better armor and preparation as you suggested is best. I’m reading this book called “the act of racing in the rain”- it’s absolutely amazing. I want to copy in a paragraph for you, but it will take too long. Basically the point of the paragraph is: “that which you manifest is before you”– I’m explaining it horribly, but the idea is that you create your own destiny by the decisions you make and the way you react to things that are outside your control- by realizing the response to these actions are in your control. I woke up this morning (the hardest part for me is the day after a bad day , I just want to make that bad day bad too and the cycle goes on) saying “that which you manifest is before you- it is in my hands to get to my goals or not, I can decide whether I’m going to make this day something that I want rather than something that is self sabotage”- and I am pushing and pushing every time a thought of laziness, post fruit from yesterday hunger pang comes, to remember my goal to get to Sunday with my break only lasting one day. And I WILL do it Stef, I’ll be dammed, but God willing, I will get there. Because I can decided whether I will or not, and I decide to do what I know I want for myself.
She’s brilliant, isn’t she? And strong and courageous, and making so much progress, and really doing well. And getting through med school at the same time. In any case, the greatest lesson I think we can learn from her is that running is not the answer. Food as a distraction is not the answer. Is it momentarily numbing? Absolutely. But it is a band-aid, and a bit of a scary one, at that. One of those that pulls all of your tiny hairs out when you take it off. Don’t let food be a band-aid. If you need one, look elsewhere. If you don’t need one, face your demons head on, and think about how to best deal with them, and approach the problem with as much patience, love, and positivity as you can muster. And I promise, I promise: no matter the depth of your pain or your self-illusion, recognizing food as a distraction will help you walk away from it more easily. Hell no, it won’t be easy. But it will be easier, and you will be able to more clear-headedly think about your problems and how to fix their place in your life.Tweet