Naming my fears & making myself accountable to you all
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
I need to do something drastic tonight to keep myself safe from a binge that is trying to lure me in. I need to do it, but I'm not sure I'm strong enough cause it goes against all my old survival coping strategies and it requires me facing head on and charging through some very deeply rooted anxieties. I'm hoping that by writing it here, but making it public, I will make it impossible for me to try to sweep under the rug and ignore, and thus escape doing it. I'm not even sure it's the right thing, but it's my best guess, so I need to try it. Later, I can evaluate how effective it was or not. That's how I learn. I'm giving myself permission to make a mistake, knowing I'm doing so in my best attempt to do what I need.
Hopefully, if I capture this here, not only will I learn, but we'll learn together-- maybe you'll see something in yourself that similar but had managed to stay hidden from you until now. I'm amazed at how many coping mechanisms that are no longer healthy for me I'm still uncovering. They helped me survive often by being covert, even from myself. They become mindless habits, mindless that is until I confront them and try to let go of them. Then they scream like injured wildcats and rend my flesh trying to hold on. At least that's how they feel some days.
I'm in a tough spot today, well, actually the past few days, in regards to some old food issues. This is exactly the tough, painful INNER work I had to do, and continue to do, in order to be strong in my healthy choices and my weight loss and fitness goals. I had some strange experiences with food growing up, going from a house where food was the center of the family when my mother was there, to a house with a father who was not able to even maintain the bare necessities for himself much less an 8 year old daughter, including keeping any food in the house. One year we even went without a working refrigerator after ours died and he made me promise to tell no one in the family, for fear they'd get angry at him. It fell on my shoulders to bury food out in the snow and then find it, dig it out and cook it so we'd have a meal. I had nightmares about this for years, starving and trying to find food in the snow, as I'd repressed the memory, until he finally confessed it to me a few years back when he thought he was on his deathbed. Through lots of work with counselors and self introspection, I have learned this is a root issue in a lot of my food anxieties-- I have fears of both times of feast or famine.
I often speak of discovering my vulnerabilities and managing those in order to continue making the healthy, life-affirming choices in my life, the past few weeks I've been really feeling this vulnerability smack me in the face. Lately I've been very anxious about food. If there's an abundance, I feel insecure I might go overboard, especially with the 'treat' items. And when the shelves are starting to be only sparsely filled and the fridge is more than half empty, but I know I won't have any access to food shopping for a few days or more yet, a different type of fear creeps up and makes itself impossible to ignore, again, wanting to start eating everything available in order to stave off that inevitable day when I'll be hungry with nothing to fill it. The fear wears me down and waits till I'm tired or frustrated or otherwise weak, and then tries to get me to make choices in food in the moment that aren't aligned with my conscious, long-term goals and choices. This fear makes me want to undermine my own healthy life in order to feel a little bit better right now; at least it promises to make me feel a little better, but that anxiety lies because indulging it rarely makes me feel better, ever.
However, both those fears and anxieties have a similar expression... I catch myself wanting to just fill and semi-empty moments with something to eat. I'm not talking major binges or anything like that, at least so far I've not had that urge, I'm just talking letting go of my plan which is 4-5 small meals and a couple snacks over the day and instead consuming upwards of 600-700 calories in one sitting.
Yes, I know to some that may not sound like much, but when your normal meal is about 300-400, the stomach acclimates to smaller servings and that uncomfortable bloat feeling of being too full, especially if it's a high fat food I'm eating, really comes on at 500-600 calories. It still surprises me but it's true.
Anyway, what this all boils down to is that I had a big pot luck dinner here last week, and as a first time host I learned one of the unexpected 'boons' of hosting; everyone leaves you with tons of leftovers. Yes, I encouraged people to take food, and they did, a lot of it, but still that left me with macaroni salads, cake, macaroni and cheese, casseroles and you name it all sorts of foods that are not only much richer and less nutrient dense than my normal menu is usually comprised of, but foods I also have no real way of tracking in the food log since I have no idea what is really in them. But I can tell you which of the items are very high in fats, cause I can now feel fat on my tongue and strangely enough, though I find myself craving those items frequently, after a few bites they can almost be sickening. My body just reacts to it even as it craves it...weird.
But due to those old issues of mine, the side of me that fears famine has been going into a fit. I have this compulsion to EAT that food, simply because it's an unexpected feast, it's very rich and yes, because I don't get a lot of it anymore. And oddly enough, as much as I hate to admit it, part of me wants to hoard that food. Don't think it didn't occur to my logical mind to simply give it away...but I didn't, I actually felt a twinge of anxiety thinking of it. So I've spent several days doling it out in reasonable portions along with lots of veggies and healthier foods along side the treat items and felt I was doing pretty good. But I notice the longer these foods are in my house, the worse the anxiety is. Oddly enough, part of me wants to just sit down and eat them all, get it done with in one sitting. Turns out that's an old pattern I had, but never really recognized...I have serious anxiety issues with leftovers gifted to me, LOL.
So tonight, as once again, I sat here trying to do thinking work that involves brain power but isn't active enough to keep my desires from wandering to mindless eating, I realized I have to do something drastic. I need to THROW THAT FOOD AWAY.
Wow, I got it out. I said it. You don't understand, I've been trying just to type this thought and get it out this entire blog. It just took me this much writing to work up the courage. That's how strong the hold of this anxiety is. It doesn't even want to be named.
Actually, this thought occurred to me yesterday, in a fit of frustrated desperation I thought, "Oh lord, I wish I could just dump it in the trash and have it GONE!" but of course, throwing out food, even the last remnants of leftovers is not only a waste, it's practically a sin against America. Right?
Well, right or not, my well being, my emotional health and my maintenance of my goals is more important to me. I think this will help. I need that food out of here and I don't want it to be via my stomach.
So right now, before I can lose my courage and while the shame of failing in front of you all feels more compelling than the old fears of famine, I will go throw that food away. The macaroni salads, the mac and cheese, the leftover frosting and sweets and just get it out. This isn't easy for me, which might seem silly to some, but I need to be able to make tough choices to keep myself safe and trust myself that even if I make the wrong choices, I did my best to remain steadfast to my goals. Okay, deep breath...here I go. Maybe tomorrow I can let you know how it felt....unless of course I'm in a jittering, twitching heap in the corner, LOL.
Wish me luck.
Thanks for reading me and for being there, to hold me accountable. It helps.
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