Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “September, 2014”

I binge, therefore I am

I binged yesterday.
On crocheting and episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

(OK. Joking about bingeing was probably a mean thing to do to some of you. My food boundaries are intact. You can breathe now.)

It’s funny the way being an addict never leaves me. If I ever get cocky about food and wonder if I could just have a little, just one, just a taste, I would do well to remember that I couldn’t even turn off Netflix. I also crocheted for an extra hour after I said I was going to bed last night.

It’s good though. I am not ashamed of my compulsive side. Not anymore. It doesn’t ruin (or run) my life anymore. It’s just part of the way it is.

One of the biggest problems of compulsive eating was that I resented every other activity. I wanted to be eating all the time. And frankly, I usually was. I often just didn’t do what I was supposed to because I refused to stop eating long enough to sober up from the sugar to do it. And if I did, it was half assed and with bad grace.

Yes, yesterday I put off writing my blog so I could watch one more episode. (OK, one more. Alright just one more.) But I am writing today. I am enjoying it. I can accept that life is not one long Buffy marathon.

I had to learn to make friends with my personality. I had to learn to deal with myself the way I am. I’m a binger. But binge watching TV shows every once in a while doesn’t kill me. Neither does binge crocheting.

Binge eating, of course, was killing me. So I put boundaries around my eating and I keep them there. That was also part of making friends with myself the way I am.

I didn’t have to try to change everything about myself. I just had to figure out what I could do about myself. And then give myself a lot of room to be human.

If I could have made myself into the kind of person who could eat just one, I think I would have jumped on that in a heartbeat. But that never worked for me. So I found a solution and I stick with it. And thank God!

And if I decide to be obsessive compulsive until I get through all 7 seasons and finish my sweater, in between work and meals and blogs and laundry, well so be it. I can live with that.

(And to all of my peers, while I am thoroughly enjoying my nostalgia, if you plan on jumping on the Buffy wagon, be warned: it may make you feel old. And want to go out and buy go go boots.)


Let’s get to the important stuff. What’s for lunch?

Short blog today.
What I really want to talk about today is food. And how I eat really well all the time.

The other day I was talking with a friend who also has her eating under control. She jokingly said to me. “It’s too bad you’re on a diet. I could never do what you do.” And then we laughed and laughed. Because we eat like queens.

I get that a lot. I could never do what you do. I could never be on a diet like you.

The other day I had bacon and eggs, coffee with milk and pineapple for breakfast, cabbage braised in butter, steamed broccoli and duck confit for lunch, and filet Mignon, and roasted butternut squash, a homemade sugar-free, grain-free spice cookie with sugar-free butter sesame frosting for dinner. That was all in one day.

It was not a cheat day. I don’t have cheat days. I could have that every day if I wanted. I eat food that I love every single day.

It occurs to me that some people who could “never” give up sugar, are talking about the high, not about the taste.

But I understand that if you think I’m on a “diet” you couldn’t do what you think I do.

“Diets” are deprivations. And they are meant to end once the goal is reached.

I don’t know anybody who could live in deprivation. Even if their life depended on it. I could never have kept my food under control for over 8 years on a “diet.” Even knowing that I’m an addict and it could kill me. For me, eating well is the best defense against eating the sugar that will certainly kill me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out what exquisite deliciousness I am going to make myself for lunch.

This is where I don’t blink

So many things I want to get out and get off my chest. But this is not my diary. And you, as a collective, are not my friends. (Though obviously some of you are.)

I have to remind myself that this is a blog about living with eating disorders. And that can mean so many things for me, because my eating disorders touch every part of my life. But this is not a place to complain.

And even in those places that are places to complain, I try to do minimal complaining. Or at least minimal “all I’m doing about it is complaining.”

I am in a lot of pain lately. About circumstances. And life. And it is time to do that thing where I look at what is my responsibility, and what I can change and what I can’t, and what I have to let go of. And then let go.

And that is always wrapped up in my eating disorders. Partly because feelings are all wrapped up in my eating disorders. When I ate compulsively, pain is what I ate.

The correlation between an event and a feeling doesn’t even have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be some huge incident. It doesn’t have to be traumatic for me to be traumatized. So much of it is about feeling helpless.

This is a good lesson for me right now. I just had a little epiphany writing that. I don’t know if I have ever been able to pinpoint this feeling. I know its physical sensations. The intense tightness in my throat, like I am strangling myself with my own throat muscles. And the feeling in my arms and legs, hands and feet, like they don’t exist. Sort of the opposite of phantom limb syndrome. But I don’t know if up until this point I have ever been able to clearly note that it comes down to wanting something to be different that I have no power to change.

I don’t know the last time I had this feeling. It comes, and I let it go by trusting. By trusting that life is going the way it should. That whatever situation will be resolved and I, personally, will be better off with whatever the outcome. That has always been true, even though at the time it didn’t always seem to work out in my favor.

But the last time I remember this feeling being so terrible that it was practically unbearable, was about four years ago. I was a babysitter at the time and I could not stop thinking about the possibilities of the children I took care of getting hurt or dying. Especially when they were under my watch. I could not get these thoughts out of my head. Not matter how many times I tried to stop thinking them, they kept creeping in.

Now that I think about it, that was simply that I was overwhelmed by my lack of control over life. I was a fantastic child-care provider. I was not flighty or careless. I just knew in that moment that things happen in life, and people get hurt and it’s nobody’s fault. And I couldn’t control that. And it terrified me. And traumatized me. And it created the most intense pain.

That was when I started meditating. That was when I made an agreement with God, and then took time every morning to renew it. I agreed that I would honor what ever happened in a day as exactly what was supposed to happen. I didn’t have to like it. I didn’t have to put some spin on it. I just had to honor it. In other words, I had to trust.

That agreement doesn’t mean I always trust. It doesn’t stop this feeling from showing up. And it’s intense. But I will say that wading through it is so much better than eating it.

I used to eat all of my feelings. But I can think of growing up, and the times I felt the most crazy and out of control, and it all came down to this feeling, magnified times a thousand. Because I ate it. And then I ate it again. And again. Until eating it wasn’t going to work again. Until it had to come out. And when it did, it was all tied up in my worthlessness and my brokenness and the shameful things I had done and the shame in what I had failed to do. It was muddled and cloudy and I couldn’t see it clearly. And I couldn’t hold it in. I could eat as much cake as I wanted, but it was going to come out. And by that time it was so big and heavy and intense that it scared the shit out of me. There were times that I actually thought I might be going crazy.

There is something about using a substance that is ultimately lacking. If it weren’t, it would work. If I could have numbed my pain with food, and it had kept working, I would have done it. Eternally. Before I had love in my life, I would have gladly traded love for numb. I did, in fact trade love for numb for so many years. If only I could have stayed numb, I would have happily gotten fatter and fatter. I would have happily died of some obesity related illness. If only it had worked.

Thank God it didn’t. Now I would never trade love for numb. Even when this pain is so intense. And anyway, it passes, eventually. But first I have to let myself fall into the helplessness. I have to look my lack of control in the eye and not blink.

Better than the alternative.

Today I called a restaurant to ask about their menu. I wasn’t going to. I looked it up on line. They had vegetables. They had protein. It would have been fine.

And then my boyfriend said, “But aren’t you going to call them?” And I said “Yeah. OK.”

Here is the truth. I would have been able to eat there without calling ahead. It would have been fine. But only just fine. By calling, I gave myself the opportunity to eat better. I was able to make a special request and have them prep something for me specially. This restaurant normally braises their cabbage with a seasoning blend that has starch in it. But one of the cooks told me that he could set aside some for me that did not have that seasoning. He then answered all ten thousand of my questions. Told me what was made pre-prepped and could not be changed, and what I could get on the side. He even told me portion sizes.

I would have had to take up plenty of my server’s time if I had asked all of my questions at the table. And in the end I would have ended up with a salad of lettuce and onion and 4 orders of steamed broccoli. Dry. It would not have been my favorite meal. I would have made it work. Because I always make it work so that I keep my food boundaries. But I would probably have been kind of disappointed.

I can have a lot of anxiety. Especially around keeping my food boundaries. Because as a sugar addict and compulsive eater, I am so clear that my happiness and sanity hang in the balance. But since I have started living with my boyfriend, I have been trying to be able to be more flexible about eating out. NOT like crossing my boundaries. Ever. But being more willing to trust that I will be able to keep my boundaries in the actual real world.

Other people do it. Calmly and peacefully and with the sure knowledge that it will go well and be great. I know so many people who regularly do what I do in restaurants and in public. I know people who have done what I do anywhere and everywhere. Morocco and India and the South American Jungle. Places where it’s actually hard. And yet they have managed. Even Japan (though I have been told that Japan was the hardest.)

I want to feel free to go out into the world and live my life. And trust that I will be able to keep my food boundaries as long as I am willing. Because that is really all it takes. Willingness.

But it was nice to remember that preparing can not only make the experience less stressful, it also gives me an opportunity to get something I would not have gotten if I had not called ahead. Not only did I get to let go of some of tomorrow’s dining anxiety by being prepared, I gave the restaurant an opportunity to be prepared to serve me better.

I am sure that I will have plenty of chances in life to prove that I am willing to keep my food boundaries in all manner of circumstances, while flying by the seat of my pants, because that is what life throws at me. But in the mean time, I am grateful to have a fantastic boyfriend who reminds me that when being prepared is an option, it’s worth the effort. And I’m sure he thought to remind me because, let’s face it, a better-fed Kate is a happier Kate. And a happier Kate is better than the alternative…

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