11:12 a.m. - 2005-01-28
Ugh. I mean, it's not like there is a whole lot of actual work going on, but really. I could be at home not working and be wearing my PJ's, instead of being here.
However, being here provides a nice segue into the topic I've been thinking a lot about but have resisted posting about.
On Fridays, our office provides breakfast. Donuts. Bagels. Kolaches. Shit like that. This morning, not only did I skip the gym, I sampled all of the above…and now I feel icky on two levels. The first is that my gastrointestinal tract, with the exception of my taste buds, does not like donuts. The second is that I was really trying to turn over a new leaf as far as the dieting thing.
I've been at a weight-loss plateau since about September. I haven't really gained, but I haven't really lost, either. I decided to try to re-commit to my goal. Part of this involved figuring out why I'd been stuck and what I could change.
So I decided going to the gym in the morning was the first step. Which has been a good step, if even just because it has made me go to bed at a reasonable hour every night and be tired enough to fall asleep.
I came to the conclusion that the real problem was not my exercise habits. The real problem was that I am addicted to food.
I'm not talking about average cravings. I don't think I know what those are. See, I think when most people get a food craving, they will eat a candy bar or some nachos or an order of French fries, and that will satisfy them.
I'm like a fucking junkie looking for my next fix. If I decide I want candy, I'll eat it till I'm sick. If I don't have any available, I will eat everything else in the house that isn't nailed down.
I have no idea why I am like this, but I have been like this for as long as I can remember.
I know that alcoholism, drug addiction, and depression run in my family. I'm not an alcoholic and don't think I could be. I could probably get addicted to prescription painkillers, but I hate going to the doctor, so I would never be a whiny enough pain in the ass to get enough of them to get addicted. I do smoke cigarettes, and have been known to fire up the occasional doobie. I suppose I am addicted to nicotine, but if I wanted to quit, I could. I've gone without for almost a week, and it wasn't that big of a deal.
The reason I don't want to quit smoking is food. When I have gone without cigs, I have caught myself eating even more.
I have really been trying very hard to avoid eating. This means I can't really keep anything remotely "bad" in my house. No granola bars. No popcorn. No pretzels. No cheese and crackers. Each of these items have had to be eliminated, one by one, from my grocery list.
What scares me is that this IS like being a drug addict. I've caught myself, when I'm out with my friends, wishing I could go home and eat for real. I don't like eating with people. I am very secretive about my actual food consumption most of the time. Some of my best friends probably have a little better idea, but I don't think I've really admitted how deep it goes. I've been afraid to admit it…even to myself.
Well, guess it's time to take that first step and publicly acknowledge the problem.
The second step-actually overcoming this addiction-is the difficult part. I can freaking sit here all day and spout off about being a fucked-up binge eater, just like any drug addict or alcoholic could tell you horror stories about getting high or getting drunk. For them, though, the solution is to quit.
You cannot completely quit eating.
I think it's the only addiction that is really that way. Anything else: work, collecting, drinking, drugs, cigarettes, gambling, shopping, even self-mutilation...you can completely stop. Cold turkey. You do not have to have any of those things or do any of those things to survive (well, work maybe, but there's disability and other alternatives). You cannot, however, survive without eating.
I was watching a special on TV about gastric bypass patients. They were doing kind of a "where are they now", and one of the girls' comments really hit home. She said that she could no longer get comfort from food, and that had always been her emotional support when things were bad.
Then yesterday, my office mate and I were discussing quitting smoking. And she said she didn't want to quit, because when she had before, she felt like she had lost her best friend.
I feel like I'm having to say goodbye to mine. But it's not like there can be a severing, a grieving process, and a moving on. It's not like a death. It's more like a bad breakup with someone who stepped all over your heart but who you still love anyway….and you still have to see them every day, and each time you accidentally catch their eye, it brings every raw emotion right back to the surface.
I'm hoping that I can eventually become more desensitized. To focus on all of the bad things my calorie-laden lovers have done to me. To re-live the loneliness, and the insecurity, and the humiliation. To remember feeling left out. To experience the horrible stomach cramps. To recall the feeling of being Gulliver in the land of Lilliput every time I hung out in a group. To look at photographs of myself and be shocked by what I saw. To remember walking into mall stores with my friends and feeling the burning eyes of the salespeople as they stared from head to toe and sneered because nothing in there could possibly fit me—to remember the condescension in their voices when they said "can I help you?"
I know that in order to conquer this addiction, I will have to prick myself with these memories each time I open the door of the refrigerator, or the cabinet, or the restaurant menu. Most of the reputable diets say not to completely deny yourself…if you want a bite, have a small one.
I can't do that. It would be like wine-tasting for a recovering alcoholic, one hit off the crack pipe for the drug addict, one pull of the slot machine for a compulsive gambler….or one last night with the lover who broke your heart. One is not enough. One is never enough. One only brings back all of the good feelings, and makes it that much harder to resist the second one.
I think the reason I don't like thinking about this, or talking about this, is because I am ashamed. I am ashamed that, despite being strong-willed about so many things, that food is my achilles' heel. I am ashamed because I do not like to admit weakness, for fear that it will make me vulnerable. I do not like people feeling sorry for me, and I do not like giving anyone a reason to feel superior to me. I already feel that, by virtue of my appearance, thin people do have that interior superiority…even if it is never voiced. I cannot deal with any more of their pity.
I think this is the first time I have really tried to confront how scared this addiction makes me. That maybe all my willpower of diet and exercise will not be enough to enable me to be "sober" and live a normal life. That I will gain back every one of the 60 pounds I have lost, and will feel like my only option is surgery that frightens me.
My addiction has not been as hidden as I would like to believe. It is written on every dimple of fat on my body. It is written on my bloated face. It is broadcasting loud and clear.
I hate it that my demons are so obvious to the world.
But I am hoping that, by introducing them and calling them by name, I will have the strength to exorcise them.