It's 5 o'clock somewhere...we all know this phrase, common to having an alcoholic beverage...an excuse some of us may use to justify a desire that may not be a need. Well; I have never had alcohol, so this phrase doesn't apply to me, although I DO enjoy a splurge now and again.
I am an addict. Maybe we all are in some form or fashion; we all have something that is hard for us to give up, be it a substance or a 'thing' we turn to when we feel anxious, stressed, under pressure, or want to numb out. We've all had that Netflix binge session where we go hours in front of the screen anticipating our favorite character's next move...you know that feeling don't you? Where nothing else takes precedence before you literally can NOT keep your eyes open any longer!!
I struggle, amongst other things, with an eating disorder. It may still be taboo to talk about things like this, but I'd like to create a safe space where struggles become more common in an attempt to help others know they are not alone. And more importantly, to educate others that your disease does NOT have to be your life. The spectrum is broad when it comes to food and mental illness creating a wedge...everyone's situation is different, but the symptoms are similar: it comes down to control. For me, it is the fear of the future. Whether that fear is surrounding the future I have with individuals, or whether that fear is a cause of disliking my body, they are both dysmorphic and have caused great pain.
The mornings are easy! I look forward to my intermittent fast, usually with cardio involved, truth be told I am hardly ever hungry upon first awaking. More thirsty than anything! I CRAVE that cold ice water. I want to move my body, but am not ready yet for solid food. Once I get exercise in, and enough water, I feel excited to eat something fresh, light, fueling. The day goes on and I don't think too much about the food...though every mirror I pass, I struggle NOT to turn my head. I wish mirrors could disappear...I am working on that; an attempt to look at the reflection of others and focus on how I can serve them, rather than pick apart me.
Dinner comes around, and because of my way of eating, I usually cook and plate my family's meal and then eat later, a bit after them when they are winding down for bed. Once the sun goes down, the temptation hits. And it's not every day...as I said above, it is usually circumstantial. Am I emotional? Is there something I am stressed about? Am I trying to find a connection with someone that I can't create without the food? [this excuse is unfortunate, as I would hope that each human connection comes naturally first-that food can just be a nice experience surrounding a bond that has already been created]. Am I tired? Am I behind on assignments? Am I bored? How is my spiritual practice? ... whatever the initial feeling, that tends to create a ripple effect into my WHY questions-usually surrounding a goal I have set for myself. "Why am I doing this? What is the point? Why is it so easy for them?" ...negative questions, and a lot of impatience involved usually-a desire to 'give up' has always come when there is an underlying problem.
It only takes one little experience: one bite, one sip, one negative thought, to then spark the binge. Everyone has experience overeating in some circumstance..usually over the holidays when we are surrounded by friends and family, and the kitchen is loaded with beautiful things to eat. Live a little, right?! Food is an ECCENTRIC part of human life! And my hope is that we would never deny ourselves of something that we want-as long as it does not harm us, or harm others.
The oreos come out, chips and queso get placed on the table, popcorn gets popped for the littles. The small taste sets off a memory, and I decide I don't want to be strong enough to eat in moderation. Out comes the nut butter to dip those oreos in. And when I've had 5, or 10, dipped in what was once a healthy fat, I move on to something else. Maybe a bowl of cereal. And then toast...first with avocado, and then with jam. At this point I am craving something salty, so I might pull out the crackers and hummus, or make a shake...this continues until I feel sick sometimes. And each new food is a new justification--maybe a palate cleanser, maybe a reason to hide emotion I don't want to feel, maybe a punishment for something in my life going in a direction I did not anticipate.
If any of this sounds familiar, even in a very broad manner, you are not alone. Food and body image do not have to consume your every thought and waking moment forever. In fact, it CAN stop today. I am not sure if the thoughts will ever go away for me, or if I will ever not get triggered again. I can not foresee the future, nor can I control every circumstance I may end up in for the rest of my life. But what I have found I can control, are my thoughts and my actions. I can choose to live in a way that is congruent to who I want to be, by setting boundaries with myself and with others, even if that means confronting an awkward situation. I CAN spend the needed time to meditate, to self-medicate with love and acceptance, and fill my mind each morning and evening with positive thoughts and positive affirmations.
Esther offers us, "Perhaps this is the moment for which you were created".
I will not choose fear. I was made for this.
Be strong. Go forward with love. Find grace. Give grace. Be grace.