Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Because Marla asked for it

Wednesday evening. Marla asked me to talk about something I'd sent her in email at more length here. Since I am powerless to deny her anything, here's what I said in the original email:

"Man, it can be a real bitch when you have to cope with things that aren't fun head on instead of having the shield of food. I am always thinking how moody I am and wondering why I cry so easily or get so frustrated by things...Hello? You're actually feeling things now and this is what that feels like, Denise! I'm amazed it's taken me so long to put the pieces together, but I feel so much better about my mental health now that I have. I was, seriously, thinking that I was becoming manic or something because of how strongly I was feeling things. It's not that I'm feeling them more strongly now, it's that I haven't felt them at all for such a long time that it feels like the strongest emotion ever when I feel anything. I know that, for me, the avoidance stretched across my entire life and even to Life itself. I just didn't want to feel or think about anything except food, which was safe. I want to make sure that I don't ever forget that, either, because I know that I'm not "cured", I just have it under control right now."

This was all in the context of a further discussion of last Saturday's post, which talked about how I'd suddenly realized that I'd started owning my feelings again instead of trying to feed them away, and how good that felt.

I know that most people who are fat do not overeat more than the average person does, but I definitely did. I ate everything that I could, as often as I could, and always in secret because I was ashamed. I was (and am - I'm only "in remission") the stereotypical fat person label that most fat hating folks like to think applies to all of us. Any emotion - whether "good" or "bad" - was just too much for me to deal with, but the food created a wall between me and the emotions (and those mean people, too, coincidentally) and that wall is what kept me sane. Yes, that's right, if it hadn't been for food, there are several times in my life when I either would have killed myself (yes, really) or given up my grip on reality and life as I knew it. Food was an effective coping mechanism for me and I am grateful for that.

So, if not food, then what? Well, I have to commit to making myself feel things and deal with the discomfort that those feelings may bring. Without food. The good news is that I have a lot more things in my life now, like exercise and my writing and my work with Voices for Children, and all of that keeps me from being completely self absorbed and obsessing over every feeling that skips across my conscious mind. But still, I know that, somewhere out there, something (probably a male something with my track record) is lurking, waiting, to pounce and throw everything up in the air when I least expect it. The real test will be to see how I handle that. Will my newfound coping skills stand the test? More important than that, perhaps, is the question of what I will do after I'm knocked temporarily off course - will I get right back on or will I let a minor setback send me right back to the very beginning again? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I've had a little taste of how poorly I handle even what should be positive emotions through my nomination for a BoB award. This should be something I happily note and am proud of, and I am, sort of. The bigger part of me, though, is praying most fervently that I don't make the final cut or - GOD FORBID - win. Now, I am quietly confident that neither of these things will happen because there are some major powerhouses on the Weight Loss list and one of them will, by the law of greater numbers, win in a landslide, as they should, but there's still this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach because people might actually notice me. And, if they notice me, they might not like me. People not liking me is one of my greatest weaknesses and has always been a driver of my compulsive overeating. I am proud, however, to report that not a morsel has passed my lips this week as a result of the nomination. (I did have a bag of peanut M&Ms yesterday, but that was work stress and just an incredible craving for M&Ms, plus I ate them in public and didn't sneak them.) I guess it's like they say at AA/OA: I'm going to take this one day (or one feeling) at a time.

Thanks for the nudge, Marla.

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