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What I've Learned About Binges

Saturday, July 06, 2013

I've been struggling with staying on any food program lately and my weight and psyche both show it. I've been binging regularly, and not on cucumbers and celery sticks. I do know my spirit feels wounded. My relationship with food definitely needs attention.

In the past, I've been able to use self talk to keep binging at bay. Lately any self-talk has been drowned out by the other voice, the WTF voice. I checked out "Women Food and God" by Geneen Roth at the library yesterday. I have a few of her books, haven't actually read any of them all the way through. In this one she states, "...if I tracked the impulse to eat when i wasn't hungry to its core, I'd find every single thing I believed about loving, living, and dying right there, in that moment." She goes on to talk about how the "truths" we learn as children are often the "truths" we are reacting to in that moment of eating. If there was never enough, for example, you take more than you need in order to survive. Stuff like that. Your experiences, your reality as a child. What you learned life was.

As a child I wasn't well cared for or nurtured much at all, so maybe in those moments of eating I'm telling myself the same things...I'm not worth taking care of or nurturing. The feeling I have when I eat is one of defiance. I was defiant a lot, in order to get the attention of the adults around me. No one paid much attention to me when I followed the rules, got straight A's, obeyed curfew. But when I defied the rules, I got attention, all right. Not necessarily the kind I wanted, but something was better than nothing.

People I loved left. My father died when I was 2, We moved to Indiana so Mom could be near her mother when I was 8. My older brother, who was 18 and in college, stayed in Texas, so I lost him, too. When we got to Indiana my mother became depressed. I didn't know that at the time, of course, but I see it now. It became clear when we got to Indiana that my mother's family wanted little to do with helping mom take care of me. I know now from conversations with my mother as an adult that the relationship she and her mother had was a rocky one. She never felt she could do anything right. As a result of her depression, I wasn't cared for. In 3rd grade I wasn't told to bathe, change clothes, go to bed, and my eating certainly wasn't monitored. I was left alone after school because there was no one to take care of me. No one willing to, anyway. So I ate. A lot. I remember eating until I was so full I thought I would explode.

I've examined all of these issues before; the missing father, the unloving grandmother, the mother paralyzed by her own need for acceptance by the family she loved but that hated me, and the anger I felt as a result of not being first in anyone's life. I know that the adults in my life were wrong...I am good enough, I am lovable, I am fine the way I am. I know my mother did the best she could with the tools and resources she had a t the time. I would do things differently, but I have different resources. I know I have now surrounded me with people who love me, with all my flaws. My husband married me when I was close to 300 pounds. He doesn't care what I weigh, just wants me to be healthy. I've tried very hard to make sure my own daughter knows she is fine the way she is. I see her perfectionist streak and I've tried very hard to help her understand that perfection isn't a goal that can be attained. I also suspect that she will simply have to battle that one herself. I've done the hard work. I won. So why is it still there???

I've lost this weight by focusing on the changes I need to make, not on the number. Lately, I've lost that. I'm focusing on the number and the WTF thinking comes in when that number doesn't go down even though I've done the right things. That happens sometimes. I know that.

So, maybe, just maybe, those moments of WTF eating are that little girl trying to get some love, some validation? Maybe she's yelling "Take care of me!" and then I go and shove some more food at the poor thing! I found out a long time ago that food won't fill the voids. Never will. I KNOW this, so why do I keep trying to use it that way? And, more importantly, what can I do in those moments of "I don't care anymore" instead? Because I really do care.

I know the list: take a bath, read, sleep, talk to friend, write, listen to music, go for a drive. I made that list! What about when nothing helps?

That's the real problem, because I think the answer to that question is that you just have to feel the way you feel until you don't feel like that anymore. I mean, really FEEL it. Not try to numb it, stuff it down. Let it wash over you. And that answer sucks because that feeling is uncomfortable! But it won't kill me. IT WON'T KILL ME! I have survived worse things than feeling a little bit uncomfortable. I can survive a want, no, a NEED, to eat without indulging it.

So, that's the answer, I think. That there is no answer. You just exist, the way you are, feeling like food will help, but knowing that it won't. Nothing will help. So, might as well just feel the feeling, the discomfort.

Maybe that realization will help in some way.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    "you just have to feel the way you feel until you don't feel like that anymore. I mean, really FEEL it. Not try to numb it, stuff it down. Let it wash over you. And that answer sucks because that feeling is uncomfortable! But it won't kill me....

    You just exist, the way you are, feeling like food will help, but knowing that it won't. Nothing will help. So, might as well just feel the feeling, the discomfort."

    Such true words. The bath may help, the run may help, but the feelings must be felt.
    1583 days ago
    self reflection is good for the soul
    1683 days ago
    emoticon for your honesty...Your blog post brings out a lot of emotional issues for you. You have done well on your journey and will continue to move forward. Hopefully writing/posting it here will help you to continue to heal.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon and more emoticon
    1686 days ago
    What an awesome blog Emily. I also struggle with the same feelings and my childhood was say the least. You are brave for putting it all out there and you have a wonderful solution at the end. I will try to do the same and deal with the feelings instead of stuffing them back down with food. Thank you Emily. emoticon
    1686 days ago
  • 4CYNDI
    You are an awesome person and what you said here hits very close to home for me. I don't have your exact experiences but similar problems and challenges with food. You state it so well. I've been hiding my feelings from everyone, especially myself for many years. Watching you grow through your own experiences and come to accept the emotions gives me hope that I can also learn to feel and not feed them.

    Thank you for such a wonderful blog.
    1687 days ago
  • ANNETTE117
    Awesome blog.
    1687 days ago
    This is an extraordinary piece, Emily. I think you've put into words what so many of us experience - yes, they may not have had the missing father, Indian, etc., but really it's the lack of nurturing, and even though we KNOW this as adults in our heads, it's our hearts that are aching. And I would argue that those feelings can be MORE than uncomfortable (yes, the "hungry" feeling is just uncomfortable), but FACING those feelings, delving into them, re-living pain and sorrow (even if we're surrounded by love and care now) can be really, really tough. And yes, it's good to have those tools (baths, writing, etc.). I've been going through something similar, but coming to grips with it for the first time, which it seems you did quite a while ago. You are truly SUCH an inspiration. And good for you for getting back on track. emoticon
    1687 days ago
  • JANINE8969
    What has helped me, in that WTF moment, is asking MY HIGHER POWER to intercede any way HE can. No joke. I have been on the brink of drowning my WTF moments with a food trigger that almost caused a heart attack. So, when I am defiant, willful, not forgiving, don't care anymore but really do, control, yell, cry and let my inner child that was not taken care of either out.......I ask my HIGHER POWER to take care of her IN THAT MOMENT. That really is the only one that can. You see, the people that have failed us because they were trying to take care of their own path, were never able to provide for us anyway. Are we hurt by this? Yes...of course. We were children. I DEFINITELY do different and right by my child. We kind of have to forgive our parents for what they DIDN'T DO. This has not been easy for me....but they were making the best choices they thought were right. Now, as adults, we have so many choices beyond what we learned growing up. As a matter of fact, we are GROWN. Why should we let something from 30 years ago affect us now? We need to grieve those and move on....but not without our Higher Power. Our own wills trick us so many times....they are the illusion. Feel your feelings....but don't stay there too long. You have a right to choose to feel good....NO MATTER WHAT SIZE.
    1687 days ago
  • KIKA07DK
    What a great and honest blog emoticon It takes a lot of courage to write openly about things that have hurt us during our life.
    You've already taken the first few steps to help you with your emotional eating. Recognizing what triggers your binges is actually the hardest step and you've got that down!
    You have a list of alternatives to emotional eating that have worked for you before but no longer are working. Maybe it's time to find some new one's.
    Some of your family members might not like you, I have to say, it's their loss! Because you are a BEAUTIFUL women inside out!
    Thankfully, you've found a lovely husband who loves YOU for who you are emoticon
    emoticon emoticon
    1688 days ago
    You did a GREAT job on this blog!! You are definitely not alone! Learning to deal with the discomfort is so hard. I always look at myself and tell myself that I just need a little bit more self-control, but it really does go deeper than that. Good job on looking at the issues, and know that I am here if you need a friend to hang onto! emoticon
    1688 days ago
    Thank you for such an honest statement of what so many of us have been through and continue to face. I hope you know that you are not alone! I think you hit the nail on the head in that you do just have to allow yourself to feel whatever feelings come up. Distraction techniques are fine sometimes, but eventually whatever needs to be felt will come up again. Maybe you can remind that scared inner child that she has a capable, loving adult (You!) who can help her deal with whatever feels overwhelming to her.
    1688 days ago
    Emily, what an awesome and honest blog. Very difficult to put out there. I sure know that I have been feeding my emotions for a lifetime and even if I know that isn't the answer I still turn to food as if it is my BFF. I make deals (with the devil?) that tomorrow I'll start over - next week - the first of the month. I commit to pacts and challenges and dietbets and it HELPS but it doesn't change who I am and what I do. People hit goal and head off and some are very successful - not I. No, I need accountability or I'll soon be right back at 250 and I know it because I turn to food to fill the voids that rationally I know it does not fill but for some reason food is the answer at the moment in time when I need it and for that moment, it DOES. I know all the science and the answers and the right from the wrong but food - in the moment - IS what I need and turn to. I am a foodie and I suppose I am addicted to it. It fills a void that nothing else ever has. No blame; just absolute honesty. Food doesn't judge me or expect anything from me and it somehow does "feed" me in the moment. Until I find something else that I am right here with you searching for the why's and the end to the madness....Love you girl and you know where to find me if you need a virtual hug. See you on the Island. emoticon emoticon
    1688 days ago
    So much of what you said rings true for me. I am new to SP but had a couple bad days this week and know it was emotional eating....feeding that inner child who will never have enough. And the bath and the walk and snuggling with the dogs did not help. Mine is not sweets, mine is salty. I got cheetos to soothe my soul. I freaked out and felt so much shame when I was way over my calorie count on Wednesday but it didn't keep me from repeating the pattern on Saturday!! I have that Geneen Roth book and need to dig it out of the pile and read it. I, too, know what it is about, but am not good at going with the feelings. I also know that stuffing the feelings and stuffing my face do not make it any better. But still I continue to pick up the bag of cheetos. Only good thing I can say about it is that I got the little bag.

    Thanks so much for sharing. It really does help to know that others are going thru the same things at the same time. It's truly an unexpected bonus for me to find this on SP. I just wanted to keep myself honest with the tracking and have found lots of inspiration and encouragement just by reading blogs and looking for teams!
    1688 days ago
    I have no words, this blog was overwhelming. I have an ongoing battle with binges. Emotional eating. Call it what you will but you eat to stifle feelings or to give yourself a placebo with foods. You're right. Not celery sticks or carrots.

    At least you've looked at what's going on you've come to conclusions. You've got back up plans. I wish I could give you good advise or words of wisdom but unfortunately I'm in the same boat. All I can do is say you're not alone. emoticon
    1689 days ago
  • KANOE10
    There is discomfort in are right you can get through it. It helped me to have substitutes that I liked that were healthy!

    Good for you learning about yourself and venting here!

    1689 days ago
    Wonderful blog. Thanks for being so open and honest.
    1689 days ago
    You have an enormous amount of insight. Your ideas added to those of Geneen Roth are very much to the point. Those WTF moments when all of the fear, deprivation, neglect wash over you in a tidal wave of despair are challenging indeed. Like you, I feel an impulse to "medicate" or stave off those moments with big servings of mind-numbing carbs. I will remember what you wrote about trying to live through and survive the moment.

    Best of good wishes to you!
    1689 days ago
    I think you've hit the nail on the head here. With all you've been through, you've still come to the realization that in reality, there is no ultimate answer. It's a difficult situation, but there it is...
    1689 days ago
    Thank you for putting into words what many of us feel. Like you, I got some toxic messages as a child-mama wanted a boy.....can't fix that one. She got one the second time around and then I really didn't exist. Over achiever wasn't good enough so at some point I began to use food for comfort. It took me years to recognize the issues were not really of my design, but rather coping mechanisms and am still trying to come to terms with this relationship. It is still extremely difficult. I say all this because I think the best we can ever do is learn to recognize when we are slipping into those old patterns and try to employ better strategies, than eating, for responding-but it is HARD! You have made incredible progress on your journey-I hope this detour will give you more insight and personal empowerment as you move forward. Best to you and again, thank you for sharing.
    PJ emoticon
    1689 days ago
    LOVE THIS POST! Thank you for your honesty! So often we are told not to feel what we feel, or that our feelings are invalid. By acknowledging the feeling and letting that feeling be what it is, you are giving it permission to exist.
    1689 days ago
    thank you for this. It was a huge help to me just when I needed it most.
    1689 days ago
    " feeling like food will help, but knowing that it won't. Nothing will help. So, might as well just feel the feeling, the discomfort. "

    I agree. May as well feel the feeling. I have binged because of stress. I didn't start to binge until I was an adult, so I figure if I start to identify why I binge I can start to deal with the REAL reasons in a much healthier way. I hope one day I can.

    Very deep blog.
    1689 days ago
    I can certainly realte to all this too, and I have labeled it self-esteem issues, and while I was really feeling hopelesss about a year ago, I still don't think I have all the inside stuff resolved. My worst eating comes at night and maybe I use food as a sedative. I will try the list you mentioned. Since I've not used it, maybe I can get by for awhile on that. By the way, you're pictures look great, so if you were once 300 lb, I say you have done great. I usually don't read long blogs, but your's was helpful
    1689 days ago
    This is such a deep blog. I hope that just writing it has helped you. I went thru 30 years of yoyo dieting. I could never figure out why I would start feeling so bad when I was doing so well, and then I'd go back to eating. I do think that it's very difficult to get over the messages from childhood, and that was my problem. They weren't as difficult as yours, but I had a mother with mental issues and a father who expected so much and never gave us credit for anything because he thought it would go to our heads.

    I've been a lot more successful in the last 3+ years at losing a large amount of weight and keeping it off. I think it's because I did just what you said - I allowed myself to feel the way I needed to feel. That means a slower loss. I thought I would have been at goal by now and I'm not, but at the same time I feel happier and more hopeful than I ever have. Everyone is different, but maybe you could think about expecting a little less in terms of the time it takes and allow yourself to feel good about where you are at and where you are going. I'm saying this from personal experience, so ignore it if it doesn't apply. emoticon

    I think you are doing great and I've really enjoyed getting to know you. You are a remarkable person. emoticon
    1689 days ago
  • SKC123
    Thank you. Your words are encouraging. I came from a great family with a lot of resources, but I still use some of the same coping mechanisms to fight boredom, hurt, and disappointment. Your insight will help me to keep things in perspective and keep trying, even when I don't feel like it.

    Congratulations on your journey so far. It sounds like you are doing a great job using the tools you have and making your life much better now than where you started. emoticon
    1689 days ago
    You are so brave. You are looking at the pain and agreeing to live with it rather than run or bury it. Anyone can work the eating and exercise plan when it seems easy. But you are confronting it when it is hard. You must be a very strong person.
    1689 days ago
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