In my Brain
I finished the book I was reading, It's Not About Food by Carol Emery Normandi and Laurelee Roark. There were some striking moments for me in this book. It was a book I simply grabbed off the shelf at the library and started on a random page, and knew I would get something out of it. The book is about eating disorders, and while I am not clinically diagnosed with one, the information pertained to me. I am self-diagnosing with compulsive eating. I eat when I am not hungry. I eat my emotions, even when I can't identify what they are. And, as peculiar as it sounds, many times when I am eating, I can't identify an emotion that is driving it, but I can tell that I am doing it for some emotional purpose. I was happy to discover that this is not uncommon, and sometimes it is just pure boredom. It makes sense, when a week or two ago, I was about to eat without being hungry, and I told myself to 'get busy' and working on a project definitely helped me stop thinking about food. I know I have issues. I know they don't really have anything to do with food, other than the fact that I use food to cope with things I don't know how to handle otherwise. Boredom, say the authors, is a signal that your body is not getting something it needs.
The book has a lot of exercises that you need to do in a quiet place, putting yourself in a state of mind where you are deeply focused on your past, seeing a situation in your childhood when you soothed yourself with food, and what caused the situation; what emotion or self-myth was tied to that incident. While I was trying to do the first one, trying to find some link or root to an early childhood time when I overate, I couldn't pinpoint a memory of overeating, but I did feel a whole slew of unpleasant words/phrases wash over me, fragments of real or imagined labels or thoughts put on me as a child. Things like, 'you want too much' or 'I'm ashamed of you' or 'what are you, dumb?' came to mind. I always have a way of excusing my mom for saying rude things to me, my parents had two kids by the time they were 19 and I don't know if they really even loved each other or if they were teenagers who had an accident so in those days, you got married. Anyway, I realize that, while my mom had so so many issues of her own that sucked her into her own world, she parented in a very detached way and there was always something I felt missing. I always felt alone. She would tell me, when I got older, how I was so good, always happy to play alone and entertain myself. I remember wishing someone would play with me, but feeling like I was asking too much. The feeling of being ignored has played over and over in my life like a bad dream, and leaves me feeling so unimportant. In the book, the authors say that eating problems (whether it is over or under-eating) develop from needs that we had as children not being met. These things will continually haunt us and drive us to use food to cope until we find a way to "reparent" ourselves, finding and feeling the emotion underlying the stress and finding a better way to cope with it. For me, the feeling unimportant might be solved by talking to my bestie or doing something special with my family. Or, one of my favorite winter activities, a warm bubble bath.
I know for myself, I will never be successful in losing weight until I fix my issues with eating. I like that this book delves into some of the ways to discover just what my issues are, I was really clueless before I read it, but now some things are starting to surface. This is vital, because before I read it, I was starting to feel really bad about losing weight in general, every single weight related blog I follow on here was the same story over and over, people losing a nice amount, then back up the scale they go, self-bashing, frustrated and depressed. It was the same for me, and the why can't I get back on track thoughts that haunted me over and over weren't just about determination or discipline. They were a sign that something inside me was broken, and has been for a long time, and that losing weight or being in control of what I eat won't make those things disappear. Ignoring a problem or coping with it doesn't make it go away. Losing weight made me feel good, but it didn't fix the issues I have had since childhood, so when those things started cropping up, determination and discipline didn't cut it. After reading this book and doing a lot of soul-searching, Robert Frost's quote, "The best way out is always through" is so precisely on-point. I know this journey may take longer, but by fixing my inner issues, I am hoping it will be my last barrier to fixing my health.
Long post, lot on my brain. Happy Monday!