Hi, my name is Amber, and I’m a foodaholic…
There are times when I get so frustrated with my coping mechanisms, or I should say LACK of healthy coping mechanisms. Some people exercise, some people create art or music, some people drink or get high, some people have sex, some people help those in need, and I…I eat. Not only is that boring, compared to, you know, like having SEX, it also hurts me more, makes the hole deeper, and undoes what I’ve been doing.
For many months now I’ve been able to keep my compulsive eating in check and have employed healthier coping mechanisms when my life has felt overwhelming, but this month I relapsed pretty badly.
I haven’t been ready until today to actually blog this out because honestly I just get tired of hearing myself admit to it over and over and over again. It’s a cycle and I hate the fact that I’m caught in it. But…this blog is about accountability and honesty and getting back up after you’ve fallen down, so I’m just going to admit that I have had a bad time of it the past two weeks, that I’ve gained some weight back, that I’ve been depressed, and that I want to climb out of the hole I’ve dug for myself and start walking again.
Compulsive eating is very challenging to overcome. Cognitively it takes a lot of work. Every day I have had a battle going on in my mind and it’s exhausting, but today I woke up with this intense desire to move forward from this fog and LET MYSELF BE HEALTHY again. Yes, let myself. Because truth be told, this is classic self sabotage, something I’ve done throughout my entire life. As soon as things have started to get good for me in any area, in comes the destroyer — ME.
I’m not sure why I do this, but I know many other overweight women who have struggled with the same tendency. I think it has to do with a deep-seated belief that real change is not possible combined with a very real and raw sense of FEAR. It’s sort of a backwards survival mechanism. The changes you pursue have the potential to erase or permanently alter parts of who you are, and despite the fact those parts are unwanted and unhealthy, the fear-based survival mechanism kicks in. On an intellectual level I want to let all of those unhealthy parts of myself go, but emotionally and perhaps even instinctively I feel threatened. I feel scared. I claw for comfort and self preservation (i.e. compulsively eating and staying overweight). I protect even my sicknesses because they are a part of me and I’m afraid of letting go. I’m afraid there is nothing else.
But there is. I KNOW there is. It just requires a special type of vision, faith and bravery to see it.
That is what happened to me this month, the trigger for my compulsive eating and weight gain, it has all been fear of letting go. I got down to 175 lb last month, I started to feel light, free, more alive…more unfamiliar to myself. And then all of these new emotions and sensations started to turn up. They felt very unfamiliar and somewhat overwhelming and I realized that I’ve started to tap into new “self” I am not yet acquainted with. It just scared me a little, is all.
So. I decided to have a little back-and-forth dialogue with myself about this. Maybe you think this is crazy, but whatever, it’s how I roll. Here it is…
Well, this is kind of strange. I mean, I’m you and you’re me, but we’re actually different in a lot of way. To be honest, you kind of intimidate me. I’m afraid I’m going to disappear if I let you take over, even though I know I should probably trust you because, well, ultimately I want to be you. You’re hard working, brave, motivated. You aren’t afraid to go after what you want and do what matters to you in life. You love people fiercely and really let people live in your heart, but at the same time you have solid boundaries and a healthy sense of reciprocity in your relationships. You are an amazing dancer who’s not afraid to cut loose even if people are watching. You travel the world and immerse yourself in other cultures because you care about universal connectivity. You are incredibly creative, taking beautiful photographs, writing songs, improvising haunting melodies on the piano, and best of all you’re not afraid no actually SHARE your art…unlike me. You have a great balance of self discipline and spontaneity (which is so rare). You are the most loyal friend in the world (which, we have in common, actually). You love yourself, you take care of yourself, and you don’t waste time feeling ashamed. Instead you embrace everything inside of you and you’re grateful for all of it. You trust your own instincts. You follow your dreams through to reality. You don’t give up.
I guess there’s really nothing to be afraid of is there? Whatever I let go of will be replaced with something much better.
I’ll try and remember that and make more space for you the next time I start feeling afraid.
Wow, it’s been so long since you’ve been so honest with me. First of all I’d just like to say that I’m glad you’ve finally started to recognize how amazing and beautiful you are. It’s not that I’m new and you’re old and you will somehow disappear forever if you let me exist the way I want to. The truth is I have been here all along, and like you said, I am you and you are me, it’s just a matter of deciding to really BE yourself. And the things you need to let go of, they aren’t YOU and you shouldn’t blame yourself to vehemently. They are the roadblocks that prevent you from living the life you want and being, well, ME. We all pick up nasty habits and bad coping mechanisms throughout life. Some of it is conditioning, some of it is response to trauma, and some of it is just random junk that we pick up and have a hard time putting down. It’s all in the mix and you (I) will never be perfect. And, god dammit, you’ve had a hard year! I don’t blame you for being sad and lonely sometimes, and I would really like to help you through those times, to nurture and protect you, rather than sit back and watch you harm yourself even more. That’s the best thing about me — I love you and I know how to honor and take care of you.
You really don’t need to be intimidated by me. Yes, I may challenge you in some areas, and I know that can be scary, but it’s what you want and you know it! I’m the one that can get you where you want to go. Perseverance is my middle name!
And…I want to thank you for working so hard to make it possible for me to exist and flourish, and I want you to reap the benefits of that. This is all for you. So, trust me. I’m on your side. I always have been and always will. You’re going to make it. Your going to be full, not empty, if you let go. I promise.