Confessions of a Compulsive Eater

August 20, 2009

or, Lessons I Don’t Want to Teach My Daughters, depending.

I feel revolting. I am too busy to feel revolting. And yet, here I am, again, feeling like my skin is too tight and I am suffocating in my overwhelming need to consume. I will give myself a slight reprieve: I did quit smoking – after almost ten years. I am grateful to myself and my lungs for putting up with me, but I fear that quitting smoking has given my other addictions a chance to flourish in the wake.

I compulsively ate for many years. Emotionally consuming in a quick and painful cycle of eating, punishing, eating, punishing. For me, punishing never meant purging, but it did mean opening the floodgates for self hatred and disgust, which was nearly as hurtful.

Food-SafetyI have always been pretty hard on addiction, frowning upon alcoholism and substance abuse because it makes me nervous and often leads to unstable environments, which, generally speaking, I do my best to avoid. Part of this has to do with my familial upbringing: very few substances around but many addictive personalities, and part having to do with my personal history and experienced trauma: sexual and otherwise. I tend to look down on people who drink daily, even when they aren’t drinking to get drunk, and tend to feel really uncomfortable with those things that we cannot live without. And, though I don’t start out wanting to be judgmental I often find myself feeling that way.

But, there have been several instances as of late, where those close to me dared to liken my relationship with food to this same type of addictive behavior. And, I won’t lie, this made me instantly too angry, sad, and confused to really respond. I vehemently denied the connection, though, perhaps I was only fooling myself.

Can’t live without it: check. Think about it obsessively: check. Turn to it for comfort and emotional support when this go awry: check. Negatively impacting my life: check. Check check check check. Once I start I can’t stop, as if some switch has been turned in my brain and my hand-to-mouth receptor has gone on autopilot: check. Eating past the point of being uncomfortably full: Check.

And now I find myself focusing on it hard, because where once I told myself I would never raise children with someone who had an addictive personality, I am now at loggerheads with my own personal demons. What lessons do we want to pass on to our children? Furthermore, what kinds of examples do we want to set for those around us, even those who are already adults? My sweetest little baby sister is nineteen already, and absolutely nothing makes me feel more like quitting smoking then being able to sit with her at the table while everyone else goes out to smoke after family dinner. She is nineteen and doesn’t need me to be her role model, but its a position I am so accustomed to filling.

I do not want to feel revolting anymore.

For today, I will drink enough water, eat enough vegetables, and treat myself the way I deserve to be treated.

Stay tuned, more to follow.