Making the Choice: Triggers, Impulsivity, and Trust

March 21, 2012

For much of my life as a compulsive eater, the cycle looked like this:

Trigger + Sudden urge to “take care of myself” and “treat myself kindly” = “Waking up” in a sea of wrappers with a stomach ache and a broken heart

I would encounter something that made me feel badly about myself, and I would feel as though I was so vulnerable, no one could protect me but myself.

Then I would choose to soothe myself through the comfort of food, the best way that I knew how.

The important part of this behavior was that it was automatic.

I didn’t was acting without thinking, because I didn’t trust myself.

I was eating as I was disassociating from the experience.

What I would like to tell you is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

I know that you are afraid to feel the cavernous depth of your hunger, the blind terror of your credit card statement, the one drink that turns into ten, the cut that was meant to just scratch the surface of your skin, the painful realization that you haven’t stopped yourself before you slammed into your deepest fears.

I know that the idea of taking a good hard look at what is going on in your life can be terrifying.

I know how it feels to eat everything in the refrigerator, and then want to go out for more.

How it feels to want sleep with anyone that you can get your hands on, because you you are desperate for something to make you feel something.

How it feels to check your bank account only to realize that in a frenzy you spend hundreds of dollars on things you’ll never use.

How it feels to act without thinking, without control.

What is the worst that would happen if you took a good hard look at how you were treating yourself?

Would you be able to stomach the depth of your disappointment – in yourself?

What messages does your behavior send your heart about what you deserve?

Do you deserve to blindly injure yourself, again and again?

Or do you deserve to feel as though you are in control of your actions?

What would it take to provide yourself with a moment to make a different choice, when you felt the sudden, painful need to self-soothe?

What might you do with that short window of opportunity?

Would you be able to be kind to yourself for making the same choice, again and again?

Are you worth doing the work?

Might you be able to imagine an alternative ending for yourself?

A different choice?

A new sense of awareness?

You are worth all of the safety, love, and soothing that you require. I know that there are dark, scary places in your heart that feel as though they will never be filled. I know that in moments of vulnerability it can be difficult to trust yourself to make the right choice.

I know that when you are making the choice, it is always better than having no choice.

I also know that you deserve that.