The other day I went to see the movie Flight. It was very good, thought provoking, NOT the feel-good movie of the year but if Denzel Washington and John Goodman don't at least get Oscar nominations for this film there is a real problem. I walked away deeply touched by the acting and special effects. And by one scene in particular.
I'm not saying anything you wouldn't see if you watched interviews that were done outside the premier when I tell you that this movie is largely about addiction. And there was one scene in particular that really hit me in the face.
The main character is an alcoholic. The audience knows it, everyone who knows him knows it, but he's in denial. He is trying desperately hard to stay sober. It's important. He's away from home, and he's alone, and he opens a refrigerator and sees booze. Lots and lots of booze. The time he spends standing there looking into that refrigerator seems like forever to me, because it's a scene I've lived so many times.
Lately that scene plays out almost every night at my house, but it's not booze in that fridge. It's food.
Since The Boy now has a job and an extensive social life, my every evening from 5:30 until his 10:30 curfew (11:30 on the weekends) is spent alone.
I am what I can only think to describe as a binge/grazer. I have a friend who binges, in the true clinical sense. She has been known to drive to the store, buy a big bag of groceries and consume the majority of it in the car. With chocolate pudding in her hair, she will throw out the leftovers to hide her shame, then go home and be sick for days. I don't do that.
Grazing isn't bad, if it's done correctly. But binge grazing is awful. It's more of an extended binge. Never to the point where I'm sick, but just eating something every hour or so all evening long...in addition to dinner.
No matter how resolute I am to only keep healthy foods in the house, I can always find something to eat. Last night, barely an hour after I ate a large salad with pepperoni and walnuts and cheese and ranch dressing and I don't know what all non-healthy ingredients, I ate an apple with organic crunchy peanut butter on it. I wasn't hungry. Not at all. But I ate it anyway.
Tonight it was Shakeology, with crunchy peanut butter and chocolate soy milk. I had no business eating anything. Not the least bit hungry. And since that was a couple of hours ago I'm fighting the urge to get something now, even though I should have been in bed 40 minutes ago.
To anyone who says the secret to being thin is not in the quantity but in the quality of food you eat...I call bullshit. I really do eat pretty healthy, and yet I'm overweight and expanding as I type this. Because I just eat too damn much.
But here's the thing. I've spent my life beating myself up over this. My inner voice asks me how hard it is for crap sake? Just DON'T you IDIOT!! You SUCK! You're a loser and a failure.
But you know what? If someone starves themselves, and throws up what they eat, they're sick. They have an eating disorder. Nobody says to them (well nobody who isn't an ignorant ass) "Just cut it out...just eat, and stop throwing up. It's not that difficult"
And nobody says to the alcoholic "Just don't drink. Duh. It's that simple"
For either of those issues there is rehab, there is counseling, there are groups. Hell there are things that insurance covers for crying out loud.
Too much booze will get you treatment, too much food won't.
Not enough food will get you treatment, too much won't.
Jesus even sex addicts get help.
But for food addicts there is only self-loathing and shame.
And really this isn't just me realizing I've been beating myself up. This is me realizing I've been judging others as well. I have been fairly vocal about the obese people taking up handicapped parking spaces and using the motorized wheelchairs at Wal Mart because they have no discernable disability except that their weak little legs can't haul their giant bodies up and down the isle. Yeah, some of them got that way because they're lazy. My mom was one of them. Yeah, her overeating didn't help but the woman did nothing but sit and watch TV all day. Her only exercise was to walk to the kitchen. Toward the end she ate her meals in bed! So I'm not saying EVERY obese person has an eating disorder. But some....yeah.
This doesn't absolve me of my sins, my responsibility, or my hope. Tomorrow morning I go to the doctor for what I hope will be the first step back to working out regularly. I am not all that hopeful that I will walk out with answers but at least with scheduled testing which will help the doctor give me some recommendations as to what kind of exercise I can do without increasing my pain levels. And if he can't help me, I have the name of a pain management specialist. This is not going to get the best of me.
Next step, which I hope to take within the next few days, is to book myself in for some sort of counseling. I'm obviously addicted to food and I'm abusing it. I'm medicating with it and it has to stop. I haven't eaten normally in....well I don't know if I ever have. When my weight is on the upswing it's because I'm eating more than I need. I'm eating not because I'm hungry but because it is a source of pleasure. Often the only one I have available to me. It's my sex, my drugs, my booze, my massage, manicure & pedicure. It's a hug or a kind word. It's my friend and my companion. And I need to make it a casual acquaintance.
When my weight is on the downswing it's because I have a death grip on my control, counting every calorie, weighing every morsel, timing and recording my exercise down to the minute. During those times food is the enemy. I am the cop and it (or maybe my appetite) is the criminal and it needs to be contained and punished. I have to deny myself the one thing that brings me comfort. That's obviously also not normal. I don't think. Even though I know a lot of physically healthy people who do it this way, I don't think it's how it's supposed to be. I don't think it's how a person who has a healthy relationship with food has to live. In the end it may turn out to be how I have to live...I may have to resign myself to that lifestyle once again. But it sure would be nice to get healthy instead.
I'm going to try really hard now to shut down this computer, let the dogs out & back in, brush my teeth and head to bed without eating anything. It really does sound so easy.