Friday, April 16, 2010

A Disconnection

On some level, all people with eating-related issues have a disconnection between their actions and the consequences of their actions. Sometimes, that disconnection is a rationalization like saying that you’re already fat so it doesn’t matter if you eat more. Sometimes, it is telling yourself that you are stressed out and deserve to feel better and using food is no worse than a variety of other destructive coping mechanisms.

I’ve lived a life full of those disconnections, and up until the past 10 months, I didn’t truly internalize what it was like to have a full connection between my actions and the consequences when it comes to food. That being said, I was always aware on some level of the destructiveness of what I was doing. I ate mindlessly and happily at times, but the consequences were always something I was aware of deep in the back of my mind. The fact that those consequences existed became clear when I felt guilt or regret at what I was doing.

Last night, I had what has to be the most profound and disturbing disconnection between my eating and my thinking. Since I started this change in lifestyle, it has been the most terrifying moment I’ve experienced. I’ve had plenty of emotional responses, including a sense of free-falling without a net because my coping mechanism has vanished, a sense of emptiness, and a loss of identity. This was something quite different.

Yesterday evening, I had a pretty decent day calorie-wise up until about 9:30 pm. At that point in time, I wanted to eat a pretzel, just one pretzel. When I got the bag in hand, I just kept eating them, and then I went and found some chocolate-covered potato chips that have been sitting around for the last two and a half months and dug into them. I just ate and ate and I was completely disconnected from any sense of the consequences. I felt no guilt or remorse. I felt no concern about the damage I was doing to myself either physically or emotionally. I was so profoundly removed from any emotions related to my actions that I was almost in a state of dispassionate observation of my behavior. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, was craving things, was hungry or was comforting myself. I really felt nothing.

At some point, I threw away the rest of the chips, and terror set in. This profound fear was related to the fact that I was so removed from the consequences of what I did. This was the food equivalent of a “psychotic break” for me, and my first thought was that I needed to just get back on the horse I’ve been so successfully riding and do better tomorrow. I wasn’t even going to mention this binge to my husband because I figured it was an aberration, but as the clock ticked by, I knew this was not a mere blip in the continuum. This was something profound brought on by my life circumstances and it needed to be dealt with.

In the past three months, my husband has been involved in some professional training in addition to his heavy working schedule. I rely on him for a great deal of support in my life because most people don't treat me very well based on my weight and I have trust issues as a result. He's the only one I can confide in without fear of judgment or willful misunderstanding of what I'm saying. You'd be surprised at how hard some people try to come across as helpful while using your words to elevate their own esteem at your expense.

Since my husband has been so busy, we've had some problems. It has been nothing seriously bad. Mainly, I have told him that he needs to be more mentally there for me when we're together since he has a tendency to space out or to only pay half attention to me. That isn't a criticism. I think what he's doing is very draining and difficult. He has tried to be supportive and do better, and has improved, but I believe it has not been enough. What is more, I have been suppressing my needs all along in an attempt to not be so needy when he's so busy. It's not the sort of grudging, self-martyring suppression that some people (particularly women) tend to do. It is a very self-aware "I need to be a grown-up and not be so needy and selfish" form of suppression. In essence, I need to allow him to do what he needs to do and try and be more self-contained.

My husband and I have always been exceptionally close. In fact, the way in which we are so thoroughly intertwined intimidates and perplexes people at first. Our bond is exceptionally strong, and the last few months have made me feel as if that bond has gotten a little looser. It's no easy feat for me to back away and be more in my own head.

The conclusion that I reached, and my husband reached instantly as well when I told him about this binge, was that this was a cry for help. This was my acting out on my suppressed feelings in such a way as to force him to be more concerned about me and to engage more with me mentally and emotionally. It was something that I needed so deeply that I simply acted on it and removed myself from all of the logical connections that existed between my actions and the consequences.

The part about this that scares me is not related to calories or weight gain or fear of losing control. The part that scares me is that I can be so calmly out of control as I was. I'm sure that I have eaten as a psychological response before, but never in this fashion. I've always been a very self-aware person and this was a short period of time where I acted without any knowledge of why I was doing as I was. I didn't see it coming, and I had no desire to stop. I'm hoping that understanding the (likely) cause of this will derail any chances that it will happen again.


Florida Food Snob said...

I am astonished at how quickly you assess situations and determine the root of certain issues. Your connection with reality is very rare.

screaming fatgirl said...

Thank you, Florida Food Snob. I've had a lot of practice analyzing myself... perhaps a bit too much. ;-)