On being human, “being bad about,” and being a person who can cope without binge eating

So I came home from work feeling just really anxious and wired and down–all at once. My day ended badly and I know part of my anxiety has to do with that–even though I already talked to my principal about it–fronted myself out and apologized. And I know it’s not a huge deal and it’ll be okay. (So, you are wondering what happened, right? Well, I lost my patience, thus proving I’m human…although I have a hard time allowing myself to BE human in circumstances like that.)

And I keep thinking about something a therapist told me a LONG time ago–LONG before I worked with the therapist who helped me get through recovery–this was another guy, and he pointed out that every time I started a sentence, I said, “I’m bad about (x, y, z)… I’m bad about…” and he said I must have been indoctrinated with the message that I’m bad, and I needed to stop saying that about myself. He also pointed out that somewhere, sometime, somebody taught me that if I make a mistake, I have to feel REEEEEAAAAAAALLLLLLY awful about it and not give myself a chance to move on.

And I was remembering that on the way home, and since I got home, and it’s on my mind now, because, as noted, even though the mistake I made isn’t a catastrophe, it’s in my mind and just staying there. Matt, the therapist who helped me get through recovery when I stuck with therapy and walked through Hell, had another approach to this unforgiving, go-nowhere thinking of mine: he’d slap his desk or kick the underside of it to startle me–he called it “mental floss”–to break the pattern of thinking I was “spinning” in. All of this is to say, as much therapy as I had, one would think that I’d be better at letting things slide off my back.

The reason I’m even sharing the above stuff with you is that after I got home and I was able to relax just a little–while still feeling anxious and fearful–I realized that I was being overwhelmed with the kinds of feelings that, when I was in eating disorder relapse, sent me running for sweets and breads–the drugs of choice for me, back in the day. And back-in-the-day was NOT all that long ago. I was in relapse as late as early fall 2017.

I was telling my eldest daughter (who had gastric sleeve done 2 years ago and is like my go-to-person for information and support) about this, and she said, “Feeling all the feelings suuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.”

I agree. It does.

So what am I doing with this? Well, I realized I needed to write it out, which is what I’m doing here. I also realized I hadn’t logged my food & water & exercise on my Baritastic app–I’m usually pretty religious about doing it–I definitely make sure I post it all daily, to be accountable, sure, but also to make sure I’m hitting my protein and water intake requirements. So I did that. After I ate dinner, I got a shower & retired to the bedroom where I could have as much quiet as I want, AND have the added bonus of not having to fight a large dog (or 3) for space on the furniture in the living room. I made my grocery list for after work tomorrow, and I’m about to get back to novel writing.

I think that recognizing the emotions and giving myself permission to be human are positive moves, as well as recognizing that the depressed “wired” feeling was something that, when I was still in relapse, would have been dispatched immediately by eating unhealthy stuff–then feeling like shit about myself for doing that– then feeling bad about THAT. Ya know, the whole “I’m bad about…” stuff. Oh-oh, let’s not forget that even hours later–maybe even the next day?–I would wake with the belief that I reaaaaaaally effed up the day before, and it would also influence how I SEE myself in the mirror.
What is it Jack Nicholson says in As Good as It Gets?

Photo by Marc Sendra martorell on Unsplash

On a positive note, I received a message from a former student who read my book, Courage in Patience, and told me that she felt so much comfort from it because she was sexually abused as a child, and she only recently told another person about it. AND, today I had the opportunity to advocate for one of my students who is pretty emotionally fragile, and I did so in order to protect her. I have to point these things out to myself to remind myself that even if I lose my patience with a kid who is not being careful with his words or actions, I still did something good today. And that would be true even if I had come home and eaten my feelings.
I’m grateful for awareness and the gift of being able to recognize growth and that I don’t have to binge eat in order to cope with my feelings.

 

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