Have you had times in your life that were stressful? Confusing? Unfulfilling? Have you tried to alleviate the stress or fill the void? Maybe numb out or reward yourself after a hard day? I started using food that way. My binges became less frantic and my restriction less compulsive. Food became more of a steady emotional crutch. Something I could lean on as I stepped from college into the real world and onto the path I had planned. Work, marriage, kids.
I got a job. Working with emotionally disturbed kids in a residential treatment facility, spending ten hours a day being cussed out, spit at, and cleaning feces off of bathroom walls. (Yes, a college degree was required for this although I never learned the art of fecal removal in any of my college classes). I often went out with my coworkers to “decompress” at the local pub after our shift ended at 11pm, drinking cocktails and munching on jumbo nachos until two in the morning. I’d sleep until noon, wake up and watch trashy talk shows. Repeat. I loved my coworkers (still do!)) but the job itself did not fulfill me. My weight climbed due to my late night antics preference of Sally Jesse Raphael over of exercise. My clothes got tighter, my body image sank.
Perfect time to get married. So I did, to J, my college boyfriend of four years. J was aware of my struggles with food and my body (I never let him touch my stomach), but having had a previous relationship with a woman who had an actual diagnosed eating disorder, Types of eating disorders, J's stories of her struggles left me convinced I just suffered from a lack of self-control. It didn’t help that the man could eat ANYTHING and not gain a pound. J was constantly making cakes and cookies, leaving half sitting on the counter, calling to me as only a warm, gooey brownie could. I’d have just one bite, and then another and then another until the pan was empty, only to be disgusted with myself for not being able to resist. Although a great guy, J was not THE ONE. (Yes, Polly you were right). Our interests were different, J craved challenge and adventure, I wanted stability and routine. That, coupled with our opposite work schedules, found us drifting apart. He began spending more time with his buddies from the National Guard, and I found comfort and connection with my girlfriends. And food.
But I was still on my scheduled path.
· Graduate. Check
· Get a job. Check
· Get married. Check
· Get a dog. Check
· Buy a house. Check
· Kids. Discussing. At least I was.
But it didn’t keep me from standing at the kitchen counter on more than one occasion, a box of Costco muffins, or a Quart of Cookies and Cream at the ready thinking, I want more than this life.