It was a shitty, shitty night.
I was working as a server and just about everything bad happened that you hear horror stories about- I spilled a drink on a lady (and she was not the kind, understanding type), I got stiffed on more than one tip, I broke dishes and heard about it from my manager, my math was off so I had to redo my paperwork too many times, and the cooks that were never fond of me and my singing were EXTRA determined to make me cry that night. Oh, and I fought with my only coworker friends.
It was the end of another long day of classes, study sessions, labs, and wondering what the hell I was doing with my life. I tried so hard to do as well as everyone else but I still did horrible on a paper that I poured into. It was not helping my tendency to consistently wonder if I had taken the right path. I had too much pressure to finish what I started for everyone else. It didn’t matter what it cost me.
It was my first major breakup. It happened so fast I couldn’t believe it when I hung up the phone. I thought that was my future. Did I do the right thing? Why didn’t he fight harder? Why was I so unlovable?
I was a new mom with a high needs baby. She never slept. She cried always. I was convinced she was trying to kill me. I was trying to do everything right, like breastfeed, but I wasn’t making enough and she wouldn’t stop needing my boob. I felt awful about myself. I felt distant from everyone and everything, including my husband, who was working 12+ hour shifts at a job. I didn’t feel that “overwhelming sense of love” for my baby that I was supposed to feel. And she was approaching a month old.
It was my last day of work at a job I loved. I was about to have my whole life flipped upside down and I wasn’t sure that I was strong enough for all of that. I immediately felt lost and lonely. I didn’t know if I’d ever find contentment and security in a workplace like I had there. I was leaving behind everything I knew and people that “got” me for a completely blank slate.
I am doing my best. She is 2 now and screaming is her go-to form of communication. I love her by it is so hard to “mom” somedays. I hate that I look forward to bedtime even though she’s been in daycare all weekend. I hate that I have anxiety about keeping her content and satisfied on the weekends. Saturday was particularly rough. I didn’t feel great, she didn’t feel great… and well, a whole lotta whining.all.damn.day. I just wanted to lay still and be quiet. She just wanted to be held and carried and play barbies and read books and count cards. I’m not sure that I’m equipped for this role most days.
I enter a trance…
I start to go through my fridge and cupboards and inventory the contents. Draw up a plan to make my way from thing to thing.
Gotta fill the holes.
Gotta patch the wounds.
Gotta make it all better.
Gotta numb the uncomfortable thoughts.
Food will make it all better… or so I tell myself.
That first bite of the peanut butter. The peanut butter that I’ve been denying myself for 15 years. That should do it.
But it doesn’t.
So I move on to cereal. Oh my goodness I forgot how good it tastes. That should do it.
But it doesn’t.
I try again with my kids’ candy stash. She doesn’t even know I’m keeping it from her. That should do it.
But it doesn’t.
Popcorn. I mean, that’s at least “healthy.” Even if I eat 4 mega bowls because I need that repetitive crunch. That should do it.
But it doesn’t.
And now not only do I feel drained mentally and emotionally, I feel like shit physically too.
I know tomorrow will suck. I immediate go from sad to regret to self-hate. I wish I could be one of those people who quits eating when life sucks. I wish I could face the demons and come out on top. Just once.
Life looks different now.
The hard times are still SO HARD. And I still turn to food sometimes. But I can stop now. I can examine my motives and emotions and determine what’s really going on. I can remember what it’ll feel like tomorrow if I do this tonight.
For 30 years I tried to fix everything in life with food. Bored? Eat. Lonely? Eat. Happy? Eat. Angry? Eat. Uncomfortable? Eat.
IT. DOESN’T. WORK.
The best thing you can do if you’re stuck here is just to slow down. Listen. Dig deep and tune into what your body and mind are telling you. What’s missing? What’s wrong? Think about how the food will make you feel when it’s gone. Is it worth that?
Sometimes it might be. But more often than not it’s just not worth it. Physically, emotionally, or mentally.
Put yourself first. Love yourself more. And just try to overcome it ONE time. That will give you the strength you need to overcome next time.