I didn’t respond in the moment because there wasn’t a nice thing I could think of to say (although I could think of A LOT of not-nice things). I did a lot of mental talking to myself about how that was about her, not about me, but it didn’t help much. I still fell into this spiral of remembering how guilty and ashamed I felt as I dealt with complications of my pregnancy that were potentially related to my obesity, like placental insufficiency and gestational diabetes. No amount of logically telling myself back then or now that those things happened for reasons other than obesity and that I took EXCELLENT care of myself when I was pregnant could really reassure that secret dark spot of doubt . I confess to you guys that I ate all three “emergency snack” granola bars in the car on the hour ride I had back home after this encounter. There’s victory in the fact that I did not stop at any fast food places or gas stations or anywhere else along the way to load up on more and totally go off the rails, although it felt like I was hanging on by my fingernails. I am getting better.
How am I getting better? I’m getting better at asking for help.
– As soon as I got home, I talked to my husband about the whole thing. He listened, he asked what he needed to do to help me stay out of the pantry. He rocks.
– I paced my bedroom during this ranting to Darrell, to help me distract myself from the knowledge of all of the things I could be eating in the pantry.
– I reminded myself that this is not about me. It’s about her and frankly, the part of me that was not consumed with trying to survive the binge or not thoroughly ticked off was and is worried about her.
– I reached out. I reached out in ways I never do. I emailed my oldest and best friend and told her the whole thing. I reached out to the absolutely fabulous Lovely Ladies Losing It Facebook group and they were lifesavers, as a safe place to have some very hard and honest conversations about tough topics.
The biggest thing, though, was reaching out to people who didn’t know about the binge eating. For the first time, when people asked on Thursday how I was doing (it took about 24 hours for the impending-binge feeling to fade away), I told them. I told them about the binge eating and that I was struggling that day. In so many ways, it can feel like admitting weakness to own up to mental illness of any kind and binge eating is a particularly lovely secret shame kind of thing. Even my husband didn’t know and we were married for years before I clued him in. Like so many mental illnesses, it’s something you hide. The people I shared with this week were a couple of professional women friends who are peers and good friends but also important mentors and role models for me in working-wife-motherhood and it felt so good and freeing to tell them a little more of my truth and my struggle. I loved their responses, including one who said: “You know you have better friends than that right?” and another who said “I’m so proud of you.” That last one makes me teary even now.
Thanks to the advice of all of these lovely people and the support I’ve gotten and my own inner work (which I’ve got to start acknowledging more – I’m working hard here) , I’m doing better. I felt a little binge-hang over for a few days. I confess that I fell off the no-soda wagon and started drinking Coke Zero and Diet Dr. Pepper again for a few days, but I haven’t had any since Monday morning. I also fell back into the bad habit of stacking up multiple snacks at night (although the scale only showed a 0.2 gain yesterday at weigh in, happily) but I didn’t binge and I didn’t stop tracking or exercising. I’d toyed with the idea of not tracking this week before the Lincoln Half Marathon, to focus on eating healthy foods and as much as my body felt like it needed to fuel appropriately, but I’m not in that mindspace yet where I can trust myself to do that. That’s okay. I’ll eat all of my calories and still focus on increasing the carbs and maybe by Friday be in a place where I can let myself eat the calories I know I need to run a good race Sunday.
I also wrote a letter to her about this and owned my feelings. Being brave enough to “out” myself and my binge eating also made me realize it’s time to be brave enough to own my feelings. So many binge episodes in the past have been triggered by suppressing my feelings, feeling like I was being “oversensitive” or that I didn’t deserve to be upset or worse, that I deserved having that kind of thing said to me and that’s crap. It’s time that I learn to own my feelings. It’s okay to feel hurt. It’s okay to feel angry. It’s okay to feel like I deserve to be treated better. I’m allowed those things. We all are.
She was a little bit right though – I have no idea how I deserved to be Oliver’s mom. He’s such a great little soul. 🙂
I don’t pretend to know all there is to know about binge eating or how to survive it, but I feel like this was a definite step forward in my progress. This was the biggest binge-trigger period I’ve had in ages and the biggest I’ve ever resisted. I feel like my tool kit for dealing with this is getting better established. I accept that this will likely never go away, but I’m also starting to accept that I will win this battle more often than I lose it so long as I continue to reach out for help when I need it.