The Binge Eating Diaries are a regular column written by Jacki Monaco, who came to Green Mountain several years ago struggling with binge eating. We hope that sharing her insights and experiences as she overcomes binge eating will help you.
People who don’t know me very well probably wouldn’t guess the truth.
I’m a good listener and I pour sparkling advice over crappy situations. Then, I redeliver them to friends, acquaintances, and coworkers on a spit-shined sterling tray. For a short period of time, I can be a pretty darn good confidant.
But I have a confession to make…
And the people who know me well… know this all too well. I’m self-absorbed to the nth degree. Admittedly and regrettably… it’s true.
After a small spell of focusing my attention on others, my true colors begin to show. And even though it shouldn’t be – it ends up being all about me.
Let me explain…
I’ve been told I’m “opposite conceited” – always talking about myself… but never in a good way.
I’m not egocentric and I don’t talk often about my positive qualities. Oh no… I’m the girl who constantly takes digs at herself:
[quote]“I’ve gained weight. I ate too much. I look ugly today. My teeth aren’t perfect. My nose is too big. In fact, my everything is too big.”[/quote]
My day-to-day life revolves around a plethora of problems – both real and fictional. (At least 50% are ones that I make up in my own head.) And together, my personal issues take up most of my headspace…Which means that sometimes it just doesn’t feel like there’s much room for anyone else’s problems… or anyone else’s feelings.
I never mean to redirect every moment toward my insecurities around food and my body image. But the honest truth is that I do – far too often.
I may have some demons and I know that mine are no more and no less important anyone else’s… but that doesn’t stop me from making it all about me. All the time.
My Emotional Responses And Reactions
And it’s not just that I talk about myself a lot – I react – out loud about everything that’s going on “upstairs” and everything I think I see reflecting back in the mirror.
But sometimes I forget how powerfully my emotional responses and reactions can hurt the people closest to me.
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And one night, as my brain was overheating like a broken microwave, my thoughts spiraled and my words came slinging out sharp as butcher knives… as has happened time and time… and time before.
That night, because of my insecurities and my inability to filter my feelings from my reactions – I almost lost someone very close to me.
My anxiety made a target of a person I love.
And my aim was spot on – I unintentionally hit him right in the heart… for the hundredth time.
The day after my emotional fit about some “poor food choices” and my even poorer self image – he finally started to say goodbye…
And I finally started to get it.
This was NOT the first time my reactions about my own thoughts, feelings, and issues threatened our bond.
The terrifying truth that I could lose this person triggered something within me.
But it happened just in time. He gave me another shot. And that time, I finally got it.
It is my prerogative to think as many thoughts and feel as many feelings as I want – but I cannot spend another moment taking them out on anyone else.
For The First Time in My Life…
I’ve been able to continue working on my relationship with food and with my body without letting it overshadow or ruin my relationship with others.
For years, food felt like one of the only real relationships that I had. But in reality, it wasn’t true then – and it’s even less true now.
The vast majority of the people in my life love me. They think I’m beautiful and talented and they tell me so.
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But hearing these things and believing them (even a little) are two completely different things.
I beat myself up and they talk me down – but they’re as exhausted from spending energy talking me off the ledge as I am contemplating the jump.
I’ve spent a lifetime so focused on “fixing” myself that it’s easy to forget that there is more to life than my jean size, my weight, eating an extra carb now and again, and constantly fighting in the “battle of the binge.”
But as hard as it is to divide my time and my emotions – it’s up to me (and only me) to make it happen.
I’m important, yes. But…
It’s Not All About Me
Slowly, I’ve been able to integrate an eating pattern back into my day. (As I mentioned in my last blog about restricting, it’s been a challenge to find the right balance, but I’m working on eating when it feels right for my body.)
Daily stress is still overwhelming at times, but I remind myself that if I fail to nourish my body in a healthy way – I’m jeopardizing my mental health.
And if my ducks aren’t in a row – how can I manage my relationships with and reactions to others?
It’s clear to me now… I don’t just want to be in control of my eating – I want to be in control of my life.
And I sure as hell don’t want a “scary day with food” for ME to turn into a “scary day with Jacki” for those I love.
Separating Food Anxiety From Behaviors And Reactions
So I’ve been working overtime, teaching myself how to separate my anxious thoughts about food from my actual eating behaviors AND from my reactions to others.
It takes a lot of processing and energy, but I find that I’m less likely to under eat, overeat, or binge if I feel in control of my reactions.
And the more in control I feel – the less my anxiety rules my relationships… with food and with others. Taking out my anxiety about food on any of my other relationships can only do one thing – hurt these precious ties that I’ve spent so long sewing together.
Everything is connected. But in my life, there’s one common factor that change everything. So, with the risk of sounding self-absorbed one last time – I know that that one factor… is ME.
Thank you for being here with me today.
Has your relationship with food and your body affected your other relationships? Please feel safe and welcome to comment below.
Until next time,