Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Light Emotions

For 4 years, since April 10, 2010, I've been going to OA and writing this blog, trying to understand and cope with compulsive overeating. One strategy is to "feel my feelings." Among other things, I've read, and written (here) about the dark emotions:

Under anger, under depression,
under actions such as addiction, suicide, and aggression,
you will find the three mothers of dark emotions -
grief, fear, and despair.

I am so familiar with these emotions, although I haven't fully learned yet how to sit with them, how to avoid trying to fix them with food, or how to heal from them.

But what of the light emotions? What are they? I frequently say things like, "I'm sad about..." or "I'm angry about..." or even "I'm afraid of..." But very rarely do say something like, "I'm happy about..." or "I feel satisfied with."

Do I numb myself against feeling the light emotions? Is it somehow not OK to feel these emotions? I've been thinking about this all day, yet still it's difficult to come up with a list of light emotions. Let me try...


Have I felt any of the above today? Yes. I felt contented during most of the OA meeting, curious about what others would say, grateful for the help of one of the members, and loving toward all of the members at the end of the hour. I felt happy talking with the owner of a new restaurant in town about his business hours. I felt happy and satisfied for an hour or so, listening to the work noises of a repair guy who is fixing my carport. I felt joyful talking with my brother on the phone for a few minutes, especially the part of the conversation about motorcycling. I feel good satisfied about my eating so far today. I feel happy to be writing this post.

Interesting. It took a lot longer than I would have thought to figure out and name these feelings. I wonder if it would help me recover from compulsive overeating if I practice noticing and naming the light emotions each day?

Wouldn't hurt to try....

Still Reeling

Yep, I'm still in shock, still reeling about what I did, about the impossible-seeming act of eating an entire NY cheese cake in one sitting. I mean, how low can I go? Yet, there's a glimmer of hope growing in me, a faint sense that maybe it was a turning point. Since then I've been on plan, abstinent. Tomorrow is OA, a tool that definitely helps me stay on plan.

I want to write about steps 8 and 9, the ones about listing all the people I have harmed and then making amends to them. It's true I have harmed people, especially by lying to them. But the person I've lied to the most and harmed the most is me. Here are a few of the ways I've harmed myself with my compulsive overeating:
  1. habitually referred to myself as "fat." I wouldn't say that to anybody else.
  2. denied myself the comfort of wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts in hot weather.
  3. denied myself the joy of swimming because I look horrible in a bathing suit. (I love to swim!)
  4. denied myself the pleasure of attending social events because I am fat and don't look good enough.
  5. thought of myself as stupid. After all, aren't all fat people stupid?
  6. harmed my body by yo-yo dieting and by the extra weight I've lugged around most of my life.
  7. deceived myself about my compulsive overeating, telling myself lies to justify eating.
  8. suffered from extreme shyness in social situations because of my weight.
  9. burdened myself with guilt and shame about weight, sneaking sweets, lying about my eating, lack of control, selfishness.
  10. jeopardized my marriage and previous partnerships in many ways connected to food and compulsive overeating.
I'm 71 years old, and have been struggling with weight and the above abuse since 5th grade, or about 60 years. That's a lot of harm. Now... how can I make amends to myself? It seems to call for action. Saying "Dear Self, I am so sorry I harmed you" does not constitute making amends in my book. The only real way to make amends is to give up compulsive overeating. That's a crossroad, isn't it?

One thing I can do is stop saying I'm fat. Never mention my fat arms, or my fat legs or my fat belly, or my fat body again.... ever! I don't know if I can keep those words out of my mind, but at least I can stop saying them out loud.

I wish I could say I will wear shorts and sleeveless shirts, and go swimming.... don't think that will happen. Oh dear, this making amends part is really tough.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Starting Over

Have you ever devoured an entire cheese cake, a thick, bakery-fresh, New York style, cheese cake, one designed to serve 4 people, in one sitting? If so, you know how horrible it makes you feel a little while later, and how fuzzy your teeth get.  If not, don't. It does not fix your despair. It does not make you feel better. In fact, quite the contrary, it makes you feel a thousand times worse, as you set your abstinence back to zero... again... as you realize once again that compulsive eating makes you feel crazy. I know, because that's what happened yesterday.

The good news is, that was yesterday. Today I was abstinent. Reminder to self: it makes you feel great to be abstinent.

That's all for today. Tomorrow is another new day, day 2 maybe.