Outside In

I’ve got me a bad case of the feels right now. There’s some good feels, some in-between feels, and a bunch of not so good feels swirling around within me and all I want to do is suppress them. I find myself relating to the little girl in Pixar’s Inside Out whose emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – work together in the “Headquarters” of her mind, guiding her through life. However, there are two major differences between us, (1) I’m not animated (although I’ve been told my personality is), and (2) as an addict, I allow my emotions to be controlled from the outside in, and as a result, I often seek external solutions to internal problems.

Whenever I find it difficult to sit with unpleasant emotions I reach for one of my top three discomfort suppressants:

Shopping – the hit from acquiring something new and shiny takes the edge off;

Distraction – keeps me busy so I don’t have the time or energy to examine, let alone process what I’m feeling; and

Food – I hoover everything in sight until my tummy hurts more than my feelings.

Unfortunately, these so-called solutions are nothing more than a numbing agent… when the hit wears off, the feeling gurgles back up, and there’s a dollop of guilt frosting to top it all off.

I was in a situation recently that had my command centre going berserk. Whoever was at the helm at Mare’s Emotions Headquarters (MEH) was frantically mashing every one of my buttons.  It seemed like every emotion was put through a garburator and came out chewed up and mangled. You’d think being in a 12-step program for a little more than a year I’d learn a thing or two about managing my emotions and not giving in to compulsion, but I got temporary amnesia and turned to ALL THREE of my numbing agents instead of reaching for one of the tools the program.

What I did was take my will back, and my will had me face-planting in rice pudding. Rice pudding! I don’t even care for rice pudding! When I fessed up about my break, my daughter looked at me baffled and said, “It’s like you wanted to break but you didn’t want to enjoy it. It’s like saying, “You can’t ground me for missing curfew because I was at church.”” If anyone reading this is a psychoanalyst, I wouldn’t mind knowing the answer to her question either!

I realize that working a 12-step program for food addiction doesn’t guarantee I’ll never eat a flour or sugar product again – all addicts are just one bite, one drink, one snort away from falling off the wagon, regardless of how many years of abstinence or sobriety they have. And I’m not belittling my progress – losing 122+ lbs. is nothing to balk at.  It’s just disappointing to be strutting your stuff one minute, and then picking yourself up off the ground the next.

I may not have found a happy Pixar movie ending to my food addiction yet, but I was given the gift of awareness this last break.  They say in program that the food is the last to go, and when I examined each break that was indeed the case. I didn’t pause, or call before taking the bite.  I didn’t get to all my meetings, and I didn’t get enough sleep. But most importantly, I lost my routine of quiet time with my Higher Power, and as result I became easily overwhelmed by emotional events and circumstances.

I realize now if I don’t spend my 30 minutes at day fortifying my mind, body, and spirit in quiet prayer and meditation with God, I leave the door to MEH wide open making me vulnerable to outside influences which ends in relapse.

The Results Are In

To find out how much I lost last month, click here.