Thursday, May 31, 2007

I Went Down to the Crossroads

I feel like I don't have a lot to blog about today, although I think some of that is because I just left a stressful day at work and I'm still coming down from that, so my thoughts are kind of scattered.

I must confess a stressful day at work for me now pales in comparison to stressful days of old. Even though I know this, I'm not going to pooh-pooh my feelings away, because usually that leads me to the Poo Poo Platter!

I have a small handful of people in our congregation who always call when I'm busy and prattle on with really long winded conversations. Some actually have a point to make but have a really difficult time being concise; some are just out and out rambling and nearly incoherent. Some call at the last minute to get something in the Sunday bulletin or need something done that they really should have planned out and requested a month ago. Some dump such personal information on me that I'm embarrassed for them.

My husband commented that it sounded like people were treating me like their therapist, and I told them that in my Church Secretary Newsletter (yes, they have a newsletter for everything these days -- I even get one called "The Newsletter Newsletter!") that this is a common phenomenon among church secretaries. We are seen as an extension of the pastor/reverend/vicar and people open up to us with their problems and concerns.

I can't tell you how many times I've had people burst into tears in my office. It's usually someone who has had someone close pass away recently and has come to see me about paying for the church dinner, collecting information on memorial donations, etc. I'll make some comment to the effect that if they need anything, to call me, and suddenly they're crying.

I always feel bad about this at first, but then I realize that they're not reacting to something rude and tactless that I've said. I went through this went my grandmother died. I was very close to her, and because all three of her sons were incapable for one reason or another (there's a memoir!), I was the one who held her hand and looked into her eyes when she died, and I carried out a major portion of the funeral arrangements. You're trying so hard to hold it together, and suddenly a certain person or a certain phrase will make that control disintegrate and you're sobbing. In this case, I think my offering of help and being there for them was all it took to get the emotions unbridled. It's amazing how powerful a genuine act of kindness can be.

It can be draining, though. And I think that's why when I finally got home for lunch I was feeling this urge to overeat. I had one sandwich and some of the Asian coleslaw I made last night (I make it with Paul Newman's Asian Sesame Dressing -- yum!), and as I brought my plate back to the kitchen I kept thinking about making another sandwich. I had this odd sensation in my abdomen -- not really hunger, not really full-blown anxiety -- looking back at it now, it was this little apprehensive crossroads of "do I say yes to another sandwich and overeat" or "do I say no and deprive myself of food." Neither choice sounds very appealing, does it?

I had the bun out of the bag when I said to myself, "You could probably eat more, but you know from your IE reading that this is the best place to stop, because in ten minutes your body's gonna' catch up with you and you're going to feel fine. Go upstairs and blog, and when you're done, if you're still hungry, make that second sandwich. Or, if you're hungry for something else, eat that."

So here I am, blogging away and drinking my water, and I feel comfortably full and not interested in anything else to eat. If I had eaten that second sandwich I would now feel stuffed, and if I wasn't careful, the guilt from that could have led me to a binge.

So why did I want the second sandwich? Because I was feeling depleted from work and wanted to "refill" myself? More than likely. I'm glad that I was able to circumvent the crossroads I had put myself in and bypassed right out of those negative thoughts. I mean, think about it - the options I had given myself were overeating or depriving myself -- all or nothing thinking. Only my work with IE saved me by giving me a "middle of the road" option that satisfied both the overeating and the deprived little devils on my shoulders: they were both made happy by the promise that there would be more to eat later. Funny how two opposing thoughts were solved with the same solution.

Well, for starting out with nothing to say, I sure said a lot of it! Just goes to show how beneficial the journaling/blogging process is in my journey.


LMM said...

I am a social worker and, similar to you, I often find people discussing really personal information with me in the most unique environments. Like you, these impromptu therapy sessions can be very exhausting and leave me feeling depleted. In the past I would of turned to food to try and fill my soul, I like the idea of journaling to help fill the void.
Thank you. I always enjoy your posts.

Grumpy Chair said...

Wow, you really did great in not going the all or nothing route.

Andrea, I have really enjoyed reading your posts about IE.

Jen said...

Again, amazing insight. And so helpful! I think that the being depleted and wanting to refill may be a lot of what my stress eating is about. Especially at work, where I try to be the smiling face you see behind the desk, even when all heck is breaking loose and we are short handed.

Only 1 lb?!?! FABULOUS! We're girls; we can fluctuate 1 lb just by looking at food. Keep up the great work; you are making such progress as you work through all of this.