Monday, June 25, 2007

Discovering Compassion

Despite some efforts not to, yesterday morning's self-loathing wound up snowballing into a binge. I've had worse binges calorie-wise, but the emotional and behavioral components were unmistakable.

I suppose I could compare myself and yesterday's binge to people who cut themselves. While I really didn't want to do it, there was such tension there that this unwelcome yet familiar behavior was the only thing that seemed to release it. Behind the tension was some hostility, resentment, sadness, and some surrender, too. I just didn't have the energy to fight it any more. It's strange how these binges can be both a treat and punishment to myself at the very same time.

So here I am this morning, reverting back to my breakfast and snack that I used to eat on "good" days. This sounds like I'm dieting, and maybe in some sense I am, but it feels different. Number one, I did not weigh myself this morning. I have beaten myself up enough over the past few days and I absolutely refuse to keep doing it. Number two, I am not counting calories. I am veering towards foods that I know are healthy -- full of fiber, antioxidants and other nutritionally good stuff -- but they also have to be foods that I enjoy eating. Number three, I will not let myself get too hungry and stir up those dangerous feelings of deprivation.

I don't feel like I'm giving up on Intuitive Eating. I do feel, however, that I may have gone a little overboard on the legalizing of all foods, and it's time to pull in the reins a little. The more I read about IE, it seems like the "experts" recommend a more controlled method to slowly reintroducing previously forbidden foods. So, for the next few weeks I'm going to try to re-evaluate where I am and scale back on the amount of different foods I have in the house.

The most wonderful thing that happened to me this morning was reading today's post on Tree Lover's blog. I needed this information more than anything else in the world today. It explained to me why I did what I did yesterday, and more importantly, why I need to give myself compassion instead of judgment, criticism and self-loathing. My binge eating disorder -- and let's face it, that's what I have -- is not an excuse or a cop-out. But it's something I am going to have to learn to cope with, just like anyone else who has a challenge in their lives.

Tree Lover could have been channeling me when she wrote this (hope she doesn't mind me quoting her):

"I have spent years wondering why I overate and binged even though it made me heavier than I wanted to be. On the one hand, I certainly knew that I was choosing to put the food in my mouth, but I also felt like I didn’t have a choice. I wanted to stop overeating and binging, but it was impossible for me to make that choice. Why? Because, as Eckhart Tolle wrote, I had no choice. I was overeating and binging because of “a mental-emotional pattern from the past.” Like women who repeatedly “choose” abusive relationships, my situation was self-created. But I was making that choice from a place of mind identification. My true self was not choosing to overeat and binge."

Tree Lover's blog is called "Conscious Eating ~ Conscious Living," and this really seems to be the secret to mastering IE and breaking that mental-emotional pattern I've created in my life. Now the question is, how do I achieve that?


Tree Lover said...

You can quote me anytime you want. I'm honored. :) I'm so glad that my post helped you so much. That part of the book helped me a lot to have compassion for myself. Incidentally, it continues to help me to have compassion when I watch people I love make destructive "choices."

This process takes a lot of patience, and it's definitely challenging. But you are on the right course. I don't think you need to worry about how you are going to get where you want to be. You're already on your way there.

Lori said...

I actually went to Tree Lover's site after reading her comment to you yesterday and found it useful too.

You're on the right path; you've been on the right path -- it's just not a straight line at times.

Be good to yourself, okay?

Beula said...

I have to find more IE info.

I also filled the house (not quite) with foods I love and have been avoiding. I thought I could control my consumption by "feeling my fullness and monitoring my satisfaction." Yeah right. I ate a bag of craisins last night. So this morning now that the gooey dessert and craisins are gone I am food planning again. On the weekends I will try reintroducing my old fiends. During the week I will be mindful about my fullness and satisfaction while following a less scary way of eating. Great post. Great writing. Great help.

Anonymous said...

Here's another quote from a group that I just copied over to my computer so that I can remember it too -

"I totally agree with giving yourself permission to binge.
Once I let up on myself and gave myself permission to be human, that's
when I was able to begin my recovery. Once you accept that you have a
problem with eating, then you can begin to accept the behaviors that go
along with that. What point does it serve to judge yourself as a bad
person. My eating behavior is only a small part of who I am, it does
not define me."

I get the feeling that you are really working on IE, and I think doing pretty darn good too :) Painful as many times are, they are now 'processed' and maybe not as powerful or feared as before? Good for you! (PS, I hope you will copy this over to the revised group site - its VERY powerful and wonderful too :)

Claire said...

Hey Andrea,

I've been following your blog for a little while--I'm a grad student at Northwestern University, a writer and a recovering binger myself. I'm doing my (creative writing, nonfiction) thesis on binge eating and I was wondering if I might be able to contact you directly to chat with you about your blog? I couldn't find an email address on the site.

Many thanks and good luck with everything....

Claire Zulkey