Sunday, July 08, 2007

Pretty Mental Saturday (Alternate Title: Food Is Not the Answer)

As the title above suggests, I had a rough PMS day yesterday.

I'm not sure why it happens exactly, but once in a while I have a lethal combination of hormones and pressing issues that come together like vinegar and baking soda. I really felt as if I was on the breaking point and would explode into a thousand tiny pieces.

Every irritation seemed amplified. Every little annoyance in my life was collecting into an ever growing snowball and heading for the peaceful little village in the valley of my being.

It finally got so bad I ran away from home. Yes, I bolted and didn't tell anyone where I was going. I had to get away from the husband, the kid, the dogs, the in-laws, my mother, all the noise and questions and demands.

When I told my husband where I went later that evening, he told me it was "morbid." I drove a few miles out of town to a little village and parked at the country cemetery there. I walked around for about 20 minutes or so, looking at the gravestones, marveling at how old some of them were (for American standards). I was impressed at how many Revolutionary War Veterans were buried there, and I looked at the tombstones written in German and wished I could read them. Some of the people I knew, I found my great-uncle's stone, and I thought it was a little sad that some of the stones were so old and worn that all of the writing on them was gone and you had no idea whose remains rested there.

I'm not turning Goth, I swear. But I couldn't think of another place to go that was more peaceful and quiet. This cemetery is on top of a hill that overlooks the surrounding countryside, and the view is really a sight to behold. My dad's family farm borders this cemetery; in fact, he donated a piece of the land to the cemetery association, and I've been looking into getting a lot of my own so I can be planted there too someday.

After walking around there for a while, listening to the corn stalks rustling in the breeze, realizing how life can be both temporary and eternal at the same time, I was able to catch my breath for the first time all day. My freight train of a brain finally slowed down, and I felt like I was finally sane enough to go home again.

Unfortunately this tranquility didn't last too long; on the car ride home Hubby was calling to see where in the hell I'd run off to, and once I did get home I dealt with the starving child, the bored dogs, the family all calling to coordinate yet another trip to see fireworks. Before long I was knee deep in anxiety and misery again.

I am going to confess here that I did something I almost never do: I poured myself a drink. Yes, I mean alcohol. Now I know some of you may be thinking-- "Red flag! She's transferring her food compulsions to alcohol!" -- but I'm just a little too self-aware for that. I grew up with two parents who turned to alcohol to cope with life, and I know it doesn't work. But at that point I didn't have any Valium in the house, and I figured one drink wasn't going to send me over the deep end.

In fact, it helped a lot in the fact that it dampened the anxiety just enough that I could handle it in more beneficial ways. I pulled out one of my Wayne Dyer books (which has very similar information to Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now," now having read both authors), then spent some time in some relaxation techniques and even managed to meditate a little.

Believe me, this downing a shot of booze is not going to become a regular event. But desperate times called for desperate measures, and in this case I was able to come to the realization that nothing was so bad in my life that I needed all this anxiety; no one feeling I was experiencing could not be tolerated and survived. I wasn't thrilled about having to go out with the extended family yet again (the second time that day!), but since there was nothing I could do about it I had to just accept it and find some sense of peace within myself.

I will say that by the time we went for fireworks I was pretty much shut down. I couldn't really gather up the energy to participate in any engaging conversation, so I just sat back and laid low. My good friend and SIL picked up on this and asked me what was wrong, but we both knew we couldn't get into any details with everyone around. So I figure she'll be grilling me on our morning walk Monday morning.

Here's the thing about this Pretty Mental Saturday: even though I felt awful most of the day, there was never one moment that bingeing seemed like a viable solution. Not once. And maybe that was part of what made the day so harrowing! My old stand-by was gone and I had to find alternate methods of coping! In the very few instances that I did think about food, I remember this one phrase coming to me again and again: "Food is not the answer."

However, I did have to deal with one more incident before the night was through. After the fireworks Mabel was starving, as 8 year-olds are want to do, and the only thing she wanted was McD's and one of their Crappy Meals. Hubby relented to her whining and drove there, and the drive-thru lane was packed with other fireworks attendees, so he pulled in and went inside to order. Before he went in he asked everyone in the car if they wanted anything. In-laws said no, and I said no.

So what does Hubby do? He comes back with a Crappy Meal for Mabel, an order of fries for his mother, and two (2!!!) baked fruit pies for me! MIL is all atwitter and happy with her surprise present of fries fresh out of the fryer, all hot and greasy and salty. I looked at the pies in horror.

"What's this?"
"Pies," Hubby replied, "I know they're your favorite."

How I didn't throw the damn things out the window in a fury is still a mystery to me. How long have I been battling, first with losing weight, and now with the binge eating? How many times have I told him that doing this to me is like bringing a bottle of vodka to an alcoholic? Yes, I've told him I'm doing Intuitive Eating now and I'm trying to legalize all foods, but I've also told him that in addition I'm learning to not use food to cope with problems and numb myself from my emotions.

I know I've told him these things, but apparently he hasn't really heard me. I know he didn't do it to be mean, I know he was worried about me all day and was beside himself trying to figure out what to do to make me feel better. In his mind, in his family's tradition, food is always the answer to the bad day, to the crushed ego, to help you forget about the boo-boo. He was only doing what comes naturally.

But, here it comes again, FOOD IS NOT THE ANSWER! (Sorry to yell.) It would have been one thing if I had asked for the pies, if I had been craving them and actually wanted them. But I didn't! I had actually had a fleeting thought of getting a small vanilla cone, but after an internal scan (what, am I on Star Trek now?) I knew I wasn't hungry for it. I told him no, I wasn't hungry, and I really meant it. So why can't that be respected?

Those pies are still sitting on the kitchen counter, by the way. I haven't been able to bring myself to throw them away, because in the back of my mind I figure I might be hungry for them later. Something tells me they're like the rest of McD's food -- they taste great when they're piping hot, but once they cool down it's just nasty -- especially those nuggets!

But yes, I survived my Pretty Mental Saturday, and without a binge. I think I may need a medal for surviving this battle.

1 comment:

Jain said...

Andrea, I used to look forward to my PMS days like one would dental work without novacaine!!! One time I actually told my doctor that I would have the 'works' removed just to not have to put up with the vicious cycle if it wasn't for the fact that the hormones really were beneficial for me - sigh... I can only tell you that it almost makes menopause worth waiting for (LOL!).

One group I was in had a leader who thought he was 'way cool' when he asked us gals to make him a 'PMS token' that he could wear as a show of understanding for women who 'suffer'. He swore he couldn't be embarrassed too. The next meeting I showed up with a tampon (unused of course!) that
I had expanded into a 'flower bud' tied up with nice pink ribbon like a cortseuge (spelling?) complete with a pin so he could wear it. He turned red and I never saw him with it on - giggles!!

Poor hubby - he tried to 'gift' you with something he thought you would love, but instead it was just NOT the right thing to do. Tell him for next time that hugs are more more 'sweet' than anything he could buy for you ;-)

Congrats on the other discoveries that you were able to make this day too - ehugs, Katcha