Sunday, July 17, 2011

When I was this age I thought....

Well yesterday was another big day for me. I had my second big "holy crap I just got through a big meltdown without food" day. It was hard. Well, I guess meltdowns by definition are not really a cakewalk.


I explained how last week was just stressful. This week will be too. Actually, until I am moved and settled in my new place (early August), I think life will be stressful. And that's just how life goes sometimes, so I'm trying to put my big girl pants on and just deal with it. I'd describe the stress like an ache -- you know, that low level, always there, bother you but you have to learn to deal with it because it's not going away kind of a thing. Yesterday's pain was very acute, and that in the past has almost always driven me right to the food. Learning to find comfort and deal with those sharp moments of pain or feeling "less than" without food is really hard, especially when you've dealt with pain using food for about 20 years.

The theme of the day yesterday was age. I'm 31. I didn't have a hard time when I turned 30 (well, aside from the whole "I don't really have any friends here to celebrate this with" thing -- but the number itself? Not a big deal). I don't feel old. I am really fine with my age. But most of my friends here are younger. I've only recently realized this, as the topic of age has very little to do with why we're friends and so it really never came up.

Yesterday one of my friends had a birthday. I love this particular friend, and was honored to be able to spend a part of her birthday with her celebrating what a cool person she is. I knew that she and her husband had struggled for many years with infertility before adopting their amazing daughter almost a year ago. I figured the whole "struggling with infertility for years" thing made her at least my age or older.

Nope. Turned just turned 29. When I found this out yesterday, I just had an intense few moments of feeling very much "less than". Almost all of my friends here are married. Almost all of them are pregnant or have just given birth (think I'm joking? A few weeks ago I had 15 pregnant friends, no exaggeration). Almost all of them own their homes.

I rent. I'm single. I'm childless.

All of those things are (seriously) ok with me about 95% of the time. They all make sense. I'm not sure how long I'll live here, so it doesn't make sense to buy until I get tenure. I've seen my parents' miserable marriage and I'm not getting married unless I find the right guy, who has yet to materialize so being single makes sense too. And there's no way I'm having a kid solo. (I've generate enough stress for myself -- I don't need a little to help. And if I do decide I desire that? I'll just get a dog.)

But yesterday? This all was very much not ok -- it's one thing to be "behind" people my own age. But when my 25-29 year old friends are all having babies with their spouses that will live in houses of their own? It can mess with your head and make you feel very much like a loser.

So yesterday I really really wanted to eat over this. I even went into Target to buy food to binge on. As I walked up and down the chocolate aisles, I had a moment of clarity. "What are you doing?! Not only will this not make you feel better, you'll really regret shoving this crap in your mouth. You need to feel this pain."

So, I walked out of Target without even so much as a trashy magazine, and I sat in my car and cried for a good 15 minutes asking for God's help to remove the compulsion to eat and to help me to feel confident about where I am in life. Feeling the pain is so hard, but I really think it's the only way for me to deal with it.

It is funny, yesterday afternoon I went to a different OA meeting than I usually do because I hadn't had time this past week to go to many meetings and this particular meeting fit into my schedule. Several different people said during their shares, "You know, I thought for sure by this age I'd be over this [compulsive eating]!" I really let that marinate, and it was so funny that, later that day, the topic of age really sent me down a dark path where I really wanted to eat compulsively.

I am coming to realize that I'll never be 'over' compulsive eating, even if I'm 100. I am for sure getting better with dealing with it. It comes to the surface less frequently when I do the right things to manage my eating. But I think it will always be there. I am coming to peace with that, even though it's something that is something I'm obviously not excited about. Maybe this is the thing that will keep me relying on God for everything, because since I have given food over to Him we converse much more frequently.

I have no great way to end this post with a quip or a resolution so I'll just say the following:

I'm very grateful for God's help in getting over this urge to eat compulsively yesterday. I'm very much needing his help to make it through another stressful week. I'm not sure where I thought I'd be at 31 (almost 32), but in Arkansas dealing with depression and compulsive eating by myself certainly isn't what I'd envisioned. But, with God's help, I will make it through -- and I sure am grateful for the lessons I'm learning these days, even though this isn't exactly how I'd seen my life playing out...


  1. I love the book of Philippians.. there's two passages that come to mind. Philippians 3:13 - 14(although I would keep reading) and Philippians 4:11-13

    God's certainly doing a good work in you - for a purpose I'm sure. It'd probably be more difficult if you wern't single to be working on these issues...

    Great job staying accountable to WW and avoiding the chocolate in Target! I don't think I could if I was actually there...

  2. I still feel a little behind--many people my age (29) are done with their PhD/have a "real" job, own homes, and have a kid or two. I hope it doesn't sound trite, but I try to remember what I've got going for me. You sound like you've got a lot going on for you, though you may be unsatisfied with other bits. But go you! I'm still working on controlling my desire to eat emotionally (or when there's piles of food). Thinking of you (and still reading, obviously)--I'd like to get some lunch soon or go for a bike ride (or both) when your schedule frees up a bit. :)


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