AA people, and anyone else you ask (especially very wise, very long time sober women). will tell you unequivocally that you must not worry about anything except staying sober when you are trying to get sober. Your sobriety is #1. If you smoke cigarettes, don’t try to quit those right now. If you like your cupcakes, don’t hold back. This is extreme self care and extreme self forgiveness while you knuckle through and heal your misfiring dopamine system. Have credit card debt? Don’t worry about that right now. SOBRIETY is numero uno.
As a long time food and weight obsessed girl and woman, this whole “eat all the cupcakes you want” instruction both thrilled me and scared the shit out of me. As I’ve mentioned in my first couple of posts, I turned to cigarettes and booze as the cooler, more adult ways to avoid eating (and by transitive property, avoid “feeeeeelings”). Without my wine and ciggies, I had to fucking deal with food again.
Frankly, I’m SO bored with food and weight and body image stuff. SO so tired of it. It’s old news. It’s the old high school girl-friendship pseudo feminist psychobabble that dragged on into my twenties friendships and finally dissipated when everyone grew up. I’m 42. I should be done with this.
But, here I am again. And I don’t think it’s about food anymore. And it’s not about body image or body shame anymore. It’s about fear, and how I deal with it.
For the first 45-60 days of continuous sobriety I was actually following the eating rules that those elder sober ladies handed down to me. I was eating anything I wanted, whenever I wanted it. Chocolate. Ice Cream. Pasta. Bread. I did gain a couple of pounds… I did. But I also got sick of ice cream. And chocolate. And even pasta. I felt like SHIT from the sugar and complex carbs. So I drifted back to eating lower carb. Boom: I felt better.
Day 66, and the other shoe dropped. A big stupid fight with my husband triggered ginormous life or death anxiety in me. I was literally feeling the abandonment feelings from early childhood all over again. It had been a while, too. I had a total meltdown. I holed up in our downtown Seattle studio apartment without him for a day and a night and I bought mac and cheese and ice cream and was planning the biggest binge of my life because, damnit, I was NOT GOING TO DRINK.
Guess what happened?
I couldn’t eat it all. I got full. I got bored. I felt sad– almost too sad and lonely to binge.
It reminded me of a diet book I read in college, Overcoming Overeating. The thesis was to stock your house with way way more than you could ever eat of your favorite foods, no matter how disgustingly bad for you they may be. Fruit Loops, carrots – doesn’t matter. Then eat as much as you want. Do it every day. Keep re-stocking until you start to realize there is abundance and you truly have permission to eat whatever you want. As time passes, you will learn how the food affects you, your body, your mood, etc. and you’ll shift toward the foods that work better for you. Eventually, compulsive eating will be a thing of the past. You will sort out other coping mechanisms for fear, anxiety and life.
I think this concept of abundance is what played out during my recent attempt at binging to self-soothe. I’d already given myself permission to eat all that crap for a solid 60+ days, so the binge magic didn’t happen for me.
Sad, in a way, but amazingly great in every other way.
So, AA isn’t all bad. 🙂