Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Addiction to Eating

My addiction to eating removes me from realities I find intolerable. It provides an escape route away from the conflicts and dilemmas I find unsolvable. When I can't bear to be in my own skin, in my own body, where I experience the pain of being human, my addiction can throw me into a state of unconsciousness. When unconscious, I feel nothing, knowing nothing of my pains, confusion, struggles. Anyone who has experienced a binge knows the trance-like state it can induce where all other realities fade into the background, at least for as long as the binge lasts.

Unlike behaviors, emotions can't be controlled. My addictive process represents an effort to keep feelings and life itself under control. I am unable to let things be, unable to let things take their natural course. There's always some right way, some better way, some more perfect way that things can be.

I remove myself from the present, thrust my mind into the future and miss out on the life that could be unfolding before my eyes. I know, though, that only when I am in the here and now can I really get filled up and be "nourished" by life. If I am obsessing about yesterday or planning for tomorrow, I am unable to take in and receive whatever is in front of me that be "nourishing": a smile from my daughter, a compliment from a friend, the scent of a flower, a favorite tune, a brilliant sunset. The emptiness grows.

I am learning that I am actually starving on an emotional and spiritual level. My longing for food is a longing for emotional and spiritual nourishment. A longing for the "Good Mother" who nourishes me, soothes me and loves and accepts me just the way I am. This is frequently what I am searching for as I stand in front of the pantry. But no matter how much cookie dough or how many brownies I eat, I can not fulfill this longing because I am filling my stomach, not my heart or my spirit. This "food" I require is not material food.

So, what is the name of my hunger? I'm hungry for acceptance - to be loved just the way I am. I needed to identify it so I can remember it and keep it in the forefront of my mind, moment to moment. I must remember what it is I am truly hungry for every time I slip or stumble into addictive patterns and reach for a food that can not feed my real hunger - something to soothe my aching heart or broken spirit.