Chewing and Spitting & “The Bases”

baseball-diamond1You probably remember “the bases” from middle school and high school. You know: the locker-room gossip about how far someone would go sexually.

Well, I’m about to make a kind of crazy, provocative analogy that I truly hope won’t offend anyone, but it’s one that I’ve been thinking in my head for a long time now … and only now, do I feel comfortable enough to share it here with you, my readers.

One of the questions Dr. G. asked me (when I initially started therapy and we were talking about anxiety and my perfectionist tendencies) was how things are in the bedroom for me –am I able to “let go” and enjoy sex/intimacy.

I was kind of surprised, because I certainly wasn’t seeking therapy for marital problems or sexual problems of any kind.

But I guess when she heard so much about my tendencies to restrict certain foods at certain times, over-exercise, obsessive calorie-counting, negative body image etc., chewing and spitting — i.e., my tendency not handle such things in moderation — she was concerned perhaps those tendencies also flowed into my personal life (read as, sex life).

Though I was most definitely a bit prudish in high school and even somewhat in college, I’m a married woman now, and my life, thoughts and feelings have changed a great deal since I dated my first boyfriend in high school. And while I believe in keeping my personal life private between my husband and I, where it belongs, I was on the spot, on the couch.

My answer was a (bit blush-tinged) “yes,” that I most definitely enjoy adult activities and have very little shame about my body during those moments. Of course, I am positive a big part of that is having a husband who appreciates me for who I am and loves me as I am … my negative body image usually surfaces the rest of the time.

But her question was a pointed one, because as she noted after I answered “yes”, someone — even an anxious person — who can enjoy things like sexual activity (or chocolate, another example she used) is likely able to make great strides in dealing with anxiety/perfectionist tendencies. But if I were also coming at this with a lack of self-esteem in the bedroom as well, our therapy sessions might be a bit more challenging.

(From what I’ve read, many people suffering from serious EDs tend to avoid intimacy — not sure anecdotally, maybe someone can elaborate? But it’d make sense)

So I got to thinking, that in many ways, my act of chewing and spitting (which I do on occasion now — much less so than pre-blogging, but I still do it from time to time, as you know) is like that prudish girl in high school who likes to toe the bases (getting more and more involved with the “partner” — in this case, disordered eating behaviors) … but doesn’t go “all the way.” (i.e., binge or purge).

When it comes to my disordered eating behavior, I’m kind of a “tease” — I “flirt” with over-eating … but never actually do it because I don’t swallow it. Or perhaps flirting with even binging and purging — but instead of purging, I just spit it out.

You could argue someone who chews and spits doesn’t want to “get pregnant” or “get a disease” (binging and then gaining weight) so I do “everything but” to still enjoy, but not actually “engage” (in that I buy food, chew it and savor it for a second, then spit it out).

I realize this analogy might be a stretch for those readers who don’t do (or understand) this gross behavior, but it really makes sense to me.

I like the thrill of the chase, the pleasure of “foreplay.” Fortunately, I can stop it at that, and not “go all the way.” I’ve shared here, I’ve never ever binged/purged and I have no desire to do so. And I’ve never starved myself.

And so when I chew and spit, I do actually enjoy the moment sometimes — it’s so elusive, so secretive — just like foreplay/intimacy can be.

Sometimes it really IS a thrill to buy candy I know I’ll never swallow; other days I can buy the same item and eat it rationally, in small portions.

But the difference is, when I chew and spit, I don’t have to worry about the physical effects someone with bulimia deals with (their esophagus getting ruined, or puking their guts out and ruining their teeth enamel, etc).

Granted, it’s not a healthy behavior — certainly not one I condone — but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it sometimes. Likewise, who would say they don’t like passionate kisses and gentle caresses, intimacy that doesn’t essentially have a final result?

Anyway, I just wanted to toss this idea out there; does anyone else feel similarly?

How about you? Has your view of sex or your sex life (without being specific) changed as a result of your ED? Does my analogy about chewing and spitting and not “going all the way” make any sense, or am I off my proverbial bed?

19 thoughts on “Chewing and Spitting & “The Bases”

  1. It makes a lot of sense to me. I am rubbish at purging; and I do think of it as going ‘too far’, where as with chewing and spitting I strangely feel more in control. And it doesn’t hurt like purging does.

  2. I think a lot of people with EDs or disordered eating become trapped in their own thinking and their own world, that’s why I think apart from low self-esteem that people with severe EDs do not have physical intimacy. Yes partly due to bad body image or low self-esteem, but also because it’s not a priority to them to see this out. I know that when I was in “the depths” of my ED, a partner or physical intimacy wasn’t important to me because it was taking away from my primary focus of restricting, etc.

    I think it’s an interesting analogy that you make about the chewing and spitting but I think EDs or disordered eating behavior is so subjective that you can’t really compare – I could never compare one bulimic to another or one anorexic to another. The same goes for comparing disordered eating behavior to the behavior of a bulimic or anorexic.

  3. Ruby Tuesday, I’ve never purged so I can’t really grasp it but from what I can imagine, this does seem to be a better alternative, albeit not one I want forever in my life!

    Leila, thanks for sharing your insight. I do agree that these behaviors are totally subjective and I think we all know, I can only speak from my own experience. I try not to generalize types of EDs because I can’t relate to the severe ones. All I have done is c/s.

  4. The more and more I think about your analogy, the more I knid of love it — it really works for your situation. I agree with Leila though that for every ED sufferer the situation is different, but I guess for me I don’t really engage in “foreplay” but I “score”.

    I know that people you are deep in their eating disorder often do have a problem with intimacy, and I can totally understand that. I don’t really have that problem but I do have moments during intimacy where I still feel a bit self-conscious, and I hate that. I hate that I am thinking about how ugly I feel my body is instead of living in that moment.

    Anyways, I hope you are doing well. take Care.

  5. in complete honesty, I have always been a bit jealous of your chew and spits.

    not because I want to do it.

    not because I wish I did it.

    but because of what you wrote. you get to eat these things that I actually swallow and have to work off (do I actually work them off these days?) , but you don’t have to deal with the calorie consequences.

    don’t take that the wrong way, but it’s just as you wrote it. I like the analogy and did follow it.

    we all have our demons though. I have binging issues and unfortunately have gained at least 5 lbs from this.

  6. So funny — I never thought about it, but I definitely used to deny myself both food and physical intimacy with people — all part of separating myself from what I perceived as “worldly” pleasures. Silly, though — life is so much more fun now 🙂

  7. Hi Sheena, it’s good to know others can relate and you’re right, it applies to my situation but perhaps not everyone’s. Imagine how amazing the world would be if we weren’t fretting about our bodies? I’d have probably 2-3 hours of LIFE per day if I didn’t blog about/talk about/think about this stuff. Hmmm …!! That said, the thoughts don’t magically disappear b/c we want them to.

    Aw Cathy, I DO deal with the calorie consequences; I am not losing, so clearly it doesn’t help … I always dock about 10% of what I c/s, but I guesstimate b/c really, who knows. It’s not something to be proud of though, for sure … and you’re right, we all have our demons. On the flip side, we’re lucky that this is the biggest “drama” we face; others have it so much worse, right?

    LOL FitForFree — I like your ‘tude 🙂

  8. This was really a really interesting train of thought. I can see how this applies to you and the c/s. For me, the “foreplay” analogy doesn’t so much apply because I am a binger. I have often thought that my binging is similar to having an affair. I have been very secretive about it in the past. There actually was some semblance of excitement in the planning of the binge. Binging has been like a lover to me. All the build up, all the anticipation and then the major feelings of guilt and shame after the act.

  9. coming from someone still recovering from deep ED (ana), now that you write it out like this im a bit jealous too. because im still terrified to flirt. and when i do flirt with any progress or recovery that involves giving up control, well that is pretty dang tough.

    does it seem like your chew/spits are more about control issues or about “treating yourself,” or do the reasons change as you try to explain it all?

  10. Good question, Clare. I don’t think it’s about control — more of wanting to be out of control (bc so many other areas of my life are, by my nature, organized/compartamentalized and it’s like my rebellion act … but yesterday I was FINE … once I made the choice to be fine. Because I DO have control … and realizing it really helped me see that I CAN stop doing this. I might not NEVER do it, but I can limit it, I do have that power.

    It’s not psychological so much as a mental choice for me, if that makes sense. I CHOOSE to buy the stuff I spit out when i do, or when I eat it. Whereas people struggling with real EDs, it’s often more of a psychological component, I’m thinking. And I do agree, I can’t compare something as subjective as an ED … and don’t intend to or mean to imply it.

    But I do know that c/s is a compulsive behavior, and not a pretty one.

  11. lissa didn’t mean to make you discount your disordered eating. your issues are every bit as real as other EDs…just manifested differently maybe. you can compare because at the root it seems like a control issue!

  12. Oh I know, Clare — but that’s the thing, I DON’T think my habit is the same as someone with a “real” eating disorder, and I’m ok with that!

  13. I stumbled across your blog two nights ago and I think it’s wonderful and interesting! I have c/s for 3 years now, on and off. I do it a lot less now that I used to, once a day or less. At it’s peak I was chewing and spitting three times a day for at least a half hour at a time, and I was buying (and stealing from work) large amounts of food to do it with. It’s a real eating disorder… It ruined my life and I just had to respond to your post when I read the following comment:
    “But the difference is, when I chew and spit, I don’t have to worry about the physical effects someone with bulimia deals with (their esophagus getting ruined, or puking their guts out and ruining their teeth enamel, etc).”
    The truth is, this behaviour can cause ulcers, jaw joint pain and laxity, and a number of other side effects. I have had three cavities this year, my back teeth are chipped, and the enamal is wearing off.
    Granted, I was starving myself for a year, and exercising obsessively when I started this behaviour. The severeity of my eating disorder was probably a lot higher than yours is. Still, I wouldn’t want to see anyone else go through this. I thought I was “beating the system” when I did this. It’s a lie though and c/s is a horrible, addictive behaviour.

  14. Hi Courtney and thanks for writing. Glad you like my blog — and it’s nice to know someone can relate to my c/s problem. Fortunately, I’ve been “sober” from it for 5 weeks now? I lost track. Doing well, though. Thanks for sharing your experiences with c/s .. it’s evil!

  15. One day I looked up c/s on the internet and started reading peoples stories and all the side effects that can happen from it. It was a major wake up call. I was probably c/s for about a year. After that day, I decided going cold turkey and for the most part, I’ve completely stopped c/s. When I first started c/s I thought it would help lose weight or atleast maintain. But, i was very wrong. I put on a lot of weight, which is another reason why i decided to stop. But, after quitting I couldnt control food cravings and decided to give in and just eat some of the food that i would normally just c/s. I want everyone to know that ive put on a lot more weight now, than i did back when i used to chew and spit. I feel like i have uncontrolable hunger and i just dont know what to do. I’ve been trying to lose weight for such a long time now, but i just cant. It is very hard losing weight after you’ve been c/s for some time. It is a constant battle for me, and i need help and suggestions because it just killing me to be putting on more weight ( before i started c/s, i was anorexic ) HELP!

    1. Hi Lyza, I recommend you checking out the HELP tab here on my blog for resources — remember, you’re NOT alone, and you can beat this. I haven’t c/s since mid-March!!

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