From Guilt to Pride

hpim17811Coming off the heels of my last therapy session last night (at least for now) I had a pretty powerful conversation with my younger brother Thursday night, who lives in California.

He doesn’t read my blog, but he knows what has been going on, and he’s been concerned.

The last time we spoke about chewing and spitting a couple months ago, I’d gone three weeks without doing it, which was a pretty good streak.

And so he was surprised to hear from my sister that I still sometimes did it. He knew of the conversation I’d had with her earlier this week (which instigated the “to blog or not to blog” post) and so when he called, he expressed concern.

We talked for a long time — I’m super-close with my siblings, so this isn’t abnormal — and one of the things that he said really hit home.

He asked how I feel after I chew and spit, and I told the truth. I said usually, I feel guilty because it’s such a gross behavior. But sometimes, I acknowledged, it feels good.

He asked if, knowing how bad it often makes me feel most of the time, I could just not buy the candy bar at all, especially if I bought it solely with the intent to spit.

Since I’d shared with him how c/s is my “rebellion,” he suggested maybe then I’d be able to “rebel” against chewing and spitting it, since I fully agreed it’s an unhealthy and gross habit.

Asking if I could “just not buy it” is a question my husband has asked many times that has sometimes annoyed me in the past (as I used to contend with certainty, “Well, but I’m not in control when I do it”), but yet tonight, the question felt different, all of a sudden … after this week of seeing that I AM in control of my actions …

I realized that both my husband and brother (and others) were asking me because they care, and because they wanted me to feel in control of my decisions, to feel powerful — that I had the ability to choose to buy or not to buy; to spit or not to spit.

That it was, in black-and-white male terms, as simple as just making the decision not to buy it. Were it only so easy!

(Of course, being female and analytical, I noted that sometimes I can buy a treat (like a Cadbury egg – gooey deliciousness and worth every single calorie!) and eat it just fine, budgeting into my daily caloric range and making sacrifices elsewhere, like a “normal” person would!)

Still, there was merit to what he was saying, or what my husband has been saying.

Like my brother acknowledged, I’ve always loved food. And because eating less of it helped me lose weight, I’ve turned it into a vice, an enemy. It lacks pleasure all too often for me.

But if I could view it differently, if I believe I am in control and can be proud of my food choices, I wouldn’t need to chew and spit, which only breeds guilt and more agony.

I could essentially change the habit from a guilty one to a prideful one, by eliminating the behavior.

I don’t know why it took so long to “get this” or to see it. Or why therapy didn’t really get me here, but rather my brother’s words (and, in retrospect, my husband’s words over the past year and a half of seeing me struggle and watching helplessly, trying to get me to see it) did it.

I want to be proud of myself, the way I was when I lost weight and felt good about myself. But I don’t want it to be just a physical thing, for vanity or anything like that.

I want to be proud of my choices — and this means eliminating the negative behavior and replacing it with positive reinforcement — because we want to start a family in the next year or so, and I want to be in the best physical and mental condition to do that.

I want to be proud of myself, not feel guilty for not looking the way I did at my leanest.

Dr. G and I wrapped things up last night, and I feel like it was very telling how all of this has come to a head this week. I mean, after hearing concern from various loved ones that they fear I am not showing progress (because I still sometimes c/s), all of a sudden all the stars seemed to align and it seemed to click.

We left things open; it wasn’t a break-up. I’m welcome to call to see her whenever I need to, or if I want to seek the counsel of someone else, of course that option is out there too.

I feel like I have a good foundation and understanding of myself and my brain’s inner workings to truly heal now, and am grateful for that.

But incidentally, what really got to me was the chat with my brother and, in retrospect, the chats I’ve had with him, my sister, husband and parents in particular over the past eight months.

I know I might not be as far along as everyone would like in terms of my progress, but I do believe there will be a day where I don’t chew and spit anymore and don’t think about it, either.

I’ve had a good week so far … but truly any time food is used as a coping mechanism, we’re better off just trying to take it one day at a time.

How about you? Does my brother’s notion of from guilt to pride resonate with any other chewers/spitters out there?


27 thoughts on “From Guilt to Pride

  1. This post has come at such a good time for me! I had a few bad weeks where I wasn’t eating the healthiest and occasionally engaging in my ED behaviors. I was upset that I hadn’t come as far in my recovery as I would like to think I should have, almost a year and a half after my seven weeks in IOP treatment.

    Earlier this week I was listening to the radio and someone was talking about taking pride in their job. Not everyone loves what they do, but if you know you’re doing the best you can at that moment, then you should be proud of what you’re doing.

    It got me thinking about other areas of my life and if I take pride in what I do and how I behave, particularly when it comes to food. I was disappointed in myself that I couldn’t say I took pride in my behaviors. I really want to change that. Since then I’ve been viewing things a differently. Like you, when I try to lose weight, food becomes somewhat of an enemy, and that shouldn’t be. Life is too short to have enemies, especially inanimate ones. Why allow ourselves to feel guilty for eating things we can ultimately take pleasure in when approached in a healthy manner? Now when I look at food, I ask myself if I want to feel guilty or proud of how I proceed. So far, so good!

    Sorry for the long reply, your post just hit home today! 🙂 Have a great weekend!

  2. I completely agree with the concept of taking pride in our food behaviors. We should always eat with integrity. It’s important to take this one day at a time, but every night when I go to bed I don’t want to just think “thank God I got through today”, I want to think “I am proud of how I behavied today.”

    Everyone has recovery at their own pace — sometimes the mental part surpasses physical recovery while sometimes it’s the other way around. It’s important I think to work at your own pace so you don’t break.

    Also, on another note with exercise, I don’t exercise at night because if I wait until the end of the day I often talk myself out of it. The evening is the only time I really feel is “my” time. I enjoy knitting, reading a book, watching my fave shows. If I exercise at night, and managed to not talk myself out of it, then there is 1.5-2 hours taken away from my time (1 hour exercise and then cleaning up). Also, exercise still causes me anxiety. I am anxious and thinking about exercising (or not exercising) all day until I do it. Hence why my morning workouts are best.

    I have cut down on my late night eating a great deal. It used to be 400-500 cal, and now it’s 200-300 cal at night. I am hoping to work on this further with my nutritionist. But really, 200-300 cal is like a good bowl of ice cream, which a lot of people eat at night. So although I would like to cut back, I don’t feel as guilty as I used to.

  3. Kristen, I am so glad this post was so timely for you. I love this: “Why allow ourselves to feel guilty for eating things we can ultimately take pleasure in when approached in a healthy manner? Now when I look at food, I ask myself if I want to feel guilty or proud of how I proceed. So far, so good!” Congrats!! 🙂

    Hi Sheena, and you’re so right; I don’t want to “get through the day” but rather be proud of my day. How work went, how I treated myself and my loved ones, maybe I made my husband or a friend smile for something silly … whatever it may be. And it’s true too that recovery from any issue happens on one’s own schedule. I am just finally feeling ready to put this behind me, and it took hearing the words of a lot of people who love me to really get it.

    I see what you mean; I only asked b/c I was thinking maybe if you slept more, you’d be less tired and less likely to have binges but what do I know — I haven’t dealt with binge eating disorder so I really don’t know. I hope through therapy you can get to the root of why you’re so anxious about exercise … today’s my rest day and two years ago that word “rest day” didn’t fit into my life. Now, I welcome it — you’ll get there!!

    And congrats on cutting down; I just meant that it seems like every night you budget for these extras as almost a crutch. I know b/c I’ve done that before — I used to HAVE to have a Skinny Cow when I began WW 5 yrs ago; it was a “must” but really, some nights I didn’t need it, or would end up eating TWO! So … I switched to an apple, or cocoa or single-serve FF/SF pudding. It helped me. But if it’s working for you and not inciting a binge, then keep it up!

    I dunno, I guess I’d prefer a 100 cal dessert and more substantial dinner, but it’s a personal preference for sure!

  4. I have gone through a similar change in mindset. I never c/s but for me it was binges. I got to the point where NOT binge eating was more of a reward than bingeing. I used to view binges as a “reward” because I was getting to eat lots and lots of treats and things I loved but that were often labeled “off limits” for a dieter. But soon I realized the guilt, shame, and physical sickness I felt after doing it was far worse than any temporary pleasure I got out of eating something I desired. As days, then weeks went by with no binges I felt proud and more confident. I felt like I was in control and not “powerless” to these cravings or eating urges.

    Realizing that I was the one walking into the store and buying 3 huge cookies or a loaf of bread with the intention of eating it ALL made me aware that I could stop it. It is easier not to walk into the store and buy the stuff than to go in and buy it. Every time I did not give into buying stuff I felt stronger and stronger.

  5. Lara, thanks for sharing … “Realizing that I was the one walking into the store and buying 3 huge cookies or a loaf of bread with the intention of eating it ALL made me aware that I could stop it. ” AMEN!!!! It’s about building that resistance muscle. I think it’s time I revisited Dr. Beck!

    Thanks, Auntie–it’s a “self portrait” I took in Oaxaca in my “hot purple dress” 🙂

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