Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day Sixteen of Twenty: Howling At The Moon Down By The River

There's that scene from the movie Independence Day where people are gathered on the roof waiting for the arrival of whatever. Last night I experienced something not like that at all. I got up in the middle of the night, climbed up to the top floor of the parking garage and watched the eclipse. Now I'm not an astronomer, nor do I play one on tv, but I wanted to see it. And I did. It was very, very cool. I can only imagine how fearful it must have made early peoples who didn't understand what was happening. When we get the facts, scary things can become less scary. It's the same way with emotional eating.

I've been giving a good deal of thought lately to my disordered eating behaviors. If I think about it, the most negative of the behaviors fall into one of two camps. The first camp is the real binge-inducer. It's the anxiety camp. It's like this tension builds up and it needs some sort of relief, even if it's bad - thus we have the binge. If this is you, I need not describe any more. I'm pleased/grateful that this trigger at this level has been absent from my life for a while. I've figured out how to stop the the babies from being thrown into the river (ie the stress response)* that is to say I've eliminated a lot of the stressors at the source. Two reasons - I choose to jump in the river less often and there are fewer reasons to do so in the first place. The thing about big and bold anxiety is that it's big and bold and I can now identify it. "Oh, am feeling incredibly anxious. I should go to the gym/take a hot bath/breathe deep/meditation/take some eleviating action." I now do a better job of identifying the acute physical sensations as anxiety, not as a hunger driver, which is how I'd previously wired myself to respond.

The second camp is a bit more nefarious. It's the "I just want something to feel good camp". Today (because I tend to paint things with a big old brush - lightbulb moment - I need to change that self-talk. It's not TODAY, it is right this second and I want something to feel good.) is complete crap and I want something good. Now for most folks, having a little treat, a little pick me up isn't a bad thing, in fact, it might even qualify as treating oneself well or practicing lovingkindness, but for someone like me, it just triggers MORE. I want to feel MORE good. I want to feel MORE good longer. These symptoms are more obtuse and are more difficult for me to pinpoint. It's just a low-level malaise. It's harder to recognize and it's harder to stop. But I do have some success if I call it what it is, rather than concentrate on it as some sort of personal failure. It isn't ME, it's a behavior.

But just like with the eclipse, if I know the facts behind these events, they become less scary. Being obese didn't make me anxious, being anxious made me obese. Being obese didn't give me low self worth, Low self worth gave me obesity. Obesity was just a symptom. Sometimes I have to treat the symptom, but I am more successful if I treat it at the root cause and stop the babies from going in the river in the first place.

*A group of people are standing at a river bank and suddenly hear the cries of a baby. Shocked, they see an infant floating--drowning--in the water. One person immediately dives in to rescue the child. But as this is going on, yet another baby comes floating down the river, and then another! People continue to jump in to save the babies and then see that one person has started to walk away from the group still on shore. Accusingly they shout, "where are you going?" The response: "I'm going upstream to stop whoever's throwing babies into the river."


Day Sixteen of Twenty:

Revisit your M-F schedules. Make changes to fit your unique lifestyle. Post these lists. Incorporate other family members into your schedule.

Now is the time for that consideration of your "significant other" relationships. A couple of key questions here. What has been their reaction to your disciiplined work with these tasks? Are they contributing to the work/chore schedules? Are they curious about what you are learning about yourself? Are they asking questions and stealing looks at your lists?

Or are they apathetic and resentful? Do they say things like, "are you still working on that stupid thing?" Are they attempting to guilt you for the time you seem spend on these tasks and not on them? Does doing a budget threaten them?

Like it or not, their reaction to your work here is a crystal ball into the future of your relationship.

That's one of the benefits of having excuded a direct consideration of these relationships up to this point. You were testing the value of this relationship. You know now, in your heart, whether or not the relationship passed.

How they reacted to you during these days is a true snapshot of your relationship dynamics. This dynamic, this way that you interact together, will not change significantly as your life goes forward. It CAN change, but it will take massive work; work that may or may not be worth the investment of time and energy.

You need to apply the same scrutiny now to these personal relationships that you used so effectively on the other aspects of your life. Remember? Lists of what you like and don't like. List about why you feel attracted to this person. Lists about what needs this person fills in you. Lists about activities and interests you share.

Most importantly, lists about what each of your REALISTICALLY contributes to this partnership. Whose doing the emotional and physical work here.

A line from the hit musical Pippin somewhat harshly yet very aptly summarizes it. "Is the fornicating you're getting worth the fornicating you're getting." Then make some decisions. Choose actions to execute those actions. It really is just that simple. And do it now. Life is short. The tides continue to change. Procrastination is self esteem's biggest enemy.

Write everything down. Daily.

1. Take a bath or shower. Wear cologne, perfume, deodorant, floss and brush your teeth. Shave. Do nails, eyebrows, ears.

2. Bed made. Sheets washed. You deserve clean bedding.

3. Continue your daily list non productive activities.

Continue working to eliminate non productive activities.

4. Take photos every day.

5. Friend List

6. Continue the thank you notes as needed.

Continue to print copies and put in a folder.

7. Continue writing down and memorizing the names of new people.

8. Keep your house in order. Make of schedule of the things you want to change.

9. Plan a specific monthly budget. Continue keeping receipts. It makes you acutely aware of where your money goes.

10. Continue finding ways to like everyone with whom you work.

Again, it makes no difference to them. Only to you.

11. Put $1.25 in cash in a glass on your bedstand.


Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Know your enemy.



  1. Oh - I really like the story. That would be me...going upstream to stop whoever is throwing babies in the water. It makes so much more sense! Sadly, I think I'm the only person in my universe who thinks this way. ;)

    We got out of bed last night, too, to witness the eclipse. I set up the telescope on the deck and we pulled all the kids out of bed to see it. It was so beautiful!

  2. An eclipse and winter solstice.
    That's a good sign -
    Anything can happen!

    And it doesn't have to be frightening,
    once we understand it - and ourselves - better!

    Great post!

  3. I know you're re-thinking, re-inventing and re-discovering yourself Roxie. But what you're putting out here? It's for the rest of us too. Great post.

  4. I watched the eclipse, too. It was awesome. :D

  5. This is such on an awesome post, on so may levels. I hadn't heard that parable before. Thank you for sharing it. It reminds me of Portia Nelson's "There's a Hole in My Sidewalk." (falling in the hole vs. walking around it vs. walking down a differet street.


We'll try this for a while.