After coming off of your last therapy appointment, you spend a week attempting, once again, to be thin. You’ve lost relevance with your spouse, and with your kids, and really, with life in general, and punishing yourself by starvation seems to be the only appropriate action, the only thing that will make a discernible, desirable difference.
At the end of the week, you fall off the wagon just a bit (OK, a lot) with a leftover half-bag of Doritos (which you don’t even LIKE, but whatever.) This is followed by your childhood favorite, a Reese’s peanut butter cup sundae from Friendly’s, the five-scoop, which, incidentally, has more calories than you normally permit yourself in a single day.
You catch your breath. Refocus. This isn’t working, clearly, and you WANTED to get WELL this year, right? Beating yourself up with hot fudge and a maraschino cherry when your soul is starving for meaning isn’t exactly super effective towards the desired result.
You remember recently downloading a book that you thought at one time might help you. It’s sitting on your Kindle, in the front of the queue of books. You have a two-hour plane ride ahead of you, so why not?
Resolutely, you drive to the airport, drinking lots of water to flush your system of the excess sugar. Upon arrival at the airport, you notice just a touch of hunger. Instantly, your stomach reminds you of the food court. There’s pizza there. You decide that you’re going to do a better job of LISTENING to your body, instead of mentally flogging yourself every time it asks, very politely, to be fed.
You peruse the pizza. Even though you know you’re not supposed to eat wheat, if it’s pizza your body wants, you shall have it. You look, and are surprised to discover that the pizza actually doesn’t look all that appetizing. Wait – pizza doesn’t look good? Nope. What you really would like is some cheese popcorn. You stand there for a moment, amazed. This listening to your body actually works! You find a small bag of all-natural popcorn and eat every kernel.
Once you’ve boarded, you dive into the book. Meh. It’s OK. It doesn’t tell you anything earth-shattering – trust your body, listen to what you need. Get some sleep, exercise. Focus on what you’re eating, and what makes you feel good – and what doesn’t. Once you detox, she says, your body will TELL you, definitively, what it needs. Except the author’s pretty sure you don’t need sugar, dairy, wheat, corn, soy, or caffeine. (Hmph. She’s clearly never tried to listen to MY body at 7 AM.) Experience your emotions; don’t eat them away.
You finish the book quickly on the plane. Despite the anti-coffee stance (she will pull the coffee out of your cold, dead hands, after a battle where both sides will be hurting, BAD) and the lack of depth, you actually feel…pretty good. A bit re-energized. You decide that you CAN get better. You CAN have feelings. You CAN express your emotions instead of eating them.
And you’ll start tonight – instead of turning inward, sulking about how difficult Sunday nights are – instead of binging on the contents of your pantry while hating yourself and the fat, sodden mess you’ve become – you will, in a very mature fashion, tell your spouse what you need to help you cope.
You can do this!
Head held high, you pick up your luggage (it’s actually arrived, and in a timely fashion – this is a good sign!) You walk out to the pickup area where your loving husband is waiting for you.
You get in the car.
And, rather quickly, it becomes clear that he is NOT in a good mood. At all. Issues with the ex, you know. She’s admittedly giving him a hard time, but….
You let him rant for the full twenty-minute ride home. You can give him this; you can speak up later.
And once you get home, he insists you look at some artwork he’s getting for his car. Now. Before the bags get unloaded, before anything else is tended to.
You take a deep breath. You have needs, and you need to respect the relationship enough to let him know.
You start to speak.
Instantly, you’re scolded. You physically recoil as his words slap you – he’s had a rough day, he’s EARNED this rant, he doesn’t NORMALLY rant about this but he NEEDED to today! And so on.
Chastised, you retreat. You apologize. You reassure him that OF COURSE it’s FINE to rant; that you truly appreciate him picking you up from the airport and OF COURSE he doesn’t usually rant for the whole ride; that you’re sorry; that it isn’t him, it’s just your issues, and you are sorry he’s dealing with this, sorry you interrupted when he needed you, sorry, sorry, so very, deeply sorry.
Inwardly, you apologize for having needs. You apologize for existing.
He goes on to spend the evening preparing for a “discussion” (read: showdown) with his ex later in the week – of course, on one of the nights you both normally have free.
Desperate to fill the empty, gaping hole that the reprimand left – the raw place created by you daring to not only have needs, but express them – with something, anything – you reach for an industrial-sized bag of treats from Costco. It’s about half-empty.
You finish the entire thing.
And you hate the fat, sodden mess you’ve become.
Clearly, this isn’t working.
You catch your breath. You drink some water to flush out the onslaught of sugar. You weigh and measure a two-hundred calorie portion of food to take to work the next day. You lay out your running clothes so you can start your day with a calorie deficit.
The next day, after determinedly sticking to your meager rations, you come home from work, where you find your husband feeding rich ice cream treats to his two (very thin!) boys. He asks you if you want any. Of course, the answer is “no thank you.” You quickly plan to skip dinner, as your spouse will be so involved with planning his “conversation” with his ex, that he won’t even notice.
You measure out two hundred calories for the next day’s meals.
You lay out your running clothes for your AM calorie burn.
You resolve, once again, to be thin.
Conceivably, then you’ll be worthy of feelings.
Perhaps then you’ll be deserving of the needs you have.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll have earned your husband’s love. Or attention.
But if not, at least you’ll be thin.
That may have to be enough.