TRIGGER WARNING: GENERAL, BROAD DISCUSSION OF PHYSICAL ABUSE (NOTHING TOO GRAPHIC, JUST SOME NONSPECIFIC REFERENCES)
I’ve been reading a very enlightening dieting book called Bright Line Eating by Susan Peirce Thompson, PhD. You can follow that link to its Amazon page. It talks about how an addiction can occur if you overindulge in an addictive substance for a few weeks. Your brain adapts to it, and you then spend forever chasing the normal feeling of having it in your system.
And it was weird, but it made me remember what my food addiction goes back to.
Picture it: 2010, and I was dating a guy named Billy. He was a lousy boyfriend. Ugh. [Eyeroll.] At that time in my life, I had no friends and thus no support group, and dating him was stressful times a million.
First and foremost, I had no sex drive. None. I wanted to be sexually active someday, but it wasn’t happening then, and that worried me. A lot. It’s no longer an issue, thankfully, because it turned out to be Geodon, which I was finally able to go off of a year later. (I really needed it until I went off it.)
Item #2 was that Billy’s family kept triggering my spanking issue. Billy had a six-year-old nephew whose parents spanked him all the time. They were minor hand-slap spankings, but when you’re triggered… you’re triggered. I begged him and his family to quit doing it, but they couldn’t have cared less. (I’d love to go back in time and dump Billy and his family way sooner than I did.)
During that ordeal, I put the pressure on myself to “get over it” (it being the spanking issue), so I saw a hypnotherapist, Louisville’s finest. She asked what I needed help with, and after I told her she said, “So what? Your parents spanked you? Some kids need a good spanking.” I should’ve walked out of her office, but I’d prepaid. (And now we know why she requires prepayment–because she’s a [bleep].)
Desperate for more help, I contacted someone I’d grown up with who was now a minister, Sam. I tried to talk to him about the issue, and I told him what my mom had done to me. He replied with a casual air: “Well, your mom could’ve fixed what she did by apologizing for going too far. I’m sorry your relationship with her was damaged by her inability to do that.”
Um. First of all, apologies don’t undo trauma. (IF ONLY!) Second, our relationship wasn’t all that great to begin with, her being who she is. Third, way to minimize, Sam. (Sam’s a jerkface. It’s sad, but until I found genuinely good people to surround myself with, everyone I turned to was unworthy of me. But I kept trying to see the best in them and give them the benefit of the doubt.)
So the point here is that my boyfriend’s family was triggering me routinely, and everyone I turned to made it worse. Major, major stress.
Sam gave me some breathing exercises to do, and I did them diligently, but I couldn’t overcome it. I blamed myself for being “weak” to the triggers. Billy’s family was horrible, but then again, so was he.
Third, Billy’s mother hated me. I took my shoes off once to watch a movie, and she got me scented socks for Christmas. Think about that for a minute. She also got me a purse, because I’d told her that I can’t get used to using a purse. So… right.
I got her a huge scented candle in a glass jar, and she put it unopened in her spring yard sale.
Then, I caught Billy trying to meet other women on the dating site. I trapped him with a fake profile in which I was one “Sexy Lexi.” His goose was cooked.
When all was said and done, I wasn’t devastated to have him out of my life. (I dumped him, so that probably goes without saying.) Rather, it’s more like I was a stress mess times a million. I turned to junk food and started bingeing in ways that were abnormal for me. My sister, Ellen, saw me doing it once and freaked out, fearful I’d gain loads of weight. (This was back when we had an actual relationship of some sort. You know, we’d communicate with each other and share our thoughts, that sort of thing. I think she even lived here at the time. Now, we’re massively on the outs, and I’ve never been happier. But at that time, she was genuinely concerned.)
I gained a lot of weight, and sure enough, I came to need that much snack food each day. Like, a lot. I’d say the equivalent of a cannister of Pringles, or a pint of ice cream, or a slice of cake and a small bag of chips. You get the picture. Now that I think of it, it must be by the pure grace of God that I don’t weigh more than 210 pounds at my height of 5’8″. My ideal body weight would be 150 pounds or thereabouts.
Going farther back in time, in 2005, when I went batshit insane and had a psychotic break from reality, I quit eating. Like, I was that messed up in the head. I went down to 132 pounds. That was the limit. I was stick-thin. A lower weight would be unhealthy for my body frame. There’s just no way. But for years, I weighed 150 and felt “average” in the weight department. I’d love to get back to that.
This same book is teaching me which substances in food are addictive: sugar and flour. Apparently, fat and salt aren’t addictive. They can increase weight gain (well, I know fat can, but is salt fattening?), but they won’t feed your addiction, so they’re “safer” to eat than flour and salt, which we should avoid. I believe that’s the theme of Bright Line Eating: that we should go off of sugar and flour and view them as addictive substances.
Hey, it works for me. In the absense of those foods, that would leave (I think): meat, fruits, veggies, eggs, Lara bars that don’t include chocolate chips, grains, nuts, and other “clean” foods. But don’t quote me on that, because I haven’t gotten to the “what should I eat?” portion of the book yet. I’ve always sensed that I need to eat “clean”, and this would explain why. I might’ve subconsciously realized I’m addicted.
The author says that sugar and flour are possibly more addictive than street drugs. And she has the credibility to say as much, because she’s a recovering addict of everything. She said food was the hardest thing to go off. You’ve got to admire her.
Anyway, like I said, my sex drive returned a year later. I found out that Sam was plotting against me a few years after that. (Everyone from my youth group hates me, thanks to word of mouth.) And Billy’s mom still calls my dad’s landline from time to time, eager to get me to date her son again. (No. Just, no.) And I’ve come to see that people who don’t respect my spanking triggers are beneath me. And now I can lose the weight, so it’ll be happy endings all around. Just don’t pass me the chips.