08 November 2007

Exciting Text Fight

Exciting for me, anyway. If by “exciting” you mean “now I feel shitty”, which I do. Verbatim transcript below.

Me: I feel bloated and tired of boughten food.

Dave: Didja grab a burrito for lunch? Tasty, homemade. Like mom used to make.

Me: No, it’s the company lunch today (chili cookoff, which is actually cool.)

Dave: You’re going out to dinner tonight for the third time this week. May i suggest moderation?

Me: You can suggest anything you fucking want. I have been moderating.

Dave: Just saying.

Me: I’m in a pretty bad mood today and i miss exercise and fresh vegetables. I know you were trying to make a helpful suggestion but your advice seemed obvious and condescending to me, like my [redacted relative].

Dave: Jesus. Forget i said anything.

[this response crossed with my followup text, below]

Me: I am also extra sensitive due to compulsive eating issues. Like when someone asks you how come you have to get so mad all the time and suggests you chill out

And that is where things currently stand. Ain’t love grand?

Re-reading, it seems obvious to me that we’ve both got a point. My life has been hard and shitty lately (Dave’s has too), so anger is bubbling out all over the place – as you can see above, somewhat inappropriately. At the same time … we’ve been dating for two years, during which I have struggled with compulsive eating. Telling a compulsive eater to moderate is about equivalent telling an alcoholic that it’s fine to drink, just stop after one or two. They already know that, trust me.

I’ve been fighting compulsive eating since I was about 14, my first year of boarding school. That’s when the first eating disorder which had been carefully nurtured by the media and my fucked-up elementary school really took root and blossomed, helped greatly by the 32F breasts which had arrived with puberty the summer before I started high school. (No, they aren’t still that size. That’s another story, though. Insurance paid for the surgery, because I had back problems. At 17. Back problems.)

Sometimes people (men) have trouble understanding why a woman wouldn’t want huge tits. For men, bigger dicks are better, right? And big boobs on women are often a huge (heh) plus. Except a big dick is like a secret weapon, whereas big boobs are pretty much impossible to hide. I won’t even get into what a pain in the ass it is to try to find dresses when your top is a size 14 and your bottom is a size 6, or say much about how with really big boobs, all you can hope for re: tops is to find stuff that drapes nicely. Like, you know, a tent. Tents also don’t show “too much” cleavage (don’t want to look slutty!). Not showing cleavage, when you’re stacked like I was, pretty much requires a turtleneck.

Also, I gotta say, the summer I grew boobs was a pretty vicious induction into puberty. Suddenly construction workers were hollering at me from across the street, based on my new silhouette. (They probably had children my age.) Fathers of the children I babysat for showed new interest in my life, asking how school was going for me and casually asking if I had any boyfriends. (I know: predatory and disgusting.) Boys were talking to me, but not looking at my face while they did so. It didn’t help that my group of “friends” freshman year included some sharks who saw my weakness, smelled blood and drove in for the kill. I’m sure those girls had their own issues driving them, but that doesn’t mean being bullied doesn’t suck a lot more for the victim.

I was desperately lonely and wanted nothing more than a boyfriend, but I was so suspicious and terrified of sex and my new body that I couldn’t do anything but shoot them all down. I would spend hours and hours obsessing over one in particular and thinking how cute he as and how great it would be if he talked to me, trying to sound smart in English class so he would notice and then … if he did talk to me, I shut down completely. In retrospect, not ALL the boys were talking to me just ‘cause I had a pair of industrial-strength floatation devices on my front – the English class thing worked! – but I was too uncomfortable with myself to be able to tell that.

So I decided I didn’t have a boyfriend was because I wasn’t attractive enough. I couldn’t do anything about my face but my body, that was under my control, right? And I started trying to really control my food intake, which led to restricted eating and then binging and purging and what I eventually learned to call compulsive eating.

Because here’s the thing about eating for emotional reasons: it works. Your serotonin levels do rise. You feel worse about it afterwards but that temporary relief from pain is like a fucking drug. It’s a little worse, actually, since with a drug you can quit. With food you have to re-learn how to eat. You need to create a new relationship with food. You can’t get away from it. On bad days, well meaning friends will tell you that you “deserve” some chocolate. And I really LIKE to eat, it is a sensuous pleasure for me. I can’t just regard it as fuel.

I am 29 now. The battle with food has been going on for more than half my life. I mentioned in my comment on a previous post that I’d quit drinking to try to help my migraines. So far teetotalling hasn’t helped with the migraines (except that I can feel morally superior in knowing that a particular migraine is not my fault) but it’s been pretty easy not to drink at parties, dinners out, shows, home after a tough day … I have an initial desire for a drink and then after about 30 minutes I relax and watch other people get loaded. No big deal.

Similarly, I’ve never been able to cultivate a long-term relationship with cigarettes, and believe me, I’ve tried. (Yes, I know the physical downside. No one wants cancer. What no one seems to acknowledge is that cigarettes are hugely helpful emotionally – a built-in excuse to take little breaks throughout your day with a relaxing/stimulating legal drug which doesn’t impair your work performance. And smokers usually develop their own little relationship networks, which is another reason to smoke.)

No other drug has ever really gotten its hooks into me (except pot, but even that relationship is less problematic for me than food.) I think it’s probably because I’m already fighting an addiction battle, it’s just with food, and there’s not really room for anything else in there. (Plus I am just not THAT self-destructive, and know better than to keep a bottle in my desk drawer or hit the bong before work.) Food is different, though.

So: who wants leftover Halloween candy? Because my office was SWIMMING in the stuff last week. Of course, I ate my way through it, disgusting or not. (Runts: much less delicious than I remember.) Because – did I already mention? – last week was wicked shitty, this week is shaping up to be another crapper and there was all this serotonin-stuff lying in piles on tables. I found it impossible to resist, grabbibng handfuls whenever I went by and unwrapping as stealthily as possible so no one would realise what I was up to, how greedy and piggy I was being. My strategy became to just eat it as fast as possible, so it would go away. I had help from coworkers, of course, but I’d like to think that if we’d all saved our wrappers and counted them up, I’d have finished first. By a mile.

All of which is a long-winded way of explaining why I was so mad when Dave suggested (reasonably, if a little insensitively) that I moderate my food intake at lunch today and tonight at dinner. Thanks for the tip, hon.

Not that you asked but yes, my pants are a little tight this week.


Kaethe said...

It's hard to offer the most well-meaning advice to an adult without coming across as condescending as hell. Hell, sometimes I even annoy the Spouse by asking if there's anything I can do to help.

Food conversations are minefields all on their own.

Cara deBeer said...

Yes indeedy.

Leah said...

Yeah, alcoholics can keep the tiger in the cage. We have to walk the tiger three times a day.