I think about this a lot. Most people don’t think about this. Most people who’ve lived on this planet are/were lucky to get enough food to survive. I, however, live in a time and place where there is so much food around me that I have developed an inability to immediately know the purpose of food consumption.

It’s not about survival for me.

Sometimes, not eating is about survival for me.

I eat to provide my body with calories to maintain my life.

I eat to comfort myself when I am sad…

… lonely

… frustrated

… angry

… tired.

I eat when I am happy and want to celebrate.

I eat when I want to taste something really good, different, or stimulating.

Food is an event.

I cook to express myself.

But do I eat to repress myself?

I live in a culture that celebrates food. Chef’s are celebrities now, with lines of cookware, bakeware, packaged foods, and brands that go beyond the requisite cookbook. Food no longer expresses a larger culture. Now, food is the culture. So why do I eat?

I eat to cope with life. I think my eating disorder got bad because I didn’t have some basic tools for how to cope with life. I conceived of myself as a high achiever. I was a high achiever. I was capable, competent, and “together”. But on the inside there was anxiety. Most of the time I didn’t even know what the anxiety was about. It seemed amorphous, unfocused, free-floating. But it was there; and it haunted me. So I ate.

Things got better when joined Overeaters Anonymous. I was working the steps and having to face the anxiety and I learned that it couldn’t really hurt me unless I let it take over. The binging stopped. Just. Like. That.

Things got changed in weird ways when I met my husband. Still no binging, but food as celebration began to creep in. He loved me no matter what, so I stopped paying so much attention. He knew how to soothe me; when to make me laugh, when to let me cry, when to just stay out of my way, when to remind me that things weren’t so bad. He’d take my clenched up fist in his hands and unclench them for me. Because I couldn’t.

For a while it helped me learn how to unclench.

Then I stopped clenching at all.

When it returned, it was stronger than when it had left.

Only now, I had two kids, a house, a job, and no time or energy to focus on myself.

My husband had two kids, a house, a job and no time or energy to focus on himself, let alone me.

Although he tries. Blessed man. But I am not his job.

I began my life eating to survive and grow.

I developed to eat to soothe and numb.

I wound up eating to forget, to make me capable of functioning, to give me something to look forward to each day.

Sick.

At least, I think so.

Two weeks ago I started a diet. I want to lose the 30 pounds I haven’t been able to take off since my son was born 4 years ago. I’m calling it a “food plan” so the word “diet” doesn’t mess with my head. In those two weeks I suddenly don’t care as much about eating. I’m not eating for comfort, or soothing, or to forget. I’m functioning better now than I was before. Without the food I’m doing better physically, mentally, and emotionally than I was with the food.

I’m starting to think that soothing, numbing, forgetting, weren’t what the food ever actually did. I’m thinking that the food was causing me to need to be soothed, numbed, forgotten.

Stockholm Syndrome.

The food was my captor.

Right now, I’m eating to give me the energy to get through my day. Get things done. Accomplish things.

I like this better.

How do I keep it?

I keep asking myself this.

I know the answer.

I keep it by letting go of the food.

This scares me.

I still want it.

Want my cake and eat it too.

Literally.

I think I know I can’t.

Clarity, peace, and comfort feel better than any food tastes.

I will tell myself that again and again and again.

Pray for me that it sticks.

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