One order of pleasure, with a side of guilt.

I ate 5 cookies through out the day today. I used to be a compulsive over eater, also known as an emotional eater or binge eater. Now my food addiction is more under control – not completely, just more. I had 3 cookies after lunch and 2 after dinner. Then I threw the remainder of the box into the trash knowing full well I would eventually eat all of them. The problem is not that I would eat all of them, the problem is that although I would eat all of them I would not enjoy one of them. I realized the guilt I felt for eating junk food was greater than the pleasure I got from indulging in a treat. I noticed the cookie sequence paralleled my smoking habits of late.

I recently “quit” smoking. I like to tell people I’m “quitting” rather than I’ve quit in case I decide I want to smoke one more cigarette. See, I used to smoke a pack a day and continued to cut back up to now, where I have smoked about 5 cigarettes in the past month. It’s no longer a need, a nagging want or a habit. I tried to quit in the past to no avail – well a few months here and there and then wouldn’t you know it – you lose a parent and all you want to do is smoke. I finally realized I wasn’t getting any pleasure out of the cigarette breaks I took, constantly, at my former job. Which led me to believe two things 1) Smoking was making me feel worse instead of making me feel good (which is why we all start smoking in the first place, right?) 2) I hated my job so much that I would rather put my health in jeopardy and chain smoke then be at work for 8 hours straight.

I met a German woman at a hostel in Barcelona a few years ago, which is when I habitually started smoking cigarettes- rolling them even. It was such a thrill. I told her, during our extended chat which led to an almost conveyor belt like system of creasing, pinching, rolling and smoking, that I didn’t want to smoke too much. With out missing a beat she exclaimed “That’s the problem with you Americans!” Not understanding, I asked her to explain. She told me Americans take the pleasure out of everything. She shared with me some wonderful examples showcasing the lack of recognition during what should be the experience of joy(like smoking). Meaning the mindless actions performed routinely day in and day out with out much thought or feeling. She was extraordinarily metaphysical, something I was just beginning to explore at that time. Her thoughtful examples stuck with me for a long time to come, I always think of her when I do something like smoke a cigarette or eat a sweet and forget to enjoy it: I wonder if it’s the guilt knowing I’m consciously doing the wrong thing for my body and for myself or if, more lightly, I just didn’t want what I thought I wanted.

It’s a hard reality to face when you realize your very own personal actions are more like counter actions, pushing you further away from where you intended to go. I’ve struggled for a long time metaphysically, existentially – whatever you want to call it – to find who I really am inside. Now that I feel I have a firm grasp on that woman, it’s time to move to the outside. This, in many ways, is a lot harder. The person you are inside may stay hidden a life time, for which ever reason you choose. The outer person, the one you parade around the world is first and foremost the impression you involuntarily offer. For me, my struggle is my weight. I’m over weight and I consider myself fat. It’s an awful feeling thinking you are less of a person, less desirable of a mate or less of anything because of your body. If someone is black or white then it is objective – it is fact, but fat or ugly are judgments based on one’s own balance scales.

Growing up it was my biggest fear to be called fat. Any other word or tease would be fine, even making fun of my weight but not the “F” word. I wonder why I’ve let myself be overweight for so long and never put my foot down and said “that’s it, I’ve had it.” It’s always been my biggest fear that I would be rejected romantically because of my weight. In fear of that I’ve never let anyone close enough to hurt me. I’ve learned, recently, you can get hurt at any distance.

I often wonder if I weighed less would skinny me be single? That in itself is a hurtful thought. And I’m the one thinking it. I want to make the world better, I also want to make myself better. A happier more peaceful me, not feeling like there’s two of me fighting for life inside – fat me and skinny me. At this moment in time, I weigh what I weigh, if there’s someone that loves me at this weight then they’ll sure love me when I lose some of it because that is the clearest example of self care- which should always be encouraged. If someone is waiting to love me until that other me shows up, then that’s not love. Which I think just pointed out to myself that unless I accept myself for who I am at this weight I do not love me. I can not ask for something from someone else which I can give to myself yet refuse to accept.

I can’t tell you that I will wake up tomorrow and go to the gym. All I can tell you is I will wake up tomorrow and love myself a little more. I love myself for sharing this with you as this is the absolute most sensitive subject I would ever want to talk about, yet here I am about to publish it to the world. I hope this is taken as a declaration that I am ready. I don’t know what is in store on this journey, but here we go…

2 thoughts on “One order of pleasure, with a side of guilt.

  1. I am the ultimate glutton. Thank god for crossfit. For example, last night, I must have eaten like 10-12 cookies while making dinner, then ate like 5 pieces of pizza for dinner (garlic chicken with white sauce).

    I have some serious food/portion control issues. Seriously, if people saw how much food I am capable of eating at any given sitting, they’d shit and die.

    I’m glad you posted this post, though. I always make my responses so all about me (shocker). I just love the openness and the complete exposure you are allowing right now. I can hear the freedom it is bringing to you to finally get all of this shit out. It feels so good to finally say what you mean in such a public, yet safe place.

    This is like your new, little one-person support group. I love it. It is certainly therapeutic for me. Thanks for having the courage to bare your soul in here. It’s not just entertaining, it’s refreshing and very meaningful.


  2. Nicely said, Duffy. I was the super skinny kid that people were always trying to fatten up. So I not only share the struggle you just described but also have a sort of an identity crisis. Sort of like when always having known myself to be Irish, Scottish and Danish, it was discovered that we are quite German as well. Although I embrace this new facet, it somehow altered my history in a weird way. My mom, to this day rejects her Germanic heritage. Anyway, I guess my point is that we should be prepared to have our concepts of ourselves ever changing as we discover new things about ourselves. Once again…great sentiments and I can completely relate.

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