The Battle Is On / by Michelle Cowan

Well, I'm at it again.  If I said I was reminiscing about my time bingeing in college, I would be misrepresenting the current state of affairs. For the past two (possibly more) weeks, the binge has been all sorts of ON.  I am not bingeing every day, nor am I eating all the time.  However, most days, I cross the line.  At least three times, I've completely gorged myself—and not on the low-cal fruit and veggie fare that has become a staple over the last couple of years.  I'm veering more in the direction of my fantasies, the ones I never fulfilled during college—the boxes of cookies, assorted desserts, whole loaves of bread, and more. 

I am completely aware of what I am doing as I do it. I know I'm eating too much, and I usually embark on the binge when not particularly hungry. I know that I am using food for the following reasons:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Feel comfort
  • Gain a sense of liberation from rules and restrictions

It’s a distraction from the overwhelming amount of things going on in my life.  The vast majority of my life is positive and good.  I feel empowered.  Sure, I feel frustrated with my day job, longing to live without the time constraint of a 40 hour work week. But I am taking conscious steps to one day move into full time writing and music making.  I struggle to remain patient as opportunities spring up around me and as I grow and mature in new ways.  Doors are opening, new people are entering my world, and I am uncovering untapped emotional worlds to investigate and unknot. 

These are all positive movements, but movement requires energy. And if I don’t know where I’m moving, it entails fear.  It’s difficult for me to book gigs, which requires facing rejection and dealing with unpredictable (and often unreliable) human beings.  As I deepen my relationships with others, I trust and am let down multiple times.  I wonder if I really am strong enough to continue to speak my truth and be myself out in the world.  Will people like my music?  Will people be annoyed by me?  Can I ask for the time I need at work?  Will I have enough money to live on?

I eat not only to distract myself and feel numb or slightly comforted.  I eat because I’m afraid.

Food is safe.  Food has been with me in good times and in bad.  Now, as I chart new territory, can I leave it behind? I think that, in a way, the food obsession itself is afraid of me letting go of it. 

I will let go; I will move into my new quarters. Until then, though, I seem to be inching my way along, with the food as a crutch to get me through this initial fear and pain. 

Examining old scars, working to make new connections, and walking through doors is scary but necessary. I do not want to stunt my growth any further with an eating disorder. It’s time to say goodbye.

My first instinct in the midst of turmoil is to redirect, to change course, to figure out what I’m doing wrong and fix it.  I used to think (and still often do), “What is wrong with me that is causing me to binge?”  This time, I’m not changing course.  This time, I believe that the bingeing is not an indication that I am on the wrong track.  It’s a sign that I am on the right one… and that I am afraid.