It’s been a bit of a rough start to the New Year. Really, the challenges and stress started around the holidays, so I’ve been doing my best to navigate them for a few months now. I am someone who compartmentalizes — something I think is a useful tool when dealing with many demands, but something that can also be an unhealthy means of avoidance.
At some point, I simply ran out of compartments and began using food once again to numb my emotions. I mean, really, who wants to feel scared, sad, or angry on top of all the shit life can throw at you?
So I get into that cycle: Uncomfortable emotions come up, I eat sugar and carbs to stuff them down. Then I feel like crap emotionally and physically, so I beat myself up for eating the junk. The beating myself up creates more uncomfortable emotions, which sends me for the sugar and carbs to stuff them down, and round and round we go.
One day last week, I had had enough and decided to not allow myself to eat any sugar or carbs. Little Kerri resisted BIG TIME at first because it meant she was going to have to feel some shit, so I also committed to a short stint of journaling each day (about 10 minutes). This baptism-by-fire approach brought me face-to-face with my struggle.
And what did I realize at the end of that day?
Not only was I reminded that I can handle difficult feelings, but my mental health shot through the roof! With good food and exercise (fortunately, at this point in my journey, exercise is a give-in), I felt amazing. I thought that I was eating like crap because I was feeling like crap emotionally, but actually, I was feeling like crap emotionally because I was eating like crap.
The demon I was avoiding wasn’t so scary after all. She was much more terrifying in my mind, but once I took action to show her who truly is the boss, she shriveled right up.
Over the past couple years of my health journey, I’ve really worked on not turning to food when the going got tough, so I was baffled why this period of time was challenging me so much. But this spiral didn’t start from an emotional place like past ones had. I began making poor food choices out of convenience (running holiday errands, etc) that then led to me beating myself up after the holidays for continuing to eat poorly, which led to more bad eating.
It’s a subtle difference, which is what made it so tough for me to put my finger on it. Honestly, it’s still not crystal clear, but it’s clear enough for me to right my course.
So what’s your takeaway from this? To be aware that things aren’t always as they seem; that history can sometimes blur your vision. If you find yourself falling into an old pattern and can’t seem to pull out of it, consider the possibility of a different cause. Or, at the very least, a new slant on an old cause.
It’s incredible what new eyes can see.
Care to share your thoughts on all of this? I’d love to hear them! Join the conversation in the comments below.
Until next week, keep taking those small steps to Live Out Loud.