I Stopped Drinking, and Started Eating

Lately, I’ve felt like a bit of a fraud at twelve-step meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous. Not because I have betrayed my sobriety from alcohol and drugs, but because when I gave those things up I started binge-eating at night… and haven’t been able to stop.

In the depths of my nightmarish addictions, I was an attractive lady. Standing at 5′ 9″ (according to my most recent physical), I never weighed more than 175 pounds. At that time, I thought I was kind of heavy. But! More than four years into my sobriety, I now weigh 250 pounds; and recently overheard a friend describe me as, “The really kind lady with silver hair and lots of soft, round curves.” So this is what has become of me. I am now the woman that people would describe as having a great personality. (Palm to forehead.)

I suppose that’s a fair assessment, considering that if you were to trace my figure onto to the glass of the full-length mirror in my hallway, the shape would resemble Patrick from “SpongeBob Squarepants”, or Oogie Boogie from “The Nighmare Before Christmas”, or — scariest of all — a member of the infamous Hutt family from the Star Wars sagas.

Patrick © Nickelodeon/Oogie Boogie © Disney/The Hutt Twins © Disney

To combat my weight problem, I started hiking. By the end of March, I was up to three or four miles per day; but when Mitchell left for his most recent week-long-away work week, I just stopped… and the eating has gotten worse as a result.

I don’t really know why I do it. Perhaps it’s because sitting like couch potatoes and stuffing our faces is the only activity that Mitch and I really share anymore. (Mitch is also morbidly obese.) Maybe it’s because my husband rarely touches me, which makes me feel undesirable irregardless of my size, so why bother trying to look attractive? Then again, maybe I just eat because I’m bored out of my mind, and have given up all my other addictions (except for nicotine).

I have tried (in vain) to curb my binge-eating. I have started consuming smaller meals during daylight hours, because I only used to eat at night. I’ve tried telling myself that I won’t eat after eight in the evening. I’ve even asked Mitchell to stop buying junk food. None of these attempts to better my situation have yet worked. In fact, last night — even after brushing my teeth, and vowing not to eat after doing so — I went on one of the worst binges I’ve been on in a long time.

What frustrates me to no end is that I know I have the discipline required to combat the worst of my addictions… so why can’t I translate that towards my eating habits? Why do I stop hiking, when I know that it makes me feel better about my marshmallow figure? Why? Why? Why?!

I suppose it’s because it’s easier to just give up and accept that I will not be touched or desired again until my husband finally surrenders to his diabetes and leaves me alone in this world. (The thought of losing Mitch terrifies me into a horrible emotional paralysis.) But if/when that happens, I fear that no one will ever love me again. How could they? I’m a chubby lil’ chipmunk with severe mental health disorders and subpar survival skills. In addition, I will be a widow still desperately in love with a man that cared little for my sexual (and thus, emotional) well-being.

Mitch gave up on himself long ago. He admits to that. I have tried to reignite his passion towards life for decades… and because I have failed my husband, I have failed myself. This is somewhat reminiscent of the old adage, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” But, Christ! That is not who I am! I don’t quit. I don’t give up.

But in the uneasy quiet of my marriage, I am a woman who has been cowed. Not by physical or emotional abuse; but by my complete lack of ability to save my husband from himself.

Each time I take a step forward, I leave my husband another step behind… and my parents taught me that you never leave someone you love behind. Never.

I had hoped that leading by example might spur my husband into action… and that damnable four-letter word — hope — has been smashed to bits time and time again.

I can’t leave Mitch in a place of darkness and despair. I cannot damn him to a life without me; because without me, the man would be utterly alone and — as he has said — will just wait to die.

Mitchell has literally saved my life more than once. He has a giant heart of gold, and the capacity to love without conditions… he just doesn’t extend that love to himself.

I have learned to live my life the same way. To freely give to others that which I deny myself; but it has to stop. This has to stop.

It is time to jump from the runaway train of destruction… and I need Mitch to be courageous enough to jump with me.

6 thoughts on “I Stopped Drinking, and Started Eating

  1. I’m sorry. It’s hard, not being able to fix the people we love. It’s even harder to come to a place where we accept that it’s not our job. I’m still working on it: I figure I’m successful about half of the time these days.
    I was never able to stop binging with willpower. I wasn’t able to stop numbing myself out with drugs with willpower. I haven’t been able to use it to stop the self-harm tic. It’s NOT because we’re weak. It’s because you can’t stop emotions that way. I wish you could: pain is such a hideous thing to deal with.

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    • In twelve-step programs, there is a reliance on something bigger than ourselves… and I do believe in the power of community; but ironically, tend to isolate from said community when I could use it the most.

      I do pray; but I honestly don’t know if it does any good — other than to shift my mind onto focusing on the words of those prayers, rather than the rabid hamsters running themselves senseless on the endless wheels of my mind.

      If you have any advice on mediating the binge-eating cycle, I would be most appreciative to read it.

      Thank you for being a part of my community, Ms. Em! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

      • Praying, meditating, it’s all good, though for people with anxiety and anxiety-related disorders (eating disorders), it’s can be best to limit it to around ten minutes or so. Otherwise it can become, ironically, anxiety-provoking.

        Many schools of thought now equate eating disorders to addictions. I don’t think they are, but many of the behaviours overlap, and so the steps can be helpful in reaching sobriety (and with dealing with some of one’s crap).

        There’s an Eating Disorders Anonymous, and an ED Anonymous Blue Book, which I highly recommend. Meetings aren’t as accessible as AA or NA because of lower numbers, but they’re available by phone, which I liked. https://eatingdisordersanonymous.org/

        Have you read Geneen Roth? If you have, has it been a while? When I was furiously in a binge-purge cycle (multiple times a day), sometime it would help me to reread “Feeding the Hungry Heart” or “Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating.” If nothing else she would soothe the shame that came with feeling like an out-of-control failure. The inside voice that pushes you to engage excoriates you when you do.

        I tried so many things. Not buying triggering foods. Not having much in the way of food. Throwing food away. Leaving the house. Self-mutilation. Nothing worked. The pressure would build, and the inside voice that told me how fat and useless I was got louder and more insistent until I broke. I knew I couldn’t wait the voice out. I knew I’d never survive the bad feelings or frantic energy.

        Yet I did.

        And that was my answer. It’s a lousy one because it’s hard. You sit in your feelings and do the thing an eating disorder is designed to stop. You feel them. If it’s pre-binge, you wait and feel. It feels like you’ll go insane. It helps if you have a support person there. But the feelings pass. I was so shocked.

        The same is true when it comes to purging. I knew I would die if I didn’t get the binged food out. But look at me, all living and stuff. Each time I waited, it got easier. It was a roller coaster: sometimes I sat, and sometimes I ran. Patterns are tempting. But that’s my best advice. The only way out is through. The only way to quit is to quit.

        I hate that.

        Sending you love and support. 💖

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much, Ms. Em. Your words resonate to the core of my current issues. I have never heard of Geneen Roth. I knew that there were meetings for compulsive eaters, but was scared to approach them because… well, does that mean I haven’t truly had sobriety? (Fuck, that’s a frightening thought.) I plan to purchase the books you recommended, and will do my best to apply what I have learned about feelings (in AA) to my evening binge-eating. Your support and kindness mean the world to me… and I send it back to you with light and love! 🥰

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