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.