Progress, not perfection.

Maybe that title is misleading. I don’t know if I am making progress, but this is an update on how things are going with me and food.

For starters, I was not terrifically productive over my two-week vacation. I for sure let a lot of stuff go. I exercised twice, both times during the last weekend. I overate on the holidays, and definitely overdid it on the leftover food from our New Year’s Eve party. That being said, there was very little emotional eating. I wonder, though, if that is because there wasn’t quite as much emotion as I had expected.

I think I went into my break with the expectation that I would use the downtime to grieve, to feel through stuff I had been avoiding concerning my childhood, my family, and that I would use that as an opportunity to NOT comfort myself with food. I regret doing that, because then there was pressure for the emotion to come, and when it didn’t (and really, why would it, just because I was ready?), I went a bit…cold. Withdrawn. I spent most of the break on the couch in my pajamas wishing I was motivated to do something useful or productive. I don’t think I was very present or mindful.

Since I always get swept up in the idea that a new year brings a renewal of self (and to a lesser degree I experience this in the fall, though I haven’t had a new school year in twenty years), I decided to return to the world of the working and the living this week with some actual plans. No more sitting around the couch for me. Last night I went to my first Overeaters Anonymous meeting (I don’t feel quite comfortable posting details about that though). Tonight I’m playing cards with a friend. Tomorrow, first therapy appointment in a month. Exercising as time permits. Dressing up. Making an effort. So far, a day and a quarter in, I feel pretty good about it all, with the exception of eating a fourth meal when I got home from the meeting last night. That was illustrative of my current struggle over food: the “because it is there” struggle.

I obsess over food I know is in the vicinity. Last night, it was my Sunday pasta leftovers. I could have brought those to work today for lunch but I could not stop thinking about them from the time I got home last night (9:00 pm) and when I eventually just pulled them out of the fridge and finished them off. Was I hungry? I don’t really know. Was I scared? Was it my Addictive Voice taking over, threatened by my initiation into the fellowship? Maybe. I don’t know. I know I stopped trying to resist it at a certain point. It reinforced that going to the meeting in the first place was a good choice; it reinforced that I cannot do this by myself, that willpower alone is not enough. Today I am reminding myself that it isn’t weak to need help, and that, quite the opposite, I deserve help. I’ve been struggling alone with this too long.

Yeah, that’s a tough one.

Oh also in the “because-it-is-there” camp is this bread in the kitchen at work. Every once in awhile, someone here has lunch at the restaurant next door and asks them to bag the bread and butter for them. They bring it back to the office and leave it in the kitchen.

And then I eat all of it.

Literally, all of it. Sometimes I play coy and take just a piece at a time. Other times I don’t even pretend, I grab a plate, a plastic knife, and the whole darn bag and bring it back to my desk and eat the whole thing. Sometimes I try to delay, to give someone else a stab at it, but usually my AV (Addictive Voice, that is) torments me until I relent.

Except yesterday I didn’t. I wasn’t hungry, but it was getting late in the afternoon and I decided to grab my apple and yogurt out of the fridge (more “because-it-is-there” thinking, I brought it so I should eat it, albeit a healthier variety). And there was the bag with the bread and the butter. I immediately, almost without even thinking about it, grabbed two slices and one pat of butter. “That’s progress,” my AV told me. “At least you’re not grabbing the whole bag.”

Halfway back to my desk, laden with an apple, yogurt, two pieces of bread, butter, and NOT EVEN REMOTELY HUNGRY, I asked my AV, “Isn’t it more progress if I put this back altogether?”

AV was PISSED. But I did it anyway, went back to my desk, where I promptly opened up the 20-year-old blank sketchbook I had dug out of our office closet a few days earlier, and wrote swords in circles about what was happening, what I was feeling, and how it was progressing. And while I did end up eating the apple and the yogurt, I made it through the bread urge. Now I’m asking myself why I didn’t try the same technique last night. But there you have the example of the title – progress, not perfection.

FYI that damn bread is STILL sitting there in the kitchen this morning, but my AV is usually asleep in the mornings or something.

Before I sign off I want to share a link to another blog that a friend of mine recently started detailing her experience with a cancer diagnosis, treatment, and lots of other stuff that is not only an interesting (if sometimes painful) read but an inspiration. She’s forthright and honest and willing to share. Give it a try if you have the time and inclination:

Oh, and #fuckcancer.


5 thoughts on “Progress, not perfection.

  1. arazeth

    Thanks for the share! Your post reminds me of something my great-Grandma used to say – I remember she never thought about dinner in terms of what sounded good; she would always peer into the fridge and say “Let’s see what needs to be eaten up!”


  2. matahari71 Post author

    Ha ha, me and your grandmother definitely have that in common. It’s been a struggle to just be able to identify hunger (as opposed to being able to identify “time to eat”), and part two of that is identifying what my body (not my brain or AV) wants. Much, much harder…



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