One of my biggest ‘aha’ moments

I heard a song today and it made me smile.  It brought me back to one of my biggest ‘aha’ moments since I started re-learning how to eat intuitively.  ‘With Arms Wide Open’ by Creed was the song and my aha moment came as I was sweeping the kitchen floor and crying…

My story begins 2 years ago.  I was relatively new to intuitive eating.  I had just learned how to ‘make peace with food’ …well at least I thought I had.  The day was a beautiful spring day.  I decided I wanted to spruce up my living room by buying new curtains.  Up until this point, I have always made my curtains and buying them different for me.  As I shopped, I found myself getting more and more frustrated because I had an idea in my head as to what I wanted and couldn’t quite find it …hence the reason I have always made my own.

I found my mood seemed to really darken as I left the store (empty handed) which I thought was rather unusual, given the circumstances I mean really?  I couldn’t find curtains?  Big whoop… if that’s the worst thing that happens in my life I guess I’m not doing too badly.  

I picked up my son from school and he asked for a DQ.  I figured spending that time together would be fun!  When we got there, I thought about getting a cone too.  I had just learned to ‘make peace with food’.  I decided that yes, I was going to get one.  I wanted one and wanted to give myself the chance to really enjoy it, without guilt or shame.  I have plenty of friends who eat soft-serve and they don’t have ‘problems’ with their weight.  I owed it to myself to have this experience.  Today was going to be my day!

I was proud.  I enjoyed my cone without any guilt or remorse.  I felt satisfied and happy.  My mood seemed to change, however, when I came home to my naked windows.  Before I knew what hit me, the binge fest began… cereal, crackers, bread.  I honestly don’t remember what I got my hands into, but then again binges were usually like that.  I numbed myself with food.  It didn’t take too long before I felt sick to my stomach.  Not only did I feel physical pain, but I felt deflated.  An hour before I felt happy and satisfied, and now this…  and for what?  Curtains??? Really?  I did this to myself for curtains???  I thought I had been making such progress with Intuitive Eating… now, again, I felt like a total failure.

To make matters worse, that night was a big night for our family.  My son, who was graduating, was in a talent show at his High School.  They had been practicing daily for weeks and the show was something we were all looking forward to.  Waiting for the program to begin, my husband seemed to sense I was upset and asked if I was o.k.  He was unaware of my binge eating habits and therefore had no idea what was going on in my head …of course, I realize now, neither did I.  I was was angry and embarrassed with myself for my behavior earlier in the day.  Lost in my thoughts, I felt angrier and angrier.  I was missing things in my life that would never happen again.  I was not going to be able to enjoy my son’s performance as I should have because I felt so awful.  I knew this behavior had to stop.

 The next day I was sweeping the floor and ‘With Arms Wide Open’ came on the radio.  Before I knew what was happening I was openly  sobbing.  This was the song my son performed in the talent show the night before.  At this moment I was finally awakened to what had been really bothering me all along.  My first born was about to graduate High School and was heading off to college!  My life, his life, our lives as a family;  it was all changing so rapidly.  I knew, even though I will always be his mother, it is never going to be the same.  He was heading into adulthood.  As happy as I was happy for him, I also felt very sad and empty… my baby was growing up and moving on.

This was a defining moment for me.  Until then, I didn’t really understood why I was so troubled the day before.  It had nothing to do with the curtains.  I was experiencing the significant feelings of loss, uncertainty and worry that every parent faces when their children grow up and move on.  Up to this point in my life, uncomfortable feelings led me to unconsciously reach for food as a way to comfort and numb.

My reaction today would be very different than it was back then.  I know now to stop, before I reach for food.  I ask myself if I am hungry?  If the answer is no, then I become curious.  What else may be going on to make me reach for food? Sometimes there isn’t an immediate answer, and for me, I find that it is o.k. to say I feel ‘uncomfortable’.  When in this situation, I will turn to friends or other activities that make me feel better.  Had I taken the time, two years ago, to really sit with my feelings I would have realized that it was natural to feel sad.  Food didn’t make my problems go away, it only made me feel worse.   At that time in my life, that was the only coping mechanism I knew.  Now I try harder to experience my feelings so that I can deal with them in a healthier way… for my heart, head and my stomach 🙂

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