Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Retribution

Warning: Long, probably whiney post. If you aren't in the mood to indulge me, may I suggest checking out this or this instead.



Ah, I sense the backlash coming. Hell, I think it's here, big and bad.

I have consumed just too damn much sugar, in various forms, over the last four or five days. Not only am I moody, weepy, whiny and generally unpleasant to be around, but I'm feeling quite sick to my stomach. And I did eat real food today, normal, sort of healthy food, in a modest amount.

Ok, it was in a box and heated in the microwave, but it had a vitamin in it, I swear.

The part that confuses me, that I'm unable to remain objective about, is, which came first, the sugar urge or the mood?

Often times, I'll use food (the way some use alcohol or drugs or sex or whatever) to manipulate how I feel -- usually with some form of sugar, since I'm particularly sensitive to sugar and it works fast. I'm sure everyone has some conception of "comfort food" -- those things you eat when you feel bad, feel sick, lonely, isolated. Foods that remind you of better times and situations. Every once in a while you start longing for mashed potatos or grandma's chicken-n-dumplin's or oatmeal with raisins.

Well, for me (and, I suspect, for a lot of other people) there are a LOT of those foods, and they are used to deal with just about every form of emotion there is. We celebrate with food. We comfort our sadness and grief with food. We eat our anger and our fear. It's a bizarre thought when extracted from context -- feel tired? Get a candy bar. Frustrated? Eat a donut. REALLY frustrated? Eat two donuts. Stressed? Pizza, extra cheese.

Food is symbolic. Food is chemical. Food is status, class, ethnicity, gender, politics and religion. We develop relationships with food. We abstain from food, segregate food, discriminate against food. Everything is food, food, food, said Wimpy.

Somewhere in my life, the connection with my body that told me when I was hungry and when I was full, what I wanted and what I didn't want, was broken. Food became more than just sustanaince. It became reward. It became punishment.

I have one memory, viewed from outside like a snippet from a made-for-tv movie. I was very small, maybe three or four, sitting in the back seat of the old blue Ford. My mother is in the driver's seat and she is angry. I can see the back of her head and the side of her face, tense and harsh, her black hair and her tanned skin. She is angry because it is Easter and she's taken me to some sort of Easter Event and something happened. I cannot remember what. I may not know. What I do know is that she's angry, and right now she's angry because I've collected a basketful of Easter Eggs and I am hungry, but I don't want to eat an egg. I don't really like eggs, hardboiled, scrambled, fried, baked -- and she's very angry and it's because of me and those eggs, so I'm peeling an egg and choking down the icky, sticky white, vaguely colored from the dye through the shell, crying because I hate that egg so but I'm hoping if I eat it my mommy won't be mad at me anymore and everything will be ok. To make everything ok, I will eat that damned egg, even the horrible, powdery grey-yellow yolk.

I cannot stand boiled eggs. Even the smell of them cooking turns my stomach. No, my mother did not abuse me here. This is one of those events in a life where a child's mind associates things that are not related in any way. As an adult, I know my mother didn't really care if I ate that egg. She never made me eat eggs any other time in my life, didn't even encourage me to take a taste. She didn't actually make me eat that particular egg.

Doesn't make a damn bit of difference. Eggs smell like poison to me. Took me a very long time to learn to like quiche, and even then, it cannot smell or taste eggy. That's progress.

What's the point of my particular story? There's more to food than just the eating of it. And I have a lot of associations with food, aside from the actual affect certain kinds have on me, that complicate my life and making eating properly challenging.

Which is one more piece of the puzzle I'm putting together to reveal why I ate enough candy to make myself sick.

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