Self-Loathing and Chocolate

I trip over spoken words. So when I woke up a few months ago depressed, upset, and not quite sure why feelings of inadequacy always make me feel so heavy and like I’m disappearing at the same time, my first reaction was to write my feelings, hit publish, and then save myself the trouble of having to say it all twice.

So I told The Husband to check out the blog. I guess I should have just let this one slip by him. It would have saved us both from a stupid fight about my smoking; a fight which was actually a tired old dance about my need for my actions and written thoughts to speak for me when spoken words could not and his desire for me to drop the passive-aggressive bullshit and instead just open my mouth and fucking talk like a normal person. He read the words and missed the point because, of course, he wouldn’t be able to relate with an eating disordered 8-year-old hiding in her parent’s pantry and eating her feelings because the only way she can think to process them is by burying them instead. He has never not tried out for the high school softball team only because of how the form-fitting uniform might call attention to the curves I tried to ignore. He’s not the one who went through 34 years of life not knowing that the depression, anxiety, OCD skin-picking, and a host of other issues were actually undiagnosed ADHD.

It’s so hard to explain away cracks in my surface because my thoughts don’t make sense when spoken. They just sound stupid and pathetic and even I wonder what kind of asshole puts themselves through that kind of misery on purpose. So maybe I want to scream into his face that he doesn’t understand. And maybe I stop myself because I know that he truly doesn’t. For that, I am glad.

All he saw when he read the words was that I was wishing for a cigarette and that made him mad because who wants to watch the person they love purposely try to kill themselves slowly enough for everyone else to realize that it’s not about the smoking because that wouldn’t be ironic enough and the smell actually made me sick. I was self-medicating the ADHD I didn’t know I had without knowing I was self-medicating. And the only reason I got addicted to nicotine was in a twisted effort to busy my mind and hands after meals in order to talk myself out of purging whatever it was I had just eaten…and it worked.

Because smoking was like eating and inhaling emotions that had tried to escape and just in the nick of time, too. Because smoking was calorie-free and way less messy and socially acceptable and made just as much sense as filling up a shopping cart with food I intended to flush as soon as I was able to hide.

Money wasted either way.

Usually, I’m on a much better place than where I was when I wrote the piece that follows. In the four to five months that have come and gone in between, I’ve learned a host of food allergies were actually keeping me from losing weight. I’ve lost about forty pounds since I hit publish because that’s easy to do when there’s nothing left to eat and I am only sharing that number because how else will anyone understand when I try to explain that these words will always make sense to me no matter how my clothes fit or how often I tell myself that the number doesn’t matter.

Sometimes, I just really want a fucking cigarette.

I didn’t realize I missed smoking cigarettes until I found myself waiting for my husband to leave for work this afternoon. I had a bag of food hiding in the back of the Yukon with taboo things like Reese’s Pieces and Cheeze-Its for me to bury my feelings with once the coast was clear.

But it’s not completely. Nick Jr. is on and I can say with absolute confidence that the coast is definitely preoccupied. At least I hope she is.

I’m 34 going on the fifteen-year-old in my head. I may call myself a recovered bulimic and, more amazingly, may actually believe it more often than not, but the truth is I’m more of a non-practicing bulimic than anything else. That, my friends, pretty much leaves me with nothing else to describe myself as but a binge eater.

Or a binge eater who only thinks about throwing up.

No, wait. I’d be more accurate if I called myself a Binge Eater who Obsessively Works Out, Avoids All Processed Foods and Sugars, and Puts on a Great Show for the Public for Weeks On End Before Secretly Falling Apart Inside of my Head and Diving Head First into a Pool of Self-Loathing and Chocolate in a Misguided Attempt to Make Myself Feel Better….Who Only Thinks About Throwing Up.


That’s exactly it.

Funny how I don’t see that listed as a condition in any medical journals. Also? It would probably look awesome on a T-shirt.

I was fine until I stepped on the scale yesterday at the doctor’s office. I was there to discuss my need for a higher dose of anti-depressants and what I thought was just a bad habit but is actually an OCD condition called dermatillomania because normal is the new boring, and of course I had to step on the scale before it was time to get down to business. I won’t say what the number was because I’ll just trigger myself again, but I will tell you that after giving up (until today, that is) all grains, all forms of sugar including maple syrup and honey, all gluten, soy and dairy (the last one is allergy-related) I’m down one pound and — even more depressingly — am just nine under what I was the day I gave birth 4.5 years ago.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should be smaller and happier and thinner and more confident and smaller. And happier. I’ve been working out (until a few weeks ago) daily, eating only fresh fruits and vegetables and quality meats and juicing so much spinach I may need to get myself a girlfriend named Olive. Instead of listening to the countless media messages that tell me I should be disappearing before my very eyes, my body is instead working hard to prove it is an exception to the rule. There are doctors and unexplained weight gain and and hair loss and tests for various autoimmune diseases (I’ve already been tested for lupus three times) and lifestyle changes (that don’t normally include Cheeze-Its) and more waiting and wondering and woe is me.

Sometimes, I’m able to convince myself that it’s all about health and not the number on the scale and that health is more important than weight and that I need to concentrate on how good I feeland not how I look when I get off of the elliptical.

And then I see the number that isn’t supposed to matter and am reminded that it does indeed when it’s not moving in the direction in which I had hoped. It matters much more than it should.

Had I not quit smoking, I’d have lit up and celebrated the fact that I wasn’t binging. I would have not distracted my daughter with television so that I could eat the feelings I am not able to process until the new medication takes my brain to a happy(er) place. I would not be just thinking about throwing up.

Instead, I’d be out in the backyard on the patio, the sounds of Nick Jr. carrying through the glass door, as I smoked away my anxieties and smiled smugly about being stronger than my own mind.



Pauline Campos contributes to Funny Not SluttyAn Army of ErmasOwning Pink, and 30 Second Mom. She blogs three times a week (when her Adderall is working, anyway) at Aspiring Mama and is the founder of Girl Body Pride. This post originally appeared on Aspiring Mama.

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