Chapter 1… (Of Both Books)

As I mentioned yesterday, I bought two books to get me started on my journey. Sometimes having a new challenge in front of me will help motivate me to get going. Not that losing weight and being healthy isn’t enough of a challenge, right? But I feel like at this point I’m like a drug addict who’s going to rehab to give up drugs. And all I’m focusing on is how to NOT do the drug, not WHY I do it in the first place. I can’t self-diagnose because I’m not a doctor, but I suspect my constant over-eating is tied somehow emotionally. Especially since it seemed to rear its ugly head shortly after, and amidst the sadness of, a breakup.

The two books I got are :50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food and The Food and Feelings Workbook: A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health. I read the first chapters of both last night.

The 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food wasn’t very eye opening the first chapter. It talked about why we overeat. Which were the obvious reasons: boredom, conditioning, comfort, changes the food causes in your body, etc. Nothing we haven’t heard before. But it did talk about (and left me excited to read) that if you’re eating to self-soothe rather than dealing with or working through an emotion, the book will help you do things other than eat. Especially since eating only adds other emotions on top of it (guilt, regret, anger, etc.). Which I relate to very much. The problem is most of the time when I eat emotionally, I don’t care at the time about anything else. I also find myself over-eating at restaurants when the food’s good. Or when it sits in front of me, staring at me.

So expect more on this book later. For now, good start but not much to report.

The Food and Feelings Workbook, however, had a much more dramatic start. Well, after getting through the initial survey. I’m not sure I really knew what I was doing with the survey, but I took it. You’re not supposed to look at the results until you’re done with the book (when you retake the same survey). So I didn’t.

Anyway, after the survey you get into reading about feelings, and how we try to bury them. And how we call some feelings “bad” feelings when they’re not actually “bad” in the sense of having them. They’re just the ones people try to cover up or hide or pretend aren’t there. I definitely know I try to hide or suppress feelings of anger, hurt, disappointment, etc. From lots of perspectives. For example, I get upset at work. A lot. And it’s not professional to address the anger. Instead, youThere were numerous (I think four or five or six) times throughout the chapter where you had to stop, recognize any emotion you’re feeling, feel it, then write about it. You don’t even have to figure out how to address the feeling, just recognize it and write a little about it. I was shocked to realize my first emotion was something of guilt or shame. It was very strange. It was in the pit of my stomach and I had trouble even identifying the feeling. All it felt like was a little panicky. Embarrassment. And I’m not even sure I identified it correctly.

I felt bad for every bad thing I’ve ever done. And the feelings ranged from bad decisions I’ve made, mean or unthoughtful things I’ve done (purposely or even on accident), things I’ve been scolded for in the past, etc. And then from there I felt like all of this bad stuff I’ve done has and would continue to wreak bad karma on my life. I felt like nothing good would ever happen to me… For example, I felt like I’d never sell my house. And that I’d never find real love. And that I’d never lose weight. I felt really helpless and defeated. But definitely blamed myself for this. I felt like all of the bad things that had happened (probably starting back with the breakup, of a boyfriend, mind you, that I know I’m not a good match with), and all of the things I’d done were leaving me to feel this way. And I deserved it. And since there’s no way to change what I’ve done, I can’t fix the bad karma. And I was destined for bad things.

Um. What?

I mean, I definitely know I feel like I’m not going to get lucky enough to sell my house (which I put on the market last week). When I talk about it, I always attribute that to a bad housing market. But the more I looked at these feelings (which were hard to face at first, trust me, my heart was racing and I wanted to run away from them), the more I realized I DO believe this. I feel like I’m a bad enough person (on the inside, because it’s not realistic to rationalize this verbally) that the universe is going to endlessly punish me. For example, I kept thinking I didn’t really appreciate that boyfriend. I wasn’t as nice to him as I could have been. And was very rigid in my thoughts and actions. But, the thing is, I shouldn’t regret it. Even if I did do those things, I was as good of a girlfriend at the time as I knew how to be. And besides that, I don’t even want to be with him anymore!

For a long time after we broke up I pined over him. But here’s why: I honest to goodness thought you could only fall in love one time. Seriously. I know that’s lame, and unreasonable. But I was like 19 when we broke up. And I WAS in love with him. So I felt like I’d wasted it for a long time. I felt like I’d had my chance and blown it. He was “the one” for me. And I don’t know what I thought about him??? I guess I thought he never loved me? I have no idea. Saying out loud that this is how I felt sounded really, really crazy. No, seriously. After awhile I realized I could fall in love again, but was really jaded about it. I mean, if I could fall out of love once, why wouldn’t I again? Or him for that matter? But, yet, after having that close of a relationship with someone, it’s hard to not crave that intimacy again. Someone to talk endlessly to about nothing, cuddling with someone, loving on someone, just being close to and listened to by someone.

Anyway, all that aside, I think I felt like I deserved to feel this way. Like I’d messed up and this was my punishment… FOR ELEVEN YEARS! What the hell?

Get a grip!

And then I felt like anything I’d ever done to anyone, or neglected doing, or didn’t do perfectly, or someone was hurt by, or my parents reprimanded me about, I was being punished continually for. Which is silly, too. I’m a good person. Sure, I overreact my share, but I do good stuff for people, am honest, am considerate. Most things I’ve done, even if selfish, I’ve never done to intentionally hurt someone. I’ve never talked badly about someone. Or tried to ruin their reputation. I’ve never physically hurt someone. Or gossiped or lied to try to make things a mess. I always go out of my way to give people the full, true story. And most of all, in general, I try to do the right thing.

But here I am thinking I’ll never be happy, that nothing good will ever happen to me.

I don’t know if that’s why I’m eating, but it was definitely weird.

The next time we had to stop for emotions, I couldn’t even get anything to register. Not a single emotion. I couldn’t even recreate the feeling of panic/shame/fear/embarrassment/guilt in my stomach. Weird.

I ended up skipping the second emotion, which felt like a failure at first. Then on the next page there was a list of tons of emotions. Some of the listings of emotions invoked those emotions in me. Which I was surprised by. For example, I read the word “ignored” and it made me think of all of the times I’ve spoken, but people haven’t heard me. Or disappointed, and I thought of how I was recently disappointed in a guy friend of mine who led me on, making me believe he had feelings he didn’t. This introduced an entirely separate range of emotions from hurt to anger to frustration to embarrassment to feeling both unappreciated and unloved. Wow. Who knew?

The next stop and feel section I wasn’t surprised to feel “bitter and lonely.” Probably induced by the above. And again, feeling like I was never good enough, or always being punished for past mistakes so I wasn’t ever going to be granted the right for a guy to love me again. Damn. And I’ve never felt like I’m the victim! I always say I am responsible for everything! In this case, I was feeling really helpless and deflated. I wrote a little about feeling lonely and like people don’t have time for me because they have their own commitments. Most of my friends are married, in a relationship, or have kids. It’s hard to take their time to be selfish and needy. Apparently I need that! Yikes. Help.

The next exercise you had to take an emotion and ‘climb the ladder.’ So you start with the emotion being very weak, and then build and build and build until you get to the top where you’re overwhelmed with emotion. Again, I went back to feeling unloved and undeserving. And I started with one boy-related incident (who knew I had so much boy resentment!), and added another incident and another on top of it. Until my heart was literally racing and my breathing pace had increased. What the? And then when you get to the top, you climb backwards.

You were supposed to do this for three emotions.

It was definitely overwhelming.

So, anyway, I’m giving myself an assignment to talk (write) about a few of those feelings. Totally dissecting them. But that’s for another day. I’ll try to get into the next chapters of the books in the next few days.

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