Thursday, July 03, 2008

Needs

Food, or more precisely compusive eating, has served as an armor for me. Food was, for a long time, the one thing that I felt never let me down. Food comforted me when I was sad, lonely, angry, etc. Food was the one area where I felt that I could let go of the rigid control with which I´ve ruled my life. And when I got fat, I dieted, exerting that rigid control over the food. But I always turned back to food when my emotions got to be too much or when I felt hurt by other people. The last 25 years have been spenting riding a dieting and binging wave.

You see as a child, I didn´t often feel like my needs were meet. As I mentioned, I learned very early that the only one you could count on was yourself. I´ve always been loud, and as a child, I expressed my needs in a loud way. But the repsonses I recieved made me feel selfish. It wasn´t okay to ask for things. One had to wait quietly until they were given. Of course in my life due to poverty, mental illness, and just sheer irresponability, my needs were usually ignored. I´ve spent my life fluxing between feeling selfish and angry. I no longer recognize when a need is reasonable. And I never learned to be that quiet little girl. Instead I became angry and too oftne turned that anger inward on myself.

Food became the easiet way to take care of my self a child. My grandmother could usually be counted on for an ice cream if I was sad. My various aunts and uncles would give me a bit of money which could be used to get a candy bar to satisify various hungers. It´s hard, I think, for a child to express love for themselves. As a child we want the physical feeling of arms around us. But that didn´t often happen in my family, and food became a fine substitute for that affection. Food also provided the additional benefit of numbing me beyond feeling. If you eat enough, you just cease to feel (I stopped eating when I went through a state of cutting myself). And coupled with this compulsion was the very uncertainly that food might not be aviable. Let´s face it, I was a walking eating disorder from about the age of six.

As I grew older, food came to be that which would never let me down as well as the enemy. My teen and young adult years became a rollar coaster ride. I was desperate for love, desperate to be taken care of, despereat to have my feelings and need validated. Relationship after bloody relationship left me bitter and disappointed....and fat. Feelings and needs, even when expressed, are not alwyas validated. There was this little girl inside me who hated this lack of validation--who just wanted someone to hear her and to maybe meet those needs. When this didn´t happen, I feed that little girl sweet, chocolaty things, because it was the only way I knew how care for her pain.

When I was alone I always lost weight. I hated being lonely but there was an element of control in my life that I lost when I was in relationships. When I was alone I was fully responible for meeting my needs. If I failed, there was only me to blame (and I was great at blaming myself). The only one to disappoint me was myself. I didn´t have to turn to food as often.

Despite being in the best, and certainly most healthy relationship of my life, I find myself falling into the same patterns. This weekend a situtation arose which normally would send me into an epic binge. I expressed my needs and feelings in a calm way but the decision made still went against what I wished to happen. I felt angry, hurt, and invalidated. I felt like the little girl I once was crying so loud but not having anyone hear her. I wanted to eat, to withdraw, to leave.

Saturday morning was the roughest. I felt very raw. I sat at the kitchen tabe with my coffee paralyzed with fear. I didn´t dare eat--afraid that any kind of food in my mouth would lead to a binge. I wrote a list of ways that I could pratice self-care without binging. I called my mom. I wrote bitchy emails to my friends, I blogged here (yes I erased the post). By the afternoon, I felt stable enough to eat, and managed to feed my body without feeing my emotions. But more imporatntly, I came to some important realizations about needs and feelings being validated.

What I came to realize is that feelings and needs do not need to be meet in order to be validated. H recognized, accepted, and acknowledged my feelings but he was also juggling others´feelings and needs. Just because he didn´t give what I wanted didn´t mean that he didn´t hear me or even that he didn´t want to meet my wants. Rather it meant that sometimes others´needs or wants might win out. I´m not gong to say that I am happy about that, or even that I was unresonable in my demands. I wasn´t but I do understand that the choice H made doesn´t meanm that he doesn´t hear me or that he won´t ever meet my needs again.

See, in my past relationships, I hooked up with people who were as dagmaged as I was...scared from the childhoods filled with unmeet needs. When we were together we were so busy crying inside, crying out for recognition that we were unable to hear each other. This time around I´m with someone who meets my needs 98% of the time, and when he can´t he listens to me and validates my feelings. He hears me! And I´m starting to learn that sometimes I need to stop crying long enough to listen as well. Dysfunction often leads to an unintentional selfishness. When no one in youre life has ever meet your needs, it´s very easy to become intensely wrapped up in yourself.

I´m starting to believe, really believe that the little girl inside of me, has found a home, and that maybe just maybe it is not food that will hold her, believe in her, or keep her safte. Maybe it will be okay to let go once in a while and let H hold me up.

3 comments:

Lolabola* said...

In a most intense visual experience yesterday, my little girl found herself in an arcade, unplugging from all those confusing and neglectful childhood experiences as if removing tokens from each game. There was cotton candy, it was liberating and unexpected.

Though food is not my issue, I relate to your past and present.

John B-R said...

Dang, and all this time I bet H and the kids though you were holding *them*!

ernesto Priego said...

And the thing is, she was holding them. Sometimes we feel that it's us who depend on people, without realizing that it's both ways.

As I once told the Moose (and I hope she does not mind my sharing it here): it's not about *you* or *me*, it's about *us*.