if you look up “what is a binge” online you get over four million responses and most of them describe it similarly: to indulge in an activity, especially eating, to excess, in a way that causes emotional and/or physical distress.
it loses something in the defining. it sanitizes the binge and downplays it; it’s a tidy description for something that is panicked, frantic, violent, destructive, and soul destroying.
i know something about bingeing. 37 years and countless mouthfuls have made me a pro. to my mind, bingeing is more qualitative than these definitions consider. i’ve counted as binges episodes that were no more than two cookies following what was supposed to be a safe meal. it wasn’t the quantity i consumed that made the food bad and wrong. it was how i felt about it – my thoughts and judgements. i labelled the episode as bad and myself a failure and made it so, even without the physical excess. binges really are like porn; you know it when you see it.
the regular, everyday binges were in part about giving up on the rigid controls that i carried around to moderate my behaviour and emotions. they were about relief, escape, and disassociation. they were about shutting down. when you are consumed with consuming, there is no space for pain, or trauma, or ugliness. it’s just you and the food and the mind-numbing momentum of the hand to mouth motion. until time’s up, then it’s just you and the attempts to undo what’s been done. by the end, i’d be drained, but also blissfully at peace. until the guilt, and self-disgust, and self-hatred kicked in and the cycle began once more.
there’s another kind of binge though. i’ve been swept away by it these past few nights. or rather, i allowed myself to give in and be swept away because ultimately, and to my extreme annoyance, my actions are in my control. i really wish someone else could be responsible.
i let myself get caught up in these nighttime consumption fests. i suppose they happen at the end of the day because i’m tired, and my resistance is lower. the binges aren’t extreme by any stretch of the imagination. a small bowl of chips and the piece by piece equivalent of a couple of chocolate bars.
i know that’s not a huge amount of consumption because i’ve spent significant daylight time reassuring myself of that fact. reassuring myself that eating is okay, that food is okay, and that i won’t gain a hundred pounds because of some extra calories eaten this weekend. that kind of thinking is really eating disorder based and an indication that i still have some significant letting go to do, but that’s another issue. we are who we are, and that’s who we must deal with.
thinking about it has led me to some conclusions. part of my evening eating is reactive. i’ve been restricting a little of late (when people with eating disorders tell you they’re restricting a little, it’s probably a lot) and a consequence of self-starvation is that eventually, you will eat. it’s a primal, survival kind of thing, and so part of the evening push for calories is because i’m underfed.
the other part that’s driving the bingeing is emotional. it’s rage eating. i am full to the brim with rage and it scares me. anger of any type upsets me but my own most of all. i have an underlying fear based on absolutely no evidence that if i let it out, if i express how i’m feeling when i’m angry, it will take over completely and burn down the world. it’s unlikely, but that’s how i feel.
so i’m full of rage that i can’t let it out. it sits there, festering. i don’t talk about it all that often. it’s just there, all the time, simmering, and all the meditating and reflection and journaling doesn’t seem to make much of an impact. it’s leftovers from a history of abuse, and a history of starvation, and a history of self-harm. angers that i’ve felt and pushed aside combine and strengthen until i feel like i want to rip apart the world.
i don’t want it. i don’t want to feel it. i don’t want to experience it. i want to be able to move forward from here as though i was newly born, without addressing the issues of the past. i don’t want to come to terms with my history. i don’t want to have to unpack the trauma and abuse. i’m not even sure how to do it without screaming about the unfairness of it all, but no one said life was fair. every time my brain shrieks “why me” another part responds with why not? i hate my reasonableness sometimes. i prefer the wallow.
i’m addressing it somewhat but not enough, since the rage continues to build and i am continuing to compulsively consume in an attempt to bury it under calories and recriminations.
sometimes i want nothing more than to be able to let go and dive into the uglier emotions. i want to grab not the chocolate but a hammer. i want to destroying everything around me. i want to attack things. i want to kick the cat. i want to lash out, to storm about until everything is rubble, and some substantive rebuilding can occur.
i want to, but i’m embarrassed. my anger feels to over the top.
i want to, but i’m afraid to. i’m afraid to start. i’m afraid that if i start, i will never stop. i’m afraid my feelings have no end.
i want a peaceful life. it seems like a simple enough goal. be content. i don’t even need to be super-happy. i want to not be afraid. i want to not have my neuroses running the show. it’s an unfortunate truth that the way to get that is to go through, not around. if i don’t, i’ll probably continue with bouts of rage bingeing. eventually, my eating disorder won’t be able to stand the increased consumption, and i’ll give into its blandishments and the next thing you know, i’ll be back in the game of suppression and shutting down.
i prefer to remain on the bench. even if i have to be angry for awhile while i’m sitting here.
photo credit: tim mak
photo credit: dylan the unknown
january 28, 2018