Monday, December 9, 2013

Food is All the Rage

This is a WAY long overdue post, I know.  Sorry, but life just got in the way and as much as I wanted to write, I just kept putting it off.   Various projects, plus my chorus obligations, plus the holidays approaching, blah blah blah...standard excuse fare, really.

Anyway.  Tomorrow is my 8-month surgiversary.  I'm going to post my stats and such later on.  But before I get there, there's some other stuff I want to talk about first.

In the last few months I've noticed a disturbing trend with my temper.  Growing up and into early adulthood I was a hot head and had some genuine anger management issues.  But I was not allowed to throw tantrums as a kid, so I often ended up bottling the anger until I eventually exploded in a spectacular display of rage, complete with blackouts and mass destruction -- holes in walls, broken objects, and even sometimes (unintentional) self-injury.   Once I was out on my own, I stopped bottling the anger and, because I'd never learned how to control it properly, would just fly off the handle with the slightest provocation.  It was bad.

As I got older, I learned to get a handle on the anger through self-help, a shrink named Wendy, and a boss who was like, "you get zero more chances to stop yelling and throwing things on the sales floor. And you owe me a new stapler."

Initially I learned to channel it by crying, and to this day I will still cry buckets when I'm pissed off.  People misinterpret this a lot and think I'm just a crybaby, but whatever.  It beats a sharp stick in the eye, which is what those in my direct path may actually risk experiencing if I don't go the other direction and just bawl a river when I see red.  It's worked for years at this point.  I have also learned to control it through meditation, breathing, chanting, and prayer.

But in these last few months I've experienced anger impulses again.  I'm not talking about my pointed, near-breathless rants on Facebook and such.  I'm talking about actual, physical tantrums. Not to the point of blacking out like I used to, but still badly enough that I got worried.  The door-slamming, glass-smashing incident with Polyridiculous Guy on Halloween was just one in a series.  There have been other altercations, too - incidents that I don't even want to write about here because I'm genuinely embarrassed by my behavior - and it's become clear to me that I need to calm the fuck down.

But why is this happening?  What the hell?

After thinking about it and talking it through with a close friend, it finally dawned on me that for years I have been using food as a calming mechanism.  That I used it as a crutch to deal with feelings was never a secret, but somehow I never connected it with anger. (!)  Yet looking back, it's pretty damn crystal.  Of course I ate when I was angry. If I was pissed off, a distended belly full of sugar, fat, and salt was soothing.  And it was safe. If I was shoving Little Debbies down my gullet, I couldn't scream and hurl things across the room.  Except maybe a Little Debbie, but as far as I know no one's ever been injured by a flying Swiss Roll.  And then eventually I would be so stuffed that I'd pass out, and when I woke up I'd no longer be angry at my boss, my boyfriend, my mother, or the bank.  I'd only be angry at myself.  So I'd cry a little, then wipe my eyes, blow my nose, take a few swigs of Mylanta, and roll on my way.  Problem solved.  Except not.

Well, guess what.  That's not an option anymore.  Not that I haven't tried, mind you.  I've written in previous entries about my brain and how it keeps telling me to eat things that I shouldn't, and when I do that my stomach is all, "no way, don't put that shit in here" about it.  But because I can no longer use food to drug my temper into submission, it's like someone just unhitched the beast from the post and let it run amok.  Reining it in has proven to be a whole new challenge that I'd never even considered when all this started.  I had almost forgotten what a temper I had because it'd been a really long time since I'd lost it.  But now that I understand where it's all coming from I'm better able to deal with it and have resolved to catch myself and breathe, pray, meditate, run up and down the stairs a few times, go lift some weights...anything I can do.  Just because I've attempted to free myself from one set of shackles doesn't mean I can just go settle into a new rut of equally bad behavior.  So that's it.

Man. I knew there'd be turbulence on this journey, but I didn't expect it to be the kind that makes even the flight attendants nervous, with oxygen masks popping out of the overhead hatch and whatnot.  This was a real revelation.  

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