If you're anything like me there are foods that you subconsciously associate with good memories and feelings... and these are foods that you turn to in times of stress or emotional turmoil even though we know it isn't the best choice. Maybe its cookies, or pizza or chips but everyone I know I would say they've done it at some point or another so I would say this is a common enough human issue. We comfort eat, and its often foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar when you think back on it. Today was one of the time for me. I regret allowing myself to do so but I'm not going to beat myself up about it either. I'm acknowledging the emotions that caused it so that next time I can find a healthier way to cope with those emotions should they come up again which I think is a much more effective use of my energy personally.
So, what happened? It's a bit of a long story that involved days of letting myself get emotionally run down to the point that my decision making ability wasn't up to where it needed to be essentially and I gave into the temptation of easy carbs. What did I learn? Take breaks when I need them instead of forcing myself to push through... I've done this my whole life and its time that I stop and acknowledge that I have limits and need to respect them. So, if you want to read the long version, here it goes:
I've been spending a lot of time going through boxes over the last few weeks as I unpack items that have been in storage for years while I didn't have my own place. This weekend it was time to go through the boxes I had stored in my guest and office closets as well as the garage as I had most of the weekend free of obligations. Thursday evening was lovely- I went through boxes from my childhood, discovered photos of my family from years ago, sorted through stuffed animals and trinkets I had collected over my younger years. There were moments of intermittent pain as memories surfaced of my mother's parents who both passed over the last year or so but the painful moments were brief and were far outweighed by the happy memories of summers and Christmases with family and friends.
And then came Friday night. I started out by putting together my brand new whiteboard for my office so that I could begin teaching again online. It was fun and even the dogs were having fun playing in the packaging. I figured that I'd finish up the guest room closet and then still have time to get through most of the office as well since I'm a night owl. The first boxes I opened were wedding memories and the next were boxes of our time in Korea. I had avoided those boxes like the plague for the first year after I came back to Texas and they had been in storage after that while I house-hunted for the next few years so opening them back to back wasn't a great choice but I thought it would be easier after all this time. I wasn't expecting the rush of memories and pain that those memories would elicit. Always logically minded I decided it needed to get done so I may as well finish the job and pushed though sorting the items: photos of our courtship, letters received from a beau in boot camp, a Valentine's Day gift card, photos with mutual friends and ones with family members, even some of his things that had been mixed in with my own because that's what happens when you're married... mostly good memories (I had taken care of the more negatively charged items in a previous purge) that dredged up pain that literally gave me palpations and drained. I should have stopped and waited to go through those boxes another day when the emotion hit me like a brick wall rather than go it alone and all at once but instead I finished as much of the task as I could. I ended up with a pile of items that will go to his parents to do with as they please, a pile for the trash and a few things that I simply wasn't ready to part with. Memories of happy times before the pain that I couldn't yet let go of despite the years that had passed and the hurt he caused me. Once everything was sorted, I did reach out to a friend but not the ones that would have been able to help me sort through the emotions in my head and heart the best and I ended up caught up in my own head for most of the night reliving a life long gone. I ended up watching a movie to try to move away from those memories with thoughts of finishing everything else today and fell asleep on the couch before waking around dawn to move to bed.
Today came, as it always does, and due to the late night movie session I had a really late start to my day but I finished up the little there was to do in the garage and went baby shower shopping- always a fun adventure. I didn't realize that I was avoiding the last of the boxes until I literally had done everything else but sort through them for most of the day. Wrapped presents for my nieces, two baby shower gifts, reorganized the guest bathroom, did the laundry, vacuumed, you name it. It was time to finish the office eventually though so I did, that's just who I am... if there is a job that needs doing I'll wrap myself in as much strength as I can muster and get it done. It needs doing after all and who else will do it? It was easier than I expected as most of it ended up just being paperwork- taxes, business documentation from when I was a dance teacher, lesson plans for my Kindergarten classroom, simple things with either little emotional attachement or good memories. Then there were high school photos which were fun sorting through- graduation, homecoming, choir parties, all kinds of fun. Occasionally a photo with my ex would crop up as we had dated in high school but we attended different schools so they were fewer than I would have anticipated... until wedding photos and family trips post marriage started coming up in the stack. Everyone was so happy and there were dear faces that I will likely never see again amongst the photos. To be honest it sucked, bad, and I had to lay aside the photos for a while but I finished the sorting and thought I had put the issue to bed. Not so much.
Refusing to just deal with the emotions and pushing them away caused me to make poor choices when it came to a very belated dinner where I was both hungry and hurting. I understood the why as I made the decision but didn't really care at the moment. Eating bad food didn't help the issue of course so I still had to deal with the emotional aftermath of three days of walking down memory lane afterwards. I have started that process already and will likely be continuing to do so for a while yet. But I'm doing it, I'm not tucking it away again to deal with at another time that never comes.
Why share this failure? Why show the world the cracks in the facade that is the me I've rebuilt the last few years? Because failure happens and that's ok. It isn't the end of the world to make a poor choice and you can come back from it 99.9% of the time without lasting harm. It may take me an extra couple of days to get to my goal weight now but in the scheme of things its not a big deal. I'll still make it there in the end and I'll be a happier person in the end due to the self-care of working on the emotional why's rather than self-torment over failure to stick to an eating plan.
We need to stop pretending that they're perfect 100% of the time and show our imperfections. We can help each other and build each other up rather than forcing everyone to feel a need to hide what is really happening inside themselves. Its the imperfections that make us the beautiful creatures that we are. They show where we've grown, strengthened weaknesses, where people have touched our lives- for good or bad... they show beauty and strength and trust in the person that you are sharing those imperfections with. Share your lives, be bravely imperfect rather than showing the world perfection... perfect is a lie.
Until next time, be amazingly imperfect,