Monday, July 27, 2009

I think I'm starting to figure it out...

I have an addiction problem. My drug of choice may come as a surprise to some, but probably not to others. It is…food.

Food addiction is a real, clinical, factual addiction. It has all of the same triggers and deep rooted emotional causes as heroin, cocaine, and other drug addictions and alcoholism. It is just not very widely diagnosed as such because we are dealing with, well FOOD – something every person on this planet ingests, even children - not drugs or alcohol where abuse can be much more obvious and they are not consumed by every person on the planet.

Many people feel that saying you can be addicted to food is preposterous. “That is like saying you are addicted to water, or air!” Yes, it may sound ridiculous, and it may just sound like an excuse for why I am morbidly obese. And it is easy for people who do not have a problem with food or addictive behavior to say, “Just eat less and take some exercise. That is all you need to do.” Well, that may be all YOU need to do, but that does not work for me. It is like telling a heroin addict to just stop doing heroin. Um, yeah; that doesn’t really work for most people. Some people may say, “It can’t be an addiction. You can’t overdose and die from food!” Wanna bet? What do you think morbid or super morbid obesity is? It is a case of constant overdosing. No, we don’t die immediately like you might with drugs; it is a slightly slower process. However, massive strokes and heart attacks can occur following binge eating. And they can occur at anytime for anyone that is obese.

I have been paying particular attention to my eating patterns over the last several weeks, trying understand just what the heck is wrong with me; why can’t I just STOP EATING?? I made mental notes and talked about them with my therapist this weekend. She agrees with my “armchair diagnosis”; I have all the patterns of someone with addictive and somewhat obsessive behavior. I also have many of the emotional earmarks from childhood and early adulthood that can lead to this type of behavior later in life.

I want to make it perfectly clear from the outset that I had a very happy and healthy childhood. I was never physically or sexually abused in any way. I loved my parents very much and they loved me; I didn’t even have any sibling rivalry to deal with as my sister has been my best friend literally from birth – she even physically saved my life on at least one occasion. So what exactly were my problems then? I will say that I lived in a very restricted home. My mom was very over-protective to the point of being smothering, while my father was the one who would finally step in and make her back off. My mom and I did have major issues over my eating habits. I was a very picky eater; I hated vegetables or anything resembling them, and I didn’t like to try anything new. I vividly remember sitting at the dinner table, in the dark, until bedtime because there was uneaten or untried food still left on my plate. This was usually a weekly occurrence. My therapist identified that type of controlling behavior as a cornerstone to building an eating disorder. (I was very disturbed to hear her say that, as I had once used that same controlling method on one of my nieces when she refused to eat fish sticks one night. I even copied my mother’s behavior in going so far as to serve them to her for breakfast the following morning, so of course she then went to school that day without breakfast. Alisha – I am so sorry.) I also remember a particular episode involving peas. I had been given vitamins in pill form from an early age, so I had no trouble swallowing things whole. I hated peas with a vengeance, and one night had the brilliant idea of just swallowing them down with a glass of milk. It was the perfect solution! I didn’t have to taste them, and mom would be satisfied that I ate them. When she discovered what I was doing, she insisted that I “chew them up!” I tried faking her out by putting them in the center of my mouth and making chewing motions; this didn’t work because she could hear my teeth clacking together. I pleaded with her, asking her what difference did it make whether they were whole or chewed? But, once again, it was a control issue, and so I sat in the dark until bedtime again with a plate of cold peas. One time even my dear father got in on the act. Sweet potatoes are my nemesis; ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you that I cannot even be in the house when they are being cooked. You could put a million dollars in front of me and tell me all I had to do to earn it was eat one forkful of sweet potato, and I would not be able to do it. Now on the other hand, pumpkin pie is one my most treasured treats (I think some of you may know where I am going with this). In trying to get me to eat some sweet potato pie, my father told me it was pumpkin pie. (insert sound of chirping crickets here) As a child, my father was a saint in my eyes and could never do any wrong; however, to this day I have never forgiven him for that.

So, you may be reading this and be thinking, “Big deal. So your mom made you eat vegetables that you didn’t like, and your dad pulled the oldest trick in the book. You poor baby. People live in other countries without food and you are whining about being made to eat.” I understand your reasoning, but you are missing the real point. Food was being used in these circumstances as a way to control my behavior. As a result, family meals for me became very trying and stressful. I felt I was always walking a fine line between making my mother very angry at me, which resulted in my father being very angry with my mother. I was always afraid of what might be on my plate that I wouldn’t like, and how I was going to deal with the situation.

The only time I really felt any freedom from the stress of eating as a family is when we went out to a restaurant for dinner. There I was usually free to choose my own food, and if there was anything I didn’t like I was free to leave it on my plate as my mother would never risk a confrontation in public. I would get some accusing glares from her which threatened severe discipline once we got home, but it was still worth it to me.

Hmmm…even as I write these things, I feel I understand myself a little better. I will write more in my next entry, as this one is getting pretty long.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Heather and Ollie drive the Beartooth Hwy

Last Sunday Ollie and I took a lovely drive on the Beartooth Hwy. It is about 75 south of Billings, through Red Lodge and into Wyoming. The summit is 10,980' and change - 400' below the tip of Mt. Hood in Oregon. The drive is breathtakingly gorgeous from both directions, and the air is soooooooo clean - I wish I could bottle it up and take it home. There were lots of motorcycles on the highway; it's very popular with large groups and individuals alike. We stopped about 3/4 of the way up the pass at an overlook to take a few pictures and use the potties. Please to enjoy:The little chipmunk was so cute, and it wasn't until I was focusing on him that I realized he was eating...a fly. Yep, wings and legs were just spinning off in every direction while he nibbled on him. Therapy anyone? We continued on down the other side of the pass and headed towards Cooke City. We couldn't afford to go into Yellowstone Park, so we found a cool little turn out called Flume Trail about five minutes outside of Cooke City and turned around there. Here are a few pics from that spot:Lots of people had their four-legged family members along with them to enjoy the day; I loved this doggie's daisy bandana, so I had to get a snap of it (and her owner's particularly nice hiney managed to sneak it's way in there too - oops!). As we drove out of the parking area, the owner of the cute rear...err...uh...doggie waved to us as Ollie and I blushed, smiled, and waved back like idiots. On our way back onto the highway, we spotted this waterfall - the first picture is how it looked from the road, then there is a close up on it:
We had such a nice day. The mosquitos were HORRIBLE as they are that time of year (so I found out afterwards while talking with a co-worker) and Ollie and I looked like we had the chicken pox the next day with all the bites. We stopped at the Top Of The World Store and I was standing in line to use the potty with nine other people, and each of us had our very own cloud of not less than 30 mosquitos swarming around us. West Nile Virus anyone?

We then arrived back in Red Lodge and went to the candy store (shut up). We then cruised around town so that Ollie could snap some pictures of this quaint old mountain town to send home her to family. We spotted what promised to be an extra bad action rock and gem store and got out to investigate. Well, I should say Ollie got out - my door was locked and refused to UNlock. I was locked into my own vehicle. And not like in that funny Family Guy episode where Peter locked himself inside the car; this was complete brain freeze and feeling totally helpless. So I managed to get Ollie's attention and asked her to try to unlock my door from the outside with the key - no dice.

Once we arrived back at Ollie's place, I realized that I had no idea how I was going to get out! You see, I am only 5'2"; the Rodeo has bucket seats, a center console, a stick shift and an emergency brake all between me and the passenger's seat. I have not waited 42 years to have sex only to lose my virginity to the emergency brake while trying to lift my 300+ lb carcass into the next seat in order to get out of the freaking truck!!! So, since Ollie's driveway is on a steep angle, I parked on the street. We laid the passenger seat all the way back, slid my driver's seat all the way back and laid it flat, left the emergency brake off, and I climbed/scrambled/crawled into the passenger seat and out the passenger side door. Awesome! We figured that the temporary block that is holding my non-working electric window up shook loose and was now blocking the lock and there was nothing I could do but wait until Monday to have it fixed. Neat.

Monday morning arrived as did I at work - now having crawled in and out of my crippled rig five times. A guy came and fixed it, and I was walking on air; elated at the thought of not having to get in and out the hard way anymore. Whew!! Lunch came and went - no problems. After work I went to the grocery store, went to get out, and - you guessed it - was locked in AGAIN. Must...not...even...think...of...using...the...f-word. I flew back downtown to the glass shop and called them from the curb only to be told that there was nothing they could do about it until the following morning. MUST...NOT...REPEATEDLY...YELL...THE...F-WORD...AT...THE...TOP...OF...MY...LUNGS.
The following morning the same guy came and picked up the truck and took it back to the shop. It turns out that the temporary window block is fine; it's the locking mechanism that has now fallen apart. more seemingly minor thing that I cannot afford to fix. I was so depressed; not because of the lock not working but because of what it represented. One more thing going wrong and no money to fix it. The glass shop guy recommended that I not lock the door anymore and I should be fine. Wow - really Sherlock? The only problem with that is the fact that we all live in a society - even in Billings, Montana - where some people have a tendency to remove things from your unlocked vehicle that do not belong to them. Hence, the use of DOOR LOCKS YOU MORON. Oh well. It could be worse. I just wish it was better.