I have found out why I have been all escapism lately. Why I have gained so much weight again, and haven’t been able to stop myself from doing things that make me feel bad:
Before I tell you why let me answer Julie’s comment on my escape-post. Because right now I have like a gazillion unwritten blog posts in my head and if I don’t write some of them they’ll just go sour and remain unwritten forever. (See, I can’t even properly rant. I’m so conditioned that I don’t have the right to be angry, that girls have to be nice and mellow that I can’t even follow my anger for two minutes in a row.)
So, well, Julie asked why escapism is a bad thing for me. She said that she needs what she calls “cave time”, time on her own on a regular basis and that it is okay to be someone who isn’t always outgoing and cheerful. I’m the first one to nod in agreement to this. I too need massive amounts of what I call me-time, time to read, time to knit, time to think, solitary walks, time for music. Frankly, most of the things that are dear to my heart and that are nurturing my soul are things better done alone. Sometimes I wonder why I’m living with a family. Then I remember how I actually felt when I spent all my time alone and then I remember. So, the thing that’s not good about my escapism isn’t that I’m retreating, spending time alone, and not moving and shaking the world. The problem is that I do it in a way that holds no joy.
If I retreat like that, spiraling down into numbness I do things that ordinarily bring me joy in a way that acts almost like punishment. Take, for example, food which is my favorite way of self-medication. Usually food brings pleasure and nurtures you. It’s sensual and enjoyable. Eating a bit of chocolate can elevate your mood, it’s delicious and can make you happy. Eating half a pound of chocolate after a big meal when you already were stuffed full doesn’t make you feel good. You don’t really taste it anymore. You put it in your mouth mindlessly, reaching for the next piece while the one in your mouth is barely swallowed. You feel the pull not to stop. So you don’t stop. You feel bloated and uncomfortable and full and heavy. But you eat on. Chocolate is a good thing so more chocolate must be better, right? You stuff and chew, and every once in a while you realize what you’re doing but you can’t bring yourself to stop because you’re feeling so bad that you have earned yourself a little treat. And at the same time you feel like pig and pigs don’t deserve better. And since you are misbehaving anyway you can just go on because now it’s all the same anyway.
I know this sounds crazy to anybody who hasn’t got an eating disorder or other addiction but the thing that you love and crave becomes the thing that you punish yourself with at the same time.
Not only does this sound crazy but it is crazy, so you might ask, “Why then, are you doing this?” Because there is reasoning behind this. It took me ages to see that. And, not to forget, the help of Geneen Roth and her fabulous books on compulsive overeating. Because this whole circle, the wanting, and the not giving in, and then giving in, and then eating a bit for pleasure, and then going on to eat, and then not stopping, and then feeling bad, and then vowing never to do it again, and then starting over again two hours later or so, has a purpose. It numbs the pain. It numbs the feelings, it takes your mind off your anger, and hurt, and pain, and whatever unpleasant emotions you are feeling.
And in my case mostly this seems to be about anger and aggression. You know that women aren’t allowed to be angry, don’t you? And since my life really is nearly perfect, being angry would be hubris, wouldn’t it? And, well, if you just eat enough and think about the nice things, and drink a beer or two, and go about your day, your anger surely will vanish, won’t it?
Well, I can tell you something, it doesn’t vanish because i ignore it. It doesn’t change because I let my husband be the angry one who rants and shakes his fists at the world and I’m sitting besides him wearing a benign smile.
And I know that this is the season to be jolly, and peaceful and nice but I’m sick of pretending that everything is well.
And since this has been long enough for now I’ll type up my, ahem, little list of all the things that I am angry about in the next post. Because, you know, sometimes you have to live your misanthropist side too.