Thanks again to all those tender and caring people who helped pull me back from the suicidal edge. For the moment at least, you all have saved my life, though I can't guarantee I won't return there.
Lately I have been thinking about the slogan H.A.L.T. There is virtually no time in the 24-hour period that I am not in at least one of these four states.
Hunger is one I know well. Its most obvious form is physical hunger, the gnawing emptiness in the belly that desperately craves nutrition. Yet this is not what drives me to eat - if anything, I often fail to notice, or deliberately ignore, this physical drive.
Instead I substitute hunger for comfort. Many is the time that I feel I MUST have, desperately, a binge food. Sometimes this feeling is brought on by the sight of a favourite store or restaurant. Other times a wave of emotional pain washes over me and the craving for the comforting, familiar texture and taste of binge food becomes irresistible.
For, whatever else, there is no real point in denying it. There is nothing else, repeat NOTHING else, that provides me with as much sheer pleasure as overeating. It is my only friend, my only comfort, the only thing that cares about me. Its sweet taste never fails, its delicious warmth never falters. What is wrong with this picture? Only the nagging disquiet of massive obesity and all its side effects.
Sometimes directly after a meal this hunger awakens. It resembles real hunger in some ways; in fact it is often difficult to tell the two apart. Pseudo-hunger demands a second helping on a full stomach. It desperately calls out for food, more food, irrespective of physical appetite, heedless of nutritional value, conscious only of the tongue and its sensations.
Real hunger and pseudo-hunger even conflict. Today when eating my abstinent lunch, I felt hungry. Yet I didn't want to eat my packed food; I had no appetite for it. So I headed out for non-abstinent food and gobbled it down easily.
Then there is anger. Much of the anger I hold has no target in particular, or is directed against myself. Recently in fact I was suicidal due to this extreme rage. Although when dealing with others I am very mellow, never losing my temper or raising my voice, there is a very ugly streak of meanness and hatred within me.
Lately I have taken to taking a stick and bashing cardboard boxes to a pulp. I love to see the apparent helplessness of the boxes as I smash them. I also beat cushions and pillows with the stick, or kick over chairs.
It gets worse. Once I was in a bus shelter and a wave of rage passed over me. In an act of petty vandalism, I picked up a glass bottle on the ground and smashed it to shards on the pavement.
Often a binge follows a snap of this same anger. The frightening part is it has no real target. It is just there, anger, a mysterious emotion without apparent cause and without apparent end. Blind, black, sick rage, cackling with insane glee and as mindless as it is indecisive and inconclusive. As I stand and order the binge food, I growl out the words, as if no reason or human will stand in the way of my desire for food.
Then comes loneliness. To be lonely is to lie awake at night, frantically holding on to my pillow, desperate for love and caring. To be lonely is to wearily walk to the bus stop, heart turning to stone, head dizzy with pain, watching the rain fall like unshed tears.
Only food cares about me. Only food cares if I live or if I die, if I laugh or if I cry, if I sleep or I stand. Only food listens to me.
For, despite all, I feel unloved and unlovable, empty and dissipated. And so I drown my sorrows in food.
Finally there is tired. At this moment, 2:15 pm Eastern time, I am so sleepy I can hardly keep my eyes open. I am tired all day long, from waking up in the morning to bedtime. I seldom actually fall asleep during the day, but am weary and exhausted all the time.
I am also emotionally weary, tired of overeating, tired of struggling, just wanting to give up and wallow in the disease, as if that would make a difference. The will to fight back against food is nonexistent. There is only the constant weariness, resignation, and despair.
So that is why I overeat.
Oasis, Aug. 28, 1996.