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Alone, yet obviously not alone.

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Old 10-27-2013, 09:07 AM   #1
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Default Alone, yet obviously not alone.

For many years (starting early in junior high) I thought I was the only binge eater in the world. I binge ate as a child, but when I was young I had no judgment about it really, and I liked getting away with stealing the butter and eating all the breakfast muffins when no one was looking. But by junior high I started feeling different. I knew my behavior was extreme and abnormal and that made me feel so broken and ashamed. I didn't know a single person who was a binge eater, and even after watching my friends closely for signs of secret eating/binging (because I simply could NOT BELIEVE that people didn't sneak eat like I did), I couldn't identify anyone I knew as being a binge eater like me. I didn't even call it binging then, I can't remember what I called it in my mind, other than wrong. I mostly associated my behavior with the idea of being a glutton. I was a little piggy.

By college I knew about anorexia & bulimia, and in my sad, misguided mind, I admired people who had that kind of problem. I didn't know anyone in person who had it, but I'd seen made-for-TV movies and girls on talk shows and they seemed broken in the right way -- all waif-like and skinny and delicately damaged like pretty tattered, butterflies (I saw these poor girls through the distorted lens of my own self-hate and loathing -- clearly there is NOTHING good about those eating disorders either, we are all in the same boat.). They weren't like me - fat, and getting fatter, and eating entire cakes in 10 minutes (and then adding pizza on top of the cake instead of throwing it up like I should). That's when I knew I really was a serious FREAK. And by that time I was really, really good at hiding my weird eating, anyway. Nobody had to know how messed up I was.

Now, when I come to this forum and see my thoughts, feelings, struggles, anger, and sadness related to binge eating reflected in the words of strangers of all ages, it sort of amazes me. To think that there may have been others who were close to me going through the very same issues as I was, makes me sad and mad at the same time.

It stinks (serious understatement) that so many of us struggle with this and that there aren't clear answers as to why we do this to ourselves or why it is so darn difficult to stop, even after we've identified what we have and really TRY to make the necessary changes.

I sometimes find myself searching for the "fix" in everyone else's story, still sort of hopeful there is one magic key thing I could do to remove it completely from my life!
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Old 10-27-2013, 12:16 PM   #2
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I can relate to a lot of what you wrote. I binged as a child too and thought the same thing about anorexia and bulimia and wished I could just do that instead. I "tried" to be both.

I too wish I could find the magic key to just removing it completely for my life. But I think it will always be there - lurking.
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Old 10-27-2013, 02:10 PM   #3
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even after watching my friends closely for signs of secret eating/binging (because I simply could NOT BELIEVE that people didn't sneak eat like I did), I couldn't identify anyone I knew as being a binge eater like me.
I know exactly what you mean. Even now, when I observe people around me, their eating habits seem so REASONABLE to me. I see no evidence that they're getting distracted from the meeting because they're dying to sample X, Y and Z dishes or plotting their next attack on the dessert table.

But clearly we're not alone. Is everyone just good at concealing their dysfunction?

F.
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Old 10-27-2013, 05:15 PM   #4
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I always wonder about this. When I see people eating their lunch or dinner, I'm so jealous that they don't feel the need to wolf it down or sometimes forgetting about it for a few minutes. They are really eating to live, not living to eat!
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Old 10-28-2013, 04:32 PM   #5
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But I think it will always be there - lurking.
I think you're right. Sometimes the idea of a lifetime of dealing with it seems completely overwhelming.

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Originally Posted by freelancemomma View Post
But clearly we're not alone. Is everyone just good at concealing their dysfunction?
I still really have a hard time believing that other people AREN'T obsessing over food. I've seen people be completely indifferent to the bagel tray -- and I always believe they are faking it. Can you really not want a bagel while I'm trying to figure out how to get them in my pockets for later without anyone seeing me do it? Surely you can't be truly indifferent to bagels, it's just not possible.

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They are really eating to live, not living to eat!
It's like they are a different species than me!
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Old 10-28-2013, 05:25 PM   #6
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Oh Mrs Snark you put everything so eloquently, you have a gift. I relate to everyone here so much and am so sad that so much of our lives are overtaken with thinking about food. I keep wishing I were different but wishes only keep the scale climbing higher. The only time I ever managed to eat moderately was when I had gallstones and had immense pain anytime I ate much fats or overate. I find myself wanting that physical agony back, which is really very insane.

I am hoping I can improve my eating behaviors now by doing like Mrs Snark and cutting out my problem foods completely for the medium-long term. I had cut out some but was clinging to the rest and I am not getting any better.
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Old 11-04-2013, 11:40 PM   #7
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Sadly, I have sometimes wished I had anorexia or bulimia instead of binge eating disorder. Anorexics are at least looked upon with pity, and some people probably compliment them for a slim figure. All I ever got was disdain for being fat and unable to "exercise some willpower."

I too envy the people who don't obsess over thoughts of food; people who eat whatever they want and can stop when full and not have guilt after.
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Old 11-06-2013, 10:14 AM   #8
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I totally relate. In fact I still feel like I'm the only binge eater in my world. I don't suspect it of anyone I know, I just know I'm the only one. I'll always be different. I'll always have this disorder, I can manage it but it is the "true me" and it's my setpoint. I know I can lose weight but I know I will never overcome my disorder. My worst trait is eating secretely which started the moment I got my drivers license as a teenager. To this day the moment I step into my car I want to go through a drive thru. There's no fixing what's broken. This is who i am.
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Old 12-06-2013, 08:29 AM   #9
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I have been doing really well for the past 2 weeks and then yesterday I did well all day, was admiring how my jeans felt the tiniest bit looser and then the next thing I know I am ordering in. I hadn't planned to but looking at the thawed chicken breast I had in the fridge was almost repulsing me.
I ended up going overboard with the amount of food I ordered for the 5 of us. I didn't binge eat but I ate way more than I needed.
My family are live to eat people and my husband is very fit. I call him "captain obvious" because he makes statements of fact often and last night when he saw the food spread out on the table he went "That's a lot of food"
I know it bothers him that I order in since he doesn't even really enjoy eating and it kind of bothers me that he gets irritated and yet I do it anyway. It is something I should have control over but don't.
I guess I am just glad I didn't polish off all the food. I wanted to but I cut myself off.
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Old 12-28-2013, 11:56 PM   #10
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This is the first time I've ever read anyone else voice what I felt - that I *wished* I had a problem of anorexia or bulimia.....and I have felt horrible for feeling that way - thanks for sharing, I have known for a long time I was not alone in the bingeing but it makes me feel better knowing that there are others who have had this other horrible feeling!
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Old 12-29-2013, 05:29 PM   #11
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This is the first time I've ever read anyone else voice what I felt - that I *wished* I had a problem of anorexia or bulimia.....and I have felt horrible for feeling that way - thanks for sharing, I have known for a long time I was not alone in the bingeing but it makes me feel better knowing that there are others who have had this other horrible feeling!
I have lots of horrible thoughts, I'm grateful that anybody can relate to any one of them!

Seriously, though, you are definitely not alone.
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Old 12-30-2013, 06:40 AM   #12
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When I think of binge-eating, I picture someone sitting down to an inordinate amount of food in secret, a hoarder of food, a secretive eater. But I know that in my case I don't have any shame in eating large amounts out in the open and in front of my family. I can and do, eat a full tub of ice cream in one evening and a full cake to myself in a day. I've eaten a family size lemon meringue in an hour, but none of these things have been done in secret and it doesn't cause me any embarrassment. I've noticed that people admit to bingeing, but rarely any will utter the G word. Being greedy. That's what I am when I eat that whole cake to myself, or the family size lemon meringue. It's like I am a lioness protecting my prey. I will not share. While I have lost weight and made improvements and changes, I don't think I will ever kick the bingeing habit. But I won't ever stop trying to overcome it.
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Old 12-30-2013, 08:48 AM   #13
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Reading this brought up a lot of separate thoughts for me, though they all kind of bind together.

Firstly, when we think of something being a norm, we're basing it on the bell curve of what we can see, which is basically a front everyone puts on. If we would have access to knowing everything that's actually going on in people's homes and in their minds and bodies, the actual reality, then everything would look completely different. We're constantly comparing ourselves to something that doesn't actually exist and then feel bad, because we think that we're somehow flawed.

For some reason, people tend to open up to me and tell me things they wouldn't usually tell other people. I don't mind, especially if it helps, and it's given me some insight into the human condition. Everyone suffers and every family has secrets. Child abuse, domestic violence, neglect and substance abuse are much more common that we'd like to think. And that's part of the problem: we don't want to think about it. People seem to confuse thinking about something and it actually happening. I've witnessed people go into complete denial when they have to face a painful truth, but if they don't acknowledge it, it's never going to go away.

I've found meditation to be extremely helpful. It's a time where all kinds of unconscious thoughts raise to the surface. I don't judge any of those thoughts, because I know that I can't control what comes out. My brain has developed throughout my whole life and absorbed everything from my surroundings. Thoughts aren't dirty or bad or terrible, unless we make them into such. When I meditate, I can all of a sudden have an image of a pink elephant in my minds eye or a brutal killing of an innocent person. I acknowledge them and then let them go. They do say something about what I've absorbed, but it doesn't say anything about my morality or whether I'm a good person or a bad person. There's no reason to attach morality to thoughts that we have, but it is good to learn to acknowledge and accept all of those thoughts, even the dark ones, and not suppress and obsess over them.

Another thing that was extremely helpful to me was the concept of "Outer Child", a term coined by Susan Anderson. It sounds a bit over-simplistic, but it helped me a lot. Essentially, the outer child is a defence mechanism developed by us as children. We're helpless as children, so we try to create a stronger front that keeps us safe. It can be anything from attempting to appear much tougher than we actually are to creating illusions about ourselves or the world around us. Anything to spare us from the pain of growing up in an environment that's already filled with other people who project their own problems onto us. It doesn't have to be a dramatically traumatic childhood for us to adopt ways to survive.

Anyway, the outer child is what acts out the inner child's emotions. Someone or something hurts us and we react to it with fear, so the outer child acts it out as anger (either towards the person who hurt us or even towards the inner child itself by yelling that he or she is weak). The problem is when we never grow out of this and don't learn new ways to cope with emotional turmoil and stress. I was around 36 before I finally started to approach problems head on, instead of deciding that it was a great idea to just ignore it and drink and eat a lot. Of course that just added to my problems, which lead to more feelings of guilt and shame, which made my inner child be even more afraid of being rejected and so I acted out even worse. I was completely spiralling out of control, until the whole thing came crashing down as I lost too much due to my own actions, and I finally had no other option than to face the reality. It was painful (very), but it didn't kill me.

I still have some problems, but I have the ability to soothe my brain and I don't make things worse than they are. Things don't get out of control anymore. I still feel pain (being a human being and all that), but instead of reacting to it, I just acknowledge it and let myself feel it. Instead of telling myself that I'm weak for being scared, I focus on feeling compassion. This is a scary place for all of us, and it's normal and OK to feel overwhelmed and frightened. I now neither compulsively eat to punish myself or because deep down I'm afraid that someone will take the food away from me. I rest safely in knowing that I don't need any more than what keeps me alive. That doesn't mean that I would want to live in an ascetic way. I don't. I like pretty things and good food and wine and passion and all that. I just don't need it. You could take everything that I have away from me, and I would still survive, because you can't take away my humanity and my spirit. Only I can degrade those things for myself, but I don't want to do that. The more I learn about myself, the good, the bad and the ugly, the more in love and in awe I am of myself :-) The same goes for other people; those who dare to reveal who they really are are incredibly beautiful to me and those who dare to admit that they're scared seem really strong and powerful.

I don't know if any of that resonates with anyone else, but that pretty much sums up my journey from feeling like there's something wrong with me to knowing that as long as I'm being authentic and true to myself, I'm exactly what I'm supposed to be and everything feels right.
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Old 12-30-2013, 09:28 AM   #14
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Sparkly Bunny,

Your journey really does resonate with me. If you don't mind sharing, what kind of meditation do you practice? I would like to learn to practice it as well. I meditate, but it is in short, five minute spells, and I am quite restless. I love the concept of inner and outer children. I have been working this year with speaking to my inner child, and soothing her, and offering her compassion. I never thought about my outer child. I can certainly see that she exists as well. She's a tough one. She tries to project a "don't mess with me, I'm a bad @$$" persona."

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Old 12-30-2013, 09:56 AM   #15
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Sparkly Bunny,

Your journey really does resonate with me. If you don't mind sharing, what kind of meditation do you practice? I would like to learn to practice it as well. I meditate, but it is in short, five minute spells, and I am quite restless. I love the concept of inner and outer children. I have been working this year with speaking to my inner child, and soothing her, and offering her compassion. I never thought about my outer child. I can certainly see that she exists as well. She's a tough one. She tries to project a "don't mess with me, I'm a bad @$$" persona."
I've tried meditation and it's too difficult for me, being a mom of a toddler can be quite hectic. However, I have found that moving meditation in the form of tai chi or chi gong has helped me tremendously. Tai chi is a chinese martial art and it is considered moving meditation. Chi gong is very gentle and it is the releasing of negative energy. I know it sounds like gobbledigook but it's helped me a lot with releasing tension and putting me into a better state of mind and body. Here's a guide, I find tai chi nation's videos to be very easy to follow and informative. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLZtAUY1dn0
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