(Originally posted in weight loss blog)
I’ve been thinking a bit more and I think I want to explore the idea of food and eating as a kind of self punishment. I’ve explored using food as comfort and eating emotionally, but my crazy thought the other day about using food as a punishment ended up being really resonant with me as I gave it more thought.
I generally think of myself as eating for comfort when I overeat or eat foods I know are loaded with sugar. But when I really think about it, I am not feeling comforted by the food. Eating the food makes me feel guilty. Eating the food reinforces my low self esteem. It reinforces my sense of not being able to control my life. And then once those feelings kick in, I just keep eating because I have given up on myself. I eat to punish myself for being less of a person. I eat to punish myself for having low self esteem, for being out of control. I eat to punish myself for being fat.
And in the context of this realization, I was doing exactly the opposite. I was starving myself. Which is definitely a new one for me. I’ve never done that before. I went through an emotional trauma and I stopped eating because of anguish – I just couldn’t make myself eat. But, as the healing progressed, I still didn’t eat. At first it was because I was losing weight and I liked that, and I still didn’t feel very hungry. But as I got hungrier and hungrier, I continued to starve myself.
Again, I think there were some control issues here. The miscarriage was not in my control – but there is a part of me that still believes it could have been something I could have prevented. I know intellectually that’s not true, but emotionally, I cannot let go of it. So, from that standpoint, I was doing whatever it takes to lose weight before we try this again because weight is an issue. But, that ties into guilt. And if some part of me believes that there was anything in my behavior, being, etc. that played into that miscarriage – starving myself is an effective punishment for letting that happen. It hurts me pretty continuously and it works to achieve results I believe necessary to prevent that from happening again. And there’s a part of me that feels like a failure as a woman – I’ve lost two babies in a year. What is wrong with me that I cannot carry out my biological mission – and accomplish something I want so very badly? The pain of starvation, I think, was a way of punishing myself for being inadequate. God, what an unhealthy thought process.
None of this is done consciously. It’s the just-under-the-surface motivations. But, my hope is that if I can become conscious of them, if I can understand them, understand where they are coming from and why I do these unhealthy things, I will be able to learn to alter my behavior in more permanent ways. It’s also a little disconcerting to realize how effed up my thought processes and self image truly are.