Friday, February 06, 2009

A Lesson from Cool Hand Luke

I've seen a lot of Guy Movies over the past 15 years that I've known my husband. The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Maltese Falcon, & Cool Hand Luke are a few of my favorites.

This morning as I was walking in to work, a line from Cool Hand Luke flickered through my memory. "You've got to get your mind right," the Boss says to Luke as Luke's digging his own grave in the prison yard.

While I've not committed any crimes & I don't have an SOB prison guard standing over me, I feel like I'm in a prison of my own making right now. And I need to get my mind right or I'm going to be shoveling my way out of my own deep hole, very soon.

Before I joined LA Weight Loss in February 2007, I was always playing the mind game of "I'll eat this box of donuts now, but tomorrow I will definitely stop! I'm just going to eat this now to get through the _____________(insert the mood of the moment--boredom, anger, sadness, happiness, stress, busyness, overwhelmedness, depression, rain, sunshine, winter blahs, blah blah blah). Tomorrow I will, I WILL, start to eat right & won't do this anymore."

For a good solid year, I didn't play this game. And really, I guess it's been almost two years since it's now February of 2009.

But I guess two years is my Statute of Limitations on the Give Up the Bullshit Thinking issue.

Because it's back. In full force. And I'm smack dab back in the self-imposed prison of denial & misery.

I haven't bought a box of powdered donuts yet--they were a huge problem for me & I simply loved everything about the little bastards (except for how fat they helped make me). But I've been looking longingly at them while grocery shopping, and last night I even picked up a bag and considered putting it in my cart.

Instead I bought a pint of Ben & Jerry's Phish food, hid it in the back of the freezer when I got home, and ate it in secret while the kids played with the hubs. I then hid the empty container at the bottom of the trash can.

I even ate some cookie dough in the bathroom the other day, hiding from the kids so they wouldn't want any.

This is some seriously f*cked up behavior. And I can't believe I'm living it again.

I know it's hard--unbearably hard--to change life long coping mechanisms. It's practically heroic to establish new coping mechanisms that won't slip away and be replaced by the old ones. I used to feel like a hero, and felt like I'd mostly replaced my food issues with running & strength training.

But since the exercise & the endorphins it provides has been virtually non-existent the past couple of weeks, the bad old coping strategies are back.

And I hate them. I hate everything about the after. The before & during, I'm pretty much back to being a zombie & in robot mode. Not in control--like the foods are putting themselves in my hands and I have no choice but to accept them.

Ultimately, I think this is about control. I have completely lost control over so many things in my life right now. And the way I'm dealing with the lack of control is to say "F*ck it, I don't care about my weight, my body, my health. All I want is to feel better NOW. NOW is all that matters. Later will have to wait because I can't deal with later. Food makes me feel better now. So I will eat what I need now, because I can. To hell with the consequences."

Obviously, I've gotta get my mind right. I know this. I know that living like this is the path to weighing 200 pounds again. I know that living in denial is going to only get me tighter clothes & more unhappiness. I know that, in the end, this destructive behavior leads me to hate myself. Not just because of the fat, but because of the shame of the addiction.

Getting my mind right is what I'm working on right now. I'm not feeling all that strong, though, so I'm simply taking things a moment at a time. And praying like crazy for strength, purpose, and a desire to remember that my actions, whether good or bad, have consequences.

I don't want to stay in these chains any longer. I'll get my mind right, and then I'll be set free.


G.G. said...

Oh, Laura. I'm EXACTLY where you're at right now head-wise.

We're going to get through this! I think things are going to click soon--the most important thing is to NOT GIVE UP.

Jilligan said...

I guess we should start a club. I always thought if no one knew I was eating it then it wouldn't count. I even bought some girl scout cookies and brought them home in the trunk, only to pull over and get them out because "I was afraid they would get to hot back there and ruin before I got home" Whatever! Needless to say, those things are haunting me in the cabinet right now. Good luck with your slump. I am no help.

Vickie said...

I have read this same posting - on a couple other blogs this week.

These are all from maintenance - or nearly maintenance (got within 20 pounds and stopped) people.

And all involve falling back into mindless eating. And all involved SEEING that they were falling back into mindless eating. One is still running every single day - but no amount of running is able to hold her weight if her food is not spot on. This is one thing that is always very aparent on TBL - it doesn't matter how many hours a day you do of exercise - if your food is not clean/balanced. It is not possible to run it all off if you eat too much and eat the wrong stuff. Period.

One of the other bloggers asked for suggestions - and two of us suggested getting back to eating at meal time - whether it was 3 or 4 or 5 meals a day - that it was getting back to ONLY eating at meal time that was key.

As I read their postings (and yours) it brought back a flood of memories. Because eating at meal time (only) was my big first step. And it was a BIG DEAL at the time - major effort - major drama queen - major learning.

I used to hide food and eat in secret also.

The useful thing about that behavior is that it is a neon sign.

When you do it - you know you do it.

It is not like when portions start to creep up and you may or may not notice.

Stuffing something in the bottom of the garbage can is visible in an ironic kind of way.

Thinking/speaking in a non-personal, scientific kind of way:
It would be interesting to do a study and see if the two year mark is the common thread with people and regaining. It might be that the novelty and the marvel wares off about then. Or real life steps in about then if the person has been 'on a diet' and seen the process as temporary - deep in their heart of hearts. Many do. Many move from plan to plan to plan - but are always on a 'temporary' plan or 'sort of on' a temporary plan - which even more temporary.

Self Sabotage
Self Protection
Starts with the shopping cart

was one of my postings last week - and is spot on (in my opinion) once you buy it - it is highly probable that you are going to eat it.

You can't have it in the house right now (or maybe forever) - kids or no kids - husband or no husband.

They will learn to eat apple slices instead of cookies and yogurt instead of ice cream. And they will learn balance between things (if they are like me) and be eating far less carbs.


Vickie said...

And I am not freaking out as I read these postings. Which is try progress for me - because they used to freak me out - and I would over react. The mother in me - always wants to fix other people's pain - and I can't.

Vickie said...

I meant to write 'true progress' but 'try progress' might be a very good phrase.

jen said...

I just wanted to propose an alternate way of seeing this situation. Lately you posts have been so much about taking care of everyone else and you haven't had time or space for your usual self-care, like your workouts. Maybe this urge to buy things and hide them away where no one else will go looking for them is about needing something for just YOU. You don't really want the donuts, you just want something for yourself, which seems a sane and normal response to the chaos you've been in.

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

So sorry to hear that you're struggling, Laura. That's such a frustrating place.

One of the tenets of my life is that I don't lie to my husband---not overtly, but also not implicitly, by hiding things from him. I didn't want some of the bad basic issues I had with previous guys when I found my husband, so I told myself that I would just be honest with him about everything (sometimes probably unnecessarily) from the beginning. I've found that when I am able to say things to him that I don't want to think about (things I know I shouldn't have done, for example) for the sake of keeping things honest---especially things I have otherwise been rolling around in my head, beating myself up about---I am able to listen to what I'm saying and what those things mean. I'm able to look at the truth as the truth . . . but also not as more than the truth, because he makes it clear that an action I've made is just an action and isn't the sum of who I am. He helps keep me grounded in that knowledge at the times I struggle with it---when I would otherwise inflate my actions as having a larger meaning than they actually do.

Now, this comment is NOT about judging you for hiding the ice cream consumption from your family. Perhaps you blogging about it will nudge the same part of you that me talking to my husband nudges for me. But in case you just writing about it doesn't, let me tell you:

You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are no more the fat person inside you than you are the skinny person. You are more beautifully complicated than either of those options. Each choice you're making is a singular choice. No one choice means you are a particular, ultimate classification of a person. No choice means you are a total success (because no one is), and no choice means you are a total failure (because no one is). Even if you look only at a string of bad choices and group them together: they still don't equal the sum of who you are. Those bad choices don't mean you 'can't do this' or 'don't really have any willpower' or whatever that evil voice in you might tell you at those times of need and then guilt. With each choice, with each temptation, you have a new option, a new fork in the path ahead of you. If you lean into the wind and take the good path most of the time, even if you mess up occasionally, you're still on the good path overall. You can still do this, and if you look back at how far you've come, you'll see you are still doing it for the most part. You are not a messed up bundle of feelings; you are just having a difficult moment, followed at some point by another difficult moment. When you hold onto the guilt between those choices, you're setting yourself up for continuing to make bad choices trying to appease yourself or rebel against the guilt. You are simply needing to make one good choice, and then another. You do not need to hide any of your choices, even if they aren't the healthiest options, because it's healthy to indulge occasionally.

If you are discovering that you are eating out of particular emotions you are having ('insert the mood of the moment,' as you said), then it's possible you need to look at your life overall and figure out what needs rejiggering. What part of you is going unfulfilled? It's okay---it's good, even---to realize that you need to make changes, big or small, to keep your life satisfying as you change over time. So often we expect the same things we've been doing to keep us at the same level of satisfaction, but change is the nature of life. Your underlying issue, if there is one and it isn't just a chain of unnecessary guilt, may be that food isn't the problem; some element of your life that's leaving you unsatisfied is. Give yourself permission to change that, and the food issue can ease on its own as your life becomes rebalanced again.

Jill said...

How in the world did I miss this post Friday???

I'm emailing you right now...

debby said...

Wow, Laura, you have gotten some great advice here. I agree with both sides of the issue, I think.

The whole thing about 'being in control' is huge for me, and ultimately, when I am stressed about it, I have to once again remember that I am NOT in control. I'm gonna try to write about this on my blog today.

Vickie said...

how did Monday find you (all)?

LG said...

Maybe what we need to do is start a version of Candyland but call it Land of Bullshit Thinking...I love what you wrote and I need to work on this SO BADLY.

Good luck with your slump -- you'll pull it out. Just remember to be kind to yourself and that you've had a stressful holiday with the news, illnesses and no electricity. OK?

Jodie said...

As always, you put our thoughts into words. I hate that you're going through this...but we're right there with you, girl. As soon as I read your blog, I immediately text everyone, knowing we all feel the same way and that they could use your words.

We're hear for you and cheering you on in blogland!