Thursday, February 24, 2011

How To Break Up With Your Binge Monster


















My binge monster and I have been together for a long time. I'd say we started dating sometime around high school, although it didn't become serious until college.  Freshman year?  That was the year we really fell in love.  We did everything together.  Played rugby, went to parties, made pizza together...ate pizza together.  We went on long walks and kissed under the moonlight.  Yes, it was a courtship for the ages.  But as all great love stories go, it was not without its difficulties.  We fought.  A lot.  My binge monster made me cry.  I'm sure I made it cry too.  Back and forth, we went.  Love and hate.  Anger and laughter.  Every time I met someone else and tried to move on, it would lure me back in with promises to change, to be different, better.  And every time, I went back.

My binge monster and I knew we weren't right for each other.  Eventually, you both just know.  But it loved me, as I loved it.  It was never trying to hurt me; it simply wanted to love me, and to be loved in return.  But there came a day - as there will come a day for all of you who have your own binge monsters - when I realized that the life I wanted had no room in it for my binge monster.  I had a choice to make.  To live unhappily ever after or to let go.  In order to be the person I wanted to be, and to make room for a love that wouldn't hurt me, I had to release the love that only brought with it pain.

But how do you say goodbye to a love that's been with you for so long?  A love that's stuck with you through thick and thin (literally, I suppose), that's comforted you through all your tears and rejoiced with you celebration after celebration?  How do you break up with your binge monster?   

This is the eternal question for some of us.  Every time I think I've said goodbye, I inevitably find it hanging around on my doorstep, its sad puppy eyes begging to be let in.  I've already come to terms with the fact that my binge monster is not in fact a monster, at least not in the traditional sense.  So I can't kill it or hate it into oblivion.  That would be nice, wouldn't it?  If all of our exes were horrible people that we could just write off?  But no.  As with most loves, my binge monster is worthy of kindness and respect and a goodbye that reflects the years we've spent together.

So here's what I did.  I sat my binge monster down and had a talk with it.  I loved it for all it had done for me, I told it.  I appreciated how it had been there for me when I didn't even know I needed help.  And I would always care for it.  But I had to let it go.  I had moved on, I told it.  And now it needed to move on too.  While falling asleep at night, I visualized this interplay, night after night.  And I binged in my sleep, gorging myself until I was sick in my dreams.  But every day I woke up, and my binge monster moved further on down the road.  One night, in a sudden frenzy I reached for a container of sugar-laden pancakes.  I could see the binge monster smiling hopefully at my front door.  Those would taste good with butter and syrup, it cajoled.  I opened the container.  Then I stopped.  I took a deep breath and quietly told my monster, "There's no room for you here anymore.  You have to go."  I said it kindly, and with the love I still carry, but then I closed the door.  I made myself a bowl of hot cereal to appease my genuine hunger, but put away the pancakes that were simply a binge waiting to happen.  And I did it in peace.  There was no struggle, no urge to rush back and slather butter on my pancakes, barely chewing in my need to feel full. 

In my mind's eye, I could see my binge monster walking down the road, a backpack slung across its shoulders.  I had a feeling I would see it again.  But next time I would simply smile and nod my head hello.  And knowing we were over, it would smile back, and keep walking.



19 comments:

Kim - Affairs of Living said...

thanks for posting this Iris, and for being so open about your own struggles. I have them too; binging seems to come so naturally to me, more natural than moderation. I eat without thinking so often, and it is something that recently I have made a conscious effort to say goodbye too. It's funny; your process is similar to one I am just finally starting, an internal dialogue. this is really inspiring, raw, and honest, and just the way it needs to be told. seeing that you've made progress on wrestling back your "binge monster" makes me feel more confident that I will learn to beat mine some day!

Iris said...

Thanks for sharing and being honest too, Kim! I write these to hopefully help other people who are feeling the same way, but it also helps me to know there are others who are in the same boat.

Amy said...

I too have issues with the binge monster. I think I need to also tell him good-bye for good. Just last night, for example, I totally binged on food that I shouldn't have eaten as well as the amount of food that I had eaten. Lately, I have been starting off right, but then my day gets ahead of me and my monster sneaks up and gets me every time. I hope that I too can say good-bye for good and have home never some back and tempt me again, or at least if the temptation is there, I will be strong enough to say no!

Iris said...

@Amy, it's been a long journey for me, and dealing with this has meant tackling it from so many different places (therapy, yoga, journaling, blogging, more therapy, etc.). So there might not be one solution for you, but rather a number of solutions that will work together. And above all else, be kind to yourself!

Ricki said...

Bravo, Iris, both for saying goodbye to that monster and for writing such a terrific post. I think we all want to break up with our Binge Monsters, and like any bad relationship, it might takes a few tries to make it stick. I definitely need to have a long talk with my own monster!

Iris said...

Thanks Ricki! Now I'm just hoping I was right in what I wrote, and that our relationship is really over! Feels like it, but only time will tell...

Andrea (Andreas Kitchen) said...

Oh Iris, I got such a visual of your binge monster with the backpack walking down the road! Great post that I'm sure will impact a lot of your readers!
I'm lucky that I don't have a problem with food in that way. My problem is more of an acid problem combined with food allergies and when I get hungry, especially in the am, if I don't get something substantial in there right away I will suffer for the whole day and probably longer. My body loves protein and vegies and rebels when I do my baking thing. I am still trying to decide if rice (flour) is a problem or if it's the sugar. I just get tired sometimes of analyzing everything that I eat!
Thanks for your thought provoking posts! Andrea

Iris said...

@Andrea, I have that same problem if I don't eat in the morning. My body really doesn't like it when I bake either, but I just can't seem to stop myself!

Valerie @ City|Life|Eats said...

Iris, I so appreciate your honesty and sharing such an emotional topic with us.

Stephanie said...

You are hilarious! Love this post, and love how honest you are! You are going to help a lot of people! Many "new" loves to come for you now :)

Carol said...

Great post!You have such a talent for speaking of an emotional issue in such as accesible way with humor and fun. Love it!

Maggie said...

Iris - This is good advice. Damn that Binge Monster and the love-hate relationship with have with him. I am so thankful for your words of wisdom, and I am so happy that your relationship with him is over. xo

Grace said...

Beautiful! Because of this post - and many more - I entered you in a blog contest...

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/features/blogcontest

I love the honesty and humor in this post about something so difficult. Both those things are positive defense mechanisms so you must be well on your way to defending yourself against the monster!

Heather said...

So honest and so right on. It truly is a relationship that needs ending. And just when you think it has ended, it's back on your doorstep like a bad boyfriend. Your perspective is fresh and so encouraging. Thank you.

Amy said...

Thanks for the kid reply. I often need to remind myself that changing my eating habits is not going to happen overnight. I have made some big changes and I need to acknowledge that. I just wish I would be able to stop eating the things that make me feel sick. I keep trying and not giving up.

brooke said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I struggle with my own binge monster, and it is encouraging to know that it is possible to say goodbye to it.

Iris said...

@Amy, any change is a big change! Definitely give yourself credit for the work you've done!

@Brooke, it's definitely possible. It took a lot of work, but I found that when I was really ready, I just knew. (Of course this was only a couple of weeks ago, so I'm trying really hard to keep taking care of myself so I don't fall back into any old habits!)

Anonymous said...

My monster and I - despite multiple breakups - seem to continue our casual FWB relationship. Usually a once weekly "night out." Monthly if things are really 'different' that month. I've ended every other relationship that left me feeling broken and shameful... Your honesty and vulnerability in this post have inspired me to visualize and journal him out the damn door. For GOOD this time.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. This is EXACTLY what I am feeling and going through right now. Last night in bed I had the talk with my binge monster, and I sincerely thanked it for all it's done for me, but told it that I had to let it go. Today as you said it came back and was waiting on my doorstep with its wonderful ideas and big puppy dog eyes, and when I felt my heart wavering I came online and searched "breaking up with binging" to find motivation to stand firm in my decision. Luckily, I found your writing, and it gave me a peaceful sense of strength that I've never felt with such reassurance before. Thank you so much.

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