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.