I’ve got a problem, y’all.
I’ve been reminiscing about last month a lot lately. I have another blog post queued up for later on an October/Halloween subject. But right now, I want to talk about another fascinating facet of Halloween. And that’s all the candy.
I’ve said many times that I’d rather skip the entree and go straight to desert. I have a sweet tooth. I love sweets. I crave sweets all the time. And when I do have a meal, I always have to follow it up with something sweet. If I don’t, I have a mini freak out in my mind. The meal feels unfinished. It’s like getting to the end of a serial killer flick and shutting off the movie with only five minutes left, thus never finding out who the murderer in the mask is.
Since I’ve been dieting this year, I have cut back on a lot of sweets. And it paid off. I lost 50 pounds. And it hurt not to eat candy bars and brownies. Every day was a struggle. The thoughts of sugar and molasses never left my mind. But I pushed through and made it through each day without devouring a cheese danish. But when I woke up the next morning, the struggle slid back in again.
Eventually, I was able to control my cravings to the point where the madness had dulled into an uncomfortable yet controllable nagging. And things went well for a while.
And then October came along. And I was inundated with candy.
I have to admit that I am mostly at fault here. Because I’d done so well throughout the year, I felt I deserved to treat myself to some candy. And my mom decided to start baking, first making a few pies for my work’s Halloween party. And that led into her making some brownies for my dad. And then buying some Halloween candy for me.
And upon that first taste of non-diet chocolate, I was hooked again. I thought I’d be okay after I finished that first bag of Hershey’s miniatures or the pan of brownies but once it was all gone, I felt deprived, a hole in my heart. God, doesn’t that sound dramatic? But that’s how I felt. And I know how irrational it all seems. Even as I looked longingly at the last bits of brownie crumble, I felt this ache of loss. I wanted more. I wanted more chocolate, more candy, more junk food to fill up my stomach and the sadness.
It’s my emotional eating bubbling up to the surface again. I’ve known for a while now that I will never defeat this addiction until I get to the root of my problems. This is why my weight has fluctuated so dramatically over the years, losing and gaining between 40-50 pounds each year. It’s because I can quell the cravings by distracting myself. But that tactic can only last so long, which is why a year or so ago I really tried to take a look at myself and find out what was actually eating me. And while I think I’ve come close to cataloging the list of ingredients that make up the misery in my head, I don’t know how to push them out, to get rid of them so they don’t bake in my brain.
It’s amazing the power puff pastries have over me. I can’t go into a grocery store without getting something sweet. I try to think of the sweets I have back at home and when I think of the healthy yogurt or the low calorie candies, I immediately reject them in favor of the new flavor of Ben & Jerry’s. And the problem is that I cannot just walk away. It sounds so simple. And it is. Physically. But mentally it feels as tough as leaving your child on their first day of kindergarten. It’s all I can think about as I walk back to my car. I want to go back, grab a pint, and take my baby home. It belongs with me.
And because I know my mind will constantly chastise me for not buying the ice cream or candy bar or cake mix, I go ahead and give in and buy it because the extra calories are worth having a little bit of emotional peace.
And once I bite into those creamy confections, I am not hurting. I’m not in pain. I don’t care about my body or face or the lack of friends. It’s all about savoring the mocha, the marshmallow, the memory of what it used to be like before the depression and subsequent body dismorphia and EDNOS set in. Those were better times, times that I feel can sometimes only be recaptured through food.
That’s why it’s so hard to give it all up. That’s why it’s so hard to even limit their consumption. It’s all about that quick fix, that numbness, taking a break from being crushed. My brain is quite diseased, always putting me down and putting me in awkward positions with other people, saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, always disappointing. But food never disappoints. Food is automatic. We all know how to eat. It doesn’t require any great skill. I can eat alone and not worry if I’m doing it correctly. There are no awkward pauses, only peppermint patties. There is no weird conversation, only caramel. I can feel pleasure without the nagging thoughts that I might have grossed someone out or made them uncomfortable with my jokes. There is no pressure to perform, to be witty, to be likeable. It’s safe. It doesn’t hurt.
And just like with the weight loss, I’m going to have to start this weening process all over again. And it’s going to be tough and all-consuming. And I will be grumpy. I will be agitated. And with the holidays coming up and all the stress that comes along with it, this isn’t the best time. And maybe it’s not worth trying to control myself with Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, bringing with them all the cakes and pies.
But if I give up for the rest of the year, I know I’ll gain a ton of weight. I’ve just recently been able to fit into a pair of work pants I hadn’t been able to wear for over a year. And while they were comfortable for a while, they’re now starting to grow noticeably tighter. And if I don’t get a grip on this, I’ll be big again, and once again have to rifle through my closet for shirts big enough to conceal my belly, kick-starting the cycle of sweets and starvation all over again. I don’t know if my body can take one more extreme change. I certainly know my mind can’t.