December 15, 2020 – Bah Humbug to Binge Eating

I am going to apologize in advance because on top of being sleep deprived, I’m feeling tense, agitated, frustrated and a little angry. And I don’t intend to take it out on you, but just in case I do unintentionally, I’m sorry. It’s nothing personal. It’s just something that happens to me every year. My entire emotional state shifts just prior to Thanksgiving and it stays in a pretty tender, raw place until the day after Christmas. After Christmas? I’m on top of the world! But leading up to it, I’m like a hungry dog guarding the few kibble left in its food dish. Get too close and I might growl! I actually thought I was doing fine but then I started to notice the ‘signs’. For me, that’s getting triggered by people, even when they’re not necessarily doing anything wrong. And when I start getting triggered, I just want to go home and stay home and shut out the world. But that’s tough to do when you are trying to get your Christmas shopping done on time. As much as I try to do online orders and curbside pickups, sometimes I have to actually enter a store and interact with other humans.

The first time I got triggered was exactly a week ago when I attempted to do a curbside pickup at my local Walgreens drugstore. I noticed that they overcharged me on my purchase so I called from the parking lot to see if they could straighten it out. After being transferred to multiple individuals within the store that each requested an explanation as to why I was calling, I eventually reached the manager. Once the manager did actually get on the phone, she indicated that she’d need me to come into the store in order to resolve the pricing issue. Sigh. There was a reason I did curbside pickup, because I’m trying to limit my exposure to people because I’m high risk. But since that was the only way to get the matter corrected, I went into the store. And it was p-a-c-k-e-d! Ugh. I went directly to the checkout counter and asked if that was where I was supposed to meet the manager but the woman working the register didn’t know what I was talking about. I again explained the matter with the pricing issue and how I had just talked to the manager and fortunately, even though she hadn’t been aware of the situation, she took it upon herself to get it resolved. As soon as she completed her customer’s transaction, she beckoned with her hand and said, “Follow me!”

We walked over to the photo counter where I then, once again, explained the situation in great detail. But getting it corrected was no easy task. It took nearly 25 minutes and multiple attempts and since it was taking so long, I thought I’d check to see if they had any of the toilet paper on sale that I like. When I walked down the aisle and checked the shelf, it was empty. So I snagged one of the female store employees (with black hair) and asked if she could see if there was any TP in back. I pointed to the tag on the shelf so it was clear what I wanted and then she told me that she’d take a look. While she was gone, I stood in the aisle for several minutes while one person after another sauntered past. I kept trying to move as far to one side or the other, dipping and dodging, to keep my distance and limit my exposure. The store employee returned about 10 minutes later with a large box in hand and said she’d found the TP. But when she pulled it out of the box, it was the wrong kind. “I wanted the 12-pack, the one that’s on sale,” I told her as I walked over and pointed at the shelf tag a second time. “That’s not the one you pointed to earlier,” she stated blandly. “I brought out the one you asked for.” “Sorry,” I said. “I asked for the 12-pack, the ones for $7.99. The ones you brought me aren’t on sale.” I then asked her if she could take another look.

Once again she disappeared from view, but she never returned. Instead, about another 10 minutes later, a different female store employee (with blond hair) returned in her place. “You were looking for the toilet paper, the ones on sale for $7.99?” she asked. “Yes,” I responded. “We have them,” she said. “Oh, great! You have them?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied. “BUT they’re way in the back and we cannot get to them. You’ll have to come back another time. Sorry.” “Do you think if I return tomorrow, they’ll be available?” I then asked. Her response? “I don’t know. We’re really busy. You’ll just have to check periodically. Sorry.” Grrr. Ok. I get it. Everybody’s busy. I can work with this. I’ll just come back tomorrow. Well, tomorrow came as tomorrows generally do and I returned to the store. And when I did, I went directly to the shelf with the paper products and it looked no different than the day before. It was still empty. And guess who I happened to run into once again? Yep, little Ms. Blondie. “Hi,” I said. “I stopped by here yesterday and spoke with you. I just checked the shelf for the TP I asked about and the shelf is empty. Do you still have it in stock or are you out?” I asked. “If it’s not on the shelf, then we probably didn’t get to the box yet. It’s probably still buried in the back. Sorry.” She then shrugged her shoulders and started to walk away. Grrrrrrrr.

“Miss? Can you hang on for a second?” I asked, at which point she turned around. I continued, “I’ve been to the store twice now in order to purchase the TP you have on sale. If I give you my phone number, do you mind calling me once the shelf has been stocked so I don’t have to keep driving back and forth?” “Uh…sure,” she replied apprehensively. She then started hunting for scratch paper and was unable to find any so she took some paper off of the receipt roll on the cash register. When she handed it to me, I wrote down my name and number and gave it back to her. And then I thanked her. When I got home, I told my husband what happened and he said, “She’s not going to call.” “She’ll call!” I said. “Why wouldn’t she?” Someday I’m going to start listening to my husband because as he usually is, as much as I hate to say it, he was right. Because true to form, a week went by and the phone never rang. And it’s not because they never got around to stocking the shelf. They did! How do I know this? Because I checked. You’d better believe I checked! And once I had the confirmation, I got really upset! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!

Is it just me or do you also get a little exasperated when people just blow you off? I am sure she probably chucked that piece of paper into the garbage as soon as I walked out of the door. And that ‘rub’ from a week ago has since developed into a very swollen and painful bruise (to my ego). By today? I was downright ticked off. It was nearly enough to get my eye twitching! I know there are all kinds of scenarios that could have happened as to why she never called. The ink could have smudged on the note and made my information illegible. She could have accidentally left the note in her jeans and then put them in the washer and just like that, the note is no more! It became a soggy wad of goo in the bottom of her pocket. Or maybe she put it on the bulletin board at work and someone removed it by accident? Or maybe she got sick and she’s been at home ever since trying to recover? It’s even possible that she could have died. I know that’s a real stretch but it’s not impossible. Stranger things have happened. But, honestly? The reality is she probably never intended to call and she probably disposed of the note the first chance she got. How does it make me feel? It makes me feel like crap.

A little over a year ago, that one blink-and-you’ll-miss-it incident would have sent me into a self-destructive tailspin. When stuff like that used to happen, instead of getting upset and then applying different scenarios or possibilities as to what could have happened and putting things into perspective, I would go into attack mode. Who would I attack? I would attack me, of course! Something like what happened with the TP and the girl and the note, which is pretty insignificant when you think about it, would have sent me into outer limits! And when I’d go ‘there’, it was all about numbing out the feelings. How did I do that? Eat anything and everything until I was about to burst. Of course, what I generally used to ‘soothe’ myself was with anything that was high carb, high calorie and high sugar. Pizza with wings and a liter of Coke? Sign me up! Once I polish that off, I think a run to 7-11 for an extra large Slurpee and a 3-pack of Hostess cupcakes should do the trick! And once the hubby goes to bed? Oh, I’m not done yet! I’d grab a box of the sweetest cereal in our cupboard along with a jug of milk, a bowl and a spoon, and tiptoe down to the livingroom (which is out of earshot of the bedroom). With that set-up, I could eat as many bowls as I wanted without my husband ever becoming the wiser.

Anytime I ever felt hurt or slighted or any negative feelings whatsoever, that was my answer. I tried to stuff the pain so far down that it couldn’t hurt me any longer. But the problem was it never lasted. Never! And the self talk taking place in my brain would just grow darker and crueler with each bite I took. It never solved anything. It just put everything on ‘delay’. And, my friends, I’d been doing this to myself for decades!! If I was an alcoholic or a drug addict, I doubt that I would even still be alive. But because I chose food to ‘deal’ with pain, instead of dying, I just got fat. But this is where I’m going to throw you a curveball, my friends. If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed I’m discussing things a lot in the ‘past tense’. And that is because last year changed everything! When my brother gave me his kidney, something transformed within me. Someone cared enough to give me something so incredibly precious, there was no way I could continue ‘abusing’ myself. It’s a bizarre thing when someone does something so selflessly, especially when you are the one reaping the rewards. It really makes you rethink your life, at least it did for me.

I had been trying for years to lose weight. And yes, I’ve lost weight and I’ve gained weight and I’ve lost weight and I’ve gained more weight. But since I got the transplant, I’ve lost the weight and I’ve kept it off. I got a new lease on life and I couldn’t continue to live recklessly and risk destroying this amazing organ that my brother so lovingly gave to me. What did I do? I’ve learned to work through my feelings. And I must tell you, it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do! In the past, the incident I described earlier would have resulted in a significant grocery bill from just purchases in the chips, snack, cereal and soda aisles. But today? Sigh. It’s not easy. I have had to learn to ‘sit with my feelings’ no matter how crappy they are. It was so easy before to just dish up 4-5 large scoops of chocolate chip mint ice cream, cover them in hot fudge, cover that in a healthy portion of whipped cream, cover that with chopped up pieces of York Peppermint Patty and then top that with 2-3 maraschino cherries. I could forget my troubles (temporarily) while I ate bite after delicious bite of creamy, minty goodness. But once the bowl was empty? I’d just go back to feeling like crap and then I’d berate myself for eating all of that food and ending up with a stomachache on top of everything else.

Don’t let me kid you. There are days when I wouldn’t kill for a half-dozen cream filled donuts, followed by a Big-Mac and french fries and a large Coke, followed by some licorice and M&Ms and Jujubes and Milk Duds, followed by a pizza with wings and another large Coke, followed by three bowls of Lucky Charms. But I’m just not willing to do that any longer. I consider myself a steward to this new kidney and I wouldn’t be much of a steward if I continued to eat that way. Is my life better? Yes, absolutely! Is it easier? No, absolutely not! I’ve been using food to cope ever since I was a young girl. Bad habits are hard to break. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It takes work! You’ve got to ‘go deep’ and start questioning the way you look at things and the way you look at yourself. And you’ve got to start treating yourself with some kindness and compassion and stop beating yourself up. And a good place to start is with therapy. I actually was seeing a fantastic therapist until I had my surgery but then everything got screwed up with my insurance when I got put on Medicaid.

Until the billing issues get resolved, if they ever do, this will be my therapy. I write to you wonderful folks each night and I get sh*t off of my chest and it helps me to work through stuff and not seek food for solace. And even if the insurance stuff gets worked out, I intend to continue this ‘journey’ with you each night because it’s really helping me, more than I ever imagined! And I hope it’s helping you, too. We’ve all got issues we’re working through so we’ve got to stick together. There is strength in numbers after all. Hang on a minute! I thought I just heard someone mention that they didn’t have issues. If you don’t have issues, you are an anomaly. I mean if it’s true, my hat’s off to you! But I will have to meet you. Why? Because I need to see it for myself. I’m a bit skeptical when I hear people say they don’t have issues. That’s like saying you don’t have a belly button. I actually was going to reference a different body part (other than a belly button) but it’s crude and I think ‘belly button’ sounds better. And while I’ve got your attention, I need to apologize at least one more time because I just realized that my blog started out talking about Christmas and then it went in an entirely different direction altogether. And I just don’t have it in me to try and make sense of it right now. So I’m just going to leave it alone and pretend it never happened.

Anyway, I think I’d better wrap this up and make another attempt at sleeping tonight. One melatonin capsule is not helping at all so I’m going to try two capsules and see if I can finally get some shuteye. If I return tomorrow with more pep in my step, you’ll know it worked! Have a lovely morning/afternoon/night wherever you may be and I will return again soon.

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