Hi everyone. My name is Jac and I’m a compulsive binge eater.
It’s a weird and kinda gross thing to say out loud. Especially because most of the people who read this know me. So here’s a bit of uncomfortable vulnerability.
As early as Volume 2 I beg myself to stop eating when I’m not hungry, beg myself to stop eating junk food. In my youth I developed a bad relationship with myself via my eating habits and my body image that lasts into my early twenties.
I feel pretty recovered from that these days, though I’m not immune to wishing I was like every other muscular, stylish lesbian on instagram. My relationship with the way I look has settled down. I’m mostly happy with what I look like. The issue I have is the way I treat myself.
I’ve always felt the need to hide what I was eating. I remember driving across the country with a friend and hiding candy wrappers on my side of the car so he didn’t know I was eating (he probably knew I was eating). I was terrified he’d find out I ate bags of candy.
I remember living with my Uncle, and his fiancé at the time told me I “eat like a horse” so I would only eat one cookie out of every box so it didn’t look like I was eating a lot.
Then I discovered weed, and I stopped hiding. My weight has always been about the same. Sometimes I’m a little softer than others, but I’ve always had an on-again-off-again relationship with the gym that would tame any puffiness I acquired over long stints of binging. But weed allowed me to check out. I could eat and eat and eat and never even notice it I was doing it. I’d make massive bowls of popcorn and eat the whole thing while watching tv. I drank a lot too, and the drinking is what made me hate myself. I felt like that was out of control and it needed to be stopped (I’ve only been sober since the new year, so I’m not quite out of the danger zone on that one).
I remember getting high and eating sometimes and a voice inside my head would scream for me to stop. I would eat so much I felt like I was splitting my insides. And that came with me to New York. Sometimes I thought it was a romantic notion to spend a hangover day in bed, order food in and watch movies. I still think that’s romantic. But reality found me doing that every day off and not just ordering food, but ordering a bagel sandwich, pancakes, a smoothie and eating all of it.
I would be drunk at night and stop at my local bodega and the guy knew my order. I’d go home at midnight with an egg and cheese bagel and a bag of Cheetos most nights. Or worse.
And every night I would say, this is the last time. Like a bad relationship with someone who treated me like shit. Literally, exactly like that. Every day I would wake up, prepared to take care of myself, but circumstance would force me to eat conveniently, and if I was bad once, I would gorge myself as punishment. It’s already ruined, I deserve to suffer. And tomorrow I’ll fix this.
I never understood people who would eat one piece of pizza and be satisfied. I never understood people who just wouldn’t eat if they were hungry. I’m an “I can always eat” person.
It’s completely compulsive. I can’t stop myself from overeating or from eating food that I know is bad for me. Not even that I just know it’s bad for me. It’s food that causes me physical pain.
I’ve frequented self help books, podcasts, plans. I’ve never been a diet guy, just because I really don’t think that’s real. It’s a get rich quick scheme. I know what’s healthy, and what’s unhealthy. What I don’t understand is how to make it work for my life. If I could afford (and like) to eat a smoothie, or oats and fruit for breakfast, couscous and veggies for lunch, and sautéed greens for dinner I know I wouldn’t be sick. I know I wouldn’t be in pain.
So why can’t I just do it?
After reading through the 60+ volumes of journals I’ve amassed, and seeing the same words written year after year (“Please stop. You’re killing yourself.”) I knew it had to stop. I read the hundredth article on eating behaviours, trying to figure this out, and finally I saw these words:
Compulsive binge eater.
I know a lot of who I am is because of some underlying issue that needs tending. I know that. Pay for my therapy and we’ll get to the bottom of it together. Sure this is a part of my family, we all suffer. After a really comforting talk with my brother (who is my health idol even when he’s off the wagon as humans do on occasion) he admitted that there is no easy way. That it takes wanting to be healthy. It takes seeing the consequences of not being healthy to make better choices.
It’s important to me. I don’t want to make my family and friends feel the way I feel about losing my Uncle. It feels terrible. I obviously don’t blame him. I don’t think he knew he was just going to die on a random Friday. But he’s gone now. Forever. And that really hurts still. I’m so afraid I’ll forget his laugh. He had the best laugh.
So I reached out to Reddit. I Googled support groups.
I went to my first Addictive Eaters Anonymous meeting in London. It felt stupid, and all we did was go around and tell our stories of how we got where we are. That was it. There was no plan or goal, just sharing stories. I don’t know if that really does anything, I don’t know what the point is, but it meant enough to me to find a meeting in Dublin.
This meeting was three times the size of London, and the people were so kind and warm. They all shared their stories, because this is real. It’s not some stupid, vapid thing like I keep telling myself it is. People are dying from binge eating, over eating, eating poorly. I don’t even need to mention how terribly the U.S. suffers from the terrible stuff we put in our bodies.
And I don’t want it. I want to live a life where I’m not obsessed with what I eat, and terrified I’ll die on a random Friday and that the people I love will be afraid of forgetting me. My nephews are young. They might not even remember my laugh right now.
This isn’t a lesson of recovery. I’m struggling in this very moment to understand how to just stop. Just not do the thing that will make me feel sick when the answer is simply to just not do it. And I will. I’ll do it anyway. Turns out food is survival and also addictive, which is majorly fucked up.
Alas, this is the last year that I beg myself to just get it under control as my New Year’s resolution. 2021 my New Year’s resolution will be something cool, not something boring.
And I share this because as I move on with JACLAND, and I take on fun, cool, interesting projects, this is the one that holds me back from doing them. In Volume Two I asked myself to start eating healthy, and I still haven’t made any progress on that. And I think about that every time I take on a new project. All I’m doing is pushing that focus further and further away. Which causes me stress, so I find comfort in food.
As I mentioned, I’m here to actually make my dreams come true. And nothing is more important to me than being alive for all the adventures I’m going to have. To see my nephews grow up into good men. To play Yahtzee with my mom and my kid, all together, making up our own rules and laughing about it.
So if this is something you struggle with, hit me up. What works for you? Does nothing work for you? Let’s be strong together, cause shit, I’m boring of dealing with this and I have a lot to do. Let’s move on together.
Wish me luck this week. We got this.