Change is hard because it means doing something that is unfamiliar. We like familiarity, and we like efficiency. In fact, our brains are trained to work as efficiently as possible, which means they use familiar patterns of behavior that have proven to be the quickest ways to achieve a particular task. This means that when we want to change a pattern or habit in our lives we have to teach our brains new ways to be efficient. But that’s easier said than done. It requires a lot of work on our part because we have to go through a period of discomfort while we adjust to a new way of thinking and acting, in order to create a new habit. And new habits can take a long time to “stick” in our brains because they require consistency over a sustained period of time.
I’ve been struggling with my own ability to change current patterns in my life a lot lately. Every day I wake up with the desire to stop binge eating. But every night I seem to end the day frustrated, hopeless, filled with shame and guilt, and defeated because I failed to stop bingeing even for one day. Sometimes I think I’ll never be able to stop. It seems harder to change old habits than it does to keep doing what’s comfortable and familiar. And it gets harder and harder every day I binge because I get further and further from where I want to be, and all I can think about is how long that road is to get to where I want to be physically and mentally.
There are a million things that get in my way of being successful when it comes to not bingeing. And you know where most of those things stem from? They stem from selfishness. I want to look a certain way, and when I wake up feeling defeated from the months and months of persistent bingeing I know I am nowhere close to looking that way. I worry way too much about what other people think of me. Sometimes I fear what people will think of me so much that I don’t want to leave the house. I think of reasons I can use to stay home from family events, dinners with friends, and even running errands or going on walks with my family. I’m worried somebody will see me and the facade I’ve put on will all come crumbling down.
See, the binge eating makes us look at ourselves way too much. We think that this life is about us; our happiness and how we look. We lie to the world (family and friends included) by never truly letting people in on the hard parts of our lives. Sure, we share the best parts. I love to post pictures when I look put together and you can’t really tell I’ve gained weight, or pictures of my husband laughing with our son. But would I post a picture of me in tears after a week where I binged every single day, swollen and bloated from all the food I stuffed inside me to escape my feelings? Heck no. And I’m not saying we need to post those kinds of pictures. We just need to do a better job of allowing others to carry our burdens, pray for us, and encourage us. But in order to do that we need to get real; with ourselves and those we love.
Too many of us suffer alone because we are too afraid of what people will really think of us if they know our secrets. I know that’s true for me. For years I have struggled with bingeing, and only a handful of my closest friends and family know. But even then, only a few people really know what this secret life of binge eating really looks like. Why? Because I fear what people will think of me because of this struggle. We hide away from life and people because it’s easier to act like we have everything under control. But the deeper we get into the binge eating, the harder it gets to conceal. And the more depressed and desolate we begin to feel. It’s a trap.
For me, food gives me relief and allows me to escape anxieties and fears that come up throughout my day. But bingeing is the biggest sham ever. If it were a corporation it would be put out of business because of fraud and deceit. But it survives because we believe the lies it tells us. Every single time I get the urge to binge, all I can remember is how it calmed me down the last time I felt stressed. I completely forget that terrible moment that happens the second I stop bingeing when I’m flooded with shame, guilt, anger, sadness, and despair because of what I just did. Yeah my problems went away… for about 30 minutes as I ate. But as soon as I’m done bingeing, everything I was feeling anxious about before the binge seems so minor. It’s like I’m suddenly able to understand why I was feeling anxious enough to binge in the first place. And the most frustrating part is the seemingly sudden realization of all the things I could have done to free myself of those anxious thoughts because they weren’t as bad as I made them out to be originally. But now they are coupled with the huge weight of hopelessness that every binge inevitably leads to, making the pit of despair I live in when I’m bingeing even deeper.
What kind of life is this? One I want to run from. One that has me feeling so miserable that I make life miserable for those around me. I take away from fun moments with my family because all I’m focused on is the negativity surrounding me. Of course I’m continuing to binge. I’m looking at things all wrong. My husband is a pro at reminding me to look at the positive things in our life. He is truly one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. But it’s not because he doesn’t have bad days or worries of his own. Trust me, he has things he can stress over. He is a hard working man who comes home from a long day with a lot of things on his mind. But he doesn’t dwell on the negative aspects of his day. He comes home and focuses on the good things. He plays with our son and laughs with him as he chases him around the living room. He looks forward to seeing his family. And he knows that the only way I am ever going to be free from this bingeing is if I follow suit and focus on the good things in our life; the blessings, the positive parts of our days, and on God who is the ultimate definition of good.
I think it’s important to put an honest first step forward as I work to overcome the bingeing in my life. I hope to make this a place where I can be open and honest about the daily struggle of choosing freedom from bingeing, while adding some refreshing insight into the successes and failures I encounter along the way. It’s going to take a lot of days of giving this struggle over to God and learning to trust that He is in control. But I hope to shed light on what this journey looks like for me. I want to sing my way through this storm because I believe that God is going to do some major change on my heart as I draw closer to Him.