This afternoon was a pretty typical day at work. I helped some kids with homework, had a few kids act up, the usual. A little bit of frustration, but nothing that I couldn’t shake off. In fact, I was contemplating the idea of bringing Rob home a cupcake that one of the other teachers had leftover, just as a little treat to brighten both of our days, when I noticed that the trash bag I had just dragged down the hall was leaking chocolate milk.
The kids know they aren’t supposed to put milk in the trash. They know this. We tell them this every day when they (inevitably) try and sneak the half-empty milk carton or cereal bowl into the trash can simply to avoid having to deal with the mess. But it was too late, and now I had a mess to clean up. And I was frustrated.
It didn’t take all that long to clean up, maybe an extra 5-10 minutes, but for some reason it put me over the edge (probably because it meant I was now leaving work late, sweaty, and annoyed that the kids couldn’t throw the freaking milk away (!) ), and instead of processing it and just taking it in stride, I stress ate a cupcake to make myself feel better.
Then I had this moment where I realized what I had done. And I immediately felt worse.
I just ate a cupcake because there was some milk on the floor.
How immature of an attitude towards food is that? I know what a body needs to survive. I know how different types of food are broken down by our body and processed, and how each type is beneficial in its own way. I know how to count calories, fat, fiber, and anything else that can be counted (except carbs, never got that one down). I can explain the difference between white and wheat, wheat and whole grain. But when it comes to relating to food, I am like a four year old who wants ice cream because her balloon floated away.
I don’t think I ever truly learned how to relate to food. To me, food was a safe haven. It was a distraction from the awful reality I was facing. A comfort. A band-aid. Over the years it has grown into something that neighbors, or even mirrors my feelings. There have been times in my life when things were so awful that I just couldn’t eat. I would go days, or even weeks with eating maybe the equivalent of 1 meal a day. And even then I would have to force myself to eat. Or Rob would check to make sure that I ate. More commonly, there are times when I have to constantly remind myself that I’m not actually hungry, I just want to eat. That my anxiety or nerves are so bad that all I want is one more mouthful of comfort. And even though I know that my body doesn’t need the food, I can’t convince my emotions that that is true.
I’ve always known that I’ve had a problem with food. That my habits weren’t quite ‘right’. Maybe they will be, someday.
Maybe someday I won’t want to eat because I’m depressed about how overweight I am.