Eating Emotions

This year, 2020, has been the pits. It started out great and then, just like that, March erupted into chaos and confusion and being confined to the point of craziness over the months. People not knowing what was right or even who to believe. Basically, the year ends the same.

The new normal will never feel normal as we hide behind our masks and avoid those we love for fear of killing them or dying ourselves. The hugs missed are to the point of withdrawal symptoms when we reach out and quickly retract our arms in fear.

Nowadays, anything we hear negative is no surprise. We shrug our shoulders and say, ‘It’s 2020.’ So many have received bad results of their health, job losses, even deaths, etc. Probably nothing new to you either. We just live day to day and hope for the best of the tomorrow and just maybe some laughter will be present. Make the most of each day and hope at times, a moment of normalcy returns that we once knew.

In my own little world, I have managed quite well, shockingly enough. My former counselor would be proud. Panic early on but I learned to build upon my faith and keep as calm as possible. We will get through this. I pulled out every trick in my bag to remain at peace. Then, the past two months, I have found myself snacking a little more than usual. The tide of it all has taken a turn. The sadness within is becoming more evident, not just in me but in all of the eyes peeping over the blue medical masks or those that have cute designs. Who would have thought that we would be accessorizing our wardrobe with facial masks.

As I ponder what I am experiencing, feeling overwhelmed with my own medical decisions, concerned over loved ones of how they are coping since our visits are few, perhaps they are not sharing so that I won’t be concerned, and vice versa. So many are caring for others compromised due to health reasons and in fact, cancer. This is the case of my sister and brother-in-law. I may never see my sister again if this virus is not contained. I may never see my other siblings or other friends and family members. I have lost two friends, just this week. This is down right grief. If I am feeling this, you are also perhaps.

To visit, many are doing so by text or if comfortable, FaceTime or other technology outlets with the holidays. Although nice, still it is not the same as a warm greeting in a hug or to sit next to and talk and laugh, sharing stories and drinking coffee. I miss these moments.

What does the new year bring? Is it a continuation of what we just had and adapting or will there be a glimmer of hope that seeps through the night and makes our days somewhat better and brighter? Hopefully, not worse. There are hurting people all around us, not just in their finances. The holidays season can tip the scale for some and only God’s Grace will be what intervenes. Oh God, keep your Hand upon those that are feeling no hope now or for the new year, I pray.

In my past when I was falling into a hole of depression due to my marriage that I always wanted but was not, I escaped within myself. I snacked my way through year after year, stuffing my emotions so deep that I became a soul of existence only. Walking and barely breathing, just enough to work and keep the home with my children moving forward. They had no mother really and I regret those days, I failed them in many ways. In that though, I lived for them and pushed through my pain. I did my best. All of my energy went to them. The lonely midnight hours, for many years, I could easily escape in a bag of chips or better yet, cookies or whatever carbohydrate-filled foods to fill the empty void in my life, but never filled.

Since those days, thankfully I have changed. I knew back in 2008, as I started with small steps to dig myself out of the pit of despair. It was at a point in the spring of 2014 that I gave it one last-ditch effort as I walked through my former counselor’s door months later. Many of my blogs will relate to this period. I was near death’s door and that was from her telling me the same. Hearing her say that to me after many months or even a year working together, it helped me move forward and take care of myself. My weight gradually came down from 2010 when I had weight loss surgery, as I had to do something. It was just a tool but I had to continually work toward results, as I still do. Again, slow steps and at times, I’d take two steps forward and one back. Knowing those chips and cookies can bring all the pounds right back, quicker than lost.

The reason I write this blog, is to remind myself that with everything around us and what I am facing in my own health, marriage, etc., my mind and it is my inclination to grab those chips and cookies to escape the emotional chaos within.

Perhaps others are experiencing the same. Life can be hard and the stress and anxiety is overwhelming at times, and not to forget, this year. Acknowledging and being responsible enough to control the urge to gobble down the wrong foods, need to be made.

As I look around those I pass, not in a judgment way but glancing at their eyes, many have that hopeless look and the obesity is proof. My heart breaks as I understand the pain because I have been there and still I struggle. In knowing this, too, heavy-weight people are looked at differently but if truth be told, there is probably a lot of hurt and stuffed emotions inside.

Many learn to camouflage, I for one, the extra weight under jackets perhaps and pop on the fake mask, not the mandatory mask, that everything is just fine and dandy. Sadness and worry exists. The mandatory face masks we all wear now, actually help in addition to the fake one. Double protection, knowing you cannot see the full face as there may not be a smile and actually the masks collect the warm, falling tears quicker so you don’t see those either. No matter, the eyes tell all to those that really care. Look around when you are out and about at the eyes of those you pass while social distancing, most are sad or think and feel what’s the use to smile because it cannot be seen. The masks have silenced our voices.

I do try to resist the stuffing of my feelings and emotions with foods that are not healthy, as I feel at times, like a person on drugs in withdrawal. That cookie will calm my fear I feel. Right? No, it won’t. I know to cry out to the Lord, as I remind myself and say, Lord I need you. You know my name, You know where I am. Sadly, it is still easier to grab that cookie even though I know better. It’s an easy and a familiar path I used for years, I don’t want to feel. Perhaps also feeling as though the Lord does not work fast enough or even hear me but that cookie will help me NOW. We have a choice, I have a choice to bypass the urge to ignore what is causing the issues or acknowledge and deal with what is causing discomfort within.

STOP! What am I feeling? Is it anxiousness? Am I fearful? What about anger?

Notice: What am I telling myself? What emotions are exhibited? How is my body reacting, including my breathing and even my posture? My bodily sensations, such as tense, nauseous, pain, whatever. What is happening? The ‘Notice’ was given to me on a post-it note, of what to recognize by my former counselor on our last, unexpected session. It is with me all the time, written in many places so that I can go back and focus, in what is going on with me. It does make me stop. What a gift she gave me in a small piece of paper that has helped me through the years. It’s being mindful, and that is taking care of ourselves.

I fail at times, many times. I also know that I need to give myself grace and start yet again to do what is best for my emotional and mental health, also my physical health. Let’s not forget the spiritual health we also need, very important. I can do this! You can do this!

Do you find yourself struggling?

https://freshhope.ca/2018/02/21/problem-stuffing-emotions/

https://www.thejourney.com/blog/how-to-stop-stuffing-your-emotions-with-food/

https://sunshynegray.com/do-you-stuff-your-feelings/

Stuffing our feelings is packing hurt feelings down only to have them resurface later as they go unresolved. We stuff because of the fear that’s rooted in our desire to avoid pain. Avoiding the pain of vulnerability results in missed opportunities for deeper intimacy and connection. Stop stuffing and start speaking the truth in love.”

https://www.mindful.org/7-qualities-mindfulness-trained-body-scan/

We may even gently make mental notes of the most prominent sensations that we notice. For example we may note the presence of “tingling,” “pulsing,” “throbbing,” “heat,” “cold,” “aching,” or “tightness.” We can notice these sensations without judging them as “bad” or trying to push them away.”