"What’s Eating You?" Becomes the Important Question




The other night I committed myself to do some deeper work on an issue that had been present in my consciousness for quite some time. I had conveniently tried to uproot it and flick it off like a bug on my shirt. But, it was to no avail, and rightfully so. It was bugging me — it was not a bug.

So, there I was, sitting on the couch, the computer on my lap, thoughts swirling in my head, trying to decide on a starting point. I could sense the topic was really pressing on me. I began to feel uncomfortable inside, uneasy with the flow of info starting to make its way to the parts of my brain that would signal me to type. Suddenly, I found myself standing in front of the refrigerator, both freezer and fridge door wide open. I had no memory of opening the child-safety gate that led into the foyer, the trip down the stairs, through the living room, into the dining room, or even into the kitchen. Yet there I was, scanning every shelf, every box, bottle, and bin, seeking my target like an F-16 fighter pilot looking for “tone.” Hmm. Would it be a tureen of assorted cereals or a frozen pizza? The cereal would be faster and provide instant gratification. The pizza, slightly more prep time, but the endorphins from the bread, cheese, and sauce …

And then, before I could make a decision, my right hand somehow found the fridge light switch and, with a quick push extinguished the light.

I took a deep breath. I found myself back in my body. My thought process was no longer moving at warp speed. The cereal and pizza were no longer whispering my name. It was clear I was not hungry. I felt grateful that I had returned to present-day reality before the damage had been done. So, exactly what had happened?

I had fallen prey to what I refer to as “distraction and stuffing.” I did not really feel like looking at what may have been “up” for me, and so I opted to distract myself with food and then stuff down, with Shredded Spoonfuls, whatever feelings were attempting to escape. Yes, The Relationship Coach is indeed human. And yes, I do have some tools that I work with that can help me, and you, move past these moments with greater frequency and then eventually leave them behind for good.

Let’s go back to the first point of my discomfort. I was starting to feel uncomfortable inside, thoughts swirling through my head. These are generally the first signs of slipping into “overwhelm and disconnect.” If you can be aware of the signs as they are coming on, repeat to yourself what you are experiencing; then get up and move around as a way to shake the thoughts. If you are in motion when this process starts, do the exact opposite. Take a seat, acknowledge the experience and inhale and exhale slowly until you feel yourself returning. You may need to breathe in and out several times to experience the return to calm.

The key here is first returning to present-moment reality. I did not heed the first warning signs; yet, I was somehow able to shut the refrigerator light as a shock to my system before I crossed the line.

Examining our relationship to food is not about blame or shame

The second point is to examine what is providing you with so much discomfort. Sometimes in the need to be creative, you might not be feeling it, so you move into judgment, doubting yourself and your ability. In other instances, the subject matter starts to stir feelings you have been trying to avoid. Both scenarios and possibly others require you to trace the feelings and judgments to a point of origin. Usually, this is found within your early family dynamics with mom and dad or whoever raised you. Remember — we are not looking for blame, and yet discovering the source of your anxiety takes you to the final steps.

Forgive those who have provided you with misinformation. More than likely they did not begin each day thinking and plotting how they could launch you into therapy 20 years down the line. Just as you have been influenced by your past, so have they. You are not excusing bad behavior; you are simply forgiving it so you can be free. Big difference.

Then make sure to forgive yourself, and as you begin to shift the relationship you have with your point-of-origin person (living or dead) and then yourself, watch how your relationship to your former drug of choice shifts. You may revisit the scene of the crime from time to time (case in point, me), and it doesn’t have to be anything more than a slip.