I didn’t realize I missed smoking cigarettes until I found myself waiting for my husband to leave for work this afternoon. I had a bag of food hiding in the back of the Yukon with taboo things like Reese’s Pieces and Cheeze-Its for me to bury my feelings with once the coast was clear.

But it’s not completely. Nick Jr. is on and I can say with absolute confidence that the coast is definitely preoccupied. At least I hope she is.

I’m 34 going on the fifteen-year-old in my head. I may call myself a recovered bulimic and, more amazingly, may actually believe it more often than not, but the truth is I’m more of a non-practicing bulimic than anything else. That, my friends, pretty much leaves me with nothing else to describe myself as but a binge eater.

Or a binge eater who only thinks about throwing up.

No, wait. I’d be more accurate if I called myself a Binge Eater who Obsessively Works Out, Avoids All Processed Foods and Sugars, and Puts on a Great Show for the Public for Weeks On End Before Secretly Falling Apart Inside of my Head and Diving Head First into a Pool of Self-Loathing and Chocolate in a Misguided Attempt to Make Myself Feel Better….Who Only Thinks About Throwing Up.


That’s exactly it.

Funny how I don’t see that listed as a condition in any medical journals. Also? It would probably look awesome on a T-shirt.

I was fine until I stepped on the scale yesterday at the doctor’s office. I was there to discuss my need for a higher dose of anti-depressants and what I thought was just a bad habit but is actually an OCD condition called dermatillomania because normal is the new boring, and of course I had to step on the scale before it was time to get down to business. I won’t say what the number was because Ill just trigger myself again, but I will tell you that after giving up (until today, that is) all grains, all forms of sugar including maple syrup and honey, all gluten, soy, and dairy (the last one is allergy-related) I’m down one pound and — even more depressingly — am just nine under what I was the day I gave birth 4.5 years ago.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should be smaller and happier and thinner and more confident and smaller. And happier. I’ve been working out (until a few weeks ago) daily, eating only fresh fruits and vegetables and quality meats and juicing so much spinach I may need to get myself a girlfriend named Olive. Instead of listening to the countless media messages that tell me I should be disappearing before my very eyes, my body is instead working hard to prove it is an exception to the rule. There are doctors and unexplained weight gain and and hair loss and tests for various autoimmune diseases and lifestyle changes (that don’t normally include Cheeze-Its) and more waiting and wondering and woe is me.

Sometimes I’m able to convince myself that it’s all about health and not the number on the scale and that health is more important than weight and that I need to concentrate on how good I feel and not how I look when I get off of the elliptical.

And then I see the number that isn’t supposed to matter and am reminded that it does indeed when it’s not moving in the direction in which I had hoped. It matters much more than it should.

Had I not quit smoking, I’d have lit up and celebrated the fact that I wasn’t binging. I would have not distracted my daughter with television so that I could eat the feelings I am not able to process until the new medication takes my brain to a happy(er) place. I would not be just thinking about throwing up.

Instead, I’d be out in the backyard on the patio, the sounds of Nick Jr. carrying through the glass door, as I smoked away my anxieties and smiled smugly about being stronger than my own mind.

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  29 Responses to “Self-Loathing and Chocolate”

  1. I’m right there with you. I’m a huge binger. I want until I’m alone to sneak foods that are full of preservative-goodness. I binge when I’m emotionally stressed or feeling out of control. I never throw up. Just eat and justify what I eat and eat more. Then feel guilty. Promise to start anew tomorrow. Wake up the next day and will have totally forgotten about what happened the night before.
    wendy recently posted..Army of Women | New Study LaunchMy Profile

  2. I think I have read this post about 5 times – and each time it resonates with me so much more… but I can’t ever seem to get the right words out. I wonder now if I have that issue as well – as I’m always always always picking at my lips or my fingers/thumb.

    All that to say is that you are not alone. I am here for you – and am so thankful to have you as a friend and supporter.
    Julie @DutchBeingMe recently posted..#PinterestChallenge: Week 23…My Profile

  3. Hey there, love this post. I definitely relate to the self loathing. Just curious though, have you been tested for hypothyroidism? It could explain the weight and hair loss.

  4. I related to this so much more than I wish I had. It’s such a constant struggle, this self loathing thing. You are the farthest thing from alone.

  5. First off: I. LOVE. YOU. And you totally know it’s true because I was with you when you had to step on that scale.

    Second: you don’t get possession of your scale back until you are ready to handle it.

    Third: Dude! You had Reeces Pieces and you didn’t SHARE!!!

    For what it’s worth, STOP looking at yourself through your eyes. Let someone else be your mirror. Like me. And I think you’re beautiful and awesome and I’m glad you’re fucked up because if you weren’t, we wouldn’t be best friends.

    Or you could just rest easy knowing that the old perv at the hospital stared at your ass the longest and most lecherous.
    H.C. Palmquist recently posted..Luminous Giveaway WinnerMy Profile

  6. I had a big lovely comment written, but after the blog died ten times, I gave up.

    You’re awesome, and I love ya. ;)

    That do?


  7. Oh hugs! I don’t know if you’ll ever be happy w the scale, but one day you’ll be totally happy with yourself. Just keep swimming (Dori fr. Finding Nemo)
    Janice – The Fitness Cheerleader recently posted..The Single Most Important Thing You Can Do for Your HealthMy Profile

  8. Pauline,
    I know this pain and shame and the eternal recovery.I am here, if you need to talk. Stay strong.no self-loathing.The self-loathing is the absolute worst. Hugs
    TruthfulMommy recently posted..In Lieu of Throat Punch Thursday ~ Just BreatheMy Profile

  9. Yeah, I know all of this so, so well. I have trichotillomania instead of dermatillomania, but otherwise? Yeah. I hope the shame is a little less because of telling the story. Shame is a hateful bastard. I wish I could erase it for all of us!

  10. Seriously AMAZING post from @aspiringmama http://t.co/1BYibP6s #mamavation

  11. I love living in Texas. I do. But right now in this very moment I find myself wishing I lived closer to you… Because IF I lived closer to you, I would be in my car headed to see you without warning armed with love and hugs that just can not be adequately described in words.

    Your strength and honesty and bravery touch me to the core of my being. I can relate on more levels than you may know but this is not about me. It’s about you so – for what it’s worth- I adore you. I’m sending you all the peace and love that the inter-webs can carry.

    And in case you are reading this comment and thinking- “ok, I get that I was honest… But strong? Brave? Not feeling it” KNOW THIS you are. And I believe it. And I believe in you…even when you don’t see it. Because its there. Always.

    • Shelley, you are one of the sweetest people I know online and I so appreciate your friendship and belief in me. Thank you for being there.

  12. Wow. You are so strong and impress me with your courage every time I speak with you or read your posts. I know where you are and I’ve been there. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t try to fit into anyone else’s description of who you should be. But, with that said, I totally understand the depression and desire to be thinner. Everywhere we look thin=happy. And wouldn’t we be happier if we were thinner? And if we could just find that magic potion for losing the weight, everything else would fall into place, right? And even though we know that’s not true, it is still something we strive for.

    How wonderful that you have so many friends and you’ve created such a wonderful network through your blog, Twitter, and FB for people to talk and share. I’m so glad to know you!

  13. What a beautifully brave and honest post.

    I’m proud to know you, Pauline.




  14. There’s no way for me to appropriately respond to this epic piece of writing, so I’m just going to say that this is my first time to your blog and I WILL be back. It’s seriously inspiring to see someone so open about their struggle and makes me feel so much less crazy for obsessing over food and body image the way I do. xoxo

  15. this was an awesome piece of writing. thank you so much for being so honest about your internal dialogue. I can relate to the eating my feelings and the self loathing and the dermatillomania in particular. You were so brave to publish this, and Im sending you thoughts of comfort and peace. Peace is so damn hard to find with the anxiety. *HUG*

  16. Hi mama. You are beyond words. There aren’t enough for me to describe how wonderful and brave you are for sharing your story. Not many people can do this so I commend you for doing so. :) Much love; you’re a warrior. Never forget that. Love you.

  17. OK, this is going to sound totally spammy, like that girl who sells scented candles and if you complain about anything on twitter – from being bored to losing a husband – she tweets to you that scented candles are the answer until you block her. I swear it’s not that. Just because I’m on a diet kick I’m not running around telling everybody “You have to try my diet! It’s the answer to all your problems!” I mean, I’ll yell that out to twitter frequently, but I’m not targeting individual people with it.

    Except you, because after reading your post I feel like I could’ve gone down the same path as you SO easily. I come from a family of women who are all either anorexic, or bulimic, or recovering. And my dad has OCD. I avoided it all by just giving in and getting fat.

    I’ve tried many diets over the years and have never been able to stick with one long-term. The only thing that has ever worked for me is counting calories, even though I detest doing it (it’s so constant!). But even that was more helpful for maintaining my weight, not losing. Then about six weeks ago I hit on something that combined calorie counting with eating super-low carb twice a week. I had never ever tried anything low carb because I’m a complete carboholic, but I figured I could do anything two days a week. The other five I’m my normal carbo-loading self.

    I go into more detail in a post – let me know if you want the link. But basically the plan is this:
    2 days a week I eat 700 calories and 60 grams of carbs.
    4 days a week I eat 1,400 calories and however many carbs I please.
    1 day a week I eat anything and everything – no calorie counting, no limits.

    I’ve lost almost 14 pounds in six weeks, but what’s more important is that I’m still going strong. I haven’t gotten sick of it like I get sick of everything else. And I haven’t given up Cheez-Its, or chocolate, or pasta, or fresh bread, or anything else that makes my mouth water. At worst I have to delay it for a day to get past those super low-carb super low-cal days, and yes, often I have to eat less of it than I normally would like. But trust me, after eating 700 calories, a 1,400 calorie day seems easy. And that break once a week from giving a shit at all what I put in my mouth really keeps me going. When I give up the foods I like, I’m miserable. I’ve actually been pleasant and normal on this diet.

    I’m not a doctor, or a nutritionist, or really anyone smart at all. But I based what I’m doing on a study, so somebody’s science is behind it. And so far I’ve proved that you can eat brownies and pasta and pizza and still lose weight. And not diet brownies and wheat pasta and low-cal pizza (OK, I admit, I have some low-cal pizza in my freezer – there are a couple that I love). The real stuff.

    Why am I invading your comments section with this long-ass comment? Because I understand and feel bad and want to help. Nothing behind it, not selling anything, not promoting anything other than my little diet plan.

  18. Doesn’t it feel good to be out in the open?

    I lived for much too long with what I thought was shameful and tried to pretend everything was OK.

    When I became public about my depression, I lost 3 friends.

    It hurt.

    I can’t say so what.

    But Ic an say I am so much happier no longer carrying a secret that isn’t even my fault. I am free to be open about who I am: and that has done more for me than any amount of prescription or talk therapy.

    And that is not an understatement.

  19. Sending you such love.

    You’re stronger than you could imagine. And I have dermatillamania as well. You’re not alone.

  20. It’s hard to give this its due response. And really, maybe most of the things I find myself struggling to put into words, aren’t the most honest response anyway. What is?

    I pluck the hairs one by one from my legs. That’s my self-restrained control mechanism, my way of telling myself, “Look!….you’re now just slightly less imperfect.”

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