Dead Weight puts it all out there, one installment at a time. Personal essays on one woman’s emotional baggage and how it impacts just about everything.
Part 2: Too much food.
We’re talking dead weight— and how to “deal” when there’s just TOO MUCH. In “Part 1: Too much stuff.” we discussed the terrible price you pay when the things own you (and not the other way around). This installment is all about too much food — and our lifelong love affair. #loveyoumeanit
From my very first moment on earth, I have been thinking — all day every day — about food.
My mom often spins a yarn of toddler thievery that involves an elusive 2-year old Rebecca and her coveted stick of butter. That pretty much sums it up right there.
My twenties are basically a blur, but I distinctly remember an incident from my hometown of Harrisburg, PA, in which I argued ferociously with my friends regarding the loss of my Snickers bar. Colonel Mustard in the backyard with the sticky fingers! (I spy with my little eye A SCOUNDREL withholding caramel and salted peanuts.) PLOT TWIST: it was in my pocket the whole time. = When day drinking goes horribly, terribly awry.
Recently I’ve started living in fear that someone will secretly film me throwing down at Mason Dixie Biscuit Company, Maketto, or Ted’s Bulletin. They’ll put me on Facebook Live, housing some mall sushi with my daughter. I’ll be the next GIF that has 786k people commenting about how I’m my own worst enemy. And they’d be right.
Like any good addict, I’ve got a routine down pat.
I’ve mastered the art of acting nonchalant about my obsession with food. Appetizers? Oh sure, I’m down if you are. Now that you mention it, let’s order 3 or 4 of them and also can I taste your entree? #casual
I can find a million ways to justify my pointed interest in all things that taste good. I’m a foodie; I am a cook; I am a restuarant person; I am a localist; I am a mom.
I pop food in my mouth faster than a three-handed pickpocket on meth: tasting while cooking, extra spoonfuls at clean-up, the leftovers off my kid’s plate. I walk through Union Market like an adult version of duck-duck-goose. Savory…Savory…Savory…Sweet!
I’m currently on one hell of a bender. The worst in recent memory.
Worse than the time I quit my day job without having something lined up. Worse than getting through finals at George Washington University and adding in full-time waitressing (because, you know, #adulting).
Worse than bouncing the rent check, again. Worse than loving a man who doesn’t love you back. Worse than visiting your stroked-out, alcoholic stepfather in the hospital and realizing you still hate his guts. Worse than buying an overpriced showstopper of a house you can’t afford and falling behind — way behind — on your mortgage. Worse than hearing your dementia-riddled dad ask for water in baby talk. Worse than watching your kid suffer an endless barrage of eye-rolling pushback because of her ADHD. Worse than pretending that it was all ok.
Fat people like me can’t have dirty little secrets. We wear our demons on the outside. In every XXXL item of apparel, every stealthily crumbled receipt from Chick-Fil-A, every seat belt extender.
I know there are some badass body-positive folks out there who are absolutely in love with their thickness; good on ya, I just ain’t one of them.
I have to eat a pint of ice cream just to write this down.
Oh lawd! C’mon Salted Caramel, do your thing. Flood my brain with endorphins and coat my tastebuds with the rich viscosity that only comes from cream, eggs, and refined sugar. Get me through this thing. Help me spill these secrets OUT LOUD. To my friends, associates, colleagues. To my former bosses, old neighbors, and potential clients. To the interwebz.
Because even though you can take one look at me and just know that I have an unhealthy relationship with food, neither one of us could say why. There’s no uber-crappy childhood at which to point the finger. While my marriage isn’t perfect, it sits heads and shoulders above most I’ve seen over my lifetime. I still look forward to him dragging his ass home after 14 hours of restaurant work, because we can shoot the shit and crack each other up. “Everybody has their issues,” he says, and nowhere is that more relevant than in our family dynamic.
We’re gonna fuck up, let’s just try to keep it to a minimum. #GunterGreen
I don’t have underlying mental health issues, I don’t suffer from depression. I’m strong-like-a-bull and have had many successful forays into fitness: canoeing the Everglades, cycling from Raleigh to DC for charity, crushing it on the bench press. I’ve been a runner, looping the Washington monument and boomeranging back to Eastern Market at least three times a week. I don’t lack in willpower, tenacity, or downright grit.
But, for some reason I can’t quite identify, I willingly go back — again and again — to the bosom of Gastronomie and her siren song. She lulls me into blissful contentment with the world and all that is around me. I crave her this very minute.
I eat when I am hungry; when I am bored; when I need a break. I eat when I need some “me” time or if I need to get some work done.
I am eating right now.
I am acutely aware of the severity of this bender, and how long I’ve been on it. I pontificate on its intensity and fickleness over dippy eggs and toast. I marvel over its staying power while tucking into a cheeseburger and french fries. I pray for grace with each bite of seasonal fruit pie.
I look down at my belly, or notice how quickly I am out of breath on the 10min walk to the swimming beach, or frown in frustration over the way my clothes fit (or don’t fit, as the case may be) and I know that this — this scenario right here — it’s just as bad as my basement.
With every bite, I insulate myself until I am as cluttered and as chaotic as the house I just let go.
Stressful times drive me to fucked up places, habit keeps me there.
We are all imperfect beings. Everybody’s got their somethin’, well-oiled ways to ease the sting of life’s cuts and bruises. But when it stops serving as a band-aid and becomes a way of life, well, then, you’ve got a toxic relationship on your hands.
And recognizing it is only the beginning. Saying it out loud — sharing your truth outside the safe space of your relationship or sisterhood — I honestly don’t know how this will change the paradigm, if at all. But it feels like a step in the right direction.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Dead Weight, where I share my experiences with absentee fathers (and the people who love them.)
Feed the monster or starve it out? Has gluttony ever taken a toll on your soul? How do you keep your secret toxic behaviors from taking over your life? #askingforafriend
Share your trials and triumphs @rebeccagunter_ or in the comments below.
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