Emotions are unsettling. There are times when I would rather not feel emotions at all. The unpredictability causes more emotions. Why can’t I feel only peace and harmony at all times? (If you are into the Enneagram, can you guess what number I am?)
Doesn’t that sound amazing? No conflict. No sadness.
But in turn that also means: no connection and no excitement.
As a way I often handle my rollercoaster of feelings is through food.
It looks like this:
I am nervous, the fight or flight response has initiated a release of hormones which then causes reactions throughout my body physically. My heart rate will increase, the stomach tightens up, my brain is alert! As I attempted to slow this process, I reach for food to calm the nerves. Dopamine is released as the resting and digesting response begins.
This habit or way of coping I learned at a young age. I am of the type of people that learned as a child that achievements earn praise or reward. Wanting the end result, I pushed myself beyond that area of comfort. Knowing all of my insecurities, I still look back and think “Wow! I can’t believe I had the courage to try that.” I was a shy, quiet, and awkward girl. I still am. Yet, I signed up for honors classes without being overly intelligent. I ran for student council, at the same time feared trying out for sports because I might not make them team. If there was a new thing, I was up for it! But it was in the middle of all of these fun and fascinating things I learned that eating could take the edge off.
I realize I am speaking of this like it is an alcohol or drug addiction. Maybe you are rolling your eyes. But the point is it could have been. The same area of the brain responsible for taking the edge off when I eat because of my feelings is the same area that responds when alcohol or drugs. Its just the social stigma isn’t as harsh. And the heart behind it is the same as I reach for that bag of Tostitos Hint of Lime chips at 5:30pm because the kids are arguing and I am trying to finish up my work day. I am looking for an ease of the emotions. An escape from the chaos. A rescue from the not enoughness.
This habit had become unconscious but was brought to the forefront as I began living my full life with intention about 3 years ago. What started as a fitness challenge, became a axel change on how I was living my life. I began to deconstruct my life by asking “why do I do that?” And most of the reasons were: so I don’t have to feel. Which then led to the next question: “why don’t you want to feel?” Because it takes a lot of time, energy, and is hard.
The escape to numbness is so much easier in the short-sighted today or moment. But the cost is too much. The burying of a full life to escape feeling, does exactly that – it buries YOU. With every moment you turn to that temporary escape to “fix,” the easy dopamine rush reinforces the not enough feelings.
As I have worked through, I realized I don’t want any part of my life to be unconscious. Because I am here for it.
I was brought to it, I will be brought through it if I am only brave enough to face it.
I don’t do this perfectly. 5:30pm hits, the chips are literally right above my head as I work in the kitchen. I fail regularly, I am a work in progress. It took me longer that 3 years to create this escape habit, it is going to take time for me to fully work through it. Sometimes I reach for the Hint of Lime chips to escape and sometimes it is because I want to enjoy my favorite chip.
Maybe you are thinking, I don’t relate to this at all. Stay tuned, I am going to keep working through Mastering Food because God gave this world food not just for life but to enjoy, however, we have turned it into many other things. I am working on deconstructing food and sharing it with all of you.