Tame the Binge Monster

August 2, 2020 at 5:00 AM
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This past Friday ended a quarantine brought on by an exposure to a positive person—remember when being positive was a good thing? Staying in my house should also be a good thing, as it’s lovely, but this time I felt trapped. When I feel trapped or anxious, the binge monster knocks on my door. And when the Binge Monster comes to visit, all hell breaks loose.

It started with a lovely day where nothing HAD to be done; some would call this a vacation day. I call it an invitation to worry about not doing anything, because I determine my worth by how much I accomplish in a day. Yes, I know this is a whole other blog topic. As I looked around my peaceful house, with a whole day unfolding before me, I got that antsy feeling that cried for me to numb the anxiety. I tried binge watching a show that was terrific, but that binge didn’t calm the beast. I needed sugar and salt in mass quantities, and I needed them NOW!

I won’t describe the next 4 hours, because it’s too painful, but suffice it to say I ate my own weight in Dove chocolate and tortilla chips. I realize that me telling you this may lower your opinion of me as a life coach, but I’m doing it anyway, because my work depends upon me being authentic. If my pain can help one person find their way out of pain, then it’s totally worth it. AIso, I found a trick to quiet the monster.

I realized in the middle of the binge that I had a choice. I could shove the next little Dove into my mouth in a shameful manner, working my way toward numbness, or I could look the monster in the eye and say, “I choose to eat this piece of chocolate, and you have no control over me.” The minute I put myself in the driver’s seat, the monster loosened his grip. Then I kicked it up a notch and showed myself compassion by grabbing my journal to write all the ways that I deserved better than numbing myself with food and Netflix. In a very short time, I returned to my version of normal.

When the monster knocked the following day, I noticed the desire to numb and got on my bike instead. I know in my bones that sweating makes everything better, so I bribed the monster with a promise for as much chocolate as I wanted after 10 minutes of sweat. Once I started to sweat, it felt so good I rode for 35 minutes, and the desire to eat faded away. And the next day, I tamed the monster with an embroidery project, because making something with my hands makes me happy. When I’m aware of my gifts, when I can see the beauty around me, the binge monster can’t take me hostage.

I can’t tame the beast with will power, avoidance or logic, I can only tame it with awareness, distraction and compassion. This in no way minimizes addiction, but I don't have an addiction. I do have a stress habit borne from years of trying to numb my anxiety in response to feeling threatened. If you have a version of the same habit, try the awareness/distraction/compassion technique, and let me know what works for you, and what doesn’t, by sending a note to terrif@findyourpride.org