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You might remember the guided journey I bought from IOWL a few weeks ago. What has happened since then?

I was listening regularly to the journey, working very hard on the conflicts (there are many), when suddenly one day, I stopped listening. Overnight I changed from listening to the journey twice a day to not doing it at all.

When I asked myself why I stopped, the answer I found was, “Sometimes you need to stop exploring why you do things, and just take action to not do them anymore.” So I did.I started reminding myself that I experience conflicts, and that not overeating is better self-care than overeating.

Even though I went through a lot of stress at work, with the second set of layoffs since January, I handled it ok. A couple of times I even noticed I was eating something, but it didn’t taste like anything. I was sometimes able to talk myself down from stress eating, and think my way out of the pain. Sometimes I ate, and noticed that eating too much hurts. I was even able to choose to not hurt myself by overeating. Sometimes I did overeat, and did self-correction by waiting until I was really hungry to eat again.

Why do I hurt myself with overeating? It’s a habit I learned back in my childhood somehow. Whenever something goes wrong, I punish myself by blaming myself, then eating until it hurts.  There’s both comfort and pain. The pain from eating too much, and the comfort from the food-induced sedation, so I don’t have to think about the thing that went wrong.

Is the journey helping? Maybe. I started to do it today, but got distracted, so I stopped it. It could just be that the changes are just so subtle that I won’t notice it’s helped until I realize that I’m regularly behaving differently.

Once people with eating disorders start to get their heads on straight, they find out there’s lots of things they don’t know how to do. Rather than make decisions, they (read I) used to eat until the decision was no longer necessary.

Maggie Barnes (Julia Roberts) in Runaway Bride had the same problem.  She’d fall in “love” with anyone who fell in love with her, and life was great until the wedding day. Then she’d run.

People with eating disorders are often pretending that everything’s fine, until a crisis comes up. Then they run to food.

When Maggie realizes she must find a new way to face her crises, she works through it bit by bit. Not only does she discover her career path in hardware (lamp) design, she also looks at other areas in her life. The story shows the example of Maggie finding out how she likes her eggs.

What have I been discovering lately? Sewing. Pride in cleaning up my own space. How to decorate. How to let go of the past. How to stop mindless internet surfing. That I like my fingernails 1-2 millimeters long. And how I like my eggs cooked.

I like my eggs cooked to fit the recipe. Not to fit my man, not to fit a chef’s definition. That means I like hard-boiled eggs in tuna salad, sliced omelet in fried rice, poached in Eggs Benedict, fried over medium to go with creamed spinach and boiled potatoes, and omelet in a breakfast McMuffin-style sandwich.

When I eat eggs with toast, I prefer scrambled, soft but not runny, and made with about a teaspoon of water per egg.

Maggie would be proud.

Brownies were my binge food for toothache (yes, I get the irony).

Chips and crunchy snacks were the binges for work stress. When the salt had overpowered my mouth so much that it hurt, I would add dip or sweets to make me feel better.

Chocolate was my binge food for sadness.

All of those foods never made me feel better, they only left me feeling worse.

Look at it this way: The toothache or work stress comes. It’s painful, unpleasant, and I feel bad. So I go through my day, or through the dentist visit, and go home. Miserable, sad and in pain.

Then the hunger strikes. A raw, limitless hunger that is driven by anything BUT a physical need for food. Without knowing it, I would grab for the perfect binge food to “solve” the pain.

The binge food works like a drug. I got a small high, then needed more. Eventually my taste buds would be overwhelmed, which induced me to stuff it in faster. That was followed by an overwhelmingly full stomach, which did not always make me stop stuffing, but did make me feel worse.

The binge would end by me collapsing into the actual emotion that I should have expressed earlier, but with all the pain and discomfort added on top. Plus the weight gain.

How was that working for me? Pretty lousy, actually. I always ended up feeling worse.

Stage 1: the actual stress or pain. Painful and unpleasant

Stage 2: rather than deal with that emotion, I start eating. Feels good for about 15 minutes.

Stage 3: My taste buds get numb, and if it’s salty food, my tongue starts to hurt and my blood pressure spikes. That’s a whole new level of feeling bad.

Stage 4: The stuffing continues. My stomach starts to hurt, I’m getting a headache.

Stage 5: I collapse into a food “coma.” My senses are dulled, and I can’t think about anything. The TV prattles on, often I cry, then I doze off.

Stage 6: the hangover starts. My belly is starting to empty, my digestive tract is full, I get cramps as the crap works its way through my body. My vitals start to return to normal.

Stage 7: post-hangover, I feel exhausted, and mad at myself. Funny thing is, the problem is not even addressed.

Binges make me feel worse than not binging. I’m glad they’re gone.

The guided journey certainly seems to be helping me cope with everyday stresses. Formerly I would eat in response to stress, but often I now can recognize that stress comes from competing wishes, and I need to make my decision about those wishes, not eat to suppress and postpone the inevitable.

For my birthday, everything went right.

First, I gave myself a morning alone at the museum and library (took the day off work, too!). DH took the afternoon off, and we had a lovely gourmet lunch, followed by a movie. When my daughter got back into town that evening, we all met for dinner. A nice, polite, conversational dinner – rare for our teenager.

As to eating, I basically spread one giant birthday meal across the whole day.

For breakfast, I had cake. At lunch, I ate a steak and lobster bisque.  For dinner, it was a great salad. No panicking about food, not even thinking about it very much. Didn’t even want a snack during the long film.

Last night’s guided journey was about the conflict I lived out last evening. While reading and watching TV, I knew I wanted to snack. First I compensated at dinner by keeping it lighter. Later for my snacks, I ate some leftover guacamole and chips, and later enjoyed my dessert, a small portion of ice cream.

My conflict was that I didn’t crave healthy foods, and I ate more chips than I wanted to. The benefit I get from eating the junk food was the taste, the “party in my mouth.” After completing the journey, I now choose to believe that I feel better, happier, more comforted and whole when I eat healthy food. It’s a “party in my body” rather than a “party in my mouth.”

Today, I was able to choose healthy foods at breakfast. Now I visualize my body wrapped in a soft, protective, comforting cocoon whenever I eat healthy foods and eat them in moderation.

Today’s guided journey brought me strong feelings, even though I didn’t go very deeply into the relaxation state. First, as I relaxed, I experienced a strong emotion. This isn’t explicitly part of the guided journey, but I just experience it as I go down into a deep state of relaxation.

Today’s emotion was feelings of sadness about my upcoming birthday. Next Tuesday is my birthday, Feb. 3, and I’ll be 50 years old. No one has said anything to me about it, or asked me what I want to do. That’s really disappointed me, and I’m busy making plans to do something nice for myself. Last night though, my mother-in-law called, but didn’t want to talk to me, just DH, so I figure at least she has thought of it. No, that doesn’t mean there’s a surprise party brewing – that’s not at all like us.

It’s also not logical that DH hasn’t thought of it, but I’m annoyed that he hasn’t said anything, since HIS 50th was last year, and I went to a lot of trouble to think of a nice present (a ride in a glider) and take him out for a nice dinner. His parents even traveled 3 hours to be there. And yes, I explicitly asked him before his birthday what he wanted to do. His parents did the same.

Anyway, I often experience irrational thoughts right before my birthday. Must be something to do with feelings of not being loved because I was an unwanted baby.

My mother left my father while pregnant with me. He had been violent, so she certainly must have struggled emotionally throughout the pregnancy. Then, going home to a closet-sized room at her parents, with a 2 y.o. and me on the way, must have been just as hard.

Back to the guided journey. I experienced the emotions described above as I drifted down into the state of relaxation. Even cried a couple of tears, but that’s not unusual for the journey.

Once in the relaxed state, my right hand experienced a feeling of confidence around other people. Being thin and looking like everyone else, increases general acceptance. Therefore it’s natural I would feel more confident when I am thin. The symbol in my hand is a heart. Not a pretty Valentine’s heart, but an anatomically correct, soft, pulsating heart. Eww!

My left hand, the side that benefits from staying fat, found that the benefit is reassurance of being loved. Food is love, and a full stomach is proof of love.  The symbol in my hand was a stomach. A living friggin’ stomach! Double Ewww!

The integration part of the journey brought the heart and the stomach together, which suddenly migrated into a complete nervous system plus stomach. Ick. Ick. Ick.

The feeling I get from the integration is wholeness.  Kind of a cool thought. Feeling whole is better than artificial feelings of reassurance from a full stomach, or from shallow confidence around other people.

Every time I do this conflict resolution journey, it’s different. The conflicts I’m resolving are pretty much all around eating habits. In the journey itself, Renee talks about resolving the conflicting desires to stay fat versus releasing excess weight.

In this morning’s journey I learned that one way I benefit from staying fat is that the eating gives me a chance for rest and a feeling of relief. Funny thing is, I also get the exact same benefit from releasing the weight. After considering this during the journey, I realized that thinking I’m getting relief by staying fat part is a false belief. It actually causes more distress after the first few moments of eating.

At the end of the journey, the two symbols I’d created (a hard-boiled egg for the releasing fat and a hockey puck for the staying fat – what the heck do these things mean?) merged into the yin-yang symbol. Sort of a nice resolution to the conflict.

My immediate reaction? I just ate a larger breakfast than normal. It’s not too bad, just an extra piece of toast, but I compensated yesterday already a little bit at dinner.

Does the guided journey work? Dunno. Looks like it’s a long-term impact rather than an instantaneous miracle cure.