Sometimes when I am sad I squirt barbecue sauce straight into my mouth. I don’t know what I expect this to achieve but it seems to be my default position. Barbecue sauce and the boiler cupboard. One or the other. Or heck, if things are really bad then I might even simultaneously seal myself in the boiler cupboard and feverishly consume barbecue sauce in the darkness. Multitasking at its finest.
When I think about it I am not sure I even like barbecue sauce.
But I don’t think about that at the time.
I’m pretty sure not thinking is exactly the point.
A long, long time ago in the days where I believed a Penguin was just a chocolate biscuit, 7 year old me discovered an ability which does not appear to have left me to this day. The ability to discreetly ingest an abnormally large amount of food and dispose of the wrappers down the side of the sofa or push them firmly into the soil of an unsuspecting flower pot.
Not that I do that these days. Abnormally large amount of food; yes. Wrappers buried beneath my cactus; no. And this isn’t just because I don’t own a cactus.
What I mean is that one thing stays the same. The secrecy. The shame. The “I appear to have eaten all of the edible items in my house” moment.
The word ‘binge’ is tinged with the taste of guilt. It is the sort of word which I find hard not to whisper. The sort of word that brings with it loud and difficult questions.
Where has all the cheese gone? Don’t you realise I have other children to feed? Why is there a collection of Penguin wrappers gathered under my chrysanthemum?
I shy away from the years I have spent eating away the emotions I just can’t deal with. I hide them out of sight.
Over the last 10 years I have fitted myself neatly into more of the ‘categories’ of weight and eating disorder diagnoses than I care to admit. I have moved between them. Backwards and forwards. Over and over.
Binge eating. That’s where I rest now. A potent and private world of self-disgust and hatred. Feelings which I felt I could ‘solve’ if only I could stop. I stopped. I starved myself instead. It didn’t go.
After years of different eating disorders, different labels and different words; each attempting to describe the chain which links food and emotion in my mind, I have decided that that they aren’t so different after all. You feed yourself too little- you aren’t looking after yourself. You feed yourself too much- you aren’t looking after yourself. So why do we beat ourselves up? If you ask me regularly and silently filling yourself up with food to the point that your stomach feels like it’s going to burst, to the point that you want to cry or to the point that you don’t even taste the food you are eating; that isn’t something to give yourself a hard time over.
Each time when I find myself in the boiler cupboard with only a newly empty bottle of barbecue sauce for company, there is very little else to do other than say out loud “default position” and have a laugh at myself. I stand up brush myself down and wander into the bathroom and run myself a warm bath. Sometimes I binge. That’s OK. It has to be because I’m not ready to stop. Beating myself up more isn’t going to help. I’ve done that enough already….
After all, I’m not even sure I like barbecue sauce.