I went to see a therapist for a while to try to get a handle on emotional eating. As part of the process, she had me write down everything I was eating for a week, how hungry I was on a scale of 1 to 10, and how I was feeling emotionally when I ate. As she read over my results the following week, she shook her head and said “You never list your hunger as anything over a five, even though I see on most days you don’t eat anything until around one or two in the afternoon. I’d imagine you’re pretty hungry by then, aren’t you?”
“Sure!” I said “My stomach is growling and I feel a little light-headed by the time I eat, but I’m just so busy at work it’s hard to take the time.”
“Why’d you mark it down as a 5 then, if you were actually light-headed? That’d be a 10 wouldn’t it?”
I laughed. Ten?!? Visions of bloated bellies and schmaltzy music and flies landing on the lashes of cow-eyed children who know way too much about suffering way too young, and are wondering why these do-good douchebags are pointing cameras at them instead of giving them a goddamn sandwich, some dignity and a pair of shoes floated through my head. “If I’m going to mark down TEN, I had best be inches from death. I am never close to starving. I have never in my entire life been close to starving. It’s pushing it to say five when I know I can grab something and put it in my mouth whenever I want to.”
My therapist looked a bit taken aback, and then softened. I think I gave her a little insight there into my inner workings and over-active guilt complex. But this is the way I think when I remember to think about more than myself. And this is the way I’ve been thinking all week — well, intermittently.
I spent the day at home today. The remnants of a chest cold and the chance to work at home equated to an easier no-spend day than yesterday. Still, there were challenges. But the challenges were parodies of themselves, really. I couldn’t have exactly what I wanted, exactly when I wanted it, and it frustrated me. And then it frustrated me that it frustrated me. The realization of how spoiled I am on a daily basis has really set in.
The documentary I watched last week on the “Lost Boys” of Sudan is really sticking with me. These men and boys walked for FIVE YEARS, only to end up at refugee camps that may or may not have water and food on a daily basis. In Darfur, getting water for your family means possibly getting kidnapped, killed or raped. And I am upset because I can’t spend 25 cents to buy AIR to fill up my low tires. Or because I’m addicted to “True Blood” and I can’t pay the $9.99 to stream it on megavideo without interruption, which means I have to wait 54 minutes between episodes. This is enough to frustrate me?
I don’t want to be shameful about who I am in the world, because we’re born into what we’re born into, and rather than having guilt for having what we have, the best thing to do is to use what we have to help others. But the realizations about how much I take for granted are coming hard and fast. I have to admit, I’m a little angry — I don’t know if it’s with myself, or with the world. And I don’t believe that anger is going to be the most productive emotion here. Because, truthfully, we’re all doing the best we can and it’s HARD to wake up to ourselves in this way. Once we’re aware, we have to consciously make the choice to change, or to ignore it. So not being aware is a bit of self-protection, which is understandable.
I have a lot to think about.