(wrote this yesterday while traveling, and the answer to the title is YES)
I’m on the first leg of my trip. I just landed in the airport of the city where my birth mother lives. (back story: I was adopted as a baby, found her when I was in college, and have had a rollercoaster relationship with her for the past 28 years) It used to be when I stopped in her city for a layover, she would come to the airport, if only for an hour, and would bring me goodies to eat. Talk about food associations! She knew I loved cheese and once brought me an adorable little cheese basket with all sorts of fancy cheese and crackers. Once, she came with my (half) brother and his newborn baby. I have so many associations of very intense, brief meetings in this building; ones that had my adrenaline pouring through my body and leaving me limp on the next flight. I have two hours to lay over here this afternoon. As soon as I stepped into the gate area, I was hit with a rush of emotion and memory. And of course I immediately wanted to eat. And drink (alcohol). I rarely drink and when I do drink, it’s very little, so you know this has to be an extreme situation. I wandered into one restaurant and glanced at the menu briefly. It looked too dangerous so I left. I wouldn’t be able to trust myself to order a salad or something reasonable.
I’m sitting in an isolated little area with some chairs, in between the moving walkways. I have an apple and a mandarin orange in my bag, plus a container of yogurt that smells like it might have exploded in the flight. I’ll eat the orange and see if I feel better. It does help to write it. To write it, write it instead of eating it. This is one of the biggest triggers I have, my relationship with this woman. Breathe. Breathe. Look for the orange.
Aw crap, my yogurt broke. My apple and orange are covered in it. I have to go to the restroom and rinse them off. I wish I had my Beck book with me. I have it but it’s in my checked suitcase. OK, what would she say? You’re not going to die from these emotions. Just feel it. I feel like I am five years old and I am struggling to understand why my mama does not love me. Just got a text message from my daughter. She is holding me up. I can get through this without eating. I have to go wash off my fruit because I really AM hungry.
Epilogue: I ate my orange and some cheese. I talked (texted) with my daughter. She brought me back from the edge. I cried. I wrote. I paced around. And GUESS WHAT? The emotions passed. They really did. And I did not, for once in my life, turn to food for solace.
Ten gold stars, baby.
February 12, 2009 at 7:18 pm
I think you deserve 100 Gold Stars…are you kidding! You’re story leaves me a little breathless. I too was adopted as a baby but never had the courage to do an extensive search for any birth relatives. I definately have many emotions tied to food! I’m soooo glad you have your daughter, what a treat to have that relationship growing and blossoming on this journey of health your both taking together! You’re inspirational to me! Keep up the fantastic work! Most of the work is not diet and exercise….it’s learning new habits and dealing with old triggers in a new way so BRAVO!
February 13, 2009 at 1:17 pm
Someday, thank you so much for your comment. The search-and-reunion journey has been quite a big one, but I always felt like the truth was better than being in the dark, always having questions.
Lesley, I appreciate your encouragement. We CAN do this.
February 13, 2009 at 3:51 am
Yeah – soooo difficult to let yourself feel the emotion even if you think it will be painful. Well done for going through the full Beck range of techniques and letting them work for you!! I hope that next time it is a little easier,
I am really finding the Beck armoury to be useful. In times of mild temptation/stress, just the thought of that pink cover can stop me in my tracks. Obviously, at other times I have to pull out all the stops as you have done in your airport trial.
A big pat on the back to you and thanks for sharing a graphic illustration of how well it can work.
February 13, 2009 at 1:18 pm
Food is an emotional crutch that many of us turn to, whether happy or sad!
Kudos for you for writing about it instead of getting a burger and a beer!
And that was nice of your daughter to support you – hugs!
March 9, 2009 at 3:40 pm
Nice work! I had a few bouts of emotional eating last week, and I’ve gotta find a way to deal with it. Once I tweeted through the stress, and that helped…kept my mind and hands busy!
Thanks for the reminder.
March 9, 2009 at 3:50 pm
Sandwiched, I think Tweeting is a GREAT way to have an instant stress-reliever. It’s also a way of reaching out, finding community.