Monday, October 8, 2012


Over the past couple of years, I've learned that I actually do have some specific deficits that cause me problems. One of the worst and most persistent is a lack of appetite.  I've recently written a piece on my relationship with violence (I'll be reading it at the Litquake Litcrawl next week in San Francisco. Please come!), and it brought home to me my disconnection from my body.

Lately my eating habits have been thrown off, and I started drinking again. Not getting shitfaced, but solitary drinking is bad, period. And I'd been doing so well, for so long.

I looked at it, and realized I've been delaying eating until I'm uncomfortable, then drinking to get an appetite. Keep in mind that my back pain plays into this -- if I followed doctors orders, I'd be a Vicodin addict. But this is the behavior that triggered the vomiting that eventually caused my ulcer a couple of years back, and I'm doing it again.

And it's exactly what my mom would have done.

Mom's been on my mind. The anniversary of her death was last week. When we found out she was going, it was because her neighbor called me and told me someone needed to come put my mother in the hospital. When we found her, she weighed less than eighty pounds.

She had piles of Gourmet magazines all over the house, and two outbuildings full of shelves full of cookbooks.

My mother hated eating, threw up more than anyone I've ever known, never weighed more than a hundred pounds unless she was pregnant. And I'm just like her in a lot of ways.

The missus recently pointed out to me that as an adult, unless I have a woman taking care of me, my weight drifts down to about a hundred and forty-five pounds. For someone my height, that's painfully, visibly underweight. Since my injury, my weight went from a low of one-forty-five to a high of two-fifty-five. Right now, I'm going about two-oh-five, but these days I dip below two hundred during times of stress.

Since my ulcer, I've been eating a lot of processed food. It costs a lot, and it can't possibly be good for me, but the convenience has meant the difference between me eating, and me not eating.

What threw me off? Stress, and the missus has started making herself salads for lunch instead of having me make her vegetables. As a result, I'm no longer tied to a specific lunch time, and she's in the kitchen when I'd be cooking and it just throws everything off. Once I started skipping lunches, I started skipping breakfast as well, which means that I couldn't be bothered to open a bottle of the Ensure I keep at my workstation.

It's nine in the morning, I've been up since seven, my stomach is twitchy. I haven't peed and I haven't had my Ensure. This is exactly what I'm talking about. I'll be back in a moment.

Leak taken, and a strawberry Ensure has been cracked. (Strawberry Ensure has a flavor best described as 'uncanny,' and I won't be having more once this is gone.) But this is the kind of thing I face. If I hadn't been writing on the subject now, I would have blandly sat here until I was in danger of peeing my pants. That is the level of motivation I require. And if the result of not going to the bathroom was injury rather than embarrassment? I'd only pee when things became unbearable.

That is pathological.

I was talking to my counselor about this. One of the main focuses of my therapy has been improving my self-esteem, and I had decided that I was ready to start working toward loving myself, "Look, it's really hard to take care of a human being," I said. "You just can't do the job unless you love the person you're taking care of. It's an indispensable motivation."

When I engage in self-destructive behavior, it hurts the people around me in a much more direct fashion than I'd imagined. Now that I'm starting to take this in, I find my concern for others mandates concern for myself.

So I need to find a way to crack this nut. I need to be able to feed myself, and I especially need to be able to feed myself when I travel.

Thankfully, I am in a better position to hack this than I was a year ago. I've learned a few tricks.

Here's one. I need some sense of outside contact in order to make this change, so I'm going to keep a food diary on the blog. So:


A vanilla Orgain nutritional drink.
A bottle of strawberry soda.
A bowl of beans with a couple of slices of bread.

That looks fucking awful, doesn't it? No wonder I feel shitty. Hopefully, today will be better.

The goal? Three small meals and three snacks a day and no eating three hours before bed is recommended for ulcers. Given my sleeping schedule, I'll cheat a little on that last one. No more processed crap, no more sodas. Just eat like a fucking grownup for the first time in my life.

One day at a time, isn't that what they say?

No comments: