Eating through stress doesn’t make the stress go away. Does this surprise some of you faithful readers? You're thinking, "But Dan, when I inhale six dozen donuts through a straw, all of my problems just magically disappear! What's your malfunction?!"
Yes, well. My malfunction is that right now what I really want to do is eat a bag of oil-free, baked tortilla chips dipped in oil-free, sugar-free salsa. Both of those items are on my official list of approved foods that are not evil. And I know that snorting them will magically erase the fact that life cost me an extra $580.83 (car repair, huge electric bill) today, that my daughter is overwhelmed with school and that it effects me deeply on an emotional level, and that I may not actually have options in every little nook and cranny of the English muffin that is life.
Won't binge eating magically erase all that? "No!" you say. "Dammit!" I reply.
This morning I took my car in for an oil change. The little sticker in the upper-left corner of my windshield said I was about 7,000 miles late for this automotive colonic, which means it’s been around 10,000 miles since my last oil change. The car manufacturers say you should change your oil every 3,000 miles, but many mechanics say you can really do it at around 6,000 miles. I figured, hey, they’re all in bed with the oil companies, so screw ‘em, I’m doing it at 10,000 miles. And I’m lazy and neglected to make time for the oil change. There, for those of you who weren’t paying attention, was a MOMENT OF SELF-REFLECTIVE HONESTY! Six points.
Anyway, returning to our amazingly interesting story of Honda Accords and oil changes, I took my car to Uncle Mike (not my uncle, but the uncle of close friend Bucho) who fixes my cars. As they say at any decent mechanic’s school, in for an oil change, out for a brake job. And that is not to say that Uncle Mike is trying to rip me off, Heaven forfend. Such a statement would be a heinous falsehood, not to mention absurdly foolish given how heavily armed Bucho is, but I digress from the main point, which is that what was supposed to be a $40 day if you include an oil change, became a $580.83 day if you include the oil change, front brakes, burnt out left rear braking light, low fluids, and obscenely high electric bill.
Some of you will notice that the electric bill has nothing to do with my car. Granted. But it has just as much to do with my wallet as my car did on this day. Which is to say, it was the Atkins Diet of wallet-land, in that it certainly made my wallet thinner, but made me sick in the process. Rimshot! Those of you Atkins supporters may feel free to send your nasty comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where was I? Electric bill. Which was overdue because I blew it off. Why did I blow off my electric bill, you ask? Excellent question. Probably because I’m lazy and rationalized that the electric company could wait, others could not, and anyway the state and feds would never let them turn off my power! BOOM! Did you see that?!? Another MOMENT OF SELF-REFLECTIVE HONESTY! Six points.
Anyway, amazingly interesting story of Honda Accords, oil changes, and electric bills, evolves into amazingly interesting story of picking the kids up at school. Number One Child, the fabulously creative and good-looking one that takes after her father, was crying and on the verge of hyperventilating when I arrived for the afternoon carpool. Disagreement with teacher...something about having to complete the work assigned in the time allotted...something about having to stay in from recess if she doesn’t finish it...before I know what's happening, the room begins to spin, and experiments with gamma radiation from a previous career rear their ugly head, and suddenly I'm a six-hundred pound mountain of pure green muscle smashing through the walls of the Anonymous Jewish Parochial School screaming, "Hulk Smash!!"
Somehow, though, I got both of the big kids home, which must have been such an excellent surprise for Mrs. Weissology. Number One Child comes home from school bawling, Number Two Child, whom I like to think of as nuclear fusion with feet, tears into the house with his customary hyper-decibel sensitivity, and Weissology limps through the door, clothes in tatters, the obvious sign that "the other guy" has taken over and that destruction of property and emotional hang-over have resulted.
Of course, the only reasonable reaction to any of this is to eat, right? I could easily find chips and salsa that are on my list of approved plant-strong foods. Isn’t that better than calming the storm with what I used to calm the storm with? Eleven weeks ago I would have pounded a stack of grilled cheese sandwiches, or Ben & Jerry’s by the pint.
Which, by the way, is how you get diabetes and heart disease. I know from experience on the diabetes part, and can speculate on the heart disease part given my genetic heritage, but wouldn’t really know directly because, all together now, I’m lazy and I never go to the doctor anyway! BOOM! Six more points! It’s a big day for self-reflective honesty here at the Weissology Blog. Oh yeah, and I haven’t been to the dentist in over seven years. And I never really understood the Beatles. I’ll stop now.
But the point is not at all Ben & Jerry's or grilled cheese sandwiches. The point for me is that I'm replaying that familiar pattern. Success! Success! Success! Sabotage! Demoralization! Abandonment of hope! More sabotage! More demoralization! Downward spiral!
In the past, the downward spiral would end in being fat and miserable. Now I'm older. Damage has been done. The downward spiral could dig a grave this time. I need tools to deal with a $580.83 day. With my innate ability to be a lightening rod for other people's emotions. And with all of those other things, which I can't bring myself to write about yet, which are even more difficult and complicated. Life is happening, cherished friends. It's not about to get simpler.
I will never be the guy who doesn’t feel the emotions. God help me to become the guy who uses tools other than food to process and deal with the emotions. I don’t know what those tools are. Perhaps I should find out, he said to himself, out loud, in as snarky a tone as he could possibly muster.
Anyway, as I was writing this I ate half a bag of oil-free, baked tortilla chips and half a jar of oil-free, sugar-free salsa. Now I’m going to go obsess about why, mysteriously, my weight loss has plateaued.