Posted by: innerpilgrimage | October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat: Halloween Binge or One More Day of OA Abstinence?

Days until my 40th Birthday: 45
Days of Abstinence from Compulsive Eating: 17

      This is it.

      Today is the day. The big day. Today is the hardest day of the year for candy binger like myself. Fortunately, tomorrow I am going to be in a car far away from (unfortunately) three large bags of candy which will probably not be disbursed. Yes, my husband bought three bags. And I’m not talking the small bags, either. There is probably about 6 pounds (POUNDS!) of candy in this house right now. At 70-90 calories per bag/bar of candy (they shrunk the snack size again, which–for the first year ever–I am happy about), that is a lot of calories. I’m not doing the math. My brain might explode. Knowing my husband, he would be traumatized for a moment until he realized I would make a fantastic Halloween decoration. Okay, I’m just kidding that he would prop me up with my brains splatted all over from trying to take in the caloric math of all that candy . . . but he does love a great Halloween display.
      After all, it’s our favorite holiday of the year.

      Last night, a miracle happened. I had banked discretionary calories, enough to have three candy bars (but barely enough not to have four, which I was trying to juggle to get all four for about a half-hour, then I gave up). I got to the end of the night, and I opened the bag of bags of M&M’s and the bag of Snickers-Milky Way-Three Musketeers bars.
      I opened it, and just as I remember, that sweet sugary-cream-nougaty-chocolatey smell of the candy wafted from the bags as I cut the corner of the M&M’s bag and the candy bars bag open. This is a first for me. I am a ripper, not a cutter. Before this year, I rended apart candy bags like a starving werewolf would do to its prey (if werewolves existed–but you get my point!) I am the type of person who gets candy bars to fly as the bag bursts open and single-wrapped confectionary bursts from the plastic wrapped prison. Candy flung all around, I would gather it all like a child who has cracked a pinata open and has released the gutted paper creation’s treasure.
      And I would eat.

      Well, the smell brought back Halloween for me. It is a powerful thing, fighting a memory. The happiest day of childhood, the one we all wished would last one more night. Better than birthdays, better than Christmas. Halloween was about kids acting like children and being rewarded for it. A night of play, of laughter, of fun. Of being out until bedtime and of forgiveness of staying up past bedtime to count the glorious loot. Bragging contests and comparing neighborhoods and plots to wear two or three costumes that night to get as much loot as possible. The paper grocery bag which inevitably smelled like candy at the end of the night and held the ghost of a wonderful time once the candy was eaten and gone a week later. Halloween is the culmination of all things childhood, and the smell of a fresh-opened bag of candy is its harbinger.
      I’m sure not all OAs experience this, but those of us who candy binge may have an experience like this behind us. We fantasize about being that child again on the one day of the year we are okay. Like Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Match Girl, we fight against the cold of our adult lives and return to the one purely childhood moment when we could be anything and life was literally so sweet. With each mini candy, we reach to that time. At least at first.
      The binge brings us back to adulthood. The taste isn’t our fantasy any more. We go numb, seeking out that feeling of being able to be anything again. Of freedom. We just wanted one damned candy bar! We promised we would only have one, and now it’s Halloween afternoon and there’s still chocolate at the corner of our mouths as we drive to the store. Clean it off in the mirror, the guilt and queasiness reflected back to us. Shamefaced, we go in, our breath surely going to give us away that we ate that whole bag (A pound? A pound-and-a-half? Do we even know?). Am I sweating the scent of my candy binge? we think. Do I smell like my guilt feelings? Can I hide that I ate all of the candy intended for the kids and now I have to rush out and get more or the kids will hate me just like I hate me right now?
      Okay, maybe this is just me. I just don’t want to think I was the only one who did this. I don’t want to think I am alone in this, that no one else has ever binged on Halloween candy to revisit being eight years old in a princess costume again. Or ten years old and dressed as a lion. Those were the times my mother came through for me out of love, not obligation. She loved Halloween, too.
      I don’t recall if she was a candy binger, too. I suppose she was and I didn’t see my future written in her face. But sometimes I think she saw mine there.

      Well, sometimes stories have happy endings. I had decided on two Snickers and one bag of peanut M&M’s and as I was getting the M&M’s out first, I was struck by an intense moment of reason. Clearly in my head, I thought:

                                               Why do I need two Snickers bars?

      My answer to my own question was plain and simple: I don’t. In my heart, I knew that if I ate that second bar, I would prime myself for a binge. I would be in a position to stalk that bag of candy, to get up in the middle of the night and sneak-eat. Suddenly, I was given this emotionally calm non-verbal reassurance that I could stop at one Snickers bar and one mini bag of M&M’s and be satisfied. I took one of each and sighed: I had enough banked calories to go back if I really wanted one more candy.
      I didn’t go back.

      My name is Jess, and I am a compulsive overeater. I will keep coming back because the program works if I work it, and I am worth it.



  1. way to go jess!!! you should be SO proud of yourself!!! and guess what, you didn’t binge and shockingly the world did not come to an end. i bet you feel wonderful. keep building on that great feeling.

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