Posted by: innerpilgrimage | August 9, 2010

Obsessions: Food and Boys

      Well, I did two more Eighth Step letters last night, I went backward in time, back to my teenage years. One was well-deserved; one was more of an apology to myself and needs to be slid into amends to myself.

      How did amends to another become amends to me? The person I thought I needed to make amends to was receiving amends for my obsession over him, one that lasted over a decade. What I never did was tell him. Though he knew (it was a small high school–everyone knew), I never acted on it. I never came out and said “I love you” to him. The irony is that, at 40, I know I didn’t love the guy. I was obsessed with him.
      He was the boy I glommed onto at about 12 years old. I elevated him in my mind, making him the equivalent of the perfect bite. No person–even him–could have been as perfect as what I built up in my head. I fantasized that he would be my first kiss, first boyfriend, first love and lover, and only-ever husband.
      He died of inoperable cancer the weekend that my first husband walked out on my son and me–something that I need to make amends for because I encouraged my first husband to leave with a promise of reconciliation that was never going to be fulfilled.
      I have been working on the assumptions that I was nice and that I was a victim for a very long time. Finding out that I really wasn’t very nice at all (or at least, not as nice as I sold to myself) was a painful revelation. I knew before I left high school that he had his diagnosis. I had an opportunity thrust on me by my Higher Power a couple of years later, and in my compulsion (food and love), I ran. I always assumed some day I would not run. Well, that did turn out true, but it ended up as me not running from a man I have learned to love (and who has loved me despite my addictive and honestly nutty self-obsessed behavior).
      The biggest gift I have gotten from this whole obsessive mess is the key to my obsessive behaviors. He was the first real boy I became obsessed with. I thought I loved him, but really I was merely enchanted by the passion I built up in my own head which used him as the face of it. I have a decade of seeing the pattern play out over one person. The depths I have gone in betrayal of myself and others are in stark relief. I have a darker side, one which can take passion and translate it into a prison cell within my head. Because I can recognize what love isn’t (and that is definitely not love), I can separate obsession from love. And I am realizing that what I have with my husband somehow became love. The passion I feel toward him comes from a place of trust and depth of commitment. I actually can open myself up to my husband and trust that when he “hurts” me, its intent is not to cause pain but to illuminate. I was initially hurt when my husband pointed out last night that because I never acted out on this obsession, he wasn’t harmed. God, I felt betrayed for about five minutes until my recovery mind grabbed my addict mind’s shoulders and gave me a good shaking into reality. The person who was harmed by this was me. I stopped living, dreaming, standing up on my own two feet years before. This boy I turned toward–golden-haired and blue-eyed and charming-smiled (ironically enough, the same phenotype as both my husbands)–was a golden calf to which I could pray. He was a fetish (both physically and mentally) which allowed me an escape from taking control of my own life. He was my Prince Charming, and he was going to save me. Even more oddly, he was going to save me like my blond, blue-eyed Jesus from childhood. Well, okay, more like Captain Kirk from Star Trek (I think I imprinted on William Shatner during that time psychiatrists say we imprint on our future “love” and attraction phenotype because every young man I had my heart stop for had a lot of physical traits in common with Mr. Shatner).
      My obsession ended right around the time I was 30, probably when my son got cancer and I finally had my chance to redeem myself. I committed myself to my son throughout, and my reward is having a kid that people don’t believe even had cancer. The obsession slid away into memory five years after he passed away.
      Nearly ten years later, I’ve finally separated the wheat of love from the chaff of obsession, strictly by an awareness-created definition.
      How does this relate to food obsession, then? Well, I couldn’t have the boy, but I could have the cookies (and candy and ice cream and any junk food I could choke down). So I acted out the obsession with food. There’s not much more to it than that.
      Food, in my brain, is “love”. My body was a testament to the fact it wouldn’t leave. The mutually abusive nature of the food relationship (me consuming, it making me unhealthy in the quantity and quality I consumed) reflected the mutually abusive “love” obsession. I put the word love in quotes because what I felt was not love. Perhaps I loved him as a human being at the core, but I built layers upon layers of fantasy, intrigue, and external validation on it. That poor kid never realized how much of a load I carried in his name. Yet . . . I carried it, not him. He never had to pick it up. He never had to face off with it, whether or not he knew (like I said, everyone knew, therefore he did). There was no bridge built across the chasm. I never forced him to reject me. Then again, I never let him in far enough to accept a friendship (which he did try a couple of times, but I had moved on out of anger that I placed on him–not on me, where it belonged).
      There’s a certain freedom I feel right now because of it. The question, “Can I even love?” has been answered. Yes, I can because I know what it really looks like. And I do. The question, “Can I stop obsessing over men?” has been answered. Yes, I can because I know what it looks like.
      The monster lurking in the recesses of my dark night of the soul journey has been exposed for what it is, distilled to its component parts. Its shadow does not loom any longer, except as an identifiable set of traits which I can use to know if I am preparing to enter a time of intrigue bingeing.
      I was right. My Eighth and Ninth Steps are the dark night of the soul journey I need to take. Many of my memories are hazy and long forgotten, tucked into bins and boxes in the treasure rooms of the dungeon I must pass through. I thought they were undesirable treasures, fool’s gold and tricks and traps meant to harm me. Now I see them as raw, uncut gems. When I take them out of this place of darkness, I can turn them into things of great value, lessons and means to change.
      I look forward to crossing paths, finally, with that little child who sacrificed its hopes and dreams, pinning them on external sources to find inner strength and peace (my Higher Power, as I have said before is not an external force beause it is the Universe and therefore it flows through me and I am part of it as much as it is part of me).
      Gotta go. Volunteering.
      My name is Jess and I am a food addict and love addict, anorexic. Let the healing continue.

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