See, the PMS makes me want COOKIESCHIPSCHOCOLATEICECREAM, but the problem is that I can’t eat all that without going over my allotment for the day. (How is that a problem, you ask? Just don’t eat them all! To which I reply, Have you ever HAD PMS?!?!) And up till now I’ve been ok with remembering that a food journal is just a record. Just a record of what I ate so that I can see it later and eat more or less, depending on the history of what I’ve been eating. Up until now, I’ve been pretty good at NOT viewing the journal as a Tool of Damnation and Judgement for the Depraved. (Not that I ever viewed it like that before. Nah. Never. Um . . . )
But with PMS playing holy hell with my brain, I am coming to hate the Journal. (See how I capitalized it there? SYMBOLIC, I know.) Seriously, the last couple of nights I’ve found myself “forgetting” to write things down, or just “not counting” it. My Crazy Brain is pushing back full-force right now. See, if I write it down, then it’s REAL. I can’t ignore the gluttony of 2 WHOLE SPOONFULS of ice cream before bed (sarcasm, people – don’t panic). They sit there on the page in all their 150-calorie glory, shaking their metaphorical heads in shame. (Also, know what makes shame feel better? MORE ICE CREAM.)
Seriously, I am sneaking around MYSELF. Sometimes it really does feel like I have (at least) 2 people living in my head: the sane one, and the mad wife in the attic. Actually, there might be something to that. Traditionally, in old folk and fairy tales, houses symbolized our bodies. The story of Sleeping Beauty, for instance, is a metaphor for a young girl coming of age, discovering new things about her body, and dealing with the seeming threat and betrayal of its changes. (Sleeping is actually not a passive activity in that story, but that is a whole. ‘Nother. Post.) So Jane Eyre’s Bertha Mason is an example of the id, unbridled, running rampant without restraint.
And that’s kind of what it feels like, that voice in my brain, the one that whispers and screams and cries. Like a madwoman who won’t. Shut. Up. Most of the time I can silence her or at least ignore her, but sometimes she bangs on the water pipes in the night, or sneaks downstairs in her bedclothes to roam the house like a ghost. And it’s funny: it really is LITERALLY at night that I hear her. I don’t binge at noon, even on my days off. I’m not ashamed of anything I eat during the day (as a general rule). It’s at the end of the day, when I realize that I’m hungry but I’ve hit my (self-imposed) allotment for the day that I feel guilty for “sins” committed earlier in the day. And at that point, some people just stop eating. They go to bed hungry and consider it punishment for being “bad” earlier in the day. But I take it as yet Another Failure in my constant quest for perfection. In the tradition of our Puritan culture, I decide that I’m a miserable sinner and can’t be forgiven. I decide that it’s impossible to try. And so I eat.
On my good days, I can cull the moral value out of the situation, recognize it for what it is, shrug my shoulders, write it all down and figure the info will help me down the line. On my bad days, I eat ice cream and drink 3 glasses of wine, and consume it hurriedly, distractedly, watching TV or working on the computer so that I don’t really have to think about what I’m doing. Because if I don’t think about it, it doesn’t exist. The madwoman in the attic says so.
And now as I sit here writing this, my head teeming with archetypes and traditional imagery, it strikes me that the bingeing to shut the madwoman up isn’t so different from the idea of an ancient sacrifice. Here, take this ice cream, carry it back to the attic, just pleasepleaseplease be quiet. And I don’t write it in my little journal, because you know, IT WAS FOR HER. And at the same time, it’s still a measure of my moral failing, that I couldn’t resist her, that I couldn’t withstand the demonic force of the madwoman.
*giggle* That sounds more than a little overwrought, doesn’t it? But that was a big part of Jane Eyre: the idea that Jane was this perfect vision of womanhood (according to the 19th century) and that Bertha Mason was the dark side, the shadow side, the side that lurked under the surface (or hid away in the attic).
Anyway. I may have to put down the food journal until I start my cycle. It’s making me TOTALLY insane right now, and doing more harm than good. But the thing that does kind of worry me is that the idea of putting down the journal is freaking me RIGHT THE HELL OUT. I’m totally afraid of what I will eat if I put it down. I’m totally afraid that if I don’t keep the inhabitants of this house under a tight lock and key they’ll run mad, wailing like banshees through the dark corridors of my mind. I know that’s not true. I did the Intuitive Eating thing for long enough to know that when I relax my tight grip, that my eating is often BETTER than when I’m trying like crazy to hang on to the control. But I’m freaked out anyway. That doesn’t speak well for my current state of mind.