I know that today’s plate of beige mayonnaise covered shit is not good for me. Nutrients in the food are minimal, salt and fat are copious, and the authenticity of the ‘chicken’ in the nuggets is questionable. The humongous dollop of mayo foreshadows an impending heart attack, and to top it all off I accidentally spilled too much salt all over it (but will eat it all regardless). I would not say it tastes sublime, but the effort to taste ratio is favourable enough.
I’ve started to wonder if consuming this type of ‘meal’ almost daily is a form of self-harm, a way of punishing myself for pushing my body into obesity by, paradoxically, making it even more obese and thus confirming its grotesqueness. I don’t wish to diminish the more traditional experiences of self-harm, but I can see similarities between inflicting a physical wound and frequently ingesting large quantities of unhealthy food in an almost manic way.
First there is the restlessness and persistent thoughts of committing the act which you battle against constantly; this is followed by the unstoppable urge to perform the act or else you will disappear into a black hole you’ll never get out of. Afterwards comes the sense of release/relief which is short but sweet, and lastly the guilt and shame of having only perpetuated the cycle. I am not a mental health expert, but I have read that self-harm can be a signal that the sufferer actually has a way of releasing their negative feelings which may actually indicate a lower risk of suicide. But with food, the more you give in to the urge and flood your arteries with crap, the more your risk of death creeps up.
I realise the previous bit was a little heavy, so to elevate the tone a bit I’d like to talk about food as a form of me-time. Once the daily drudgery is all done and quiet descends on the evening you might find a lady luxuriating in the bath; alternatively she might be painting her nails, reading a book or magazine, or crocheting with music in the background. But you will always find me eating, as that is my me-time. That is my time to indulge in whatever I want, and nothing numbs the mind as effectively as an endless array of fatty and sugary food consumed across a couple of hours of me-time. I’ve written before about eating to deal with emotions, but sometimes it is just a way of saying sod everything, that this moment is for me and nobody can take this away from me!
I can be selfish here, I can go back to the treats I loved as a child and receive reliable comfort after a hard day of hustling. Those moments of sensory heaven are mine and mine alone, and it doesn’t seem to matter that it is doing me such harm. Without it I would have nothing for myself anymore, or at least nothing that consoles me so effectively (consoles me over what I’m not always quite sure, however).
I don’t want to be overly dramatic again, but I have used my addiction to food (if I am permitted to call it an addiction) to punish others in quite an underhand way. Picture the scene: I ask my husband to pop to the shops to get a few essentials (milk, bread, loo roll, cheese) and I sneakily add my favourite ice cream to the list. I hope he won’t say anything, but inevitably he does and quite rightly protests due to the cost of said ice cream. At this point we might have a row which ends in me sulkily telling him to forget I even asked for the ice cream, followed by my being offish with him for the rest of the evening. Even when he gives in and says he’ll get the ice cream my sense of martyrdom kicks in as I attempt to make him feel guilty for daring to question my request. At this point I have the upper hand and his unreasonable denial of the substance I’m addicted to, and the subsequent suffering it will cause me (please realise this is said very tongue-in-cheek), is my weapon.
I realise this is all incredibly stupid, but for some reason food has become such a powerful force in my life and it permeates every aspect of it. Here I have explained just a few of the ways it does so; I am a slave to food and I hate that. But there is just something so comforting about the beige-ness; it’s like returning home into the arms of a friend who will always be there for you and never let you down (until they kill you of course!). I’d love to hear how others use food and what purpose it serves in your life (other than keeping you alive of course).