Only two things, aside from illness, have ever caused me to lose my appetite for longer than ten minutes: having my heart broken, and falling head over heels in love. Every other emotion on the spectrum of happy-sad-angry-scared seems to take me to the same place: anxiously nibbling on anything not nailed down.
There have been moments in my life where I felt completely out of control. Like the alcoholic, drunk off his ass but still turning to cough medicine in desperate late nights, I concocted disgusting and elaborate midnight treats from baking chocolate and old bread. This, on an already uncomfortably full stomach.
Over the years, I've devoted huge blocks of energy, reams of journal paper and gallons of ink, not to mention tears, to my angst over this issue and all its attendant concerns. It wasn't in vain. Insights have come, and, for the most part, food has slipped back into a more appropriate place in my life. It is fuel. Usually a pleasure, sometimes a temptation, occasionally a comfort I've allowed myself on a limited basis, but not central, not reason for living, and no longer the enemy.
There have been moments, however.
Like when I was a full-time student not too long ago, burning the candle at both ends in my determination to be uber-student. Sometimes the only way to quiet that little voice inside me crying out for a break was to give it chocolate. (No, I did not consider actually taking a break!) Then one day, a professors observed, in front of the entire attentive class, that I had gained weight. "You should exercise," he concluded. Out loud.
"Fuck you," I replied. Not out loud.
When I was done fuming over the insult and crying over the humiliation and analyzing my body in front of the mirror (this took several weeks), I began to face facts. I was still like an alcoholic, I realized, only this time not the desperate all out late-night-binge kind, but like the slow and steady drink-or-two-after-work kind. Just enough of a habit to keep some deep-seated boat-rocking feelings at bay. So I gave my ear to that little voice inside. I took a break, relaxed a little. And the overeating subsided.
That is, until the next big deadline came along and I was back to status quo.
Thanks to a double shot of heartbreak and new romance, there hasn't been a status quo in my life since the beginning of January. My deeply ingrained habit has received a good shake up. But it is creeping back. I see the signs, especially when I'm at work, or home alone with feelings and no one to call, or with deadlines hanging over my head.
But I'm not going back to status quo. I refuse. As much as I like smooth sailing, I know: this boat is not done rocking. There are more changes to come.
These days, I have an appetite for change.