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I got upset today, as is the norm lately.  There wasn’t anything in particular that set me off, and maybe it’s my time of the month or something, or the moon cycles, or whatever.  Wait a minute, why am I apologizing for being upset? I don’t need to come up with a justification for being upset. I was upset, and it sucked.

I just wanted to “feel better”.  I wanted some instant gratification, a quick fix until I could get myself together.  In the past, I would have lit a cigarette.  I can even hear the sound of the lighter flicking its beautiful flame towards a waiting cigarette. I can feel the filter between my lips, and smell the tobacco.  I can almost feel the light headed giddiness from the first drag, and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about it.  Smoking helped, sure, but then I’d want another, and another.  When I was upset, I was known to chain smoke into the night talking on the phone and cursing the world.

Life is different now.  I have no cigarettes, and more importantly, no one to talk to on the phone to curse out the world.  I still need that gratification.  My sister exercises when she stresses out.  Another sister cleans.  My parents drink.  Everyone has their ways of coping when a day just sucks ass.  But me, all I have left is chocolate.

I have been an emotional eater my entire life.  This started around the time I was starting to realize I had to be ashamed of what I looked like.  So I started stashing boxes of girl scout cookies in my nightgown drawer and stealing change from my dad’s desk to buy a candy bar at school.  I was really good at hiding the candy wrappers until I could hide them in the kitchen trash. I’d be extremely careful concealing the evidence under rotten leftovers or empty cans of Alpo. And the sad thing was, I ate the chocolate so fast, I barely tasted it most of the time. I just knew I wanted it, and it was bad to want it, which made it that much more important to have.

I don’t have a box of cookies stashed in my drawers anymore. I’m an adult, and don’t have to hide the fact that I feel like I must have chocolate at least twice a day.  But still I do.  I feel like I’m buying drugs as I stand at the counter, trying to make it look like I decided at the last minute to grab the candy bar to go with the diet coke I was about to buy.  Like the whole reason I went in there wasn’t actually to buy that candy bar, but it just looked so tempting that I had to have it.  I still feel the shame as I take my clandestine purchase out the door and hide it in my handbag so no one can see.  As if the world needs any other excuse to look at me and think I’m not worth living.  Why don’t I just feed the stereotype?  Look, that fat girl is crying while eating a candy bar!  I know no one is REALLY saying that, but that’s the scene I play out in my head.

Tonight, while upset, I wandered through the aisles of the supermarket trying to find something to make the pain go away.  At least I had left my tears in the street, but it took all of my willpower not to take all the chocolate santas off the shelves and run out the door with them. I had this vivid daydream of me ripping off their jolly little chocolate heads and eating them all before I got out the door.  I did none of those things, but I wanted to.  I ended up buying a chocolate bar to go with the chicken and vegetables I bought for dinner.  I ate it on the walk home.  It tasted like shame.

I sometimes wish I had a socially acceptable addiction.  Because then when I acted like an idiot, people could say “oh it’s a disease, she can’t help it”.  But my addiction to eating is just seen as “oh, she’s fat and lazy, and she can help it, what a fucking loser”.  And I believe that with all my heart.  I always have.  I have attributed these words to other people my entire life.  But the person who hurts me the most is me.

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