I ate my way through my divorce. There is no other way to say it.
I had been the classic yo-yo dieter most of my life. Rarely, if ever, exactly the weight I wanted to be, I usually gained weight when I was bored or depressed, then successfully dieted it off when I was either in love, pumped up about a new job, or motivated to wear the new season’s shorter skirts.
Then my marriage fell apart, and my habit of dulling my feelings with food developed into a full-blown eating disorder.
Plunging into my new full-time job called getting divorced, my days became filled with painful end-of-marriage discussions with my husband, conferences with my lawyer, and mounting legal bills. But my evenings became filled with food. Nightly I tried to escape the fear, anger, and anxiety with comfort-laden foods. Anything that helped me “zone out” for a little while was welcome.
When I hung up after an angry phone conversation with my husband, I would grab a bag of tortilla chips. With an utterly ridiculous “I’ll show him!” attitude, I would feel entitled to eat the whole bag – as though by doing so I was punishing him and not myself (thus, the logic of a true addict.) When my children had their milk and cookies at bedtime, so did I. I deserved it with all that was going on, didn’t I? Nights had their own terrors. Sleeping alone for the first time in decades, the fears would emerge. Some sweet, soft carbohydrate-rich “snack” – a sleeve of Chips Ahoy, the leftover Italian bread – would regularly accompany me to my bedroom at night. In this way, I would temporarily not be alone.
Then came the next morning’s guilt and remorse. “Why on earth did I eat that yesterday?” became my first thought of each day. Of course I was putting on weight, while working overtime to offset the eating with longer stints on the Stairmaster.
None of these behaviors made any sense. They are also, as I later learned, the hallmarks of addiction. I was now truly out of control. The idea of a better future for myself after the divorce was quickly fading. I could never hope to have another relationship, certainly never start dating. I would be fat. Who would want me?