Categorizing my pathology

I feel the need to categorize my month off the wagon. I seem to want to believe that putting the reasons for the behavior into buckets will help me see it coming next time, and do something about it. It’s a reasonable hypothesis, even if it is perhaps overly hopeful. In any event, it can’t hurt, right?

So. Why did I spend a month off my diet? Here are the possible reasons I’ve come up with.

1. Self-loathing

Of all the reasons for suddenly going off the wagon, I find this one to be both the most tempting and the most dubious. It’s satisfyingly new-agey, yes? Painful relations with my family and friends caused me to regret my part in the blowups. I didn’t particularly like myself, so I abused myself. Simple, yes?

Well… I don’t know. I don’t doubt that self-abuse could have played a part, but I feel like it must be a smaller part than the more theatrical bits of me would like. This feeling comes mainly from #2.

2. Comfort

As I said in the previous post, I love to eat. I think that this gets lost in my sober regrets and reflections on the damage I’m doing to myself. It would be a mistake for me to forget the joy I get from eating, because it lies very close to the core of me. It’s real. It’s simple. And it’s immensely powerful. So I think that Occam’s Razor tends to slice a bit of emphasis from #1 and apportion it to #2. In other words, there’s little reason to conjure a psychological construct of self-punishment when it’s quite clear that I get a direct and simple pleasure from the act of eating. I was hurting, so I took comfort in food — simple as that.

3. Balance of forces

This is a passive version of #1. It requires only a decrease in my self-respect, as opposed to an active self-loathing. Picture my level of dieting success as the resultant of opposing forces: on the one hand I have the drive to be healthy; on the other hand, I have the desire to eat the world. If the former is bigger than the latter, then I will stay on my diet. If it’s not, I won’t. Which means that, if my drive to be healthy is tied to my self-respect, I may have disliked myself into falling off the wagon.

That’s all I got. So. What can I do about these factors?

Where #1 is concerned, I see little I can do on my own aside from telling myself that I’m not a bad person, and that I don’t deserve to punish myself.

I’m not sure if I can or should do anything about #2. I was hurting, and I needed what I needed. Hmmm. I’m going to have to think about that one some more, because as a truism it’s obviously prone to being overdrawn.

Similarly to how I might tackle #1, I might be able to ameliorate #3 by giving myself a break. I need to understand that, even though I’ve made mistakes, I’m no less deserving of treating myself right. #3 also lends itself to the sort of clinical analysis I mentioned in the previous post. If I can keep in mind the deleterious effects on my body, it will help me tip the scales toward wanting to be healthy.

I don’t know if all this mental gamboling amounts to much. I hope that it helps me understand why I fall off the wagon, and that understanding the mechanics of one fall can help me forestall another.


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