It happened when I was sitting at the kitchen nook with my daughter, Ellovie. I’d made her the most delectable dinner of Trader Joe’s orange chicken, brown rice and raisins. No really, that chicken is delicious.
And Ellie really likes it.
So, she’s happily eating her chicken and so am I. Which is a big deal because frozen orange chicken used to be a forbidden food. In the past, it would have set me up for a mother binge. (i.e. I already blew it with the sugar coated chicken. Bring on the chips and dip.)
But because I don’t diet anymore or restrict foods, I was enjoying my plate of food. I sat there, so proud of myself, remembering how far I have come in my own recovery or what I like to call my Sacred Walk to Wellness, when it happened.
Ellie pushed her plate away and said, “All done Mommy”.
She hadn’t eaten that much. And so, I looked at her plate, then back to her and asked, “Are you sure honey?”
“Yes. Mommy, my belly is full.”
And then, I said, as if on automatic pilot, “Are you sure honey, because you didn’t eat that much and you might be hungry later.”
Hello old frenemy. Binging Betty.
That’s a familiar tactic Betty would use when she would set me up for a binge. Encouraging me to get fuller and fuller until I was crystal clear I wouldn’t be hungry later.
Now, now, in Betty’s defense, she had a reason for doing this.
Betty grew up poor in the early days. Her family was on welfare and they struggled to keep the household afloat. Basic food was available, mostly. But not the extras.
The extras lived at Gram’s house. And on weekends, Betty would go to stay with her.
Grandma had a never-ending glass jar of M&Ms. And a big white double door pantry, that when the doors swung open, the angels would sing hallelujah. Bright Christ light would shine down on the Pringles, Cheez- its, and Bugels. Rows and rows of Oreos and Chips Ahoy.
And gram was always baking. Peanut butter fudge. Caramels. Pineapple upside down cake.
Betty’s favorite thing to do at Grams was to grab a Klondike bar, a bowl of cheez its and an onion bagel, head upstairs and watch the Golden Girls in bed.
Betty LOVED going to my Grams on Friday nights because come Sunday, it was back to potato soup. So she thought should have as much as she could stand so that she’d have enough to tide me over.
Back then, Binging Betty was setting herself up for a binge-restrict cycle. But she didn’t know it until high school.
In 9th grade, Betty moved to a new high school, out of her very small coal mining town into a “minor” city. And the next year, she decided she was too fat. She wasn’t. She was a cheerleader, she was active, and at a very healthy weight. But that year, she ate only an apple and a piece of bread for a whole school year. Until summer came and she was standing in the kitchen on the phone with her best friend Shelly.
“I have something to tell you,” She squealed.
“What it is it?” Betty pondered.
“I lost my virginity!” She blurted!
Betty’s eyes darted down to her black and white cheerleading shoes. Mind racing. Emotions building. And slowly she raised her gaze to be greeted by a plate of chocolate chip cookies on the counter.
“MmmmHumph.” She replied as she shoved cookie after cookie into her mouth.”
Long after she hung up the phone, she found herself licking the proverbial cookie plate.
Once school was starting, she realized she had gained 25 pounds. So, she went back to rules and restriction. But with more shame. More judgment. Greater resolve.
That’s Betty’s cycle. Restrict, Binge, restrict. Good girl. Bad girl. Good girl.
She lies to me by saying things like:
“You shouldn’t have eaten that BAD food. Now you’re going to get fat! You’re doomed to wake up with thighs two inches bigger and you’ll be up three pounds. You’re disgusting. You’re terrible. Want some French fires?”
She also says, “If you’re gonna blow it, blow it good because you’re never going to blow it again.”
And, “You’re so wonderful. You didn’t eat anything bad for three days! Let’s weigh you. You’re weight’s the same! This isn’t working it. You suck. Want some chips now?”
Binging Betty isn’t all bad. She’s scared. She has a lack mentality. She believes her worth is in her body. She doesn’t understand the concept of enough. Her song sings, “I’m not enough, you’re not enough, it’s not enough, there’s not enough”. Her intentions are pure. It’s her misguided attempt at self-love and self-preservation.
So, when I was sitting at the kitchen table with my girl, and I heard that old familiar tune, I paused. I came back to the present moment, (something I teach in my LYF course for overcoming dysfunctional relationships with people, places, or things) I took a deep breath and I smiled lovingly to myself.
Here, now, I know I have everything I need. I am enough. There is enough. I know today that Binging Betty is just repeating old patterns. And I, Healed Heidi do not have to engage with her. But I don’t get mad at her either.
I get curious about her, I have compassion for her. I know she did what she did for a good reason. It was her lame attempt to love herself. To nurture herself with food.
And although she was delusional, she’s not mean spirited. She didn’t know any better. She’s not malicious. She’s mistaken.
So, today when binging Betty asks Ellie, “Are you sure you’re done? You may be hungry later.”
I stop, reflect, and lovingly notice the pattern. And I remember, Ellie does naturally what’s taken me a lifetime to get back to ~intuitive eating. She still trusts her body to know when it’s full. She doesn’t operate from lack, scarcity, or good and bad foods. She eats when she’s hungry. She stops when she’s satisfied. She asks for the food her body wants.
Even chocolate! Yes! I have seen her eat chocolate and just when I’m tempted to intervene and say she’s had enough. Or chocolate is bad, she looks at me, holds up the half eaten thing and says, “All done Mommy.”
I also feel the road to recovery is miraculous. It doesn’t have to be hard, although at times it is. It can be wonderful, beautiful, and full of joy. Today, I am so grateful to help teach other women how to have the same freedom though my LYF program. It’s so amazing when you learn to truly Love Yourself First.
If you would like to learn more, you can find that program here…
With love and kindness,
About my work
Dysfunctional relationships with people, places, or things is my life’s work. And as a result of pouring all of my focus, education, training, and experience into working in the area of dysfunctional relationships, I’ve come up with a theory.
All self-destructive behavior is the result of dysfunctional attachment patterns. And the cure is to learn and practice Loving Yourself First,
To me, life is about relationships. All of my work is done through the lens of connection and attachment. As a life coach, I don’t do “pathology” I do “patterns”. I am looking for dysfunctional behavior and thought patters which created codependent relationships. I call these Attachment Personality Patterns, or APPs. APPs are just patterns we downloaded as a way to survive, thrive, connect, or cope. Once upon a time, these patterns served us and served us well, until they didn’t. And that’s where I come in. I’m Heidi Rain McGuirk, and I believe that the cure for all self-destructive behavior is to learn and practice self-love. So, I’ve created the PROMISE METHOD as a way for my clients to learn how to Love Themselves First. Come be with me, and I will light to path to your own sacred walk to wellness. You can find my work at www.lovecoachheidi.com