Self-destructive behavior, your check engine light.

As I sat eating my last cracker from the sleeve and contemplating the gelato in the fridge, I wondered what the heck was going on with me. Earlier I had a nice, hot bowl of buttered popcorn and half a box of cereal at some point before that. Again I asked the universe, what the heck was going on with me? I hadn’t binged on food since my 30s and I don’t consider an extra cookie or too much at holidays a binge. That’s just plain old overeating. But a binge is when you can’t get enough and you don’t stop until you feel sick. Then the only thing you can do is crawl into bed and sleep it off, like you would a few too many cocktails, because the purposeful mission of numbing one’s self with food puts you in a trance-like, exhausted physical state.

Maybe you can relate.

Lying in bed you ask yourself yet again, what is going on?  At first, you cannot figure it out. Slowly, random feelings and thoughts creep into your psyche alerting you to sit up and take notice.  You intellectualize the situation, assessing that this was just a rare occurrence and you’ll be fine when you wake-up.  It will be like a bad dream. And it won’t happen again.  Until it does. 

The emotions take hold, all while remaining calm on the outside and smiling for the world.  A food binge?  Something I worked so hard to overcome so many years ago – and with great success?  The question still looms, because at this stage in the game, you know better. You have experience to bank on and lessons that have been learned.  Binge eating was an emotional response – when something was wrong.  Whether it was feelings that you didn’t want to acknowledge, anger that you refused to let loose, hurt that you chose to ignore or worry that you wanted to be in control of, all were triggers for out of control eating, numbing and continuous recovery from both.  As the cycle goes. 

There are times in our lives when we may do things to excess – eat, exercise, drink, smoke, spend money or any other habit forming escape that serves to distract us from reality. I’ve participated in them all.  The overeating can turn into bingeing, the exercise turns into a form of punishment and torture and spending money turns into needless purchases and wasted income.  Some people just do this and don’t think twice about it. They don’t see it as a problem or worry about the outcome.  They don’t spiral into a vicious or destructive cycle and simply go about their lives, doing no harm.  Those are the lucky ones.

But then there are the others.  Us.  The people who harbor self-defeating, self-sabotaging and self-destructive behaviors that consume them when one – or all – of them sets sail.  Why did I smoke those cigarettes?  Why did I finish that bottle of wine? Why am I overspending?  Why am I starving myself and pounding the treadmill so hard?  Then we recognize we have a problem – or want to have a problem.  Because if we identify with a certain group – the alcoholic, the smoker, the overeater, the splurge buyer – maybe we can find solace in their self-help communities. So we join.  We jump in. And then we learn that the piece we think is missing from the puzzle – is not. 

The only thing I can share is what I’ve learned over the years – my soul is my guiding light.  My gut fuels my soul.  If I’m acting out, there is something brewing way under the surface that I’ve yet to figure out.  My heart believes. My mind disagrees.  It’s a signal that my supposed intellect is overriding my gut – and my soul is suffering. I am suffering. 

So why the binge?  Because when I couldn’t get enough of those crackers, I knew something was wrong.  I was in a long-term relationship that said all the right things, but the actions proved the truth.  I wanted to believe, but my experience dictated otherwise.  So I rebelled. I stopped stuffing down what I needed to release.

And when I did?  Admittedly, I am disappointed in myself and embarrassed by the way I handled things.  But in reality?  I’m glad that I did move forward in a chaotic, angry, hurt and passionate manner because I proved true what food was attempting to deny – the relationship wasn’t meant for me. And he was never who he said he was or promised to be.

My soul, my guiding light – don’t ignore what so loudly screams at you. Self-destructive behavior is your check engine light. Pay attention. Listen. And respond. Peace awaits you.

Author: E.M. Murphy

A voracious writer, lifetime learner and eternal seeker who aims to open minds and hearts. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a NASM Certified Behavior Change Specialist, humanity and humor is at the heart of my writing, reminding us that the key to success will always start with a genuine concern for others while making sure to be true to our authentic selves.

4 thoughts on “Self-destructive behavior, your check engine light.”

  1. Oh boy can I identify with all the self-destructive things we can do to ourselves. Sabotage! It has been a pattern my whole life. It is the figuring out why. So hard it can be. Do we feel we aren’t doing our best and punish ourselves for even a small thing? Are we perfectionists? It is easier to excuse others even before myself.

    1. Jane, how I agree. In fact I think we tolerate and accept from others what we would never allow from ourselves. Maybe this, in turn, is why we self-destruct at times. We are way too hard on ourselves and need to give ourselves the same love and care we give to others.

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