My sister-in-law once made fun of me on a visit because I was rummaging in the pantry for candy. "QOC has become a normal person at last," she said, "She needs chocolate."
Maybe I held myself to too tight of a standard when I was younger. Maybe I still do. Self-control was always my point of pride. I could, and did, make a microscopic bag of M&Ms last a month. If I decided that rising at 4:30 in the morning every day was what needed to be done, then up at 4:30 I would be. I didn't need to indulge myself. Don't get me wrong--I could always enjoy life, including M&Ms and sleeping in--but not in a needy way. I always had to feel that I could do without it. I never wanted to need a crutch.
Now--well, I understand a little more. Food still doesn't affect me that way and probably never will, but I understand the desire to binge. The need to do something, anything, that will quiet the noises in your head and maybe even hurt a little because the real pain is too much to deal with. Food is a handy thing for some people. Sleep for others. I can't eat when I'm upset and suffer from insomnia, so those don't work for me.
The irony is, there's nothing wrong in my life. Nothing bad. Just too much of good things. But that can hurt, too. If I were to make a list of the type of activities that I find difficult, and a list of the activities that I absolutely must do in the course of a day, the overlap would be almost total: following routines; emotional interactions; monitoring my surroundings; crisis management. There is simply no time or energy or need for the things I am good at: spontaneity; abstract interactions; detailed analysis.
What I do to cope is read. It sounds harmless enough. And it's not that there's anything wrong with reading. Nor am I distressed at the books I read, mostly light fantasy, as being evil. I just don't like to need them. I don't like that I'm always, always, looking for an escape from my real life and my real duties. But I am.
And it seems wrong. Shouldn't it be enough to be assured I'm doing the right thing? Am I saying that God and the Bible aren't enough to pull me through my daily tasks? I've tried to find ways to rearrange my life to work from my strengths and--they're not there. There's only so much improvement a housekeeping plan can take. Do something fun and spontaneous and I wind up regretting it amid piles of laundry and dishes for the next three days. I can sit down and pretend I'm planning for future years of school, but I know perfectly well I'll scrap it all and start over when the time comes, so what is the point?
There is no room for anything but diapers meals laundry diapers laundry meals diapers meals laundry (none of those done well), and if there's a momentary pause I'm too exhausted to tackle the sort of housekeeping projects I might actually enjoy, too mentally frazzled to even communicate with another human being (some evenings DOB comes home and I literally cannot speak to him)---so, I read. Serious books require too much mental effort and housekeeping and mothering books just depress me. I don't need more ideas about how to do things better; I have read all that before. So I read fantasy. As if I were drowning, grabbing at twigs and hoping they will hold. Or, if my hands are full (as they often are), I click refresh a hundred time, looking for messages.
I turn to words like some people turn to drink. And if I can't make my own words I have to go hunting for someone else's.
I think I should interact with the children more, but the more I interact early in the day the less likely I am to still be able to speak to them by dinnertime. I think I should do something that had some value for someone else or even for myself, but I can't come up with anything that wouldn't push me over the edge. Taking a walk used to be my favorite way to relieve stress, but I can't do that now.
So I just . . . read. But I don't like it because I'm not reading for fun so much as I am reading to cope, and I don't like that I need to cope. I ought to be stronger than this. I shouldn't need something. Or maybe I should. Maybe I am not supposed to be as tough as I would like to be.