Downward Spiral

I was very excited to get hired by a company that manufactures desktop computer-controlled machines that used various cutter bits for transferring artwork from a standard computer similar to a special printer that cuts instead of using ink.  My position as a Field Service Technician was to provide support to users of the the company’s machines.   We would take calls from customers who were experiencing machine failures or more likely, operator ignorance.  If we weren’t able to solve the issue over the phone a technician would be dispatched to the client’s circuit board fabrication site.  Initially, I thought I could handle the travel requirements of the job, the expectations escalated to 90% travel soon after closing the deal on our new home.

The stress became intense.  The company sent me to Germany to be trained by the technicians who assemble the machines I was expected to support.  Many of the guys I met spoke little English, making communication a challenging feet.  Feeling alone, I started smoking cigarettes to calm my nerves.  The evenings were especially lonely and my hunger demanded I locate some relief.  I walked to a corner market near my hotel and bought handfuls of bingeing goodies:  candies, cookies, cakes.  When I returned to my room in the hotel, I would lay out the bounty and become a ravenous animal.  Tearing into the wrappers and gorging myself with the drugs.  I felt high which quickly changed to guilt, shame, and remorse.  The routine took over; In between purges I drank water to ensure that I would be able to purge the disgusting filth from my stomach.  The feeling of fullness consumed my body, while the satisfaction of having an empty stomach provided relief.  Sadly, the comfort would be short lived and I would again feel guilt, shame, and remorse.  Inhaling the cigarette when the craving for food returned gave me temporary relief from the hunger by replacing it with nausea.  I wanted so badly for the cigarettes to help me overcome this crazy binging and purging cycle.  Unfortunately, they were only strong enough to reduce the number of bulimic cycles.  Damn it.  Why can’t I stop?  I felt so alone.

Sure, I tried to get help, I located a nearby eating disorder clinic consisting of one receptionist, one psychiatrist, two therapists, and a dietitian/nutritionist.  The therapist I saw had a small/miniature Husky that she kept in her office during our sessions.  The psychiatrist asked several standard questions and “Why do you feel the need to throw-up after you eat?”  Puzzled look on my face.  “How often do you purge?”  I felt defensive and didn’t want to tell her the truth.  “Some days only once, other days I go on several binges each followed by purging.”  She was rather condescending in her tone.  I tried to share my current struggles with her but I never felt comfortable.  She asked questions about growing-up in my family.  Her interest in me felt superficial matching the impression she gave me with her appearance.

I met with the dietitian once.  She told me I seemed to know what I needed to eat to be healthy and recommended that I try sitting with my food resist overeating.  I gave her method a try after each meal, sitting instead of going for seconds.  It was working.  My need to purge seemed to diminish by resisting the urge to stuff myself.  I felt I was heading in the right direction and I stopped seeing the therapist.  Not long after, I returned to cycles of binging and purging.  The vending machine at work called to me.  Just one or two cupcakes, potato chips, candy bars, cookies, all for the taking.  Shortly after I scarfed them down I would be sure to drink soda or water to wash it down and allow for the purging in the restroom.  I would bring bottled water into the stall with me so that I could rinse out my stomach until I was puking up mostly clear water.  I felt relief knowing that the toxic junk was out of my stomach.  Followed by guilt and shame.  I was disgusting.  I knew there was something wrong with me.  I reasoned that it was my lack of willpower.  I was weak.  Other people didn’t seem to struggle like I did.  Co-workers ate whatever they desired and stayed healthy looking.  My body couldn’t be trusted.  It failed me before.  Saving every calorie I took in the form of gigantic fat cells.  I couldn’t allow this to happen again.

How could people that are overweight live with themselves?  They chose to be fat because if they really wanted to lose weight they could.  They lacked the willpower to restrict food and vomit as necessary.  It was those people I felt sorry for.  They were either ignorant of what food are healthy or failed to choose the right ones.

Being overweight is not an option.  I refuse to go back to that disgusting, pathetic version of myself. I hated myself.  I was uncomfortable with myself.  The only way to cope with the emptiness inside was to fill it with distractions.

I felt exploited.

I was resentful.

I was tired of being everyone’s bitch!

I perceived myself as being treated with less value, than even I, felt I was worth.  I needed something.  I needed a way that I could feel “compensated” for this injustice.  I tried to resist these thoughts with what I thought were more constructive thoughts.  Well, I often thought of it as “partial volunteer work.”  The concept would play out in my head.

“We’ve decided to double your wage in order to better compensate you for what you’re worth.”

I would smile; thrilled at finally being recognized for being me and the struggles I’ve had to suffer.

“Knowing that you’re the wonderful person that you are…”

My smile turns to a frown.

“One-half of your wages will now be automatically donated to the company.”

If I *believe* I see others taking exception to the rule, then I am inclined to feel “cheated” for being expected to abide by rules that others get to be the exception to without consequence of punishment.  My knee-jerk reaction is to feel that “they are getting away with something that I’m not!”  The feelings of anger, frustration, and injustice start swelling inside.  I fought off resentment with what rational I could as best as I could.  While stealing violated my core values, I wanted to retaliate against those who wronged me.  I remembered the rush I got from “taking what I wanted” and “the thrill of getting away with it” when I was a teenager.  I felt frustrated and I was getting mad.  Driven mad by the insidiously, nagging, thought.  Demanding attention, “The Company deserves some loss and I deserve some gain.”  I theorized that I must not be receiving enough compensation.  Despite my best efforts, I felt I was struggling to keep my bills current.  Now, I can better understand that the problem wasn’t external to me.  The problem lay in my perspective being distorted.  A perceived injustice leading to feelings of entitlement.

The fear of knowing my idea is risky with a possibility of getting caught and consequently, punished as a result.  Eventually, my suppressed feelings; my inner-demons, wore me down.  I felt as though I needed to feed the demons in some way that would satisfy their hunger.  I would just have to receive my compensation in the form of products and make sure that I don’t get caught.  After all, I couldn’t simple quit; I liked working hard.  It kept me occupied and distracted.  My fear fed my obsession.  Fear of not having an item when it was needed outweighed my rationale.  I was scraping by to pay my share of the bills and fund my distractions.  How do I get the items I want without spending money I can’t afford to lose.  The store/employer can afford to lose a little profit, besides there is insurance to cover losses and tax write-offs.  I deserve to receive a “special discount.”

The thought goes through my mind and I am excited.  I feel my heart beat faster, my mind starts racing with plans to act out the deed.  Loud thoughts of justification, “Oh, it’s not that big of a deal.”

“It won’t hurt them.”

“Cory, you deserve it.”

I’m on autopilot.  Compelled.  My demon takes control and the true me is only able to watch.

Completion is relief.

Down.. down… down:

The job was boring, reminding me of my past experience working for state government. Repetitive, boring, unclear plot projects with requirements that require excessive meetings to “hammer out those details.”  About two months into the job,  I had completed the first project I was hired to do.  “Cory?”  A man’s voice broke through the silence of the large room with several divided workspaces.  I turned to the opening of my workspace and saw an unfamiliar middle-aged, man with a round face, large cheeks, muscular build, with short hair, standing there, “Cory?”

 

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