Something unexpected happened at work this week that knocked me on my ass. The issue left me feeling angry, betrayed and embarrassed. It’s been a really long time since I’ve felt this way in my professional world, and I’d forgotten the power a bad day at the office can have over the rest of my life. It’s okay. Weeks like this are necessary and this one served as a good reminder to rebuild some of the boundaries I had neglected to maintain. In a successful business, it’s important not to put faith in integrity. If it’s there, enjoy it. But do not count on it.
The Incident made me late for lunch, which means I didn’t have time to go home and fix my daily mid-day salad. No problem. Publix was down the street and I could find something healthy there.
So it’s funny that in the same week I had applauded myself on overcoming my problem with emotional eating, I found myself standing at the bakery counter in Publix watching the clerk expertly place two large chocolate chip cookies in a crisp, white bakery bag. I felt like I was meeting my drug dealer.
But it didn’t stop there. On the way back to the office, I hit the McDonald’s drive through and ordered this to tide me over until I could sit down at my desk and eat my cookies.
Back at the office I felt a double-whammy of bad. One situation had been out of my control, but the other – sitting in front of me in a crisp white bag as well as the crumpled remnants of a wrapper from an ice cream cone – was completely under my control. I figured I had a choice. I could demolish these beautiful cookies and beat myself up for the next week…
Or I could demolish these beautiful cookies in front of me and own it.
(I could pretend that throwing away the cookies was an option, but I could tell they were a bit under-baked in the middle and well…it just wasn’t an option.)
I love to eat. And I’d had a really shitty day. So why on earth would it be a crime to eat to make myself feel better? In fact, it was my rest day, so I could really live this up.
When I got home that evening, my husband was a bit relieved the woman who walked in the door was not the same person who had called him earlier to rant in angry tears about her stupid day job (and how she had dreams dammit! and something about integrity in the workplace that was probably a sad attempt at being profound).
The woman who walked in the door, kicked off her heels, did a cursory glance at the healthy dinner options in the refrigerator, shook her head and announced, “We’re going to Five Guys.” Because I am the Beef Queen and the Beef Queen was going to get some hot and juicy beef. And today wasn’t the day to hold the bacon.
“Bacon Cheeseburger with everything – except onions – and a Regular Fry.”
“So, you want the double instead of the Little Bacon Cheeseburger?” the girl at the counter asked.
“And the Regular Fry feeds two,” she added, looking at my husband.
“Okay. He can have a couple of my fries if he wants.”
Counter-Girl was very helpful. She didn’t know she was dealing with a professional.
After his wife’s Feeding, my husband mentioned he’d like to stop at Publix for a few things on the way home. Oh yes. That would be fine.
As he went off to grab some milk, I went to see my friends.
The man in the bakery asked me if I felt bad for taking the last Black & White.
“No,” I said.
My husband asked me if I would share.
“No,” I said.
(He knew it was a dumb question.)
When we got home, I put aside the writing projects I had planned to work on, cuddled up with the dog and the husband on the sofa and watched two discs of Two and A Half Men. Before the last episode, I remembered something:
I’d been saving this Sicilian Pistachio gelato to celebrate not coming in last at the upcoming Battle for the Box competition. But, you know what? I can buy another pint for that.
Down. The. Lip Smacking. Hatch.
And that was it. It was time for bed. I drank an extra glass of water (just seemed like a nice way to reinstate healthy eating for the next day) and tried not to think too much about the Incident and facing it all again in the morning.
In the last year and a half I’ve changed a lot about myself. Regardless of my bad week, I’ve experienced a lot of success at work, and I’ve started to pursue a career as a writer. I’ve faced my weaknesses and I’ve even overcome some of them. A year ago, a day of emotional eating would have led to a week or a month of emotional eating. It would have turned into a covert operation, hiding wrappers and fast food receipts, silent promises that I would turn things around on Monday. A day of letting loose would have spiraled into a period of a miserable existence.
I’m no longer that person. I don’t hide. I own what I can’t change. My success in physical fitness requires me to eat well and follow a healthy lifestyle. But sometimes life requires me to eat a cookie (or three).