Have you ever been in The Pit?
It’s that place where everything feels empty… hopeless… depressing… anxious… lonely.
Maybe all the above.
When you’re in The Pit, you probably crave action. You want to DO something — anything — to make the bad feelings go away. “Somebody please, make it stop.”
That’s the part where food usually comes in… It stuffs down the misery. It numbs the pain…
Or we do the opposite. The tighten up ship. We restrict our diet. We clamp down hard on control (only to end up binge eating as a consequence).
Personally, I was in The Pit last week. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d be lone wolf for life.
I think it’s normal to struggle with loneliness sometimes, but I’m still a bit embarrassed by it. I actually cringe when I think about posting this confessional for all to see.
But it’s important for me to share my shadows and humanness with you. I fall apart sometimes, just like everyone else.
My Achilles heel emotions (the emotions I have the lowest tolerance for) are loneliness and rejection, and especially loneliness that feels like rejection.
These feelings used to drive binge eating the most. When I’m in the grips of them, I can do the SDF, but I still want to panic and run and flail around like a baby. I still feel bleeegghhhhh.
But if I decided to panic and flail around, where would that get me?
From previous experience, I know that being around people won’t make the loneliness go away. Because you can still feel alone in a crowded room.
The first time I ever felt lonely, and then got around my friends, and still felt lonely… it lit my brain on fire.
“What?! This is supposed to help! Why isn’t it helping?!”
And that’s when I realized that “wherever you go, there you are.”
I learned that when you’re in The Pit, you can take all the action you want, but the feelings will follow you… yikes.
Does this mean we’re SOL?
What can we do to feel better when we’re in The Pit? And how can we prevent ourselves from reaching for comfort food?
Here’s the best formula I can come up with:
- Stop trying to feel better.
- Do the SDF to make space for the feelings, but don’t expect them to go away.
- Embrace the edginess.
- Find compassion for yourself.
- When you want to eat to numb the pain, be especially compassionate.
Although I felt hopeless last week, I knew that even if I got my heart’s desire, I would somehow find another reason to feel hopeless.
Wherever you go, there you are.
So instead of flailing around, scrambling to take action to make the pain go away… I tried my best to sit still.
And I’m not always successful. I’m far from perfect. There are still days where I go too hard at the gym to (attempt to) escape the pain.
One day, I pushed too hard. On another day, I was able to sit still.
I’m not perfect. I’m progressing.
But what about the binge eating?
Since I’ve been practicing the SDF for 3.5 years now (woah)… I can honestly say that I don’t turn to food when I’m in The Pit anymore. A long-term binge hasn’t been an issue since my last blunder in 2018.
I really don’t want that to sound braggy. It took really hard work to get here (my long-time readers know), and the work still isn’t done. I could slip back into binge eating tomorrow and really feel down.
Staying committed to not abandoning yourself is a lifelong journey.
So, no brags here. In fact, I feel like I’m being totally depressing, but I think this is a powerful message that someone might need today.
When you’re in The Pit, things suck. But we don’t have to turn to food. We can choose to feel our pain instead of getting swept away by it.
And we won’t win every battle. There will be some days where being in The Pit just means eating more food to soften the pain. And there will be other days where we have the strength to show up.
Both options make us feel like crud. But one is accompanied by overeating, while the other isn’t.
I hope this illustrates the difference between the misery of food-obsession vs. the misery of your authentic pain…
One puts you at war with yourself, while the other helps you grow closer.
But they can both be filled with pain.
In my previous truth bomb post, I speculated that life after you stop numbing your feelings with food is going to feel worse. Not better. But worse.
The question is, can we be okay with that?
Can we sign up for it?
If you’re here because you want to feel better, I’m sorry, but it’s not going to work. Because when we give up the food buffer, all the authentic feelings come bubbling up.
Some good, some bad. But you know what? Those authentic feelings are telling you something.
Sometimes, our loneliness is telling us to reach out and connect with someone. Other times, it’s telling us that we need a better relationship with ourselves.
So, will you show up with me?
Will your imperfect self show up with my imperfect self? Can we try our hardest to sit still – and let ourselves succeed on some days and fail on other days, and let that be enough?
The Dark Night of the Soul felt so real last week, and I wanted so desperately to flail around for someone to save me, but I tried to sit still with my authentic pain.
I tried so damn hard. And I know, in my very core, that this work is making me stronger.
Who I am today is tougher than who I was last year, and especially the years before.
It’s a lifelong journey.
I hope my story helps you feel less alone, knowing that you’re not alone in feeling alone.
I hope you have a slightly better understanding on how to stop overeating long-term by doing all this ‘feeling your feelings’ stuff.
By letting it be OK to not feel OK sometimes.
The Pit is a sucky place to be. Fortunately, it’s not forever.
Eventually, the sun comes back out from the gloomy clouds, and you get to carry on.
Let’s just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Keep doing the next right thing.
We’re in this together,
PS. You feeling this? Leave me a comment below. Was I too depressing? Send me something. You feeling lost and lonely too? Sign up for my newsletter (by downloading the free ebook below) and hit reply to any of my emails to reach me directly. Boo-yah.
PSS. If you liked this, and it didn’t totally depress you, then you’ll somehow actually love my new book, Daily Reminders. It contains a collection of newsletters just like this (with a more uplifting tone, lol).
I can totally relate to what you’re saying. What I appreciate about your approach is that you’re honest in saying that it doesn’t work like magic, that it is actually hard work that takes time. I’m over 50 and only now can I sometimes muster the courage to look pain in the eyes. Most of the times I can’t and just drown it in food, my painkiller.
Kari Dahlgren says
Thanks for the comment Dragana!! You are definitely not alone <3
Miss Sonia Williams says
Hello Kari, I have seen your post on Pinterest just fleeting and I have seen your SDF. I wish this had been around along time ago. I have health problems from T2D and PCOS as well as numbing myself with food which I have done from an early age but I am only looking into my reasons why I do it and how I can help myself through this stage and I am over 50 years old. I understand a lot of what I have read on your blog. I just want to be at peace with my Body Mind and Spirit. I no its going to be a long road but with help like you are putting out there for others to connect is brilliant where have you been .
Kari Dahlgren says
His Miss Sonia!! You are so brave to be doing what you’re doing. This work is tough. And the fact that you’re willfully looking into your internal world is a major leap in the right direction 🙂 I’m glad you’re here, and I hope to see your name pop up again sometime!