Saturday, November 19, 2011

Transference, Examined

Shopping is not really my bag
You hear on the news about gastric bypass patients who become alcoholics or compulsive shoppers. We all know people who gained weight after they quit smoking. I know several recovered alcoholics who turned to food (often to sweet foods) and became food addicts, even as they worked through their twelve-step program for alcohol addiction. When I started keeping the pounds off in 2003 all I wanted to do was lose weight in a healthy way and keep the pounds off. In 2005 I began to see that when I wasn't overeating, I was over spending and over reacting. In 2006, when I accepted a program that could help me, I became aware that I need to watch for signs of transferring my addictive nature to another substance or behavior.

Not allowed in my house yum, yum
I was never much of a drinker but I tested alcohol and found that it released my inhibitions. When I drink I want to eat. So I gave up any hard liquor. I gave up liquors because I only wanted them for the sugar. I occasionally have a glass of wine and twice a year I have a beer. (Seriously, it is just twice a year: Mother's Day and Fourth of July). 

I was never a drug user or abuser but during the past five years I have had several instances where I needed a narcotic pain medication and each time I found I either wanted more meds or more food. This caused me to find alternative pain therapies (exercise, hot/cold treatments, aroma therapy, self hypnosis, meditation) and I no longer hold a prescription for a pain reliever - just to be on the safe side. I would rather deal with a small pain instead of a bigger ass. 

Not my prescription
I have been guilty of spending too much money occasionally, especially at the holidays but I have not spent without thought of the consequences and I have become financially responsible, even though I am not yet what I would call financially sound. I thought that my only transference issues were behavioral: doing too much, taking on too much, maybe  whining too much - but I did not think I picked up any substances.

Then one month ago today, on October 19th, I stopped using artificial sweeteners cold turkey. Three small exceptions took place in those three weeks. But in this fourth week I found myself picking it up more and more and also found myself craving sugar products again. WTF? Where did that come from. Why was I in craving mode while having the artificial sweeteners when I was not craving any sweetener or sugar when I was not having any at all??

Then Marion at affectionforfitness posted this comment to my artificial sweetener update
Hi Jane! I have this exact same issue. I'm doing well off the sweeteners for as long half a year, and then something happens abruptly--which would be my stressful work right now--and I'm drinking soda again. It's so bad for my teeth."
 Eureka!  I think gold has been struck! I cannot say why what this equals in Marion's life or in anyone else's life but my own, but I know what this comment mirrors in my life. 
No cheese for her either!
This is something I can understand. I am seeking and using the sensation of sweet (real or otherwise) to cope with the stress in my life at this moment; to not have to deal with something that is troubling me; to avoid feeling or accepting something I do not want to look at. It is the same as using quantities of butter or cheese or chocolate or ice cream or pizza to numb out. I am seeking the sweet taste to not have to face something stressful in my life without a buffer. 

This knowledge is only one small part of the equation. Now I have to put down the crutch and feel my way through the feelings and thoughts the sweet sensations were diligently trying to mask. In your efforts at keeping the pounds off, are you watching for or experiencing any transference of substances or behaviors? 



Princess Dieter aka Mir said...

This is a clear and useful post about self-awareness and addictive personalities. I have one. If it's not food, it's hoarding/spending on multiple items of the same thing. Or it's reading too much. Sleeping too much. Watching too many movies. I am not a moderate person. I have to work at NOT becoming stuck on something.

That's why I have my list...the obesity was priority. The hoarding/clutter is next. Then a, b c. It goes on. Looking for balance and pursuing goals/dreams...and only letting the excess in my personality be excess when it's a positive thing..not something with destructive edges.

The self-awareness chapters...they pile up. wE learn. And, if we're wise, grow a bit.

Good for you for noticing. I think the only way to make progress is to NOTICE what we're doing, why...and intervene sanely.

God bless...

downsizers said...

Thank you so much for this post. I will link to it over at my place because I think it is so relevant to so many. Don't stop posting. I get so much from what you say and the example that you set. Princess Dieter too; your comment is so, so on target. I live a life of extremes it seems and am working to stay in control in areas like spending and "acquiring". If I get on a flower kick, say daylilies, I think I have to have every color. It was rudbeckia and I had to have all the varieties - fabric, clothes, books - oh my. Thanks for this. Thanks for this. "Transference" - a concept I will now be more aware of thanks to you. Did I say thanks enough?

Jo said...

Thanks for this very powerful and timely (for me) post. Now some things are making sense. Wow.

Karen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen said...

Thank you for the post. Clutter for me will be a major 2012 focus, as I enter the first year of maintence ( 60 pounds by the time 2012 hits). Without using food to cope in can now face the clutter.

Also I've noticed that I use coffee more as a replacement for food. I'll be trying to switch over to decaf green tea for some of my hot liquid intake.

Great topic. Thank you Jane.

thursdays child said...

thank you thank you thank you - I am an overspender, and I am certainly suffering the effects of stress impacting my choices - I did this for 3 months with almost no deviations and now I can't handle a week... I can do this, I will do this and your post helps me understand what all my behaviours indicate...