I’m a cheater. I’ll admit it. Everything about the word is sexy- including that it has my favorite word “eat” right smack dab in the middle of it. When I think about cheating, the thrill of excitement that travels up my spine at the speed of light is driven primarily by the fear of being caught, of doing the wrong thing when you spend a lifetime always doing the opposite, of the devilishness that is contained in being secretive. But when I really think about it, the darkness that surrounds it clearly dims the reality. Cheating only shines in its murkiness but when you bring it out into the light of day, it loses most of its appeal.
I live my life pretty out in the open. What I say, what I post, the image I share with the world is pretty broad and gritty. I’m not afraid to share the craziness, the messiness, and the happiness that permeates my life as a mother, a teacher, and a wife. But when I have a secret- I closely guard it like a treasure. My husband and I have lived together for almost two decades so he knows me very well. We have always had a pretty open and honest relationship but the things that he doesn’t know about me, the really dark shit that would scare him, I clench onto that and wrap myself in satisfaction that there is something that is all mine, that no one but me knows about, my own little dirty, dark place where I can live alone. Secrets are delicious in their depravity and their solitude.
I’ve spent a lot of time on this journey examining what power the secretive side of me has over my life and what I’ve found is disturbing to say the least. My most treasured secrets have to do with food. Cheating with food is my favorite affair. Eating well in public and cheating in private is something I think many people struggle with in their lives. It’s hard to hide a drug problem but food is the perfect cheating opportunity that still allows us to function and dysfunction at the same time. I’ve struggled for the last 25 years with bulimia. It’s been my most treasured secret. Eating for me has always been tied up in darkness. On the outside, it’s all smiles and laughter but food is a tenebrous place for me…it’s where I punish and reward and more importantly where I rebel. My whole life I’ve had to be the good girl. I’ve had to swallow a lot of sadness and put on a good face. I’ve had to be a grown up before my time and embrace responsibility before I ever really got to taste freedom. Eating a dozen donuts in the parking lot in my car was always my secret little “fuck you” to the world…yeah you think I’ve got it all together well watch me eat this until I’m literally sick. It was my silent scream that I’m not okay, that I’m hurting, that this whole life is a sham. But as I started to change my body, I realized that if I’m screaming in silence, no one can really hear me or help me. I think any kind of cheating has this duality to it. Not happy in your relationship, rather than saying and showing what you need, cheat….but then are you really getting what you want and need or just silently screaming out for help that won’t arrive? Secrets have no voice. Cheating makes no sound.
Find out what drives what you keep secret. Listen to those clandestine parts of you, try to find out what they are telling you and speak those words out loud to the people that love you. You will invariably find out two things. One, that what you’re cheating with really doesn’t solve your problems but continues to deepen them like a river cutting into a valley carving deeper and deeper into the bedrock. Two, that what you’re cheating with really isn’t as great as what you could have if you could just say those words that you’re keeping secret. Stop cheating yourself out of getting what you really want. Bring those secrets out in the open and watch the healing and rebuilding begin.