I Am That Girl Now

Monday, June 13, 2005


I was on a commuter train yesterday, headed up north to see some friends for the evening. It took an hour to get up there. The train car was completely full of people, and most of them were talking. Several sets of people were talking at that balls-out blaring bray that rattles my fillings: that pitch and volume that in my opinion is best used when attempting to project your voice to fill a theatre without benefit of a microphone, not when speaking to someone who is right fucking next to you.

You know those scenes in science fiction or fantasy where a character gets the power to read minds, and the cacaphony that results-- chaotic noise that they can't tune out, can't get away from, and can't sort out-- drives them batshit crazy? That was me yesterday. I was nearly in tears by the end of that train ride, I was so frustrated. Ready to chew off my own foot to get out of the trap, or batter myself unconscious against the bars of my cage. I had tissue stuffed in my ears and it didn't help.

I don't know why noise affects me like that. Put me in a noisy crowd, or even with two or three of my more volume-control-impared friends (their parents seem to have missed the "use your indoor voice, please" lesson), and I beat a hasty retreat after about five minutes. If I can't get away-- if I'm stuck in a car with them, or on a train, or in a social situation where there is no excuse to leave-- I start to lose it. I can't go to some concerts or bars because of this: constantly being beaten around the head with noise drives me mental.

I know I'm bad with this stuff, which is why I try to limit my exposure to it, and try to plan frequent breaks. The problem sets in when I'm trapped.

Actually, most of my freak-outs involve being trapped. Trapped physically (I get claustrophobic when I can't move around freely if I so choose-- which makes me a joy on crowded morning trains, I tell ya), trapped socially, trapped time-wise, trapped choice-wise, trapped food-wise, all of it. All these things make me completely lose my shit. Again, I don't know why. Possibly it's because I'm socially engineered to react like prey instead of like a predator: when faced with a less-than-good situation, I avoid, I flee, and if I get cornered then I get very hostile in a panicky way. I need new social engineering.

Currently, we've got a two-day meeting coming up. Staff from every office in all our locations are coming in. I'm being faced with things that I don't like-- I'm going to be outside my comfort zone, off my turf, and surrounded by casual acquaintances that I don't particularly care to be chatty with for two whole days. Two days in a row, I'm going to have to navigate my way around questionable luncheons and avoid the giant plates of brownies and cookies and cupcakes and God knows what else at the scheduled breaks. Two nights in a row, we're going to be out and surrounded by endless amounts of food of little or no nutritional value-- forced "fun time" with people I barely know and don't particularly care to get to know.

I'm soothing myself with planning. I've been hitting up people for information, so I'm more in the know than most of the office-- I know ahead of time what the menu is going to be like for every buffet and event, and what time we get to do what, so I'm working up a schedule and plan to deal with all of it. My main challenge here is that when trapped, and trapped around people I barely know, lacking something to do other than chat with the disquieting strangers, my usual plan in the past has been to distract myself by stuffing my gob. I'm working out a "what normal people do at parties" plan and am going to attempt to impliment it.

I have to take the I can do this, I'm going to do this, there's no way I'm going to let these bastards fuck up my food intake because of stupid fear and boredom stance. Have to. Gotta square my shoulders, set my jaw, and go in with confidence. I'm not going to think about failure in this; it WILL NOT HAPPEN. I am not the girl who has problems with this situation anymore, I am the girl who can handle them.

In the meantime, I need to call the park district. This company bullshit is preventing me from getting to my first swimming lesson, and I have to make damn sure they don't take away the rest of my lessons because of that. Normally I wouldn't have to worry, but since this is a free class, they want to be able to use any open spots. Grr.


  • The more information the better, huh? I'm the same way.

    Did you notice your counter down at the bottom? You only have six more hours til two weeks of binge-free eating. You're on a roll!

    I was thinking about your lack of unstoppable cravings lately. I was sick last week (still sort of am) and I gave myself license to eat whatever I wanted since absolutely nothing sounded good to me. But after one evening of a hamburger, chocolate chip cookies and Coke for the first time in two months, all I wanted was a chicken Caesar salad and whole wheat toast the next night. Turns out that maybe for my splurges, I want freedom from counting the calories, not actually junky food.

    Don't know if that would actually apply to you or not, but I thought I'd share anyway.

    By Anonymous Alison, at 1:05 PM  

  • It is so nice to learn that I am not alone with this whole noise aversion issue. I work from home as often as possible - not because I get more done (which is the reason I give to the company) but because it is quiet. I had the IT staff bring in the technician for our telephone system to shut out pages that are made. They were driving me crazy.

    I also have the same food issues but not your resolve. We had three day training session last week where all the food was brought in. I ate right along with everyone else, which explains the 2 lb weight gain this week.

    By Blogger Cindy, at 1:48 PM  

  • I brought in a 'what normal people do at parties' plan last summer and it worked quite well. Among other things (we're not on the same eating plan) I wore a bracelet my husband gave me on my right hand which I used to remind myself that 'you are loved and supported, this too will pass', and also to THINK about what I was picking up and putting in my mouth.
    Good luck, keep at it


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:56 PM  

  • I fear I am one of those loud folks you mentioned. That's because I can't filter out background noise. It's a major problem for me, so I always think no one can hear me. My husband, who is intensely private and doesn't care for loud talkers, is driven nuts by this. I've leared that we just can't talk on trains or planes or in other similar situations - I will get on his nerves, and then he'll get on mine, because I get being intensely private about private stuff... but who cares if the people behind me know I am eating chicken for dinner?

    Anyway... I'm sorry for your frustrating few days ahead. You've done all you can to make plans, and I really give you credit for being so aware of your weaknesses, of knowing in advance that you need to be as familar with the plans as possible to avoid pitfalls. That's really impressive. I don't doubt you'll get through this!!!

    By Anonymous Maeander, at 7:36 PM  

  • Meg,
    Love the blog. I'm also a chicago girl. Talk about the city that loves to eat.
    I'm so happy for you...I blew my maintenance, spending all of 2004 slllllowly gaining back 30 pounds. Here I am.

    My skinny bitch metabolism never came, and unlike you, I didn't understand that.

    Second time's a charm, no?

    By Blogger Jackie, at 9:07 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home