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Binge and Purge, Give and Take


I recognize this pattern. I participate in it often without even questioning it. I make jokes about it and write about it, and still, I participate. It’s okay these days to openly fall into a binge and purge pattern on some things, not others. Because of awareness campaigns, after school specials, celebrity struggles or well-versed friends, most of us have been warned off binging and purging where food is concerned. We see it now. After years of media attention, we now understand that this pattern with food is damaging. It is a sign of a deeper problem. This ought to not come as a surprise to any of us anymore. Yet, it’s still a problem– girls, boys, young or old, the pattern continues. We empty, we fill, we empty again. What is it in us that perpetuates this damaging behavior?

And yet, there is still an undercurrent of “being okay” with the binge and purge, at least on some level. It’s subtle now– I ate too many Oreos so now I’ll work out harder. It’s a give and take mentality, many may argue. They think this is a healthy version of the binge and purge cycle. Calories in, calories out and all that. There’s some truth to this, of course. Move more, eat better, be attentive. Still, it gnaws at me. I don’t know that justifying this kind of emptying and filling and emptying is right either.

We can’t help but fall into damaging behaviors from time to time. It’s normal and healthy to work toward a course correction in the wake of that. I suppose that’s where I find myself today. After spending a few days laying low to fight off a nasty head cold last week I did the math on how much Netflix I indulged. It’s not pretty. I’m not bragging that I finished a whole season of a show I’ve been streaming in just a day or so. It’s troubling that I filled time that way and have little to show for it.

Of course, I can justify it– I was sick. I could do little else. Reading was out, coughing was in. Nose blowing is easier when Orphan Black is streaming in front of me. That’s not really the issue, though. Circumstances will always come into play. It’s the habit of the thing that bothers me and the lost time, the lost chance, the lost opportunity. I empty, I fill, I empty again.

This season of Lent has always seems to be about emptying. I’m giving this up, I giving that up. I’m making room. I’m moving obstacles out of the way so that I can focus, pay attention, be attentive. This is right and true, even so, perhaps there is something else, something more. I wonder as I think about the binge watching, how eager I feel to fill up when there is an empty space looming there. To talk into the quiet when it comes instead of letting the quiet just be there. It feels like forever since I just stared out the window and noticed the birds, the wind, the air moving the trees. That’s where life happens, all movement and waiting and poetry and liturgy.

So all this to say that it’s on my mind. It’s present, here, in my beating heart. I’m noticing the rhythm I’m in with this season cycle, this empty just hoping to be filled. I certainly do not have it figured out. I doubt I will solve the binge and purge puzzle before Pascha dawns on the stillness of Lent but it’s coming. I’m content, just now, to piece it together one moment, one season, at a time, in small bites, staying just a little bit hungry.