5.24.2006

Sublimation

From Dictionary.com: (n) the process of converting and expressing a primitive instinctual desire or impulse to a form that is socially or culturally acceptable

A few days before I flew to Arizona for my sister's wedding, I went to the grocery store. Not because I needed food, but because I wanted to get out of the house. And grocery shopping is one chore I enjoy. Here's a list of what I bought on that lonely Saturday night sojourn:

1 pint strawberries
1 box fudgsicles (my low-fat attempt to wean off of ice cream)
2 pints cottage cheese
1 box fresh baked peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies (18 count)
1 liter Splenda Diet Coke (since I'm off aspertame, see dorway.org for why)
1 frozen Amy's organic pizza (to prevent me from ordering out)
1 bag Dole's Cole Slaw (my anti-guilt offering or just some fiber to keep the rest of it moving?)

There was actually an attractive single (no ring) man in the line ahead of me. As I placed my items on the counter, I looked down and got embarrassed. Could my food scream "Undersexed single woman!" any louder? No, I don't think so.

Years ago, I became aware of what your groceries can say about you. I was 23 years old and had gone to the Kroger late at night. Then too I had Diet Coke, ice cream, frozen pizza, and some vegetable/salad. An elderly African-American gentleman behind me chuckled to himself. Then he told me he was amused because I was buying a bachelorette's dinner. I laughed and knew he was right. I just didn't think I'd still be doing the same thing on a Saturday night 7 years later.

****
For 3 years, I had no appetite for food, because of the stress. Now, I wake up hungry--not with real hunger, but with a voracious appetite. Some days I can't eat enough, I can't fill the emptiness or satisfy the desire gnawing on my soul. I actually daydream about eating.

I know this for what it is. It's sexual frustration, sublimated lust and desire. My body screams for sex, so I shove food in my mouth to stifle the sound. I can't get what I really want, a man, so I try to bury the want with food. The worst thing is that even after I eat a lot, I'm just as hungry as before. Because the hunger isn't for food. There is no filling this void. I have to learn to ignore this appetite too.

There are celibate men and women who stay thin, right? So it must be possible. I must learn how to sublimate my hunger too because if I get any bigger I'll be hurting myself. I need to change my behavior NOW. I wish they'd taught us how to sublimate sex in Young Women's instead of cross-stitching. (Then again, imagine your YW president trying to teach that lesson, ew.) So, I ask you, my wise readers, how do you sublimate your lust without getting fat? Any suggestions for replacing my unhealthy food habit? (I refuse to take on another eating disorder so please don't suggest vomittng.)

25 comments:

Katie P. said...

I gained 25 pounds after I started a desk job and called off an engagement at the same time. I lost it last summer, when I replaced the physicality of sex with the physicality of the gym and the attention of a smokin' hot trainer.

It was expensive and hard, but it worked, and fairly quickly. I lost it all in ten weeks, which is completely possible if you're just a tiny bit OCD and you direct towards that goal. Halfway through, my trainer asked me out (non-member and seven years younger, so I said no.). I think wanting to make him pleased with me helped with the dedication. 

Left by Katie P.

Diva said...

JL, I have to agree with Katie. It is exercise. I can get out all my aggression at the gym. I imagine I am in a race with a big group of people and if I slow down I won't get to the finish line first. The endorphins released during those sessions is enough to keep me happy and kills any urges I have because I smell so awful and I am drenched in sweat. After I have showered, I am so tired, I have no desire to think about men, so again, no urges. However, I have been so busy lately, I haven't had time to get to the gym. So, I am in a vast blackhole...as you have noticed from the blog. But, I do have to say exercise and endorphin release is a key factor! Lots of love, Diva 

Left by Diva

metamorphose said...

Oh I can't even tell you how much I relate to this post! (And I'm sure most of us who read your blog do.)

I was going to recommend exercise also, BUT try to position yourself at the gym where you won't be watching hot sweaty straight men workout. Or else, it will all be in vain.

I think also, find something else worthy to occupy your mind. Nothing like a good dose of scripture to tame at least some of your lust, I suppose. I'm sure you can come up with something.

And although I don't want to open up a nasty black tangent -a lot of skinny celibates probably stay skinny (and celibate) by giving into something else: porn. Ha ha.

Good luck! And your bachelorette meal sounds quite tasty to me right now.  

Left by metamorphose

Just Wondering said...

What about just buying a vibrator? Or does that not fit with your Religious tenants?

Left by Just Wondering

Brenda said...

I don't know about you, but I would at least ask your Bishop about the ramifications of masturbating. The only thing that kept me sane for a long time was climaxing once or twice a month - I tried to keep it to once. My Bishop was pretty understanding, and as long as it wasnt totally chronic or habitual, things were ok (at one point I was what I would call chronic and it was miserable - he worked with me through it all). I would at least ask. It was literally the only thing that kept me from caving in and having sex like a mad woman.

It would be interesting to see how many single LDS women can actually totally abstain. 

Left by Brenda

Brenda said...

Reading that now, perhaps I should not have recommended masturbation. It did cause me to come very close to messing my life up completely. In alot of cases it can lead to big problems. 

Left by Brenda

JL said...

Brenda,

I'm curious as to how masturbating caused you problems? I'd like to know because the rule against it seems arcane and silly. Besides, I could NEVER go see a bishop to ask him that. I'd die from shame.  

Left by JL

Brenda said...

I started masturbating in high school. At first it was just to see what an orgasm was like. Then it was because it felt so good.
I wasnt always the greatest LDS girl, and have had sex a very few times when I was in college, but I never have had orgasms from it.
Toward the end of college when I started leading a more 'chaste' life I started to masturbate using a vibrator. The penetration and the orgasm was the "good sex" I thought I had always been missing out on.
Unfortunately, it turned into a security blanket for me. Bad day at work - masturbate. Dissappointing date - masturbate. Gaining weight - masturbate. Got bad cramps - masturbate. Eventually it became an every night thing.
At some point I found myself needing more sexual excitement. (It was no longer sexual for me, it was just climaxing) That is when I found myself in the world of cyber sex and phone sex. At almost any chat room you can find a man who wants to talk to you on the phone as you masturbate (as he does also). Yahoo, MSN, even the LDS dating sites. Its easy to find a man that wants to talk with you that way. Eventually the best fun was watching men masturbate on their web cams as I pleasured myself.
I know this sounds extreme, but I fell into this life very slowly over a span of 4 or 5 years.

This is graphic, but needs to be told as it is the only thing that made me come around to a normal outlook again.
Although I never had a web cam myself (I probably would have used it if I had one, so I never bought one) I would at times send nude pictures of myself from my camera phone to the men I would watch. (Luckily, I never let my face be in them) The thing that finally shocked me out of my bizzare situation was sending a naked picture of myself in the mirror (faceless of course - and luckily so )to a man I had been talking to in a chat room. He then let me watch on his web cam as he masturbated onto my picture he had printed. (This is something that was not uncommon for me to do.) The shocking part was that as he sat back, and I could see him more clearly I realized that I knew this guy. He was in fact a guy in my ward. A married man in my ward.
I actually vommitted as the sickness of everything I had been involved in over the years hit me all at once. Watching a man whose child I had played with that Sunday at Church jack off all over a picture of me was definately rock rock bottom for me. I talked to the Bishop a few days later. It was terribly embarrassing, but there was never any detail discussed. Just the fact that I had a huge problem with masturbation.
It was easy to give up the web the phone etc, but at times I still did it (and at times, still do) like I said, it keeps me from totally going crazy.
In closing I will just say one thing. You will not die of shame. You will not even be telling him something he hasnt already heard 100 times. At least go in and tell him you are about to explode and ask how terrible it would be if you climaxed once in a blue moon.
Just like porn, that kind of sexual stimulous damaged my view of normal sexual relations. I am still rebuilding that understanding. If I hadnt stopped when I did, Im sure I would have sunk deeper and deeper.


 

Left by Brenda

Mabel Maybe said...

Pleasure. I did Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It may sound fatuous, but taking myself out on an artist's outing once a week, and buying my inexpensive delights for my inner child, being expressive, and I dropped twenty pounds. Exercise too--but I didn't do that as a sub for sex, but as a way of getting all the hormones of anger out of my body. Not having sex, not being loved, makes me pissed off. Very pissed off. 

Left by Johnna

Mabel Maybe said...

Artist's Way is a book outlining a 12-week program to open up your creative life. Here's a FAQ  It's on my mind lately because my life seems to have disappeared into the logistical concerns again.

Thanks for being understanding about the pissed-off thing. I was just sneaking back here like a coward to delete my comment. I'm not violent and dangerous, just irritable.  

Left by Johnna

Anna Broadway said...

Wow, some courageous comments here, ladies! I think the nature of any practice, habit or mindset in which sex is an ultimate thing is that a) it eventually disappoints and b) consequently an inevitable escalation occurs — as I too experienced to a certain degree. The more we try to make sex do what it was never meant to, the more desperate we become, hence the more exotic the titillation required.

As I wrote last week , I’m realizing that the only true path to healing for me is overcoming the lie that I am a primarily sexual being, therefore unless I am ever sexually fulfilled I’m doomed to live an incomplete life. We may recognize that lie of fragmentation for what it is in others’ lives, and how it damages them, but how hard it sometimes is to see the deception that’s crippling us.

My advice, JL, is to think about what your identity is based on, and ask yourself what the hunger to be filled is all about. Any chance it’s spiritual? In my case it most definitely was. If you haven’t read it lately, you might find some real “food” for thought ;) in John 4. If Jesus said he came that people might “have life to the full,” what does that mean? Hang in there ...

Left by Anna Broadway

Stephen said...

Well, I've been on the Shangri-la diet for weight loss and oa.org for emotional support, since I couldn't use food to submerge the feelings any more. I've blogged a bit about those topics, but the materials might help you some.

BTW, please do confirm that the police aren't going to arrest you now ...

 

Left by Stephen M (Ethesis)

thevitaminkid said...

Making out can be very satisfying without advancing to the point of "ecstasy." Probably releases endorphins like exercise. Maybe just the physical contact, the touching -- because I've read that massage also releases endorphins. This probably isn't helpful, unless you have someone who will give you a massage. I used to have a male friend who was not squeamish about giving or receiving massage. No, we are not the tiniest bit gay. (!) But I also used to exercise. Any endorphin you can get is good.

Did I suggest scripture reading as a help for another problem in another post? Am I a broken record? Well, it is another thing to focus the mind on. Not a panacea, but maybe a bit of help.  

Left by eric

Me said...

If I've learned anything over the years its that blue balls won't kill you. If I die tomorrow or in 80 years, its not going to be from not having sex. We all get horny. We all get lonely. Sometimes we try to eat it away, other times we exercise it away. Personally, I do both. Does it fill the emptiness inside? No. But it gets me through the day. And through the weeks, months, and years. I live my life day to day, if I focus on eternity it can be too depressing.

So, for now I've decided to stay away from the "friends with benefits" and the NCMO, because I want more. As Carrie in Sex and the City said, "I'm looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love." And no amount of food or exercise is going to change that.
 

Left by Single in Stilettos

Anonymous said...

Here's a cool thing to do right here. Eat a can or a half can of vegetables for lunch and a salad for dinner. A glass of milk and a little snack for breakfast. Some multivitamins for good luck. I did this and it works for me. I also do a few pushups and situps for good luck too.

I understand the emfatuation with another person, however doesn't that make a person open to manipulation. I say humbly love others by serving them and that is the eternal love that will last forever. That is good practice for a family where a lot of that type of love is needed. Really intimacy should be serving another in love expressed between spouses I believe. 

Left by anonymous

Stephen said...

An interesting exercise routine is stretching. Check out the Wharton Stretch book and get a 6' length of rope from a home depot. Good aerobic exercise, can be done with minimal room.

BTW, did you get the books I sent priority mail.
 

Left by Stephen M (Ethesis)

cydlicious said...

You know, I started reading your blog a few days ago, because like you, I am a single 28 year old lds woman--somewhat frustrated with my lot in life. But honestly, after reading your blog (and the multitude of comments), I felt really really dragged down and started feeling so negative about my own life.

The truth is, BECAUSE I'm single, I have accomplished more in my 28 years than I EVER could have married! I am so much more confident, have had some amazing experiences, and was able to see places/do things that my married friends envy. Sure, I still get dragged down, and I have had my fair share of being dumped, but I find that dwelling on it--writing it down--asking for sympathy and comments from others just multiplies it.

I can see from your blog and what I can read between the lines is that you are a smart, confident, passionate, loving, beautiful woman who wants to find love. That's great! But to be blunt, you're coming across as bitter, cynical, and unattractive. I appreciate your candor, I myself am a very candid person, but advertising very personal details about past (and/or current) relationships and dwelling on your depression is if anything going to deter decent, NORMAL men from wanting to meet you--for fear of ending up on your blog. Misery loves company, so if anything you'll attract other miserable people. Who wants that? Save those feelings and thoughts for your PERSONAL JOURNAL.

I've had MANY guys tell me, and I learned this from sad experience, that a little MYSTERY in a woman is sexy. He doesn't want to know every insecurity and failure. And I'll let you in on a little secret... If you tell him you're fat and unhappy (even if you're not), that's what you'll forever be to him. But on the flip side, if you tell him that you're perfect (ie. My stomach is not gushy, those are curves, baby!) then you know what, HE'LL BELIEVE IT! My sister's husband STILL thinks she's got the most incredible body and she is very curvy--three kid's worth of curves.

Bottom Line. I hate to see such talent and potential wasted on self-pity. I'm sure it is helpful to some people to read that there are others suffering from the same ailment of singlehood, but really, the solution to that? Get off the computer, stop pitying yourself, and get out and LIVE LIFE!

 

Left by cydlicious

Carolyn said...

Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. All those lovely endorphins. Find something you like to do. I run. But I don't go to a gym. I run outdoors. And I don't kill myself. I keep my heart rate low in the fat burning zone which is actually much better for weight loss. (Books on running can tell you how to find the right zone for you, even if you have to start out walking at first.)

The day I stopped killing myself was the day exercise became enjoyable. As has been stated by others, it's also a great way to get out your aggression. Occasionally I also get flashes of insight and solutions to personal problems. A physician told me that it's as a result of increased blood flow to the brain. Bonus!!

As for masturbation, I actually did have a conversation with my bishop about it. (This was back when I was in my twenties. In hindsight, he was probably way more embarrassed about it than I was.) But the advice he gave me was not to worry about it as long as it didn't become extreme or start to interfere with the rest of my life. (I think some of the posts above have illustrated how this can happen.)

Ahh....common sense. It's a beautiful thing. He was a wise man. I took his advice i.e. not to stress over it and I'm so glad I did. I don't know how I would have gotten through my thirties without the occasional release.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you haven't even begun to hit your sexual peak. Wait until you reach your late thirties. Then we'll talk. Not only does your sex drive increase, but at the very same time your metabolism starts to decrease. The double whammy. Unless you do something about it you are going to gain weight.

Sublimating with food and being fat may be culturally acceptable in the church (just look around you) but I decided that was not for me. Not to mention the downside of weight gain in terms of physical health.

I know this is not what we are told from the pulpit, but consider this. Not all commandments have the same level of importance. That has to do with the consequences attached to breaking them. For example the consequences of, oh say, skipping Sunday School to talk in the hall with your friends are vastly different from the consequences of committing murder. Likewise the consequences of an occasional private sexual release are vastly different from the potential consequences of a casual sexual encounter or an adulterous affair. Again, this seems like common sense to me.

I know my solution may not be for everyone and it is imperfect. But hey, it's an imperfect world.

I consider that I live a chaste life. Just ask the men I've dated. Believe me, they would agree. Especially the non-LDS guys who aren't getting any. They think I'm an absolute freak!

I even have a non-LDS friend who keeps offering to take me shopping for a vibrator!! So far I haven't taken her up on her offer. I think that's because like some of the previous posters, the void is not just for sex. I want love. Unfortunately, a vibrator can't put its arms around you. A vibrator can't love you. (If only it were that easy!! Love in a box. I want some of that! LOL.)

It's never easy. My only advice is don't stress over the stupid inconsequential stuff. Keep your focus on the big picture.

All the best.  

Left by Carolyn

Amber said...

"When you make love you're using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and you don't give a damn for anything. They can't bear you to feel like that. They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If you're happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?"

Its from 1984. I'm not saying sex is the key to happiness, I'm just saying I like the quote.  

Left by Amber

Anonymous said...

sex is just another outlet for stress, like food, like exercise. ultimately it comes to keeping busy with things you like and having fulfilling relationships - with friends and with family members just as much as with a lover. getting away from the computer is a good idea. the perceived need for sex as a release is often just the sublimation of the need for a release - creative, emotional, or otherwise. take walks around the city, read a book in the park, express your creative side - draw, take up photography, sing, write letters, make collages, feed pigeons, throw a frisbee, cook (more fulfilling that popping open a pizza box!). you could mentor a student or volunteer. find things other than yourself to focus on. the sooner you stop obsessing over yourself, the sooner you'll be happy. 

Left by chloe

Lollygagger said...

Things that have helped me stop thinking about boys too much:

family history
scriptures
my cats
forcing myself into social situations
exercise
dancing

I like yoga. I am leaving town for the summer in a few days. If you want you can come into the city and borrow some of my yoga tapes for a couple of months.

I also love jogging in the park while listening to music.  

Left by Lollygagger

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the ladies here are generally in agreement that the occasional "release" is okay. Is it also okay for the guys? 

Left by anon

Anonymous said...

I've got a couple of thoughts. First, about exercise, I really believe that walking is the way to start and continue. It doesn't always work for releasing aggression or stress (tennis is great for that) but it just helps on so many levels. I've never liked running, but walking can be really fun. In NY there have got to be some great places to walk and check out architecture or gardens or rivers, etc. I like to turn in into an exploring opportunity. Go out walking to find cool things that you will probably never see otherwise. I like to take a camera with me because I frequently find interesting things to photograph. Another idea is to find a friend that will walk with you. You'll both be safer (is that a word?) and can help motivate the other to go every day or however often you agree to go. So, walking, alone - take a camera; with someone - social activity and additional motivation. The walking doesn't have to be wimpy, either. You can walk quickly without looking ridiculous. You don't have to be a speed-walker; just walk as fast as you can and still feel like you are walking normally. Also, use running/walking shoes. The shoes really make a difference. Have a designated pair of walking/running shoes that you only use for that activity. I don't know the type of neighborhood you live in, but I'm hoping there are some safe places to walk.

With masturbation, I would be very careful about listening to other people discuss what their bishops said. This might sound blunt, but what their bishops say has no application to you whatsoever. Disregard it completely. We have to rely on two things: our communication with God, and His communication with prophets on our behalf. If our own communication with God is not working (for any reason) then we rely on prophets. Priesthood leaders can help us with both areas: 1) returning to communion with God (repentance, which means turning (back) to God) and 2) reminding us of the words of the prophets. Sometimes priesthood leaders receive revelation for us and give us specific counsel that is for our individual benefit (which I think we should still confirm with the Lord). Sharing that counsel is not useful for anyone else because it only applies to the individual to whom it was given under specific circumstances. In fact, I don’t believe a person can rely on what their bishop told them in the past to help them in the present, unless it’s in a very general. For example, if you repeat a sin, the counsel a bishop gives will probably be different the second time around. Only the counsel of prophets spans multiple individuals, and we are still expected to communicate with God about it. God wants to interact with us. Sometimes (often?) it’s difficult to maintain closeness to God but we must keep trying.

I've noticed recently how often people look for others to confirm bad things for them. We want others to help us see more of the bad, which causes us to focus less on the good things in life. I really like what someone else commented above about serving others. Sometimes I just have to remind myself: "Forget yourself and go to work."

Masturbation “induces feelings of guilt and shame. It is detrimental to spirituality. It indicates slavery to the flesh, not that mastery of it and the growth toward godhood which is the object of our mortal life” (Kimball – The Miracle of Forgiveness). This is an interesting quote for me because it seems to be in line with what earlier people have posted; it is possible to become a slave to the flesh. I think Christ was a great example of self-mastery; he was in total control of his spirit to the point that he could suffer immeasurable hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, sadness, depression, etc. and continue forward. We can truly “put off the natural man,” or overcome the flesh, through Christ and the Holy Ghost. Many people have done it; many single people have done it. We can do it too. (I know this sounds like a motivational speech, but we need those sometimes) Masturbation might provide temporary pleasure, but not lasting fulfillment. I realize that many people believe a sexual relationship is the only way to find lasting fulfillment, but if that was the case then individuals engaging in sexual relationships would always be happy, couples having sex would never split up, divorce would only exist if the couple was not having sex, people would never have sex with multiple partners, etc. The act of sex is not a relationship. It is something that can strengthen a relationship when expressed in a mutually-acceptable way, but it is not the relationship. Masturbation seems like a poor substitute for a relationship. It seems like this was the whole point of your post; you are substituting food for the sexual experience. My point is that any physical act will never replace a relationship. In many instances we try, especially with our relationship to God. Besides food and masturbation, we often try to imitate feelings of communion with God through physical acts, such as drugs (especially alchohol), pornography, Internet, movies, books, exercise, music, extreme sports/activities, and many more. Although many of these are good, we can become slaves to them and they will not replace a good relationship. We can start with God, then family (especially if we marry and have our own), then friends. Check out D&C 132:7. Do we realize that connections, associations, and even expectations can be sealed together by the Holy Spirit? I think there are better times and places to discuss this more, so I will only say a bit, but the temple enables people to be sealed into the family of God. While we strive for an eternal bond with a spouse, we can have other relationships that have eternal implications. We can still grow in our efforts to become celestial beings without being married. The process might be slower, and there might be elements that we are missing, but it is possible to become more Christlike, or, in other words, to become more like God, as a single person. But, it’s impossible without relationships. The most important being our relationship with the Father. 

Left by morris

chosha said...

"this side of salty" I love that! I'm so going to use that this week.

The Artist's Way is excellent. As for the frustration, the suggestions of exercise are good ones. Exercise (eventually, when you are at least a little fit) gives you a natural high. And it's just something different and satisfying to focus on.

As for the sexual frustration, not letting yourself wallow in the memory of that guy's "talent" is probably a good start. Also, is it really just supressed lust, or are you also feeling lonely? Because lonliness you can do something about. I don't want to recommend masturbation, because as Brenda so honestly explained, it's just too easy for it to go down paths you don't really want to explore. However, if it's a choice between masturbation and dialling the ex-boyfriend's number, I say it is definitely the better choice.

Arwyn said...

JL,

It sounds like you're really in a tough spot -- not a happy one at all. And it's hard to pull yourself out of such a spot by your bootstraps. When I get down, it's often because I'm lacking that self control and digging into a pint of ice cream or gorging on cookies sure makes me feel better -- for a while -- but doesn't resolve the underlying cause.

I've had people recommend delving deeper into the scriptures and becoming closer to God, as well, but the former hasn't been much help for me in the past, and the latter -- well, I have a hard time doing it while I'm down.

Also, while exercise is nice, I really don't enjoy it. :)

So, alternatives?

One thing that has helped me tremendously in the past (and continues to do so regularly) is meditation. The kind I do is called Vipassana, and is based on Buddhist teachings, but there's nothing in it that goes against Church teachings -- in fact, I've found that it increases my ability to be closer to Heavenly Father, as I'm more open to communication with him.

I don't know if you have 10 days to spare to attend a course, but it's inexpensive (free, actually) -- the website http://www.dhamma.org/  can tell you more about it.

Whatever you do, you have my most sincere wishes that you can find happiness.
 

Left by Arwyn