Chewing, Slurping, and Misophonia

I squeeze my hands and press my legs against the bottom of my chair, bracing myself as if preparing for some kind of internal combustion to occur. Holy good mother of god, he still has three pieces of broccoli left. The good news is I am back in class, so as soon as I am done eating, I can excuse myself to study.

Misophonia is the “hatred of sounds”. Eating with others is not only never racking for me because I feel very conscious of how I am eating, but also annoying because the noise of others eating makes me want to punch my fist through a window. Chewing anything, crunchy or otherwise, causes this feeling in the base of my abdomen which is something of a mix between the feeling you get when about to start a race and having just seen a spider on your shoulder. Mix in a little anger and you’ll know how I feel during most meals with my family.

This is not currently a psychiatric disorder. In fact, this article states that it not the chewer’s fault at all, but rather something the annoyed individual must learn to cope with. They suggest exposure therapy. Honestly, sometimes the sounds are more tolerable than others. I’m certain my emotional state effects how I respond to the sound of the mastication of food.

I cannot remember when this started, but I would guess somewhere in middle school. I have a lot of bad memories surrounding food. I wonder if that effects my reaction to eating around others now. 

Most of my memories about meals in my family, aside from when my father was not home, involve tears, and all involve anxiety around the end of the meal. I remember keeping a close eye on my father’s plate, knowing when he was done he would assess whether I could leave the table or not. Then, inevitably, he would demand I eat more while everyone else left the table. I remember feeling trapped. You have to remember that to a child, parents are gods; their word is the end all. There was no way out. 

One particular meal I believe we were eating lima beans along with our usual precooked chicken. The end of the meal arrived and my father tapped my plate, saying I needed to finish my beans. Everyone got up and put their plates in the dishwasher. I started crying. I had developed many methods of cutting up and pushing my food around to make it look like I had eaten. I asked my mother if I’d eaten enough. She couldn’t say yes because that would be going over my father. She begged him to let me get up. 

“She’s just pushing it around her plate!” They started yelling. My mother picked me up for some reason. I clung to her and this upset my father. He wanted me to go to him. I remember him grabbing me while they yelled and I screamed. I was terrified. He was angry and his grip was strong. Mother pulled me back, saying he was scaring me. At that point they were really yelling, so my father sent me outside with my brother and sister.

Eating was okay when my father was not around. From a young age I can remember sneaking food when nobody was looking. This may have been because I didn’t eat at meals. The few times we did visit the doctor growing up, I was always underweight. I wish that was the case now. My mother started giving me some kind of shake drink in the morning to help me gain weight since I wasn’t eating.

Whether my negative memories surrounding meals effects how I perceive eating around anyone now, I cannot be sure. I don’t like eating around others. Often I cannot stand the sound of anyone eating. A more positive perspective on the cause of this supposed misophonia, is that I am simply a creative person. I saw this in the Huffington Post. I’ll have to set aside the fact that I believe there are a multitude of creative paths that I don’t believe can be measured accurately by any one test. It’s a little bit brighter and what I’m going with for now.