For most of my life, I was lonely and scared. Each night I’d use food to fill the emptiness and dull the fear. Then, terrified by all I’d eaten, I’d throw it all up until morning. Horrified by the night before, the next day, I’d starve until I was desperately hungry, and the compulsive eating would begin again. Life became an endless loop of starving, binging, purging, starving, binging, purging….
In this way,I passed the time and many years of my life. In this way, I tried not to feel anything at all, not misery nor even minor discomfort. Something as simple as boredom could lead me to food, to binging and purging.
Hurt, pain, loneliness, fear and sadness got buried deep inside. BUT they were still there, deep down within me, and I would use food to anesthetize them.
I had to be willing to let myself know the pain and face the fears, or I was doomed to repeat my endless cycle forever. But if I did face the truth of what troubled me, I could be free. I had to learn that it’s okay to be sad and afraid, and I can tolerate any discomfort, big or small. I can face anything life shows me and be just fine.
Now, I’m not saying that everyone who has an issue with her weight has an eating disorder or uses food to soothe herself. Some people love food and eating and end up weighing more than they’d like. Others, like my best friend, aren’t interested in food, forget to eat, have fast metabolisms and work to keep their weight up.
For these folks, dealing with the food IS the solution. If my foodie pals really want to weigh less, they can cut portions or limit desserts or burn more calories with a Zumba class or two. Or they can decide they love to eat and make peace with their weight. For my best friend, sometimes he drinks Ensure and sometimes he makes himself eat when he’s not hungry. Mostly, though, he accepts that he’s always going to be skinny and that’s just the way it goes.
But not me. My problem has nothing to do with the food. My problem was thinking that food solves ALL problem, when in fact, I need to deal with the actual problems. And then I can truly be free and food can solve the one problem it’s meant to – hunger.
More on this process and recovery in blogs to come.