My father died close enough to the holidays which made it easy to justify eating lots of home baked treats, primarily carb laden scones and cookies as I dealt with the emotional experience of loss and grief.
All my life, food has been a twisted psychological solution to stuffing my emotions and protecting my body from abuse, but of course stuffing never worked. Instead of insulating me from problems and keeping me safe, the fat was like the lid on a pressure cooker with a valve that kept me on the brink of exploding with negative self-talk and self-defeating behavior.
So knowing this, why do I keep returning to the negative and destructive behavior pattern of stuffing my body with food it doesn’t need or want?
Aside from the obvious—that food addiction is what I know and must somehow make me feel comforted—I think I convinced myself that to not have food meant deprivation. Eating less feels like going without, raising feelings of childhood neglect, both physical and emotional. I grew up in poverty, lacking food, healthy or otherwise. Also, there was never enough love, affection, and attention with five other siblings.
Exploring my own inner demons has not been a fun trip, but I’m tired of beating myself up each time I hit an emotional crisis, and I want to be done with taking it out on my body.
And I’m too vain. I don’t want to die fat!
At the beginning of the year, I joined the local Y, literally across the street, and I started walking on a treadmill and lifting weights. The machines are preprogrammed so after entering my membership number I simply read a screen telling me how many reps, how much weight to lift, and which machine to use next. Not having to remember these things has relieved me of some of the accountability that often feels like too much pressure.
Not wanting to be accountable is another effect of abuse, and I brought myself full circle to the same problem––not wanting to be responsible for my own health and well being because I wasn’t taken care of as a child, expecting that task to fall to others, like my boyfriend. This is referred to as a sense of entitlement, a common problem with adult survivors, especially burdensome to those we task with taking care of us.
This led to blaming my boyfriend for keeping me fat. He is a saboteur, a first rate baker who is always willing to bake or buy me the fattening treats I love while ignoring the possibility of diabetes that runs in my family. Yet I let him sabotage me so I can have someone to blame for my outrageous physical condition, to feel safe in an old and untrue thought bubble–that fat keeps me safe!
If you see yourself constantly repeating a negative behavior—that is, doing something that doesn’t serve to move your life forward or something that doesn’t keep you emotionally, physically or spiritually healthy—it’s time for change.
A good thing about behavior is that it can be changed!
It helped me to delve into the past to create the change I needed. My old foundation of negative thought and actions had to be torn down and knowing how it was structured made it a safer and easier process. I am finally taking action and making better pro-health choices.
If you can’t remember your past, try to at least find the help that feels right for you, be it a therapist, trusted religious counselor, reputable psychic, journaling, or start reading self-help books—whatever it takes to start trusting your inner voice to lead you in the right direction toward healing. Go with what feels right for you (but not necessarily what feels comfortable.)