I started dieting when I was 14. I also started looking at my body different and most importantly, started looking at food differently. During the week, I would not eat during the school days and have dinner after my mom’s day care kids went home and went to bed. Every day, I got up and thought I was fat. I thought I was only worth the amount of food that I put on my plate. I would substitute what hunger pains were for stimulants and caffeine. I often didn’t sleep. On the weekends, I would be “starving” so badly that I would make up my eating with whatever my Oma made. She is a great cook and baker. I had a horse at their house, so often times I would eat and “graze” continuously throughout the day. Come Monday morning, back in town for school, it was the regimen.
Fast forward to senior year of high school. My parents started the process of a divorce; my mother lost her business and her house. There we were, my brother was moved out, moving to my Papa and Oma’s basement. Reflecting on that time, I could only imagine how my mom felt losing everything she had and worked so hard for. There I started on the path of self-destruction. Still on the same schedule during the week, weekends also the same. Starving, bingeing, starving bingeing, week after week. By the end of my senior year, we got a house back in town, so there was stability but there wasn’t any change in eating.
I have always had a hate relationship with food. I have always found it easy to starve myself to the point where when I do eat, it is everything I have deprived myself and all in one sitting, sometimes making myself physically sick. I had a lot of personal things that happened that started at the age of 10, that now I realize, I was punishing myself because I would always think “if I was just 10 pounds lighter, or if I didn’t have thick thighs, people would pay attention to me, people would love me, and people would treat me with kindness”. I was punishing myself because I was personally violated, I was mad that my sister went to the Army and left me behind, I was mad at my step-dad for turning our world upside down, I was mad at my real dad for ignoring me (so I thought) and I was mad at the world. I am usually a pretty quiet person when conveying my feelings until I fill the bottle and explode, so this was the way to “show them” that I was mad. But no one ever knew what I was doing. No one noticed that I didn’t eat, because when they were looking, I would eat just enough to make them think I was “full”. So I guess you could say I have been a “closet eater” for the better half of my life. I have always eaten out of the spotlight because my theory was “if no one sees it, it didn’t happen”.
Closet eating got worse after I had my daughter and when I would work in the restaurant or food service places. I would drive through 3-4 drive-through’s on a random Saturday when I had no one with me and order the same thing then sit in an empty parking lot and indulge in it. Then, I would come home make dinner for my daughter and me and eat that too. Following that would be a full work week, so I would keep myself busy enough that I didn’t think about food.
Multiple times in my life, I had had enough. I wanted more for myself and so I would commit to the “30 day diet” or “take these pills” or just plain start running and do nothing else. But I would last about 2 weeks and say “fuck this” and be done with it, go back to my eating habits. 45 days later, I would “be sick of feeling this way” again. Finally, I truly had enough and Addie had gotten me wrapped into this plan that she was doing. I did amazing on it and lost 30 pounds, felt amazing, then got lazy. I have been lazy since then and I have had my food tendencies. I started reading Geneen Roth’s books on not dieting but I haven’t been active in the gym. I recommitted to myself and I am committed to make lifestyle changes. The best part is my husband has committed to me and our program as well.
Not everyone walks the same path and not everyone has a battle that others can see with their own eyes. Depression, fear, anger, hurting is not emotion that can often be seen. I have heard plenty of people tell others that “lifestyles changes are easy and being auto-pilot on a diet is easy”. What they don’t share with you is that they either A) are living in a personal hell where they have “checked out” of their emotions behind the strict choices they make for their bodies or B)they are lying to themselves. Lifestyles changes suck. They are hard and mentally taxing, often times you feel like you are alone and you have no support. Accompanied by the fact that it feels like it takes way longer to undo what you just did, then it all is over-whelming and you give up. Not to mention in that time frame, you have beat yourself up and not healed from the scares that you tried to eat away in the first place. I had a very smart friend share with me something he learned in counseling. Everyone that was brought up in a household that wasn’t “perfect” has to re-parent themselves. Re-parenting, or un-doing what has been done to you is the most heart wrenching, difficult job you will ever have.
I have learned to break friendships, walk away from family, and accept the things that have happened but most of all, forgive myself. Forgiveness is not for the other person and forgiveness doesn’t mean that you let that person come back into your life and overshadow all of the work that you have put in, even if it is your old self. I forgave myself for the things that have happened in my childhood that I cannot change. I have forgiven myself for letting some people control me and my thoughts. I have forgiven myself for every time I was a closet eater and every time I deprived myself of nutrition to just relish in things that were still harming me. I forgave myself for being unhealthy. Forgive and move on but remember every moment in every situation that got you to make the best decisions you should have made a long time ago, right now. Forgive and move forward.