This is day 22 in my 31 Day series from Fat to Freedom, as part of write 31 days.
The second most popular question people ask me is “How did you get started, why now?” I was always on the larger size of normal – both in terms of my height – at 16 I was 5”11, and in heels over 6 foot. I was a big girl, with a great big personality. I was big both literally and metaphorically. To detract from my size, I was the life and soul of the party - the last one standing, and the first one to suggest a party, I didn’t want to miss out on anything. I had been big for a long time, and eating my emotions for even longer than that.
As I peeled back layers with professional help, I discovered that I had been eating to try to dissolve emotional pain since I was a child. As a child, I suffered quite a lot of trauma. I grew up with continual arguing, hateful words being shouted on a daily basis. And violence, my head being hit so hard for reasons that I was unable to fathom, and today know that they had nothing to do with me. I grew up in fear. I didn’t know what was going on, my young mind couldn’t analyse my feelings, or help me find positivity in the middle of such storms. What I did discover was that sweets tasted good, and for a brief spell allowed me to forget what was going on around me.
I ate for survival.
I think to almost add insult to injury when I was 16 I was diagnosed with endometriosis – a disease that was to consume for a decade, a disease where the body attacks itself.
A decade of pain.
Everything in my life except food tasted of pain. Food was the only thing that made me feel a slight lift out of my pain. It tasted good. Thinking about it, reading about it, shopping for it, cooking it, and eating it all brought me comfort, and satisfaction. In a life of darkness food seemed to be a little bit of light. Being ill, and in constant pain, is a battle of strengths, of willpower, of belief; it is a daily drawing of swords. Fighting the pain I was in, fighting the fear and anxiety that dwelt within me.
Food was my release from this, but building on the pattern of overeating that I had begun as a young child, I took it too far. I ate too much. I later discovered because I was in such pain, I didn’t feel or understand the extra physical pain I put onto my body by stuffing it with food.
Living with an all consuming pain, that took over everything, meant that I rarely had energy to deal with anything that was going on around me, lifting my arm was a workout, getting out of bed required incredible concentration and determination.
What I ate, no longer seemed important, all I cared about was that it tasted good. I ate and ate and ate. I was missing out on my late teens and twenties because I was sick.
No matter how much I tried to squeeze all the life out of every moment, I was unable to deny that I was ill.
I have days and weeks of my life wiped out by pain that I only have vague recollections of. Food was my way of dealing with this pain, it was a comfort blanket, a snugly, something that never seemed to let me down – unlike my body which was broken and bruised.
Food didn’t ask me tough questions or leave me trapped in a philosophically theological discussion of why this was happening to me. Food didn't pressure me or attack me.
Instead it tasted good, so good, that for a few moments, by pain, my size didn’t matter. My senses seemed alive –while the rest of me died - each one jarred into being by an all encompassing taste, that took in smell, and feel, sound, and site, touch and taste.
I ate to surpress any feelings of hopeless, of fear, of failure, of vulnerability to hide and to find comfort. I ate because I didn’t know how to deal with the pain I was in mentally and emotionally. I needed help. I was ashamed to ask for it, and I didn’t see how talking about my feelings, would actually help me. I was still ill, and I was fat.
At university help came in the form of student support, there were people to talk to, people to listen, and people who didn’t judge me. What that service offered was invaluable to me, and I think it kept me sane, during some of the darkest days of my life.
That's it for now ...
Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable