I felt angry the first time I heard the term "overeater." My mother had sat the 15 year-old me down and calmly asked if I was an overeater. I felt such a mixture of emotions in that minute: She had noticed my eating habits? My eating habits were abnormal? How dare she name it outright? Is that what I was? I had no clue. I remember making a face of confusion/disgust and clearly stating, "No!" Which is a typical response of an immature girl who doesn't want to be called out on her shit. It is even a typical response I hear from people and tell myself often; outright denial of our deepest fears is so much easier to do than face them head on.
But here I am, bearing the reality of my life.
I know that I have an unhealthy relationship with food. I remember quite clearly a day in 5th grade choir when we celebrated a special occasion with a pizza party. I thought to myself as we waited for the pizza to arrive: "I hope there is enough for me to have 3 pieces of pizza; I will not be happy unless I eat 3 pieces." Hold up: WHAT? Happiness= an arbitrary amount of food?
But there it was, my emotions already inexplicably wrapped around what I would be able to eat. I think of that day and I want to hide my face in shame. How did this happen to me? Why do I think this way? Why am I unable to control myself and why am I not able to eat normally? What is wrong with me? I could play the mind games of negative self talk forever (in fact, I often do) but it doesn't get me anywhere.
I am not often aware of the way that I negatively impact my view of my body and how I destroy it with my unhealthy relationship with food. I find myself often tugging at my clothes as if begging them to fit or even more fantastical, wishing that my body was not what it is. This is a conscious and subconscious stream of thought; these thoughts are so prevalent that I lose track of where my hunger comes from.
There are so many reasons that I feel "hungry": 1) My body needs nutrition; 2) It's the normal time to eat so I should; 3) I feel shitty/lonely/depressed/anxious/whatever so therefore I should eat; 4) I hate my body and myself so self-destruction to keep that hate going comes in the form of eating; 5) I think that food can fill the deep void of emptiness that comes from not accepting myself; 6) Free food is near so I should gorge on that because it's free, as if there is a scarcity of food in my path.
Here's the ultimate truth: There is a deep hole in my soul that I attempt to fill with food and negative self-talk about my body. I've gone through many fantasies in my head about a time in my life in which I will not obsess about whether I'm allowed to eat a delicious treat, socialize normally with food, enjoy food until I am full, and so many more scenarios. I dream of enjoying running and looking amazing in a pair of jeans. I've built so many houses of self esteem in other ways, like using humor and friendliness to make myself feel as if I deserve to be loved/adored. I'm a master at prettying myself up with coordinating and brightly colored outfits with dresses, scarves, jewelry. And the truth is that I do have many gifts and I am a person that holds a lot of love on her sleeve. I'm not looking for pity about my self-hatred by writing this on a public blog, but rather to bare another part of me that I desperately try to hide from myself and others. I need to hold myself accountable for the things that I so wish were not true: I am not a normal eater. I often do not know when to stop eating and I engage in a lot of guilt/ negative self talk about eating. My obsession with food is overwhelmingly powerful and I am done floundering alone.
I attended my first Overeaters Anonymous (OA) meeting this week. It was absolutely terrifying to be in a space where I knew no one and had to be honest with people about their and my coping mechanisms around food. I told a tiny part of my story and I cried because this deep void goes so deep; it reaches to the core of my being. It feels like my unhealthy relationship with myself will never end and that there is no where to go but down. But being honest and paying attention to the ways that I self-destruct with demanding so much of myself whilst indulging and compulsively eating food is a tiptoe in the right direction. I hope to notice the triggers in which I feel hungry because my emotions and to journal about the feelings rather than entering into a cycle of unhealthy compulsive eating. I want to pay attention to my trigger foods as well as situations that make it hard for me to be healthy.
I'm currently full of questions about how to do this, especially as a young, social woman who wants to still be actively engaged the communities that I love. I know that I am in a stressful situation as a student with lots of TO DOs and little time to spare. But there is always time to prioritize what I really care about. And what I deeply need/want to care about is myself and my own health.
This is scary and frustrating and all consuming. Thanks for reading and being a support for my journey.
God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.