As I got older I kept an unhealthy relationship with food at an arms length. I married at 22 and had my first baby at 25. At 27, I left my husband. I chose not to live a life filled with deception and corruption which is what my husband had gotten into. He was embezzling money from the police department he worked for and was blaming me for it. I couldn’t believe this man that said he loved me would do something so wrong and blame me for it. Did he ever really love me?
At first I used food as consolation. I had lost just about everything in my life that was important to me and food seemed to soothe my soul. I was depressed, angry, sad, hurt, and desolate. A few months had passed and I started to put myself back together for the sake of my daughter. I started exercising and dieting because in my twisted mind I thought that no man would want me unless I looked like a skinny model from a magazine. I was 27 years old, getting divorced and had a 2 year old. Who wants to get involved with that?
Even though I was 3 months pregnant with my second baby, I took my 2 year old and left with a broken heart. He didn’t care about me, my 2 year old or my unborn child and my self-esteem hit rock bottom. In the three weeks that followed, I lost my job, I lost my grandfather, I lost my marriage and I lost my unborn child. My life would never be the same.
I started starving myself and compulsive exercising and the weight just melted off my body. Of course so did my muscles and immune system. But I didn’t care because my body was responding to the control I wanted to have over it. I couldn’t control what was going on in my life but I sure could control my own body.
My family was close to doing an intervention as I pushed my body beyond healthy limits. I was smoking cigarettes so I wouldn’t eat and still compulsive exercising. My lungs were screaming at me but I kept pushing. My knees finally gave out from overuse and it was then that I was forced to stop exercising compulsively. My body was trying to regain control over my brain and it was using methods to get me to stop. It finally worked. It amazes me now when I think about how brilliant the human body is and how it sends messages when the brain isn’t listening!
In the meantime, I began dating again and found that I was still attractive to men even with a child in tow. My self-esteem seemed to get a little better but food was still an issue. I hardly ate and still smoked. I had not dealt with the underlying issues of abandonment from my marriage so there was still emptiness in my heart.
A few years later I met my current husband. I was ready. I had waited 7 years after my divorce to meet him, had let go of the pain I felt inside, and he was like a fairy tale prince. My life had finally turned around and I fell in love with him. We were planning our wedding and building a house at the same time so my stress level was enormous but I was on cloud nine.
Here is the interesting thing about eating disorders though. Even though you may feel euphorically happy, you can still have inner struggles that bring out those dormant eating disorder feelings. Because I didn’t deal with the issues, I began to binge eat. I used food to combat my stress. And of course as I became a full time binger I had to hide what I was doing. How ashamed and embarrassed I was that I had become this hideous person that hid cakes in the bottom of the refrigerator and stuffed myself so full that I could barely move after. And to top it all off, I started to gain weight.
After three years of hiding my binging, I “came out of the closet”. Binge eaters typically hide their pain and food intake from everyone so coming out is scary but liberating. Another thing that happened when I finally decided to stop hiding is that I wanted to heal my eating disorder as fast as I could. I wanted help and was going to find it.
I attended Overeaters Anonymous meetings for some time but they were of no help to me whatsoever. My experience with OA was that a hand full of people got together at my local church and sat around complaining about how stressed they were. No one knew how to deal with binge eating. No one knew how to heal it. In fact, every time I went to a meeting I had to state my name and that I was a compulsive overeater. I didn’t want to keep saying that. I wanted to say that I was cured. I also got tired of listening to other people complain. My next attempt was to contact my primary care physician.
My PCP had no idea what binge eating disorder was. She suggested I join a structured eating program like Weight Watchers. She also thought I should try an anti-depressant. She sent me home with a prescription for pills and a huge dose of frustration. Didn’t anyone know how to heal this? What kind of options did I have? It turned out, not many.
That’s when I decided to study holistic health and nutrition. I realized that I had been sent on my path of eating disorders for a purpose and that was to help other people find options to heal their disorder when they finally reach the point of “coming out”.
Finding the help I needed was miraculous. My healing included: stress management, challenging my old belief systems, getting to the root cause of my disorder, learning meditation, visualization, and assertiveness training and coping skills. It all came down to me and no one else. All of my actions and decisions up until the time I began healing my disorder where focused on everyone else except me. It came down to realizing that I have a great deal of value and self-worth and I can participate in life by being true to myself.
I learned that anyone can have an eating disorder no matter what their background is or income is or color is. I learned that stress can literally put you over the edge and cause you to binge eat and not knowing how to deal with stress correctly is part of the problem.