So this is a hard one for me to admit. After all I grew up with an alcoholic dad, so I thought I had decided early on in life not to become addicted to anything, but when you don’t deal with your emotions in a positive way, addiction is sure to seep in.
Before I knew it, I was relying on food to numb what I was feeling.
Emotions are painful.
Sometimes they hurt.
It’s just easier to eat, especially when life feels out of control.
My life has felt out of control for as long as I can remember.
Growing up in a divorced environment with fighting parents doesn’t really breed contentment in a child. I grew up with my sister and our single mom and we were poor. I don’t remember much about my childhood, but something that does stick out is my first real dysfunctional involvement with food.
I was probably 8, we would go to my dad’s parents every other weekend, quite frankly because my dad didn’t know how to interact with two little girls, so he would just pawn us off on our grandparents, his parents. Thankfully, my grandparents are amazing people and they were very much like our second parents. My grandma ALWAYS had Pepsi and bags and bags of candy readily available for my sister and I when we would visit. There were no rules, just help yourself. When you come from a home that has none of this type of jun, into a loving and safe environment with no limits, you can imagine what any 8 year old would do. Gorge yourself on sugar.
I remember one time eating so many M & Ms that I literally made myself sick. This was the norm. So my sugar addiction occurred at a very young age. This sugar addiction would continue well into my 30s.
We moved…..ALOT in my childhood.
I went to school from grades K-4 in one school, another school was grades 5-6 and finally grades 7-12 in our last spot.
As you can imagine, I was just trying to find my spot in new schools, to fit in. I was very insecure and discontent, but put on a brave face. When we moved to Sandusky, our final destination for a while, I desperately tried “fitting in”.
Since I played basketball, I found a crowd that took me in. However, I never really felt “good enough” with these girls. So instead of really having any confidence to branch out and find another group, I remained. The irony is that today NONE of these girls call me or stay in touch, so that should tell you something. But when you are a 15 you think you’ll remain friends forever and that idea at least caused me to haet myself because I thought these girls secretly hated me.
I used food, after school especially, to numb myself further. I was sad.
I was unhappy.
I felt unworthy.
In 8th grade, it seemed that the scale became important, also the size of my jeans. I quickly associated my worth with the number on the scale and the size pants I fit into. This was constantly reinforced in my group of friends. I wasn’t the smallest girl in the group and this bothered me because it seemed like my friends were obsessed with weight. So by the time I reached high school, I would eat very little during school hours and then pig out in private when I got home.
I felt ashamed.
. Looking back, I realized I was hungry so I would eat and eat after school hours. I never really gained weight because I played sports, so I stayed a medium weight. I assumed I couldn’t get any smaller than my 130 lbs. on a 5’6 medium frame. Later I would learn about the importance of nutrition, but not until I turned 40.
By this point, my mom had gotten a better job, so we now had junk food in our house. As you can imagine, I self-soothed with chips and sugar and po, it’s what I knew.. Since I was so unhappy and felt disconnected, I continued to gorge myself on whatever junk food was readily available. As a 16 year old, playing sports, the nutrition never caught up with me. This would be a blessing and a curse.
My mom remarried when I was 17, the beginning of my senior year, and my stepdad was in the Air Force, so we had to move, once again. Since I never really felt accepted in Sandusky, I was excited and scared to move. So when we moved and I started a new school, it was just too overwhelming for me so I moved back to Sandusky and in with my dad’s parents. I was thankful to be home, back among my “friends” and back into familiar territory. My senior year was uneventful. I wasn’t making plans for college because I had tasted life outside of the confines of a small town and realized I wanted to go back Plus since I felt disconnected from my friends I couldn’t imagine going away to college with them.. So while all of my friends were making plans to go off to college. I was making plans to go back to Italy. My plan was to go back, work and take some night college courses. So I graduated and went back.
Again feeling like a fish out of water, I because involved with a group of soldiers, a few years older than me, through church. It was the first time in my life that I felt like I fit in. Shortly after moving back and starting my life, I started dating a guy about 6 years older than me. I was smitten, desperately in love, or so I thought. Sure I had had high school boyfriends throughout high school, but this guy was different. He was an officer and college graduate plus he seemed genuinely into me. Little did I know all the baggage I would bring into that relationship? Since I never felt “good enough”, this relationship took on a life of its own, in my brain. I was 19 dating a 25 year old college graduate army officer, NOT a good combination. My parents didn’t intervene, they were newlyweds and leading their own life. We dated, seriously, I thought for about 1 year. In that time frame, his issues mixed with mine were a recipe for disaster. That disaster caused me to starve myself at times, abuse laxatives and even purge on occasion. I thought if I were skinny enough, pretty enough, good enough, we might have a chance of survival…..Regardless of all of my efforts, the relationship ended in a classic crash and burn scenerio, he cheated on me. Of course, now I know that his issues and had nothing to do with me, but try explaining that to a lovesick 19 year old. I was devastated. I felt ruined.
By this point I was a freshman in college in Kentucky, he was still in Italy. My parents were in Italy and my sister was 2 hours away at college. I never felt so alone in all of my life. So I did the only thing I knew to do. I starved myself and over exercised. Again thinking if I were perfect enough, the man of my dreams would ride in and sweep me off my feet. He didn’t.
I was a mess. It wouldn’t be until my sophomore year of college that I met a man who did come riding into my life and swept me off my feet. Someone who took away all my fear and insecurity and loved me just the way I was. I entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, my sophomore year of college.
I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t easy. Looking back, I would say I was mildly depressed. I managed to muddle through college. I stopped starving myself and just exercised. I got involved with a campus Christian group. Life was good. I went on a mission trip and told God I didn’t want to just date and marry some random guy, but that I would wait until I could marry my best friend. 5 years later I would meet and fall in love with my husband.
All of this to give you my background and why today I’m dealing with the fact that I’m a food addict.
To be continued……