Hi, I’m Lisa and I’m a compulsive over eater. Maybe you’ve heard something similar to this line before. I used to make fun of skits on television using words like these because… actually, I don’t know why. I’m not sure what was so funny about someone admitting his or her frailty, but everyone else seemed to be laughing along too.
Today I see the admission of an addiction as a sad but brave act. If you ask me, trying to figure out why you have an addiction is like doing some pretty difficult detective work. It requires focused observation, dedication to the task and determination to uncover what actually has taken place. For many people who die of addiction, their story goes mostly unsolved and is put in the closed case file. Not mine. With some guidance, I decided to jump into the murky waters of addiction, abuse and self-deception and I emerged a whole, grateful and happy person. If my story can help you I will be most humbly appreciative.
As a child, compared to most of my peers, I only remember being conscious that I was overweight. In fact at a very early age I remember that my gusto for food was thought of as cute and charming. However later when the pounds started packing on, I felt humiliation and shame, but I didn’t understand where that turn had been made, especially in my mother’s perception. In my recent memoir I write:
I learned at a young age to depend on food to quell thoughts of sadness and negativity and to push away feelings of low self-esteem.
When I think of any little child dealing with thoughts like this, it seems pitiful. Some of us start early and live an entire lifetime with addiction. That’s certainly not something I want for my kids or anyone else’s for that matter.
One of my all-time favorite movies is called Stuart Saves His Family featuring comedian, and Senator, Al Franken, who plays the lead character and a food addict, Stuart Smally. Though I laughed out loud when I watched this movie years ago, I could see myself in Stuart, understand his thoughts and behaviors and recognize the sadness that accompanies families who actually celebrate addictive behaviors because they are so much gosh darn fun…um hmm.
I came from a family with a mother, father, older sister and brother. My dad had a problem with his weight and so did his mother and a few of his siblings. His father was an alcoholic and not on the scene to help raise him. Today I believe that both of my parents suffered from their own kind of depression and mental illness. My mother also came from dysfunction. Her father was a wife and child abuser.
For me it took many tools, I read numerous books on losing weight, I listened to expert after expert on the subject of overeating and emotional eating. I had traditional counseling with a psychologist who specialized in matters of weight and body image. And a psychic told me to join a twelve step program for my problem with food, I was mortified and insulted by that one. I ignored his advice even though everything else he told me was accurate. He also told me to write a book that would help a lot of people. He sounded like it was urgent that I begin. A few obstacles seemed to exist for me when I thought about writing this book. I had been an R.N. before I got married, not a writer. I had no literary background. I always had a pen pal and a diary with a little key, but I stopped writing when my sibling’s read from it one day feeling betrayed and vulnerable.
At the time I was instructed to write again, a book no less, my husband was a physician with a busy practice and I stayed home with our three children. The psychic told me I would be writing on a computer. That was the “craziest idea yet” I thought, so I wrote by hand for the first two years until one day I said to my adolescent son. “Show mom how to get on the computer.” I still type with two fingers. But I managed to type and I did feel like more of an actual writer seeing my words printed on the page. That was an encouraging step.
After a few years had gone by I felt that the book was nearly complete, but I was still struggling with the focus of it, I said to my husband, “What is this book supposed to be about? I don’t see how my life story can be helpful to people?” He answered me almost immediately. “Don’t you think it might have something to do with your struggle with weight?”
Again I felt disappointed. “Is that all I had to offer; my failure as an over-weight person?” Well, overtime I began to think how that made sense. It was like a clue in my detective case, the mystery of me. Part of my hesitancy came from self-doubt; I was not raised to have a healthy self-esteem. Who was I to think I could be an author or an authority?
I had been writing for close to four years when I heard an advertisement for a twelve-step program for food addiction. I was alone at work. I heard the same commercial when I was alone the next week at work too. “Alright, I’ll go!” I said looking upward and feeling disgusted. I have found that when I hear something more than once, or the same message from two or three separate sources it is spirit nudging me. I have learned to be grateful for these promptings, but at that time I was like a little kid complaining to the universe. Okay, okay I hear you! To my surprise I liked the first meeting and over time I heard people who sounded just like me. I had always felt alone with this problem, my problem, and now I could see how I had been isolating myself for years. My higher power wanted me to be among others, recovering from a spiritual illness, wow.
My book was now in the editing stages, but I was still overweight and sometimes I went to meetings and called my sponsor and sometimes I didn’t. The psychic told me I couldn’t help anyone unless I lost weight. He said, “They won’t listen to you because they won’t respect you.” It reminded me of the way my mother often spoke to me. I was getting messages and feelings that told me to climb back up on “the wagon” and get moving. I decided to be honest and forthright this time, and do what I was told, what was actually good for me, instead of whatever I felt like doing. I had always been immature and often irresponsible. Committing to this spiritual program I felt so different, more alive and ready for change. Things started to progress with my book too. My relationships even improved as I began to see my role in them and I lost weight without giving it much thought. I was working the program correctly and I was being helped, not because I wined like a little girl, but because I chose to take responsibility for my adult self.
My journey may not help everyone, but if you relate to me in anyway, consider at the very least reading my book. It is my fervent desire, and I believe my soul’s calling to help as many people as I can to get real with themselves and create freedom from the emotional bindings that prevent each of us from living our best life. The Buddha said that you shouldn’t believe in anything unless you accept it as truth inside of you. Blessings to you on your journey.
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