The morning after
Waking up the morning after feeling groggy, my head pounding with a thunderous headache, my mouth as dry as the Sahara Desert, not wanting to get up and acknowledge the day ahead. Anyone reading would assume that I am taking about a night out on the town downing alcohol like it was out of fashion. No, my friend I am talking about a chilled night filled with Netflix and copious amounts of sugar.
We all have our different vices for coping for me, mine has always centred around food and accessing the feelgood hormones of serotonin and dopamine from eating sugary foods.
It is like with any addiction the you more you have, the more you want until you get to a point where a little bit (eating in moderation) doesn’t cut it. Talk about a distorted way to think and feel about food. To be honest I am not sure how it developed into such a beast.
Welcome to my food binge eating disorder. I often think to myself how the hell did I end up here? This is not playing the blame game it is looking at it with compassion and understanding in order to heal it.
Before writing this, I spoke to mum to get an understanding of what my eating was like when I was a child. Mum said that our food was healthy, and any treats were controlled, and this was because as a diabetic she ensured that she was looking after her and her family.
Starting secondary school was a turning point as I was able to choose my lunches, if I couldn’t face the canteen, I would buy lunch from the van either sandwiches or pies and then with the leftover change buy as many sweets as I could. I would eat them secretly out of sight of friends or family ensuring I binned the wrappers, so no one saw them. I was innately aware of my role within my group of friends I was the “fat friend” who made everyone else feel better about themselves. Although I was not partly big say a size 14 at this point it was larger than the other girls.
Food became a way of numbing the pain of being bullied, feeling I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t good enough. Little did I know the damage I was causing to my emotional health. I spent those informative years supressing, numbing and not addressing the real issues and unaware this habit would follow me into my adult life. I have had years where I have not binge eat convinced, I found the key, but the truth is it is always there in the background.
In my early 20’s life was good I was living in my own home with my then boyfriend and I felt happy. I thought yes! I have got it all – well all the things we are all taught in society that we must all attain the relationship, homeownership and a good job. So, from the outside everything looked picture perfect but there was always an undercurrent of emotion that I had hidden for years the feeling of not being good enough for myself or the relationship.
I was always trying to prove and show that I could be a “somebody”. Growing up I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and although I love her dearly, god rest her soul she always had to have a “favourite” first it was me as the first granddaughter until my cousins came along. My earliest memory was being told how my cousins were doing really well at private school and would be going onto university and having successful careers. I remember asking my parents if I could go to private school as that would make me better. My parents said that I was doing well were I was and that I didn’t need it. These were my first lessons of having to be in competition with others and the people pleasing began. My grandmother also had a way of making me feel insignificant by making cutting remarks of my size throughout my life.
My boyfriend was the go getter if he wanted something, he worked for it, he wasn’t scared, he made it happen that was one of things I loved about him. Instead of letting go of my own fear and pushing through somewhere I got stuck in the people pleasing mode and felt too uncomfortable to do the inner work to find out what I really wanted or who I really was. When things were testing in the relationship or in life I would turn to food and spent a lot of time yo-yo dieting and hiding the secret eating.
One of his female colleagues at work had lost a lot of weight using some sort of plan and he said I bet you couldn’t do that. My size was an issue in the relationship although we had made many happy years together it got to a point where we both wanted different things from life. One of the last conversations we had he told that I would never lose the weight. After I ended the relationship, I felt low and went back to my old and faithful friend food once again.
A few months later I decided whilst eating a tub of Ben and Jerry’s (insert the scene from Bridget Jones’ eating ice cream and singing on the sofa) that enough was enough that I would lose the weight once and for all. I enlisted the help of a personal trainer and started again. A little tip here when looking to work with a fitness professional make sure they have the qualifications to teach you the skills you need to move and nourish your body long after your last session with them.
For me, I spent the following 8 months exercising between 9 to 12 hours a week. I remember one trainer saying to me that I was in more than her and she worked there! During this period, I was eating a high protein diet with the occasional treat (I feelings of guilty after ensured I exercised it off the following day). If you factor in my working hours, hours I was working out, sleeping and little bit of down time I wasn’t really eating that much, and the weight came off. I gained muscle and looked as I perceived it “healthy”. The results of my transformation were less about nutrition and came from the copious amounts of time spent in the gym which I do not advocate to anyone.
After my training ended, I managed to maintain my smaller size for two years before starting to regain the weight. I should have sought help to deal with the underlying matters, but I just boxed them up. I met someone who I liked me for me and moved cities to start a new life. We all find ways to distract yourselves from our issues however, there comes a point where we will all stand up and face them head on.
It all begins by tuning into the messages our bodies are giving to us. It is in the stillness you will find the answers and you can slowly start to peel back the layers and find your sense of self. I know this to be true as I started my own journey 12 months ago. There is going to be times when the work is uncomfortable but stay the course, pause if you want to you. Take small steps and as you grow you will feel and see the changes both in your physical, mental and may be even spiritual being. I am continuing to peel back my own layers. In the stillness I have seen my own repeated patterns, mistakes and failings. By making peace with my past and I am moving forward to become a better person and use my lessons to help others.
I came across this sentence whilst reading Rising Strong by Brené Brown and I thought she summed addiction up perfectly.
“If we numb compulsively and chronically – its addiction”
Until next time.
Sending you love and light.