Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I Am a Compulsive Overeater...

Compulsive overeating, also sometimes called food addiction, is characterized by an obsessive/compulsive relationship to food. Professionals address this with either a behavior-modification model or a food-addiction model.[1] An individual suffering from compulsive overeating disorder engages in frequent episodes of uncontrolled eating, or binge eating, during which they may feel frenzied or out of control, often consuming food past the point of being comfortably full. Binging in this way is generally followed by feelings of guilt and depression. Unlike individuals with bulimia, compulsive overeaters do not attempt to compensate for their binging with purging behaviors such as fasting, laxative use or vomiting. Compulsive overeaters will typically eat when they are not hungry. Their obsession is demonstrated in that they spend excessive amounts of time and thought devoted to food, and secretly plan or fantasize about eating alone -Wikipedia

I could have shortened that definition, but it wouldn't really cover the depth of this affliction.  This is also a very difficult blog to write, but sometimes, you just need to let it out and show the world your scars and stop hiding them.

I am a Compulsive Overeater.  It's what I would personally define as an eating disorder, though I'm not sure what its medical status is.  To me, its the opposite of anorexia and again, I've no clue what the medical folks would say to that, but to me personally that's what it feels like.  I can't remember what my relationship with food was like when I was younger, say younger than 13 or so, but I do remember at some point when I was in grade 7 or 8, my parents started making me have salads for lunch.

I also recall a time in class when I was colouring something on the floor and had to be bent over and I guess my butt crack was showin' cuz I garnered a couple snickers and giggles behind my back--literally.  I remember feeling uber embarrassed and while I wasn't fat at this point, I wasn't skinny either.  I was healthy, and perhaps had a little "puppy fat" on my frame.  It didn't necessarily help either that I really didn't like sports.  I was much more of a reader than a doer.  

Grade 8 was when I really started feeling pressure from my mom about weight.  She was obsessed with food and how much I ate, and how I looked in clothes and what it would mean if I went to High School overweight.  I remember walking about at the high school open house and stopping by at the cheerleading booth (I mean c'mon, EVERY girl wants to be a cheerleader!) and making the comment "Well I'd love to try out, but I'll have to lose some weight before fall".  WHO DOES THAT AT 13/14 YEARS OLD?!?!?!? My awareness of food as something to be guilty about was instilled in me already.

The biggest, most defining moment of my adolescence and probably the defining moment I had with my relationship to food occurred while trying on the high school uniforms.  I was 5'5/5'6" and 130lbs.  My mom refused to buy me a kilt because I was "too fat".  She used it as some sort of incentive to lose weight.  Instead of encouraging me to get involved in sports (I was involved with rowing, but only because mom and dad pushed me to and they definitely made it seem like more of a punishment than something to get excited about) she started harping on me about food.

If I ate a cookie, there'd be oinking noises thrown in my direction.

I was told nobody would want to "go out" with a girl like me in my physical condition.

What I realize now, nobody would want to "go out" with a girl like me in my then emotional/mental/self esteem condition.

My parents thought they were helping me by humiliating me, breaking me down and ruining my self-esteem.  All they did was humiliate me, break me down and ruin my self esteem.

It took many years for me to feel any type of self-worth.

So while I wasn't fat at the start of high school, the taunting and the obsessing from both my parents had the opposite of their desired effect on me.  Instead of watching what I was eating or getting more active, I would start to binge eat, often in private.  In my subconscious there was that feeling of "You think I'm fat?  I'll show you fat!".  But the food also had a comforting effect on me.  I fell in love with foods that had pleasing textures and sweet tastes.  To this day, I can't pass up a Nibs!  And as my waistline expanded, my self esteem plummeted.  When the odd guy would show some sort of interest in me, I wouldn't trust him or his affections.  I didn't think I deserved any type of love or affection since I obviously didn't deserve my parents love or affection.

Oh yeah, during this time my dad and I had a bit of a rocky relationship and my mom and I were constantly at loggerheads.  I blame the fact that she went through early menopause right when I hit puberty.  SOOOOOOOO not a good mix!  Looking back on all this, it hurts, but I also can see that my parents were coming from a place of love and concern for me.  Of course when you're a teenager, it seems like all the world is out to get you anyways, so when you don't really feel like you have the love and support of your parents, it seems like you're absolutely worthless.

Since the view I had of myself was crap, it comes to no surprise (now) that I had a tough time making friends in high school.  I tried to fit in with "cooler" groups, but would get rebuffed constantly.  Now I can look back and just kinda facepalm and say "no wonder!"

The phrase "You really have to love yourself before you can love someone else" is so true.  Once I began to accept myself for who I was: Awesome, fun, confident, responsible, reliable, talented, able, curvy and, yes, overweight- I was able to start on the long path to recovery to health.  I accepted that I was overweight, nay, obese (and well, still am but I'm workin on it) and while I didn't start losing weight right away, I was able to at least begin focusing and developing my positives.  As I saw more positives in me, others began to see more positives in me as well....especially my wonderful, supportive, cheerleader partner, Dave.  I use the word partner because he's so much more than just a boyfriend.  We are partners, he's in my corner and I in his.

I know this is a long post, but I just want to throw in a bit more on my folks.  While our relationship during my adolescence was quite dysfunctional, and while there still is quite a bit of hurt there, the healing and forgiveness has already begun.  I don't blame my parents any more, I recognize that they are human and that while they thought they were doing what was best for me, it did quite a bit of damage.  However, they also did a lot of good. They put me in piano, my mom let me do drama for a year as an extra thing in addition to piano, and let me get involved with the Drama Club at school.  This definitely helped make me more confident and a lot less shy.

 She also put me in German classes on the weekends and to this day I still have a love of languages.  Parenting is a tricky thing, and I know I gave my parents a big run for their money!  This is my attempt to not only purge, but also letting any parents out there know: you shape your kids in a BIG way.  We are all blunderers in this world, and shit happens but just make sure that your kid NEVER EVER doubts that you love them unconditionally and that you will support them in their endeavors.  

Luckily, by the time I went to University, my parents were becoming a lot more supportive. They let me decide what I wanted to go to school for (Radio & Television) and as I discovered and developed new talents, they were very supportive and encouraging.  As I have gotten older, my relationships with my folks have changed and blossomed.  There are some things I still don't get about them (man they can be certainly old fashioned in some regards!!) but I know they love me, and they know I love them.  There's no more angst, just sadness that so much time was wasted in anger, frustration and misdirection.  We move, onwards and upwards.

What defines us is how we'll rise when we fall.

I've risen to my challenges.  How bout you?

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