Eating and shame have gone hand in hand for me for as long as I can remember. I have memories of lying about how much I’d eaten, when I’d eaten, and “stealing” food as far back as I can remember. (I was not stealing from a store but from my family member’s kitchens when no one was watching.) I don’t know when it started or even why. I don’t know if I need to know but it makes me wonder. What set that off? Why would a child feel the need to lie about food when there are no memories of there not being enough?
The shame went beyond eating and shame became associated with my body. In probably the first grade I started to be fleshier than the other kids. Not fat just fleshier. It was the beginning of my body image journey. I continued to be larger than most of my peers and was called names- bubbles being the one I most vividly remember. When I look back at pictures of me in my senior year what I see is a girl in a woman’s body. I graduated high school at 140lbs with a fleshier hourglass figure. That was not what I was aware of though. What I was aware of was a fat girl who “just needed to lose weight and it would all be better.” Of course, friends, family and society all helped with this conversation whether is was aloud or subliminal. There were diet candies at Christmas, comments of comparison to those who were smaller than me and of course the “pretty face” compliment.
Something any larger, fleshier, fat or obese person wants to hear is “oh but you have such a pretty face”. People, listen to me. That does NOT make us feel better and it does not spur us into action. Ok, I lied. It does spur us into action- that of eating more. No, this is not a blame. It’s the way of addiction, shame and self loathing. The irony is the very thing that is making us fat is bringing us comfort. How crazy is that? Even as I write this I think- wow, this is nuts!
Having said all this, I had an ah ha last night as I invited almost 500 Facebook friends to view this blog. I’ve moved from shame to compassion. I have compassion for me and for all addicts. I’ve had compassion for others my whole life. I’ve had careers that relied on compassion but I’ve never once allowed myself compassion for me. Compassion for my addiction. Compassion for my journey. It brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes last night when I realized I’d entered a new place in my life. It is in the gentleness of compassion that I will have the courage and space to deal with what has had me pick up that fork and put my life on hold.