Have you ever had a large meal and after eating it, your stomach protruded and literally hurt from fullness? Did that fullness make you feel so uncomfortable that you couldn’t sit still, you couldn’t lay down, you couldn’t move without feeling miserable and you wouldn’t dare think about putting another bite of food in your mouth. I, too, have felt that sort of fullness but if I wait 2-5 minutes I know I will want more. Especially if the food was pleasing to my senses!
Food gives me satisfaction. It’s the one constant in my life I have all the control over yet no control over at all. Stripping me of that control and having to tell myself I can’t eat this or that just because I have no limits is heart-wrenching to me. I become furious just thinking about driving past the Dairy Queen during the summer and having to see the skinny families standing in line with their skinny kids and their skinny dogs in their skinny cars eating their fat ice creams and chubby parfaits. I just gained 15 pounds writing that. I’m food sensitive. I swear to it. My youngest daughter is 5 foot nothing and 98 pounds. When she got her first tattoo, she asked to hold my hand. Her petite and tiny hand attempting to squeeze my ginormous hand was comical and sad in the same breath. She’s always talking to me about how the double size zeros are too loose. God bless her. The child eats and her body refuses to gain an ounce. Just inhaling the smells of food cause me to gain.
But alas, I have no shame. I’m not a closet eater. I give no real care. I will merrily and happily eat as much as I want in front of whoever I want. If I want to down an entire pie without sharing, I will do so. This could be my curse or blessing. I hate fighting with myself over what I should eat and what I shouldn’t eat because God forbid I eat an apple on Tuesday at 3 pm after consuming caffeine but not before a kale smoothie because Keto enzymes in the blood flood are bad. Seriously, someone punch me in the face. It’s no joke hard work eating healthy. I don’t feel as comforted with “healthier food”. Don’t get me wrong, healthy food makes me feel good in the long run. But the immediate results I get from sugar and the taste from certain fats from fried food is where I find comfort, safety, warmth, and relaxation. I can take out 6 king-sized candy bars in one sitting (evening). And I’m sure the count could be higher, this is just as much as I purchased. It’s impossible to tell myself, “Stop. Listen to your body.” or “How about an apple?” or “Try water.” There’s no way in hell I’m NOT going to allow myself to enjoy this. This is MINE. I’m becoming agitated now just thinking about. So I eat it – bypass everything I feel – and enjoy every single slow moment with the sweet morsel of magic.
My daddy, (step-dad since I was 4 years old), has been a 2 pack-a-day smoker for 55 years. On March 13th of 2019 he had a heart attack. He was rushed into procedure where they put 2 stints into his heart. Technology is amazing now. He was in and out by the following day. While in the hospital he wore a nicotine patch and said he felt great and didn’t crave a cigarette. As soon as he left the hospital, he tore the patch off and smoked. The next day, he wore a patch that I had purchased but tore it off later and continued to smoke. He then said, “those patches are giving me headaches. I don’t like them”, as he walked out for another cigarette. I looked at my mom and said, “it’s in his head, you know. All that is in those patches is the same thing that’s in his cigarettes! I can’t believe he can’t just quit! I’ve been a smoker and I’ve never had a problem quitting.” My blood father passed away 3 years ago after a quadruple bypass on his heart. While they were lifting him up in the bed to adjust him, his heart failed and he died. He was a smoker who quit but a severe diabetic who refused to give up soda and bad eating habits.
So I went home that evening angry and frustrated. How dare he be so selfish! How dare he shorten his time from us. How dare he expect US to take away from OUR lives to take care of him in his final days because he CHOOSES to smoke and not help himself. Prior to his heart attack he was diagnosed with acute COPD! What more do you need to change?! How dare he! Then…….I stopped.
How many doctor’s appointments have I been to where the doctor faced me and warned me that if I didn’t stop my bad eating habits, I was going to die? High blood pressure, diabetes and nerve damage in both feet didn’t stop me. It wasn’t enough that I had children at home who depended on me. My oldest daughter, bless her beautiful soul, had to tie my shoes because I couldn’t bend over. Who the fuck am I to lecture dad about addiction? Of course it was easy for me to stop smoking. I wasn’t addicted to smoking. I’m addicted to food! There are not enough warning labels or words that could convince me that consuming “orange” mac and cheese is unhealthy. Secretly I know it but the taste. The taste FEELS good. I’m sure that’s how dad feels when he smokes. His security is in that cigarette. It’s safety, it’s familiar, it FEELS good. I have no idea how to help him but what I do want to do is love him and not lecture him because I don’t know how long I have with him and I sure as hell don’t want my last memories to be miserable. I don’t want my last memories to be of me on his ass every day about smoking. I’ve always said – I’d rather die with a burger in my hand and 500 pounds than someone telling me what I CANNOT do with my own life. Addiction is the devil.
2015 – Acupuncture. I hate needles but I’m told that it will work for weight loss and at this point in my life I’m desperate. I go for roughly 50 sessions and notice nothing so I quit. Then, my mother assists with hiring a nutritionist. Let me just say this – nutritionists are NOT cheap. The nutritionist, who I will refer to as Miss H, offered to come into my home and get rid of anything “bad” that I shouldn’t have. I laughed internally thinking that there was nothing really “bad” in my home because I was doing my best to eat right. No Oreos, no chips, no donuts – nothing. The day before coming over she prepared me by giving me a speech. “I’m going to throw things away or you have the option to donate them. Then, we will go shopping for good foods afterwards.” Why is she telling me this?
The next day, she arrives and my mother and I sit at the dining room table facing the kitchen as this tall, beautiful, lean woman opens my cupboard and grabs a can. “You see this?”, she says, “This is high in sugar. You can’t have this, but I have an alternative that you can have, so let’s get rid of it.” I can feel a slight tingle in the tips of my fingers. She grabs my loaf of wheat bread and I feel anxiety start to set in. No lady. Not wheat bread. That shit is fine. Step away from the wheat bread. “This. You cannot have this for certain! It has so many sugars and false ingredients. I have an alternative for you.” Into the garbage it goes. I had 2 pieces out of that loaf. TWO! Panic is starting. I feel dizzy. After going through every nook and cranny in my kitchen and unloading nearly everything in it, she heads to the refrigerator. I feel shaky and nervous and mom can see it. She bends over and leans in as she grabs items she stands back up to explain her findings and why I shouldn’t and cannot have these but how she has such a wonderful alternative. I feel like I need to throw up. I need to pull it together. I feel like my best friend is being ripped from me. My security is gone. I’m bare to the world. I don’t like this. I want to ask her to leave. I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to do this. I look at my mom with worry hoping she would catch on but she just flashes a smile at me. Jesus Christ. I can’t take this. She’s throwing away perfectly good food. My food. MINE! YOU’RE TAKING AWAY MY CONTROL!
Cupboards and refrigerator bare, we head to the Natural Foods store. We walk up and down every single aisle. I can’t hear her. My ears are pulsating. I’m ready to cry as I look at my mom, she’s so into what this lady is saying. Mom, tell me you’re not buying into this bullshit. But mom just nods and smiles at her. Fake. I see Miss H grab cheese from the shelf. Wait. Cheese? I can have that? Miss H answers, “Yes! This kind!” Shit. I said that outloud. We move onto bread. She grabs a loaf and hands it to me. She explains to me why this loaf is better than the loaf I had at home. I’m getting it now. She’s not taking away my foods – she’s replacing them! “Exactly!” she answers. Damn it. Said it outloud again. I’m starting to feel more in control. Maybe these new options weren’t so bad. We head to the register. Nearly $300 later mom and I are in my kitchen taste testing natural cheese, snack crackers, real meats, and bread! My tastebuds were in shock, my mind was racing with excitement and I felt good.
But then, everything started to crumble. I was losing my boyfriend of 10 years. My son was an addict and my children were giving up on me. What was happening to my life? I was trying to make a change for the good. I was trying to better myself so why were people giving up on me? How could things so drastically take a turn for the worse? So you want to give up on me? Fine. You won’t like what you see next.
It’s the revolving door. The viciousness of hell. I feel like the hamster on the wheel that just keeps going around and around and if I dare stop I’m going to flip and break something.
I remember where I went wrong. It was a bowl of almond Hershey kisses that sat on a bedside table. I hadn’t had chocolate in nearly a year and to pop one of those in my mouth – well, there was no going back after that. I love chocolate. I have a relationship with chocolate that should be illegal. I eat it until I feel sick and then I wait until that feeling goes away and eat more. Hard chocolate, soft chocolate, creamy chocolate, dark chocolate. I do not discriminate when it comes to my love of it.
They say not to leave sweets in your home because it causes you to overeat and want more. I laugh. I will go out in a storm to get it. I will leave in the middle of the night. You have no idea the lengths I will go to to get the food I want. All it takes to trigger that want is for a commercial to flash across the screen or for someone to mention it and I can’t stop thinking of it. It consumes me until I’m anxious. Until the cuticles around my nails are gone. Until I’m so irritated that everyone around me can’t stand the sight of me. Until I’ve finally broken and gone to the store or fast food restaurant.
So I tell myself – tomorrow. Start over tomorrow. Monday. Next Month. Truth is, if I continue this lifestyle, I may not have tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come. Is that enough to change? Is that enough to stop the revolving door? I thought so.
He was an amazing father, lousy husband. I wanted him to know how it felt to work and be a full-time parent. I wanted him to sit and wonder when I was going to walk through the door. I wanted tears to roll down his face when he was sitting at home alone painting pictures in his mind of what I could be doing and with whom. Mostly, I wanted him to hurt the way he hurt me.
I had my first child at 20, my second child at 21 then married 3 days later. Soon after, I became pregnant with my third child. I had no idea the amount of work that had to go into a marriage and now three small children under 3 years old was taking its toll. I couldn’t handle the feeling of being trapped. The angel in me said, “You need to settle in and be a mother to these innocent children. You made a promise to God to love your family.” While the devil lustfully whispered, “You deserve this. Run. Be free. For the first time in your life… feel good.” Yes! This is the final time I allow myself to play victim to my husband’s affairs and broken promises! So I ran. I became selfish, greedy, and reckless. Atlanta became stomping ground to foggy nights and late mornings. I left my past and reality in rum and coke and kissed responsibility goodbye.
The daily and nightly games may have been fun in the moment, but I missed my kids. I wanted to see them but thought that it’d be best I stay away. I wasn’t healthy. I didn’t want them having a part-time mom bouncing in and out of their lives. I never said I made good decisions. When I saw my kids again, they didn’t know who I was. It was a sad sight. To them, I might as well have been gone 20 years. That killed me but I knew I deserved it so I sucked that pain in and felt every inch of it cut through me. I abandoned them. I left them for my own selfishness. Their mother was a stranger and it was my own damn fault. It took time to heal but we learned how to be a family and how to handle the speed bumps along the way. We learned to move forward and love each other unconditionally. It was nice to have my babies back. I could hold them whenever I wanted. Kiss their chubby cheeks and laugh at their innocent jokes. I felt needed. I felt loved. All this time I was looking for myself and it was right here with them. There was a piece of me in each one and it made me laugh to see how they brought that out in themselves. As for my ex-husband, we eventually became friends. It was exhausting hating him so I had to do it differently. I prayed that he would find someone who would never put him through what I did. Me? This time, I promised. I promised my children that I was going to do whatever it took to be there for them, to love them unconditionally and to never leave them again. That promise is one that will never be broken.
I want to jump into where I’ve been and what I have been doing and the reason for my absence quickly. So let’s begin.
Depression is nasty. It debilitates you and leaves you numb, causing you to separate yourself from life, family, and friends. The devil entered my life at a point where I felt weak and vulnerable and he used that to scratch his own itch. It can last days or months; in my case, months. You are able to function at some small level but anything after that takes energy you don’t have. Reaching out for help is out of the question but I’ve been blessed to have friends and family who give me my space and time to heal. For that, thank you.
Time for the big news! Thanks to all of your comments, feedback and positive prayers, I have decided that I want to share my story with the world. I am writing a book! My own little autobiography. When you read my blogs (and book) I want you to be able to say, “Me too!” You are not alone in the struggle and the struggle IS real! The book is titled, “The Starving Fat Lady – Binge eating, abuse, and mental illness.” I’ve been working on the first chapter these last few months and am hoping to have it proofread and finished in another few weeks. I have years of work to do but it will be worth it to have my readers know they are not alone. When I think about being isolated, I sometimes think about grade school. It seemed I always befriended the outcasts, the rejects, the mess. Or maybe it was the other way around. They accepted me. I, too, was the outcast, the reject, the mess. Either way I met and know some extraordinary people! Those that knew I was worthy and believed in what I did, even if I failed, thank you!!
I leave you today, with this: You will get better. With time and support, life does open up and bring you sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it seems the darkness will never go away but trust me when I say, it goes away. Thank you to those hanging in there with me and putting up with my bouts of depression. I can’t express to you just how much it means to me.
Totally fell for this boy. I mean hard. I know I’m only 13 but he’s super cute and super nice. He smokes but I’m okay with it because I smoke too! Hopefully mom and dad don’t find out. Keep it under lock and key, diary, okay?
March 1990 Dear Diary,
I can’t believe it!! We kissed for the first time! My stomach was in knots and I was afraid he was going to want more but he didn’t! Hate how he always talks about other girls though. He’s talks to one girl and I can’t stand her. Her blush is as thick as molasses! Gag!
July 1990 Dear Diary,
I was so stupid. Why did I tell him how I feel? My heart is broken! He told my best friend, Allie that I wouldn’t “put out” so he was going to go out with red molasses face! Oooo I’m so mad!
July 1990 Dear Diary,
Just got back from school. HE CALLED ME FAT!!! He told his friend and he told Allie who also told Stephanie, which by the way I am so ticked off at, that I was fat. Yeah? Well let me know what molasses face really looks like when she scraps off her makeup!
September 1990 Dear Diary,
Totally fell for this boy. I mean hard. I know I’m only 13 but he’s super cute and super nice……..
This blog was created by the 13 year old in me. This is a true story with as much detail as I can remember. I think sometimes we just need a reminder that as children, we so easily move on from some of the disappointments and heartbreak we experience in life. But in adulthood we seem to grasp onto the negative and forget the positive. When did we let that go and why? So remember this: Why worry about what you can’t fix in this very moment? Try not to lose focus on something that’s out of your control. Your bills, your kid smoking pot, your car breaking down, getting to an appointment late. whatever it may be…..embrace that moment, breathe, gather yourself, and hit that sucker tomorrow. You got this.
First and foremost, let me apologize to you, my readers. I took a last-minute trip out-of-town and didn’t prepare to stay as long, thus missing a blog. So let’s get this started shall we?
“Tonia. Are you paying attention?” I snap to. I look at my doctor blankly. “Could I really lose my feet?” He looks at me seriously, “Yeah. You could lose toes, feet, legs. Your life. This is your life. Do you want to live it?” I sigh and start to think about what he just said. He leaves me to type out my release paperwork and I take that opportunity to reflect back to a few words my ears picked up on. “Your life. Losing limbs. Heart disease. Life. Living. Death.” My anxiety starts to rise and I can feel panic settling in.
If I don’t think about it, it doesn’t exist right? I live with the, “It won’t be me. It happens to others,” mentality. Not to mention only my health but also the way I feel. It’s almost normal for me to feel like crap. I don’t know what it feels like to be healthy. Let’s talk about the emotional toll it takes when you go shopping or out to eat or anywhere in public for that matter! When you sit down do you pull your shirt out from your belly area? Do you pray that the cheap plastic chair you’re about to sit in, doesn’t break? Does it raise your anxiety a bit to find out that the restaurant you are going to may only have tables you can’t fit into? And clothing! I haven’t shopped in forever. It’s sort of hard to when nothing fits right. What I do have, I try to squeeze into as much as possible. Here’s an example:
My jeans are just about too tight. I know this because instead of jumping up and down to get them on and zipped, I now have to lay on the bed and zip them. Getting up requires some assistance but the job is successful! There’s no way I can sit because my body won’t fold that way but my jeans are on!! I head out to my meeting. At the conference center I’m having serious apparel malfunction. My zipper won’t stay up! What if my button goes flying across the room, hitting someone in the eye, causing them to go permanently blind and me on their mind for the rest of their lives as, “the fat girl who wore the tight jeans made me go blind.” I realize I may be over thinking but this is embarrassing. This thought sends my mind racing and I have to get out! I have to get out of this room. I finally rise and all eyes are now on me. “Excuse me for a few moments, please.” I dart out of the room, catching my breath outside the door. FAT!! Think I’ll skip the rest of the meeting and head to the store and see if their donuts are still fresh. Screw it. After buying my shame, I get into the car, unzip my pants and breathe. The best taste of freedom and donut….ever!!
Losing weight is not just about feeling good in your own skin. It’s about being able to enjoy life around you. The simple things like walking to the park, not worrying about fitting into booths and chairs. The freedom to buy clothing that LOOKS good and not just buying it because it fits. It’s also about being healthy. My doctor is right. Bad things can happen to anyone if the problem is not taken care of. Maybe one day I will listen. Hopefully before it’s too late.
I get in my car and drive to the store. As I open the car door, my heart starts to pound heavily. I look at the people walking in and out and I start to slowly skip breaths. I dart my eyes around the parking lot as I head in and see several people sitting in their cars, no doubt waiting for a spouse or friend to do their shopping but staring at me as I walk in. The double doors slide open bringing a smell of deli food and bread.
Is that person staring at me?
Did those girls just laugh?
I swear everyone is judging me.
Did that person just look at me twice?
Oh God. I gotta get out of here.
I divert my attention to my phone. If I can’t see anyone, then I can’t see them staring. I grab my items and quickly leave. I get to the car out of breath and nearly in tears. Panic is setting in. I can’t breathe. My finger tips are tingling. There is a huge weight on my chest that is stopping me from breathing. I’m going to have a heart attack and die right here. Everyone will see it. Will the paramedics know to call my family? People are staring. My vision starts to blur. I’m dying.
After 20 minutes, the Clonidine taken earlier, kicks in. I start to relax and forget those around me. I start the car and drive home. I feel angry at myself for losing control emotionally and for not holding it together. Even if I did make it home alive with my groceries.
Anxiety and panic is real. It’s debilitating. It can be triggered by anything. We can’t ask the world around us to change therefore, it’s up to the person with the disorder to learn how to cope. I’m still learning and I’ve made huge strides. I wrote this blog in hopes that people know that others do understand what you are going through. I want you to know you’re not alone…even if it seems like the loneliest place in the world.
I stand at the kitchen counter staring at the butter, toast and peanut butter before me. Ireally shouldn’t have this bread. Maybe I can have it with a tiny bit of butter AND peanut butter. Well, maybe just the butter or maybe just the peanut butter. My mind is fluttering a million miles an hour. Seriously? Over TOAST?? Why is it this hard? I’m so tired of having to THINK about it. Ten minutes later..FUCK IT! I’m eating this damn toast with butter AND peanut butter ANDjelly! I eat in satisfaction that I conquered this quest. I am in control. Or am I?
Addiction is defined as “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.” My substance is food. My thing is habit. My activity is over-eating. It’s a disease. It’s something that you slowly die of eventually if you don’t CHANGE the substance, thing, or activity. It’s not as if I woke up one day and thought, “I think I will eat everything in the kitchen.” It’s a habit in your mind; a routine so to speak. It’s an emotional connection. It’s that satisfaction of doing what you’re not supposed to but do it anyways out of spite and control. I’ve never been addicted to drugs or alcohol. But food….that’s a story in itself. I’ve broken so many chains in my life but this one keeps me rooted. The nasty, dank, stale air that surrounds my everyday life.
There was a time many, many years ago, where I would see someone obese and think, “Ugh! Why would you want to be that big?” I’ll repeat that. Why would you WANT to be that big? If I was faced with my old self, I’d slap that bitch and tell her to stop eating cupcakes at 1 am. I was always the judge of other people. I was quick to assume in my mind why they looked, talked and behaved the way they did without thinking about the derailments in their lives that brought them to where they were at that moment. I never thought about their struggles with addiction.
Can you believe that there are people who hate obese people the same way they would someone’s religion, sexual orientation and/or color? I just want to reach out to that person and hug them tight. Perhaps I could squeeze into them the unconditional love I have to offer. Help them realize that their judgment of me is partially why I am the way I am today. My insecurities took over and I became aware of every stare, every whisper, every snicker. I think it’s important to remember that people struggle everyday. The next time you go to judge someone, think about your life and what you’ve gone through and remind yourself, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
**I want to apologize to my readers for my absence. The Mother’s Day weekend took me into a 3 day mini-get away and I wasn’t able to post for a few days. I hope all the mothers out there had a great day!**