Sunday, November 15, 2015

Survivor's Corner: Compulsive Overeating as Self-Harm

Dear Survivor:

If you were abused as a child, it's very important to acknowledge the trauma you experienced, get help for it, and keep getting that help until your life looks like you're over it. Saying you're over it means nothing if you're exhibiting the symptoms of otherwise.
 If you're a healing artist, don't be afraid or ashamed to discuss difficulties you're having. Your audience needs to know what you're going through, so they can not only be updated on your journey, but also wish you well (or better), and perhaps identify and learn from you.

 If you're a spiritual persun who tries to be positive all the time, don't be afraid of saying not so pleasant things for fear of manifesting them. Telling the truth about a painful experience helps dull the pain, and sharpen the senses for what may bring relief.

I have eaten in the past 24 hours an entire huge loaf of African bread. White bread, high in fat and sodium. I've eaten too much fat, too much food, and I feel my blood pressure thumping in my brain, affecting my vision, and giving me tension headaches. I feel absolutely miserable. 
 And this happened mostly because I didn't make the time in the past week to buy fruit. That's it. Oh, and I didn't go to the gym enough. Apparently, if I don't eat plenty of fruit AND exercise, I go off the deep end. Who knew I'd be so high maintenance?
Survivors are children who haven't grown ourselves up yet. We were reared in a partly dysfunctional way, and we need to replace that portion of our lives with the way we want to rear ourselves. We have to re-parent ourselves, and this isn't something that happens only for a few years of our lives - this is a lifelong journey. 

I have long suffered from an eating disorder (compulsive overeating). I can recall being about 7 years old and "caught" by my uncle, eating too much bread. I put 27 years into a 12 Step group for people with compulsive eating behaviors, before I left it to discover and create my own program of healing and recovery, inspired in large part by raw vegan foods, which alone and in a few months provided better results than all those years in that other "program". 

 I was watching today some YouTube about a famous family of singing siblings, whose father allegedly raped and beat them. Later, most of them became addicted to drugs, and several of them passed away from that.

I believe when you're abused as a child by a parent, you develop such a sense of self-hatred, shame, and guilt, you just don't want to exist anymore. The pain is so deep, and often it isn't as much from the abusing parent as it is from the parent who did not or could not protect you. 

I believe that my overeating is about rage. I believe that overeating is slow suicide. I believe that I'm tired of all the work that it takes to be well. 
 Just to be well I have to schedule so much - grocery shopping, exercise. 

But I also see that I want to do this work. I see that I haven't been doing it. I only just discovered that I need this. 

I didn't know before how important it is for me to plan my meals AND exercise. 

When you decide you want or need something, you begin to see ways that you can create it for yourself. And you become willing to do whatever it takes to reach your new goals.

For me, I see I'm going to have to make some changes in my busy schedule. I'm going to have to prioritize my wellness, and make that as important in my datebook as my office time.

I don't know that this post necessarily has a theme, and it's been challenging to find a title for it.
I do know that it's good that as I sit here with a belly too full, and feeling acidic and uncomfortable - sad, I also know that it's very good I'm writing about this, and about to hit "send". 

I used to write more about my difficulties with food and similar behavioral issues. And even now, as I know there are people reading who I may not necessarily want to read this - I can't be focused on them. 

I have to focus on the fact that I can't keep carrying this on my own.
The same way my hand-written journal has been my utmost confidante and shrink-between-shrink-sessions, I must reclaim my blog and make it the portal to my healing through sharing.

I can only continue to hope and intend that these words reach you whom are seeking to hear such things - and hope I've helped make your day a little better, if not brighter.

Blessings, hope, and self-care to you,

​Founder of Sisters Healing Together: A Peer Support Group for Women Survivors of Incest with a Special Focus on Compulsive Overeating (William Way Community Center, Philadelphia 1996-1999)
Creator of the "Affirmations for Survivors" guided meditation series by Amethyste Rah (aka CX)​

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