I recently visited my brother and his family. I hadn’t seen them in awhile. They were surprised when they saw how much weight I had lost. His family always stays in very good shape, so it was fun to share my new ‘pool ready’ physique with them. One of my nieces asked a very good question. “But where does the weight go?” Hmm. I felt like I should have the answer to that. Something about matter never really being created or destroyed, E=MC…you know. And yet, my grip on science is tenuous at best. And so I shrugged. Who knows? And really, who cares, it’s gone! Yippee!
My focus is off ‘the weight’. Why do we always refer to it as ‘the weight’? How did you gain ‘the weight’? How did you lose ‘the weight’. Why do we call it ‘the weight’; like it’s some kind of personage like ‘the queen’ or ‘the president’. Anyway, my not focusing on ‘the weight’, I believe, is the secret to my success.
I have suffered from compulsive overeating all my life. I have done all the crazy things that compulsive overeaters do. Obsess about eating food. Obsess about not eating food. Obsess about being fat. Dream about being thin. Fantasize that being slim would solve all my problems. (It doesn’t) I have gained and lost the same 40 pounds over ten times in my life time. I am 55. You do the math. Can you imagine my poor body? Thank God we rejuvenate our bodies every seven years, so the cells that had to tolerate my eating insanity at 15 could not rat me out to the new cells who had to deal with my compulsive shenanigans at 54!
The last time I lost ‘the weight’ was in 2006. I was going on an arduous journey to Peru and I knew I needed to be in shape to hike at high altitude. Motivated by that external kick in the butt, I got into serious shape for the trip. I was hiking at 17,000 feet on the first day of my period! Okay, I thought i was going to die, but I made it! I was married at the time. My husband did not travel with me. Several of the men on the trip were attracted to me and I did not know what to do with the feelings that came up. It all felt so frightening. I didn’t want to be married anymore. But I would never be unfaithful. So I was filled with doubt and frustration and fear.
I returned home and watched myself gain ‘the weight’ back. I could see myself overeating. I could feel my clothes getting tight. I noticed myself making bad food choices over and over again. Without the external drive to exercise; I slacked off. Week by week. Month by month. I was gaining weight. I caught site of the rear end that I had lost in sad sidelong glances in the windows of the stores on Main St. I felt badly, but I knew I could not stop eating. I did not want to. I had a reason to gain weight. I was unhappily married and did not want anyone coming onto me because I was not ready to leave my marriage. So, I systematically replaced what I jokingly referred to in high school as ‘my 40 pound chastity belt.’
I wasn’t happy about it. But something self serving finally emerged from deep within me. Because of the deep healing I have done and continue to do, for the first time in my life I was able to accept myself at 200 pounds. I had never done that before. I had always hated myself heavy. This time I knew I had to learn to accept myself because I could not, would not, did not want to lose the weight. I believed I needed it. I was not going to let it go. I bought beautiful clothes, dressed well, and ate well too, but fattening is fattening organic or not! I allowed myself to be where I needed to be. Fat. Defended. Hiding. Safe from urges and instincts. My own or anyone else’s.
I finally found the courage to divorce my husband in 2011. We had what has to be the most amicable divorce in NY State. The lawyer joked, “Of course it’s amicable, you have nothing to fight over.” Interestingly enough, I did not lose ‘the weight’ right after the divorce. I met a man who seemed to find me attractive in spite of ‘the weight’ which was surprising and tremendously healing. I was under a lot of stress trying to do everything that two people had done by myself now. My coping mechanism of overeating was still well in place.
Christmas time 2012, I decided to go to an AA meeting with my nephew. I thought I was going for him, to be supportive, to be a ‘good aunt’. I went to the meeting and it felt like one of my workshops! A circle of like minds coming together to heal. I LOVED it! People were open and honest and talking from the heart. They were in pain, of course, but who isn’t. The difference between these rooms and ordinary rooms was the honesty people were engaging in. I decided in that moment that I wanted a room to go to. I wanted like minds to help me heal. Booze was not my drug of choice as they say. I found Overeater’s Anonymous when I went home. Found a meeting and got to work.
The first thing I learned from OA is that I had been willing to humble myself to God for just about anything. I’m a spiritual healer and teacher so humbling myself to God came with the terriroty. But I discovered that I had not been willing to humble myself to other human beings. I’m sure it’s from being one of the younger members of a large family. Everyone always told me what to do. I developed the defense mechanism of keeping myself to myself. Sharing my experience with others on a daily basis was uncomfortable for me. I had taught myself to hide. Getting a sponsor blew me out of that. I had to hand my food over to someone every day. I had to admit what I was eating and be held accountable to another human being for that. Yikes! Humble pie bite by bite.
And yet, I was ready. And I knew why. Because I had accepted myself at 200 pounds. For some reason, this self acceptance got me ready to let ‘the weight’ go. And where does ‘the weight’ go? I have discovered the more productive question to keep asking myself is ‘Where did ‘the weight’ come from? Because as long as I am staying current with that question; working the steps, handing the food over to my sponsor, reading the literature and going to meetings, hanging out with my Higher Power, the disease of compulsive overeating is in remission.