Hidden Fears (and hidden food)
When I was a kid, I wasn’t thinking about “trying to fill a void.” What I do remember, is that I used to hide my food. In my closet . . . in my bedroom. You see, I have 2 brothers. And they are bottomless pits. For real. My mom would come home from the grocery store and she would barely get in the door before my brothers were grabbing food out of the bags. A gallon of milk would last about as long as a banana given to a marathoner at the end of a grueling race. (Which is not very long at all.)
I would bake cookies often. As soon as that first batch came out, I would race to put them on a plate and rush them into my closet before my brothers came tumbling into the kitchen. They would stand there looking bewildered while they scanned the counters for whatever was creating that delicious fresh baked cookie smell.
Fighting for my share of food at the dinner table was a common occurrence. If my parents treated us to pizza delivery, I would carefully think of a strategy that would ensure I got at least one piece of pizza, knowing my brothers would sweep in and vacuum everything up in one fell swoop. Maybe this is where my food addiction started – fear of scarcity; fear of not getting enough. Then again, maybe I was trying to fill the void.
Trying To Fill the Void (lonely adolescence)
As a teenager I spent a lot of time alone. There were a few hours after school where I would fill all of the empty space in my head (and my stomach) with whatever snacks I could find. My favorites included Doritos and cheese dip, any kind of potato chips dipped in mustard, slices of white bread with sugar sprinkled on top (yep), pizza rolls, French pizza bread, and Hot Pockets. Overeating at these times wasn’t always the outcome, but what I remember is what the food meant to me. It wasn’t the flavor I was seeking out – it was the craving of stuffing my empty self. I wanted to feel full; feel whole. The fullness was a companion that I so desperately needed.
Secrets, Lies and Shame (adulthood)
My food addiction came right along with me into adulthood. I started binge eating. I would wait until I was alone in my house (my husband traveled a lot) and I would binge. Again, it was the comfort I was after – I was trying to fill the void.
That satisfaction only lasted a short time, though. Moments after a binge, the guilt would come flooding in. The shame would set up camp in my head and take over. It was a vicious cycle I would repeat over and over again until one day I finally told my husband. I don’t know why, but I was honest with him. I didn’t tell him everything but I did tell him that I ate differently when he was out of town. Then, I told him I didn’t want him to see me like that. It helped me to say it out loud. It didn’t heal me, but it was a start.
Understanding the Void
When I turned 40, I became a certified personal trainer. I have always loved lifting weights and running and I decided to turn those passions into a career. In my training to become certified, I learned a lot about food and how it affects the body. It helped me to learn the science behind food cravings. I also started reading everything I could find on food addiction and eating disorders. The pieces started to fit together of why I chose to eat the way I did.
Filling the Void (the right way)
I turned 50 this year. 50! I have reached the halfway point in my life on earth. Yes, I believe wholeheartedly I am going to live to be 100. This second half is exciting to me! I have learned so much about myself in these past few years and am also getting stronger in my walk with Jesus. I am learning to abide in Him and am learning about my addictive tendencies. When I talk with Jesus everyday about them, I understand better what His plan is for me. I am learning that my addictions to food and alcohol (which I will discuss later in another blog!) and my recovery, are experiences I can share with others. Learning more about myself, allows me to help others in the process!
Most of my life I have been trying to fill a void with food and alcohol and people and everything but Jesus. I am now learning that I don’t even have a void! There is a big place in my soul where Jesus lives and as long as I remain in Him, and Him in me, I will grow and bear fruit and become exactly who He wants me to be! I’m currently attending the MAP For Healing & Recovery and it’s making a difference in my continued recovery. In fact, I wish I would have had this program when I was a teenager – it would have saved me a lot of shame and heartache!
I look forward to hearing your comments!