I was always afraid as a child. Every year when I started school I would scream and cry until I was put in a desk on my own beside the teacher. It was the only way I felt safe and secure. After a few weeks I would settle down and then would feel silly but had already managed to isolate myself from the others in my class. This would happen every year and often I would run home to the security of my mother. I was afraid and insecure all the time.I was obsessed with having my desk close to the teacher and one day drew chalk around the legs of the chair so it would not be moved. I could not join in with others and wanted to make sure I could control something. I hated change and wanted everything to be the same to make me feel secure.
I was always 'pudgy' and went on my first diet for my Confirmation. I was probably an ok size for my age but felt different and there were always diets in my house so I went on one. I was probably not feeling good about myself and the way to fix it was to lose weight.
When I was 12 an incident happened in my house which I did not know how to deal with and this was the first time I made myself sick. I was angry and scared, confused and upset, had no one to talk to and used the purging as a way of 'getting it all out'. For the next 20 years this became my coping mechanism for dealing with feelings or problems.
All through secondary school I would be on a diet only to last until lunch and then the binging would start. I was self conscious with no confidence and thought everything would be better if I had a boyfriend. If a guy was on the scene, I always introduced the physical side first because I knew that was what they wanted .I never believed I deserved a decent boyfriend or that he might want to know me for any other reason. My self worth was pretty poor.
This pattern continued through work and University. My comfort was food and my fear of putting on weight led to throwing up. I did not want to feel how I felt with weight on and was still believing if I lost weight everything would be ok. I did lose weight but still did not feel better and still felt I was hiding a secret because I was binging and throwing up. I would spend hours driving around buying food and eating it, terrified someone would catch me before I would be able to throw up. I did not trust myself and was never at ease.
I did go to a 12 Step fellowship when I was 19 but thought I could do it myself. After years of "I'm never doing this again", travel to 'get away from it all', counselling, behavioural therapy, using men to escape from myself, I reached my 'rock bottom' and came to a 12 Step meeting. I was hurting others emotionally, isolating myself and living in fear of being found out all the time.
Coming to meetings I just listened and gradually relaxed as I heard others share feelings and behaviours like mine and the shame I had carried with me for so long began to lift. I learnt I was not alone and others thought and behaved like I did.
I began to work the Steps and my compulsion to binge and throw up was lifted. I began to feel feelings and understand why I felt what I did. I learnt how my thoughts worked and what they could tell about what was going on for me…fear, insecurity, low self esteem. I have learnt to deal with problems instead of turning to food and try to accept myself exactly as I am today.
One Day at a Time has really helped…a lifetime of this obsession will not lift over night but my slow steady recovery I know is more likely to be long lasting than the quick fixes I was always looking for. I was a person of extremes and low self worth and now try to bring balance and calm to my daily life. I work my programme because it helps me live in the real world…not my fantasy world and it supports me in my daily activities. I have learnt to trust myself and have got involved more in life and activities. I could never commit to anything because I never knew would I be in the middle of a binge. It was my 'drug' and I was terrified to give it up.
This disease is very secretive and we tend to isolate. If you want to live rather than just exist, get in touch. There is hope and people who understand. Get in touch…..